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Alamo Guitars

Remember the Alamo, Part 1
 
Remember the Alamo, Part 1

Mention the Alamo and most of us conjure up a rich variety of images. Whether it’s Davy Crockett (Fess Parker, maybe John Wayne) swinging his flintlock rifle as General Santa Anna’s troops breached the walls, Pee Wee Herman’s futile quest for his stolen bicycle, or a symbol of modern Mexican-American politics, the Alamo means something to almost all Americans.

But to guitar fans, conjuring up the name Alamo raises a spectre of mystery, a puzzle made up of guitars and amplifiers built in San Antonio, Texas. And that’s about it. What’s the story about Alamo guitars and amps? How about we brighten up yet another dimly lit corner of American guitar history. Lights, camera, action…

The long search for the missing picture on Alamo guitars and amps was rewarded recently when, by total serendipity (or was it foreordination), I hooked up with Chris Amant of Krazy Kat Music, San Antonio, who happens to own some of the remains of the Alamo guitar operation.

Chris gave me a lead to Mr. Charles Eilenberg, the father of the Alamo empire, and who gave us the foundation for reconstructing and remembering the Alamo story.

Jersey Boy
Eilenberg was born in Newark, New Jersey. Upon graduating from high school, he traveled west to Wisconsin, where he studied electronic engineering at the Milwaukee School of Electronics. Interested in broadcasting, Eilenberg got his First Class license and got a job at a radio station in Jersey City, New Jersey. Jersey City was the home of Frank Sinatra, who worked at Charles’ first station and, according to Eilenberg, was fired because he couldn’t hold key when the band played.

Eilenberg worked in New Jersey until World War II intervened, when he joined the CBS network in New York. Charles went into the Navy as a communications engineer, coordinating communications for the big warships like the Iowa and Missouri.

Southern Music
In late 1946, Eilenberg was contacted by Milton Fink, owner of Southern Music, a large publishing company and music wholesaling business in San Antonio. Mr. Fink wanted to recruit Eilenberg to help set up a manufacturing business. Eilenberg agreed and moved to San Antonio to establish Alamo Electronics (as you might guess, Alamo is a pretty common name in those parts).

In 1947, Alamo Electronics was up and running in a 2,000 square-foot facility at Romana Plaza. The initial products included record players – luxury items unavailable during the War – and battery-operated radio sets. These were mainly distributed at post exchanges in Texas. Very few retail outlets sold the early Alamo gear.

At the time, Southern Music was also distributing musical instruments. Thus, the company had a great need for cases, and decided to get into the case manufacturing business. To that end, they bought the necessary equipment and began making cases, with the company divided into two areas, electronics and case manufacturing.

Into Instruments
From instrument cases and radios it wasn’t a big step to making instruments and amplifiers, a move which occurred in 1949-50. Alamo began manufacturing amps and lap steel guitars.

Alamo’s first combos were the AMP-3 Embassy amp and steel (the -3 signified the number of tubes), and the AMP-4 Jet amp and steel, later to be augmented by the AMP-2 Challenger amp and Challenger steel. There was also an Alamo Dual 8 doubleneck Hawaiian steel guitar. The earliest amps featured a wooden case of birch plywood with an “A” on the front, very similar to Epiphone amps of the time. The amp itself featured a top-mounted chassis, with tubes suspended downward.

An AMP-5 was also produced at some point during this early period, featuring four inputs, the birch A cabinet and, presumably, five tubes. Also, a small, asymmetrical, pear-shaped, 6-string lap steel was made, probably the predecessor to the multicolored Embassy. This had a small German-carve lip around the top and was a natural-finished hardwood guitar. The pickguard was white leucite with black markers. The pickup had no handrest cover, but sat on a small plastic pickguard assembly with the volume and tone controls. Strings attached at a slotted metal tailblock. The head was strictly rectangular with rounded edges.

One of the early Alamo amp innovations was their own tremolo design, which they patented.

During this era, Alamo sold only to distributors. Probably the most famous was C. Bruno and Son, their major distributor through the glory years. They also did a brisk business in Mexico and into Central and South America. Eilenberg recalls that one salesman had his own airplane and used to regularly fly south of the border to sell Alamo amps.

