Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 40

(CLOCKWISE) Some filter caps and signal caps have been
replaced to keep the amp functional, but this early Clubman
remains mostly original otherwise. Placing the handle on
the amp's side avoids spoiling the tasty aesthetics of the
front and top. The dual high and low inputs are labeled
"Rhythm" and "Solo" to tell you what they do best.

Madness, Supergrass, The Kills, and other
notable artists.
To fully assess the Clubman's place in
history, it's worth noting that Watkins was
in the game a few years before the arrival of
Jennings Musical Instruments' fledgling Vox
combos, and had dipped a toe in the amplifier market as early as 1952 - though that toe
was pulled out quickly thanks to a figurative
toaster tossed into the water.
Long before Tom Jennings (then an accordion and organ manufacturer) began thinking
about electric guitars, another accordionist
by the name of Charlie Watkins was seeing
the potential in the new instrument. After
returning from service in the Merchant Navy,
Watkins - a native of Balham, in Southeast
London - for a time made a living playing
accordion in small outfits. As with so many
musicians, however, he eventually saw the
need for a "proper job," and in 1949 opened a
record shop with his brother, Reg, in London's
Tooting Market. After moving to a slightly

larger premises in '51, they began selling
accordions and other instruments; Charlie
saw the guitar's potential, but despaired at
fellow musicians' inability to be heard amid
the noise of horns and accordions. As he told
Gary Cooper in Sound On Sound magazine
after Watkins' death in 2015, "I thought,
'I've put up with that long enough. I can do
something... I'll make an amplifier.'"
The result, the first Watkins guitar amps
from circa 1952, were the combination of
power sections from Premier Electronics
and in-house preamps cobbled into combo
cabinets. Like many other amps of the day,
they could run on AC or DC current (both
in use in Britain at the time). The duality was
a convenience of sorts, but was extremely
dangerous - deadly if used incorrectly.
"I'd sold about 20 of them by 1952," Watkins
told David Petersen in The Guitar Magazine
(UK) in May of 2000. "When one day I saw a
piece in the Daily Mirror about a pop-group
guitarist getting killed. Being a fatalist, I

VINTAGE GUITAR

40

December 2016

thought, 'It's bound to be one of my amps' -
those AC/DC units were quite dangerous. I
sent a telegram to the guy who was making
them for me and got him to stop immediately.
Somehow I managed to recall all those I'd
sold and replaced them with AC-only units."
The scare put Watkins off the amplifier
game for a time, but one skiffle musician
after another kept coming into the shop,
and the need remained for a reliable (and
louder) electric guitar. Watkins again turned
to Premier Electronics and commissioned a
dedicated AC-powered combo that would
be sold as the Westminster - the first proper
Watkins guitar amp.
This combo had two inputs with individual
Volume controls, a shared Tone, and pumping approximately 10 watts through its 10"
speaker courtesy of two EL84s. It was soon
joined by what would become Watkins' most
famous amp, the 17-watt "V-front" Dominator, with two 10" speakers aiming away from
each other for dispersion; and the diminutive


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - Cover
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - IFC
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 1
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 2
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 3
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 4
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 5
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 6
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 7
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - Contents
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 9
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 10
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 11
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 12
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 13
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 14
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 15
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 16
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 17
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 18
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 19
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 20
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 21
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 22
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 23
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 24
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 25
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 26
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 27
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 28
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 29
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 30
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 31
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 32
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 33
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 34
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 35
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 36
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 37
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 38
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 39
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 40
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 41
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 42
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 43
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 44
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 45
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 46
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 47
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 48
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 49
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Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 88
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 89
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 90
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 91
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 92
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 93
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 94
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 95
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 96
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 97
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 98
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 99
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 100
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 101
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 102
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 103
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 104
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 105
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 106
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Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 115
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