Sunday, July 17, 2011

Gibson ES-125 and BR-9 Amp

Here's a pair right out of the 1950s - a Gibson ES-125 and a BR-9 amplifier. We've had another ES-125 in the store before, but like we say, you can never have too many guitars from the 50s. Playing through this rig makes me want to play some jazzy jump blues licks, or maybe some western swing.  Much like those bygone musical styles, this guitar and amp have authentic roadhouse appeal, but also a certain sweetness and delicacy that often goes unappreciated.

The body has been re-finished somewhere along the line, but it's in an attractive cherry burst, very professionally done.  That lone pick-up is all original, though.  Sure, it's only one pickup, but if you can only have one pickup, an old Gibson P-90 is a damn good one to be stuck with.  ES-125s have a reputation as the "best deal" in vintage guitars because the basic design and single pick-up layout have kept the prices well below the likes of an ES-335, ES-175, etc.

The BR-9 was built between the late forties and fifties.  It has a single 8-inch speaker and a very distinctive tonal identity: whereas most of our small low-wattage tube combos very quickly break up into snarling distortion, the BR-9 stays clean and crisp even with the single volume knob wide open.  The most you'll get out of this one is a little extra warmth, a little "blurring" around the edges.  Early amps like this were designed with "hi-fidelity" in mind, so conspicuous crunch and grind tones were to be avoided.

The control panel is about as simple as you can get!  No tweaking necessary.  I also believe these amps were also meant to be played with a lap steel guitar.  This amp would certainly be a boon to any tone connoisseur and/or studio rat.  I can't think of any piece of gear that so effortlessly conjures up the sound of early honky-tonk, Hank Williams, and big Cadillac cars with new whitewall tires.