By 1953, Alamo had grown and relocated to a new 6,000 square-foot facility in San Antonio. The company was building most of its own lap steels, though some were reportedly made for Alamo by National/Supro. The pickups on early Alamo lap steels were similar to those encountered on their later Spanish electrics, but slightly larger. And the Alamo line ultimately included 14 or 15 amps, which Eilenberg admits was probably too many.

Aloha
In the ’50s, Alamo also did a lot of O.E.M. manufacturing. One of its primary clients was Aloha, the Hawaii-based guitar and amp company. Many Aloha amps and guitars were made by Alamo. As Eilenberg recalls, Aloha bought only the AMP-3 Embassy amp and guitar. The Embassy was a tapered, roughly triangular, hardwood lap with a German carve top. Later examples were finished in Alpine White, with black and red aluminum fingerboards, chrome handrest, extended range adjustable pickup, volume and tone, and Deluxe Safe-Ti string machine heads. Presumably, Alohas were similar.

In about 1956, Eilenberg helped Aloha start it’s own amp-making operation, but the company continued to buy Alamo products, as well. Aloha acoustic guitars were sourced primarily from Chicago-based Harmony.

Alamo production was limited to amps and lap steels until 1960, when the company had to relocate again to a 25,500 square-foot factory at 926 West Laurel Street. Alamo occupied the majority of the site, but leased part of it. In 1960, Alamo increased the size of its woodshop and started making electric Spanish guitars.

Transition
A good snapshot of the maturing Alamo line (and reflection of the old offerings) can be gleaned from an undated catalog from about 1960. It combines the old “birch A” amp cabinets with newer styling, and features Alamo’s first solidbody Spanish electric guitar.
With an occasional exception, Alamo guitars and amps were all built in San Antonio, Texas. Pickups, as would always be the case, were also made by Alamo.

By this time, the Alamo amplifier line had expanded to include seven basic models, all but one of which existed prior to this catalog. Most were offered in a choice of coverings, either in the old birch cabinet with the A cutout on the grill, or in a new, more modern “grey lite” leatherette, offset with two vertical lines of dark grey beading on either side of the grille, and a dark grey plastic grillcloth. The handles were long, rounded, chrome-plated steel. Prices were identical for either the birch A option or the leatherette.

Still in the Alamo line were the Embassy, Challenger and Jet amplifiers of yore. It’s not known whether they underwent any upgrades. The Embassy featured three tubes (6SL7GT, 6V6GT, and 5Y3GT), a 10″ Alamo speaker and 6 watts of output power. The No. 2563 came in leatherette, whereas the No. 2463 came in birch, both for $82.50.

The Challenger amp also had three tubes (6SL7GT, 6V6GT and 5Y3GT) with two inputs, volume control, 8″ Alamo speaker and 5 watts of output power. The No. 2562, in leatherette, and No. 2462, in birch, each cost $62.50.

The No. 2561 Jet also had three tubes (including one 6SL7GT), two inputs, volume control, 6″ Alamo speaker, 4 watts output power, in leatherette only, for $59.50.

Above these three was the Montclair, which had five tubes (12AX7, 6SLGT, two 6V6GTs and 5Y3GT) with four inputs, tone control, 12″ Jensen speaker and 15 watts of output power. The No. 2565, in leatherette, and No. 2465, in birch, cost $124.50.

Top of the line were two Paragon amplifiers. The Paragon had seven tubes (unidentified), four inputs, two volume controls, a pushbutton tone control (bass boost), 15″ Jensen Concert Series speaker and 25 watts output. The No. 2567, in leatherette, and No. 2467, in birch, cost $234.50.

The Paragon Special was a bass amp version with a 15″ Jensen bass speaker. The No. 2569, in leatherette, and No. 2469, in birch, cost $259.50.

New in about 1960 was the Capri amp, No. 2560. This had three tubes, two inputs, volume control, 6″ Alamo speaker and 3 watts output. It was covered in brown leatherette, with no beading, and cost $46.50.

Five Alamo Hawaiian lap steels were available circa 1960. Most had been introduced in the early ’50s. Top of the line was the No. 2499 Futuramic Dual Eight, with two rectangular necks (the outside one slightly elevated), a black and silver fingerboard with block ALAMO letters as position markers, upward facing 4-and-4 tuners, and a script Alamo logo on the front. Each neck had a single Alamo Alnico V pickup mounted under a chrome handrest. Between the necks was a rectangular (chrome) control plate with one volume and one tone control. Next to it was a 2-way toggle select. Cost was $199.50 for the guitar, plus another $50 for hard case and $39 for legs.

