Magnatone Guitars!

New for Fall 2013, a complete guide to Magnatone guitars and the stories behind them!

1938-1960 Steel Guitars

1956-1963 Bigsby/Barth Era

1964-1966 Starstream Era


1957-1961 Custom 200 Series


In 1957 Magnatone unveiled a new line of amplifiers aimed at the professional musician. These were handsome designs and featured Magnatone's fantastic new "Vibrato Vastness" vibrato, a design that would set Magnatone apart from the competition for the next ten years.

Magna had just had a turn over of ownership and upper management, and the new product line design and launch became a big part of that effort.

The initial line-up was the 213, the 260, and the Stereo 460. All of these handsome designs came with rear facing control panels and broad name plates across the front. Power sections were push-pull driving 12" speakers and all three came with two channel inputs.

In 1959, the series had some slight circuit updates and all models were given a suffix "A" (260 became the 260A...). Also in 1959, a 190 was added. It wasn't part of the "200 Series" (no vibrato), but it's advanced preamp and steeper price set it apart from the small "100 Series" amps. Magnatone also started adding small oval "tweeter" speakers to the 260 and maybe the 460.

The 190 came with a new "treble plus" circuit that was described as being "three-stage". Following the first two preamp tube stages, there was a third stage and a tone shaping switching circuit in between. This was a fore-runner of a three stage preamp that would later be resurrected by Tony Price for the 1964 M13, and 1965 M10A and M15A redesigns.

Magna Electronics Co also built these same circuits into several other rebranded amps for music companies and accordion manufacturers such as Da Vinci, Titano, and PANcordion. This was a business practice that dated back to the Dickerson Bros. days and would continue into the mid 1960s.

Engineers known to work at Magna between 1957 and 1960 were Don Bonham, Jack Bartholomew and Fred Kreuger. Roy Chilton, president, spent a lot of his time dealing with financial aspects of the business, although he was a musician and, no doubt, cared about the musicality and sound quality of the amplifiers. Arnold Buckles was VP of operations during these years and ran all aspects of the factory floor and production. Joseph Walsh was VP for Sales. These advertising campaigns probably happened under his watch.

Also, during this production run, offices, production, and engineering was moved from the small, cramped two and half building facility at Anza Blvd in Inglewood to a much larger facility in Torrance.


I refer to this as the "Chilton Era" because F. Roy Chilton was president of Magna Electronics in these years. for a complete history of Magnatone..




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