A History of Broadway Guitars
Broadway Guitar Amplifier
A little amplifier, (photos below) bearing the characteristic Broadway logo, turned up on eBay, albeit in rather tatty condition.
At the time, I didn’t have much information on these Broadway amps, so I phoned the seller. It turned out he knew nothing either! The amp, a 5-watt valve model, was undoubtedly another Broadway branded item from the late 1950’s or early 1960’s and sold as a catalogue model by companies such as Bell Musical Instruments of Epsom. Since then some details of this amp have started to emerge.
The circuitry for this amp turned up (again on eBay) in July 2011 and the seller indicated the amp was made in 1958 in Surrey. That might tie it into the Bell Music Company but not the actual site for manufacture.
Four vintage valves are fitted; a Mullard EZ80, a Brimar EL84, an ECC83 12AXT and what appears from the photo to be an ECC82. Some further detective work reveals the Broadway amp was indeed manufactured in the late 1950s. An article on http://www.musicradar.com shows it had a slight variation in parts: an 8” British Goodmans speaker, Mullard 12AX7 pre tube, Mullard EL84 power tube and a Mullard EZ81 rectifier
Broadway Bass amp
Bill Lovegrove got in touch and wrote “For your interest, I purchased a Broadway amplifier secondhand in 1961 and used it with my Hofner 2 pick up bass. It was a specific bass amplifier had a large cabinet with 1 x 12" speaker.
The interesting thing was the amplifier section was housed in a separate box which slid in and out the back of the speaker cabinet, so as to reduce vibration. It was rated at 15 watts and was finished in red cloth with the speaker grille in a stony coloured cloth. The interesting thing was although a bass amp it had a tremolo. Not seen one since. If you have any pictures of this model would appreciate.”
Unfortunately, I have no further information either on this Broadway bass amp but would be interested to hear from anyone that has.
Ian Vassallo Grant from Malta wrote to me in August 2012, after ‘discovering’ a Broadway amplifier in the back of his wardrobe. Ian thought that it had gone missing years ago, so Googled it, which brought him to this website!
Of course, I contacted Ian, who sent me the many photos of his wonderful little Broadwayt amp, which is in extremely good condition. Many thanks to Ian for supplying the photos.
The photos below show a variation in covering and design, with a set of controls also mounted on the rear.
Broadway amp from Tennessee
This rare Rose Morris distributed Broadway amp, dated July 1963, turned up on eBay in July 2014.
The seller, from Tennessee, believed that Rose Morris had these made by Dallas or their vendor. He thinks it "looks like possibly a Shaftsbury or Alpico clone, but with Selmer influence. The white covering and the knobs are identical to the white era Selmer range. Looking at smaller Selmers and Futuramas of the era, the power transistor on the floor of the amp (and everything else top mounted) certainly points to the same design team".
This amp has 2 El 84's with tube rectifier and ECC83 preamps "The tremolo effect is verty unique, sounding almost like a Univibe because it is so slow and throbbing. Additionally, there are three channels, with a sensitivity switch that won't be seen again until Sound City (another Dallas product.) began using it".
Here at Broadway guitars, we're always interested if you have any further information about the manufacture of these great little Broadway amps, which are not only rare but also surrounded by the mystery of their maker! It is quite possible that the amps were outsourced for manufacture, as there are some variances in size, shape, parts used etc.
Left: Half page advert from a December 1960 edition of BMG (Banjo, Mandolin, Guitar) magazine, showing the Broadway Tremolo amplifier made available through distributors, Rose-Morris in London.
Some variances in parts (usually due to inconsistency in sourcing parts or changes in workshops) but essentially still a Broadway amplifier. Photos of this particular model were kindly supplied by Linden Aquilina
Dave Jefferson made contact and sent some photos of this amazing little Broadway amp from 1957! The amp had been gifted by a friend, who's late father had purchased the amp from new. No original parts have been replaced and only the plug looks modern. The valves are original and dated 1957. Fantastic! It sounds great, too.