The No. 2497 Futuramic Eight followed, with a satin-finished hardwood body, sort of pear-shaped, with the bass side longer than the treble, and a carved taper toward the head, away from the fingerboard. This had a flat 4-and-4 head with Safe-Ti tuners, a single Alamo Alnico V pickup, chrome handrest/control assembly with volume and tone controls, black fingerboard with the block ALAMO markers, and a 25″ scale. It also had a flocked back. Cost was a hefty $96.50, plus another $30 for hard case.

The No. 2495 Futuramic Six was the same as the Futuramic Eight, except it had two fewer strings and an $84.50 price tag.

The old No. 2493 Embassy guitar was still around. This was a cool 6-string lap with a light hardwood body, symmetrically pear-shaped with two contrasting strips of walnut running along the neck, through the body. It had a red and black aluminum fretboard with dots, a flat 3-and-3 head, and one Alamo Alnico V pickup on the chrome handrest assembly with volume and tone. Cost was $59.50. For an additional $14, you could get the optional Gladstone flannel-lined case.

Also still around was the No. 2490 Jet guitar, with a large, triangular, hardwood body finished in Alpine White. This had a white fingerboard with black “frets” and dots. There was a script Alamo logo at the bottom of the angular fingerboard. This, too, had the Alamo Alnico V pickup on a chrome handrest assembly, with volume and tone. Cost was $47.50, plus $12.50 for a Gladstone case.

Both the Embassy and Jet lap steel guitars had their respective names (not Alamo) on the headstock. The Embassy lap and amp and Jet lap and amp were sold as outfits.

Enter Espna
Appearing for the first time in 1960 was Alamo’s first Spanish electric duly, dubbed the No. 2590 Texan.

This was a solidbody guitar with two equal cutaways, not dissimilar to a Gibson Les Paul Junior. The deep cutaways joined the neck right at the end of the fingerboard at the 20th fret, so it’s probable this was a glued-neck guitar. The neck was made of Northern maple and was called a FerroTorsion neck, with a “steel bar plate,” whatever that means! Probably a slab steel bar reinforcement similar to that on Danelectros of the period (this term would come to mean double steel bars, like on Danos, so it’s probably safe to assume the design is a variation).

The headstock had a very dramatic French curve culminating in a high, pointed, peak on the treble side. The logo was a headstock decal with the Alamo logo featuring a lightning bolt through the final “o.” Tuners were Safe-Ti open-backed strips. The fingerboard on this (arguably) high point in Alamo Spanish guitars was ebony with four pearl block inlays that spanned the fingerboard. The Texan’s body was made of ash and finished in a natty Primavera Blonde. The pickguard was a conservative, rounded, black plastic shape, with a wide rounded part in the middle of the strings carrying a wide Alamo Alnico V pickup and extending down along the treble lower bout for volume and tone controls and jack.

There was a third pushbutton rhythm tone control that used a “…new flat headphone plug,” which would become an Alamo exclusive. It’s basically a wide, square, plastic head with the plug coming out at a right angle. The bridge was a moveable, adjustable, type like those on early Harmonies and Kays. The tail was a hinged trapeze.

This transitional lineup, including the solidbody Texan, probably lasted only a couple years, until about 1962, when we can pick up the trail again with another Alamo catalog. This is also undated but probably from about 1962. While many of the line’s mainstays remained in ’62, a number of other changes and reshufflings were afoot.

Also, sometime during this period Alamo hooked up more exclusively with C. Bruno & Son, Inc., which was based in San Antonio and had a major office in New York City, and later L.A. Bruno is not mentioned in the circa 1960 catalog, but is featured in the circa ’62 catalog.

Into the ’60s Swing
Alamo amps in 1962 were mostly still available in either the old birch cabinet or in a leatherette, available in grey and silverflake vinyl, whereas earlier examples of both cabinets were illustrated in the catalog, now only the vinyl coverings were shown.

