Friday, December 5, 2008

Masco MA-17 Review

About a month or so ago, I took a one of my amps to amp repair guru Skip Simmons. Skip is well known for his refurbishing of old amplifiers and old PA heads. When I picked up my amp, he talked briefly. He handed me a box, asked me to take it home for a while, try out what is inside and let him know what I thought.

What was inside the box?

A Masco MA-17 PA head that has been refurbished to the original 1944 specifications. Skip had built up a few of them for Paul Oscher. He sent him a couple of modified heads and a stock one. The stock one was returned.

I took it to the jam at the Mojo Lounge and played through it. I plugged it into a 15" speaker that was in East Bay Wes's 1963 Vibroverb amp. It's amazing how loud 18 watts can be. It had a bottom end as fine as Jennifer Lopez. It sounded great.

A few weeks ago, I had a few spare hours in the evening. I plugged it into the pair of Weber 8" speakers in my Harpgear Double Trouble. I pulled out an old vintage JT-30 and started messing around. I cranked it up to the brink of feedback and cranked up the tone control. The sound was huge and vintage postwar 1950's Chicago Blues. I shot a little bit of video, but the camera could not capture the huge bottom that was pouring out of the Double Trouble's speakers.

A couple of days later, I decided to try the Masco with a pretty common microphone, a dynamic Shure 520DX aka the Green Bullet. I sounded pretty similar to the vintage Astatic microphone.

This amp is a definitely keeper, but I decided to postpone the purchase until the economic climate becomes a bit better. I do see one of these in my future when things stabilize.


Mike Lynch said...

Sounds good Joe! I always wondered what these amps sound like. I like the new look of the blog too.

Mike Lynch

Anonymous said...

I got a MA 17 from Skip earlier this year. I play it thru a 2x10" cabinet but have tried a 4x8" and a 4x10". All sounds great. Fantastic piece of equipment, you should endeavor to get it sooner than later if you can.

Anonymous said...

Hi! This sounds really great! Could I bother you to tell me how much tone & volume you have in this video? I JUST got a Masco MA17, and Double Trouble is my usual harp amp. But when I hook up the two, I get MASSIVE feedback if my volume is over 1. Do you know a thing or two about this that could help me?
Thanks Joe, and keep it up.

Joe's Blues Blog said...

I can't recall what the volume and tone settings were on the Masco amp. I plugged the speakers in the Double Trouble cabinet directly into the speaker jack on the Masco.

Lou said...

could you describe in detail how you connected the Masco to the Double trouble. Did you use line out, extension etc...Also, what settings did you leave on the double trouble if any? Thanks, the sound is unbelieveable!!!

Joe's Blues Blog said...

Hi Lou,

All I did was plug the speaker jack from the Double Trouble into the Masco. The Harpgear amp was not used, just the speakers.


Anonymous said...

Hate to bother you on this, but i am really interested in putting the rig together that you used in this video. Once you plug the double trouble speakers to the masco, do you have to turn the double trouble on? the reason i ask this, on the hg website brian talks about playing the amp with the speaker diconected. I don't know if this applies in this case, hope that makes sense to you. i'm not much on the tech side of this. Thanks Joe.Lou

Joe's Blues Blog said...

Lou - Never, ever turn on an amplifier without speakers connected to it!

If you do this, keep the Double Trouble turned off. Unplug the speaker jack from the Double Trouble and plug it into the Masco.

You aren't using the Double Trouble amp at all.


Anonymous said...

when you disconnected the speaker cable from the speaker jack, was the the wiring long enough to reach the masco or did you have to use a female-male adapter to make the wiring long enough with an extension? i don't have my amp yet, so I don't know how long that speaker wire with the 1/4 inch plug is. Thanks again. I will tell you when i get the rig together.

Joe's Blues Blog said...

I needed a female to female adapter and a short male to male cable. said...

greetings Joe, I have one coming in the mail. You mentioned in the beginning it was 18 watts?
A friend has one, and it is heavenly!! just like your demo..and he thought it was 3o watts. I know it may seem obvious (MA-17)....could you set the record straight, please.
Thanks alot...BTW the masco MA-17 is a match made in heaven, with 4 Rola alnico 10's. (got to be the big magnets). There are deals to be found on Ebay. WOW!

Surfland Bait and Tackle said...

That's just a great, great sounding rig. Of course I'm sure 80% of it is you.

My MA-17 shipped to Skip yesterday.