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Advice re Gibson GA5

Mr. Robot

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I hope you folk dont mind me posting this question here rather than under amps - I think more of you read this area.


I have been salivating over the prospect of a Gibson GA5 amp since Californiaman posted his pictures avec ES175


Then I was totally shattered to discover they had stopped making them.


Last week, I walked into a store on a whim and guess what - there was a GA5 - just beckoning me. I could not sleep wondering how to get the cash together before someone else got it. It was made worse because the guy said it was the last one in the country.


Today I tried it out with an ES335 - expecting to hear wonderful clean tube tones.


To my horror, I found that I could not stop the amp from breaking up, not matter how low a volume I selected on the amp or the guitar. As soon as I hit a fulsome chord, there it was - breaking up.


I was thinking of playing some clean jazz rock on this baby, but now I am really disappointed.


I notice elsewhere someone say they cant get a dirty tone, only clean ie the direct opposite to my experience.


The guy in the store says this is how it is meant to sound (ie dirty). So I am confused.


Is my experience normal, or is it more likely that I now know why this amp is the last one in Australia?


Maybe on this basis I will have to consider the Fender 600 Champ.

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Did you try the other input? There are two inputs.

It's also a very responsive, touch sensitive amplifier. The harder you hit the chords and dig in, the more it's going to break up.

There are a few demonstration of the GA-5 on Youtube. Look for them and hear for yourself.

Ask the dealer if the amp has been modified in any way.

You can also ask the dealer to see if the tubes have been replaced. The output tube should be EL-84.


Here's Billy Gibbons playing his Billy Bo Gretsch Guitar through the GA-5. When you open the link, scroll down to the part that says Rocky Erickson and play the video. If you follow Gibbon's guitar chord you will see it leads right to the GA-5 on stage behind him.

Rocky Erickson



Here's something from Guitar Player Magazine about the amp:

GA-5 Les Paul Junior



The GA-5 is an updated reissue of the popular practice amp that first appeared in the mid 1950s. Its smooth, cream-colored vinyl contrasts nicely with the dark oxblood grille-cloth, and the amp is further accented with a brown leather handle and a cool-looking, raised Gibson logo. While the original amps were fitted with alnico-magnet speakers, the repro sports a heavier duty 8" speaker with a hefty ceramic magnet.


The speaker is one of an amp’s most critical components, and according to Andy Turner (who is responsible for the GA-5’s redesign), this speaker was chosen after hours of extensive listening tests comparing numerous alnico- and ceramic-magnet speakers. Another welcomed benefit of a ceramic-mag speaker is its tendency to compress less at high volume, which helps to extract a little more headroom from the tiny 5-watt amp. The Gibson Goldtone speaker possesses a very balanced response, with deep lows, full mids, and chimey highs. And, with its 15-watt rating—three times the amp’s maximum output—it’s virtually blow-proof in this application. Curiously though, the speaker is connected to the chassis with an RCA-type plug and jack. A standard 1/4" jack would have been more convenient for those wishing to try the amp with larger speaker cabinets.


Instead of the original 5Y3 tube rectifier, the new amp boasts a solid-state rectifier for more stable operation and years of maintenance-free performance. And, while most GA-5s had a 6V6 output tube, Turner chose an EL84 to enhance the new amp’s detail and complexity. A peek under the hood reveals top-quality components and construction. Boutique-pedigreed parts include Sprague electrolytic capacitors, Mallory 150 coupling capacitors, and carbon-comp resistors. Everything is secured to spade-type turret-lugs on a heavy phenolic board, and neatly wired point-to-point. Considering its impressive boutique-style build quality, the GA-5 is an astounding value.


With its Volume knob set below nine o’clock, the GA-5 provides warm, rich, and complex clean tones at true bedroom levels. Single-coil pickups sound especially sweet through this amp at low settings, and cranking the Volume knob up to about half elicits good crunchy bridge-pickup tones with either single-coils or humbuckers. Who needs channel switching? Back off a little on your guitar volume, and the sound cleans right up. Turning up the GA-5 to two o’clock increases the sustain while keeping the sounds punchy and dynamic, and higher settings take you into the amp’s full-saturation zone. The GA-5 is an excellent choice for home recording. I found it easy to lay down big, juicy-sounding tracks by simply placing a Shure SM57 a few inches from the speaker cone. Great for both practice and recording, the GA-5 is living proof that less can indeed be more.

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Californiaman - you are a gem.


I took on board all of your advice - clearly the guy in the store did not know how to run this amp - and today I got wonderful clean tones out of the amp, aswell as great bluesy ones.


After an hour in the store, I bought it!! THE LAST ONE IN AUSTRALIA. (I checked this with other Gibson dealers and they pretty much confirmed this.)


I played my own 175 and one of their 335's through it, to make sure all my Gibsons would be compatible.


Thanks again Californiaman. You are part of why this site is so fantastic.


Here is the new baby:


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