Still in the line and pretty much unchanged were the No. 2560 Capri, Nos. 2562 (vinyl) and 2462 (birch) Challenger, the Nos. 2563 and 2463 Embassy, Nos. 2565 and 2465 Montclair, Nos. 2567 and 2467 Paragon, and Nos. 2569 and 2469 Paragon Special, all still priced at 1960 levels. Observation of many other brand catalogs shows similar stasis in prices during this period, contrary to the constant inflation we’ve come to expect today.

The old No. 2561 Jet also remained, but was redesigned with grey and blue leatherette, with the center panel blue, grey beading and grey plastic grill. It still had three tubes (including 12AX7) and 4 watts output, for $59.50.

New in ’62 were some Twins, and a new patented electronic tremolo. (Note the correct designation of the tremolo, which is amplitude variation, not frequency variation, as on the Magnatone of the era. Guitars have “vibrato” systems, not tremolos.) The newer amps did not have the old birch option, and boasted interlocking cabinet corners for added strength.

The No. 2570 Electra Twin Ten with Tremolo had six tubes (unidentified), four inputs, two volumes and two tones, two channels, speed and intensity on the tremolo, two 10″ Alamo speakers and 18 watts output. This came in grey and silverflake vinyl covering with a charcoal grey plastic grill, for $148.50.

Also new was the No. 2566 Century Twin Ten, with five tubes, two 10″ speakers, four inputs, two volumes and one tone, 15 watts output, and the vinyl covering. At $136.50, this was almost the same as the Electra, without the tremolo.

In addition, the old Futuramic name, formerly applied only to Hawaiian laps, was transferred to the new No. 2564 Futuramic Twin Eight amp, with 12AX7, 6AV6, two 6v6 and 5Y3 tubes, two 8″ speakers, 10 watts output and the grey and silver flake vinyl covering. This had a grey hammertone finish on the chassis, and cost $96.50.

Last but not least, by ’62 the No. 2460 Fiesta amp had debuted. This was basically identical to the old Capri, except it was offered in multiple (unidentified) color vinyl covering options and cost $46.50.

Three Hawaiian lap steels remained in ’62. The No. 2499 Alamo Dual Eight String Professional Model was the old Futuramic, but still listed for $199.50. The No. 2493 Embassy guitar, with the walnut stripes, also remained, with the same price. The No. 2490 Jet, with the elongated triangular body, also remained the same. Gone was the asymmetrical Futuramic Eight lap steel. The Embassy and Jet still had their names, not Alamo, on the headstocks.

New Six-strings
Also gone was the Texan solidbody, replaced by the Futuramic Spanish electric solidbody, No. 2587. This was a similar, equal double-cutaway with a slightly thicker upper horn. It also appeared to have a glued-in neck (unconfirmed) and was finished in a Blonde Mist.

The 3-and-3 head still sported a French curve top, but it was much less dramatic, with a lower peak than the Texan, but still with Safe-Ti tuners. The logo was still the lightning bolt Alamo decal. The 20-fret fingerboard was now rosewood with dot inlays. The black pickguard was similar to the Texan, but was squared off above the pickup, which was still mounted in the middle of the body.

Replacing the Texan’s moveable/adjustable bridge was a new Alamo Acra-Tune bridge/tailpiece assembly. This was remarkably similar to Danelectro’s inimitable design. It was basically an angled piece of metal, hinged with adjustable height screws, with six holes for holding the strings in the back and a fixed saddle at the front. It had volume, tone and a rhythm-lead toggle switch. The cost was $67.50.

Also new was the No. 2588 Fiesta Spanish solidbody, which had a small, almost Tele-shaped, single cutaway body. Otherwise, it was almost the same as the Futuramic. It was, like the Fiesta amps, available in different (unidentified) colors for $62.50. It’s not clear whether this is a glued-in or bolt-on neck.

As before, Alamo offered various guitar and amp “outfits,” including the Fiesta (matching guitar and amp for $117.50), plus the Embassy ($156) and Jet ($119) Hawaiian outfits.

Especially cool in ’62 was the No. 2577 Altrol Electronic Tremolo and Foot Switch, essentially a foot pedal with the new, patented, electronic tremolo. In addition to an on/off switch, this model had speed and volume knobs mounted on the side. All for a cool $44.50.

Expansion
In 1963, the Alamo line began to once again transmogrify, taking a more familiar tack. A bunch of new Spanish electrics appeared, as did more new amps, as seen again in an undated catalog, probably from ’63, provided by Jim Dulfer.

