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Old tele star amp

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Guitars306 of 436Can somebody tell me what circa vintage and make of this guitar?the hondo guitar
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Posted 7 years ago

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found in working condition,traced back 30 years through radio shack.would be great Item for collectors,so I was trying to figure out when line of amps came out (year).was told these types of amps were used on television sets,such as ed sullivan show etc.has a mn4 on face was that model number 4? or maybe 4th one made? why is tele-star,seperated? and was solid state,bought by radio shack?

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  1. Ben, 7 years ago
    Tele-Star imported cheap Japanese-made guitars and small practice amps, back in the days when "Made in Japan" was still considered a joke. The Tele-Star US-based business was sold to Fred Gretsch Jr eventually. (Not Rat-Shack) They had a warehouse in Secaucus, NJ. Do a net search on Jamie LaBoz, whose father and uncle started Tele-Star. As a 13-year-old kid, he was the entire service department!

    As a kid in the late-1960s/early-1970s, I had a two-pickup Tele-Star guitar and matching amp. Color was reminiscent of the old 50s-Fender Shoreline Gold. The amp had a fairly good sound, considering the pair cost maybe $75. The original whammy bar (a Bigsby-like abortion) never stayed in tune and very shortly after purchased was immobilized.

    The amp.... I had an M-10, and saved the electronics for some reason after disposing of the original cabinet.... which like yours was a mostly-empty box. About a year ago, I pulled it out of the steel filing cabinet it sat in for easily 35-plus years and traced out the schematic. Nothing special. Three small-signal (two NPN and one PNP) transistors and an unmarked complementary (PNP/NPN) output stage. Those TO-3 cased transistors were held in place with a piece of packing tape... something which made my broadcast-engineer father just about wretch! I doubt the power output was more than a watt or two.

    Power supply was a voltage-doubler affair made from a 6.3V filament transformer. I suspect they did that to limit peak current and prevent the circuit from self-destructing no matter how hard it was pushed.

    The amp sounded ok with the original guitar, but the Tele-Star pickups were extremely low output and that first stage had a lot of gain, to the point of the amp being unusable with other guitars.

    The speaker in my amp was very much the same affair as your pics show; a cheap paper-cone speaker that looked like a TV-set replacement unit. That greatly limited the sound, so my father built an extension speaker for it. That made a fair difference.

    You might want to trace out the schematic and post it somewhere, or at least take good hi-res internal shots of the terminal board layout.

    With a little TLC (translation: replace all the dried-out caps - those old Jap electrolytic caps were famous for drying out), and a little first-stage gain reduction along with a quiet power supply with some series resistance for current limiting, those amps can sound reasonably good... but don't expect them to sound like a Fender Champ, Princeton, or Deluxe. Not even a Supro. You really have to take them on their own terms.

    If you REALLY want to play electrical-engineer & go beyond the basic changes I outlined above, I figure a great improvement in sound could be had with #1 a FET first-stage and #2 a better set of output transistors. (much like what you find in dumpstered old surround receivers.) As long as you keep the power supply voltage in the 12V neighborhood that the circuit was meant for, it should work. Then again, you might just want to see what it brings on eBone as-is.

    FWIW, I resurrected that set of electronics, did a few mods as outlined above, and mated them with a really old horn speaker. Not bad at all!

    Hope this helps!
  2. Tom Carlock, 7 years ago
    I just picked up a mint condition version of this amplifier at a garage sale for $6 bucks! Plays great!

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