Still in the amp line in ’63 were the No. 2560 Capri (12AU6, 5OL6, 35Z5, 8″ speaker), No. 2561 Jet, No. 2562 Challenger (12AX7, 6V6, 5Y3, 8″ speaker, 5 watts), No. 2563 Embassy (same tubes, 10″ speaker, 6 watts), No. 2564 Futuramic Twin Eight, No. 2565 Montclair (two 6V6, 5Y3GT, two 12AX7, ECC-83/12AX7, 6AN8, 12″ speaker, 25 watts), and the No. 2570 Electra Twin Ten with Tremolo, all pretty much priced as before.

Gone was the birch cabinet option, and all were in the grey and silverflaked vinyl. Also gone was the beading, and a script Alamo logo was placed on a small rectangular plate on the upper left corner of the grillcloth.

The Paragon and Paragon Special were still offered, though slightly redesigned. The No. 2567 Paragon Two Channel had eight tubes (two 6L6GB, 5U4GB, two 12AX7, two ECC-83/12AX7, 6AN8), 15″ speaker, two channels, four inputs, tremolo, treble and bass boost and 30 watts output (60 watts peak). The No. 2569 Paragon Two Channel Bass was similar (minus the tremolo), with six tubes (two 5881, 5U4GB, two ECC-83/12AX7, 6AN8), two channels, and 30 watts (60 watts peak).

New in ’63 was the No. 2571 Galaxie Twin Twelve amp, with two 12″ speakers, two channels (normal and tremolo), four inputs, patented electronic tremolo, seven tubes (two 6L6GB, 5U4GB, two 12AX7, ECC-83/12AX7, 6AN8), 25 watts output, for $199.50.

The Altrol tremolo foot switch was also still available.

Reflecting the changing times, the Alamo Hawaiian line shrank still further. Gone in ’63 was the old doubleneck. Still offered were the pear-shaped, walnut-striped No. 2493 Embassy and elongated triangular No. 2490 Jet laps.

Even More Guitars
In terms of Spanish electrics, gone was the Futuramic solidbody, though the Tele-shaped Fiesta Spanish guitar remained, still a solidbody.

New in ’63 was the Titan Series guitars and bass. These had even less dramatic French curves on the top of their heads, and featured hollow-core bodies, a construction method usually associated with Alamo. Headstocks still had the lightning bolt Alamo decals.

The Titan Series consisted of two models, the Mark I and Mark II; slightly offset double-cutaways (not unlike Magnatone Zephyrs) with one or two pickups, respectively. Pickups on the Titans, by the way, still had the Alamo “humped” metal covers but are significantly narrower, a design seen on most existing Alamo guitars.

The pickguards had become almost Strat-like, covering most of the lower part of the guitar. The 20-fret rosewood fingerboards were given pearloid block inlays. The necks were definitely bolt-on, and the bridge/tailpieces were Alamo Acra-Tune.

The Mark I had a single middle pickup, volume, tone and a rhythm-lead toggle switch. The No. 2589 Mark I was sunburst priced at $89.95, while the No. 2590 Mark I was Blonde Mist that went for $94.95. The Mark II was the same, except it had a neck and bridge pickup, and a 3-way toggle replacing the rhythm switch. The No. 2591 Mark II was sunburst, at $109.95, while the No. 2592 Mark II was Blonde Mist, at $114.95.

The No. 2593 Titan Bass was Alamo’s first bass. It was a hollowbody, with the slightly offset double-cutaway body, 2-and-2 head, volume, tone and Acra-Tune bridge/tailpiece. This had a single, narrower pickup in the middle. A Blonde Mist Titan Bass set you back $144.50, while a Sunburst Titan Bass cost $149.50.

Mr. Eilenberg recalls making these hollowbodies. They were made of imported Swedish plywood because the specified thickness was 3mm, and European plywood came in metric sizes. Workers at Alamo would bend the sides on a form and then apply milk glue. About 40 guitars would be stacked up with waxed paper between them, then they would be compressed with a hydraulic press while the glue dried. As Eilenberg says, the company never had a problem with bodies coming apart. Alamo later switched to Tightbond-type glue when milk glue was no longer available.

Dazed and Confusion
At this point things get a little confusing. While these undated catalogs provide an excellent view of early Alamo instruments, there are a number of pieces missing or which don’t conveniently fit classification.

One reason for this becomes clear when you trace this saga and note how often Alamo transferred names from one instrument to another. Also, in terms of guitars, one suspects that the name Fiesta went on just about everything! This perception may persist because of the holes in our knowledge. But remember, Alamo was not producing high-end professional gear. They were making cheap beginner instruments, so quality and consistency were not the most important ingredients.

Which is prefatory to discussing a few guitars that show up fairly frequently, but which are not in the catalogs we have on hand. These bear both the Titan and Fiesta names and carry a number of features that seem to mark a transition from the early ’60s sightings and mid and late-’60s models, so we can deduce they date from about 1963-’64.

Most have a new, flared, 3-and-3 headstock, more-or-less center-humped. I say more or less because some of the construction quality from this period is abysmal, and the hump kind of migrates around! Some still have the old Alamo decal on the head, but others sport a large, downward-curved, anteater-shaped truss rod cover (almost like a Rickenbacker) with Alamo and the model name engraved on it. These covers were absent in ’63 and standard by ’65, so probably the presence or lack thereof indicates early or late in this period. Almost all of these have the Acra-Tune bridge assembly, which was in place by ’62, and the newer, more narrow pickup, which debuted in ’63. Most have a new pickguard design that featured what would become an Alamo trademark, a squiggly tail on a squarish, Strat-shaped, pickguard, like an amoeba or polliwog or perhaps cartoon fetus. Well, you’ll know it when you see it.

The Titans were a continuation from earlier models with the hollow-core body, but with the new, broad, center-humped headstock, presumably still available in Mark I (1-pickup) and Mark II (2-pickup) versions. My example is done up in a nifty plum purple color.

This guitar also has a remarkable treble edge to the neck. The maker must have figured out he was carving it too narrowly, and at about the 9th fret or so, it takes this curve outward to give it a bit more width, sort of like a flipped over 5-string banjo neck! It’s quite startling to move up the neck and encounter this unique profile. Of course, I suspect they never expected an Alamo player to move up the neck.

The Fiesta may indeed have gone through a further transition at this point. The old, small, solidbody Tele shape, which was fairly downplayed in the ’63 catalog, appears to have briefly transformed into the double cutaway shape of the Texan, remaining a solidbody, with an Alamo decal on the head. However, this guitar soon changed into a small-bodied double-cutaway, hollow-core body, with the slightly dipped cutaway horns almost perpendicular to the neck (which was almost parallel all the way down, much like a Harmony).

These had the wide, center-humped head, now with the Rickyesque truss cover, and the squiggly fetal pickguard. The Fiesta came with one (no fancy rhythm/lead switches) or two pickups, and at least in red and white finishes.

Midway
The Titan bass presumably continued during this transition period, since it was still in the line in ’65, the next marker for the Alamo line.

Predictably, the Hawaiian laps had almost disappeared, while the Spanish guitar and amp lines had undergone serious redesign and expansion.

By 1965, Alamo amps had been totally redesigned. Gone were the groovy grey and silverflaked vinyl leatherette, in favor of dark vinyl. Cabinets were basically rectangular with metal corner protectors. Fabric grillcloth covered most of the front, with a little black rectangular logo plate in the upper left corner, with a script Alamo logo with the lightning bolt. The better amps had loaded baffle speaker cabinets lined with acoustical fiberglass. Gone was the old chrome handle in favor of a “flexine plastic” carrying handle (ye old vinyl strap). While these look like solidstate, they were still all-tube units at this time.

Familiar names still in the combo amp line included the Model 2560 Capri (three tubes, three inputs, volume, tone, slanted front, 8″ speaker, 3 watts, $47.50), Model 2573 Fiesta Tremolo (without color options, four tubes, three inputs, volume, tone, tremolo speed, 8″ speaker, 3 watts, $69.50), Model 2562 Challenger (three tubes, three inputs, volume, tone, 8″ speaker, 5 watts, $69.50), Model 2563 Embassy Tremolo (four tubes, three inputs, volume, tone, tremolo speed and intensity, 10″ speaker, 6 watts, $89.50), Model 2565 Montclair (seven tubes, four inputs, two channels with volume, tone, tremolo with speed and intensity, 12″ speaker, 15 watts, $139.50), Model 2570 Electra Twin Ten (seven tubes, four inputs, two channels with volume, tone, tremolo with speed and intensity, two 10″ speakers, 18 watts, $159.50), and the Model 2569 Paragon Bass (six tubes, four inputs, two channels, volume, bass and treble controls, 15″ speaker, 30 watts/60 watts peak, $269.50).

Our old friend, the No. 2567 Paragon, had transmogrified into the No. 2568 Paragon Band amplifier, with eight tubes, two channels, tremolo and normal, four inputs, Hi-Fi bass and treble controls, tremolo speed and intensity, 15″ speaker, 30 watts/60 watts peak, and a price tag of $289.50. For $439.50 you could get this Paragon as the No. 2568JL15, with a Jim Lansing 15″ speaker.

New names in the ’65 combo line included the No. 2567. Note the same number as the old Paragon, now called the Futura, with reverb and tremolo. This had eight tubes, four inputs, two channels – one with reverb and tremolo, volume, tone, 12″ speaker, 15 watts, and a price of $199.50.

Also new was the Model 2572 Titan, with five tubes, four inputs, volume, tone, tremolo speed and intensity, 12″ speaker, 12 watts, and a $119.50 price tag.

Also new was an Alamo Reverb Unit No. 2574, with a Hammond reverb system, balance and intensity controls, and an $84.50 price tag.

One other familiar amp name remained but was unrecognizable – the Galaxie. This had joined a new line of piggyback amps, with separate chassis unit and speaker cabinet. The Model 2571 Galaxie Twin Twelve Piggy Back had seven tubes, two channels, four inputs, volume, tone, tremolo speed and intensity, two 12″ speakers, 22 watts, and a price of $249.50. For $384.50 you could get the Model 2571JL12, with one Jim Lansing 12″ speaker.

Other Miss Piggies included the No. 2578 Piggy-Back Super Band. This had eight tubes, two channels (tremolo and normal), four inputs, volume, Hi-Fi bass and treble controls, two 12″ speakers, 40 watts output (80 watts peak), and $379.50 cost. For $679.50 you could get the No. 2578JL12, with two Jim Lansing 12″ speakers.

The No. 2576 Piggy-Back Band amp had eight tubes, two channels (tremolo and normal), four inputs, volume, Hi-Fi bass and treble controls, 15″ speaker, 30 watts output (60 watts peak), and $339.50 price. The No. 2576JL15 came with a Jim Lansing 15″ speaker for $489.50.

The No. 2575 Piggy-Back Bass amp had six tubes, two channels (bass and normal), four inputs, volume, Hi-Fi bass and treble controls, 15″ speaker, 30 watts output (60 watts peak), and $319.50 cost. The No. 2575JL15 came with a Lansing speaker for $469.50.

By ’65, Alamo also offered two accordion amplifiers. The No. 2576 Piggy-Back Band Amp was basically the Paragon Band amp in a piggyback configuration and engineered for accordions. This also came with a Lansing option. The No. 2568 Paragon Band was the combo version, also available in a Lansing option. Cosmetically, these look pretty much the same as the guitar amps, except for having the old, rounded, chrome handle and a white logo plate with black lettering. It is not known if any true differences exist between these and the guitar amps. Based on the cosmetics, it was probably leftover stock being redefined to make way for the new look.

Also offered in ’65 was our old friend, the No. 2569 Paragon Special, which was now being marketed to bass fiddle players. This also came with a Lansing speaker option. Again, I suspect this was simply a repositioning of older stock. Alamo, which was firmly in with the Bruno organization by this time, also sold the K720 Kay Heavy Duty Bass Amplifier.

Not too many folks wanted to play Hawaiian music in 1965, and Alamo’s laps shrank to a single offering – the Model 2493 Embassy, except in the elongated triangular shape of the Jet. This had a triangular body with a German carve relief around the edge, a black and red aluminum fingerboard, a squiggly, black Alamo logo plate on the flathead, Safe-Ti tuners, covered pickup with volume and tone control, and an Alpine White finish. The Embassy cost $59.95. Another $15 got you a hard case.

We’ll pause here, with the Embassy, until next month, when we’ll slide into the conclusion of the Alamo story. Stay tuned!

1964 Alamo Titan Mark II

This article originally appeared in VG‘s Aug. ’96 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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