This stunning piece is one of the best sounding British amps ever made, and some think it ranks even higher than the Marshall Bluesbreaker 2 x 12 combo of which I have had several.
Every time I write an amp description it seems to include the word ‘rare’. Well this is the RAREST and most SOUGHT AFTER amp of them all. This stunning piece is one of the best sounding British amps ever made, and some think it ranks even higher than the Marshall Bluesbreaker 2 x 12 combo of which I have had several.
For sale following a full service, including complete restoration of the tape echo section. Video demo below – it sounds superb and plays very well: truly a very special recording amp. The echo has had a full set of new replacement heads to improve performance – even though the original Marriott heads looked and tested good, they didn’t sound great. The original heads will be included with the amp.
Original description below – photos need updating to show service work on the amp and echo section – some capacitors were out of spec and have been replaced. The results speak for themselves.
Selling on commission for a good customer. This is the second time we have had this amp – it was originally part of the superb collection of early British valve amps we’ve been selling for a collector with over 30 years experience – his description of the amp is below. Click on the photos to zoom in and see many more detailed and internal shots – these were taken a year or so ago so may need some updating. The amp is with us now and will be serviced prior to shipping.
Every time I write an amp description it seems to include the word ‘rare’. Well this this is the RAREST and most SOUGHT AFTER amp of them all. This stunning piece is one of the best sounding British amps ever made, and some think it ranks even higher than the Marshall Bluesbreaker 2 x 12 combo of which I have had several.
This is a late 1961/early 1962 Watkins Joker with an incredibly early serial number of 80* and a speaker date code the appears to be 1961. The Joker is Watkin’s most rare amp, and is widely considered the best amp they ever made. According to Charlie Watkins, only 400 of these amazing amps were made somewhere between 1960-63. The Joker came in a two-tone red and grey covering, and featured a pearlised red control panel with ‘winking eye’ tremolo speed indicator which distinguished it from the ordinary Watkins amp range. Inside it featured a 25 watt power amp and preamp containing tremolo, copycat tape-echo and reverb. The early models also included a built in microphone stand and Goodman’s hi-fi speaker and horn set up.
This example appears to be complete with microphone stand, Goodman’s Axiom 301/ Trebax Horn and an original footswitch for the tape echo unit. The amplifier construction is very sophisticated with 12 valves and was reckoned to be way ahead of it’s time when first sold. The Mullard valve line up includes the winking eye, an EZ81 valve rectifier, 4 x El 84’s, 4 ECC83’s and an EM87 and 6BR8 tube.
To read more about the amp’s history go to Charlie Watkins own site.
Or the Vintage Hofner site.
Note that this amp is 240 volt and will require a step up transformer for US use.
*These serial numbers covered all products, not just the Joker. The 1962 Joker sold in 2014 had a serial number of 200315
The unit is in pretty good shape, with the usual scuffs, marks and a couple of tiny tolex repairs. The tweeter has been remounted at some stage and the power amp position and back panel have been adjusted slightly to stop the valves burning the speaker (a common issue apparently). It has the original handle, sledge feet, hardware and bulgin plug mains lead as well as a box of tapes Very little has been touched within the amp itself – as can be seen from the photos, and it has been serviced ready for use.
Switchable voltage for use anywhere in the world - it will be set up ready for you to use before we ship.
For sales in UK/EU the price will include 20% VAT. VAT-free sales are possible to businesses and individuals in the EU (outside the UK) with a valid VAT Number - please get in touch if you wish to buy this way.
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Just wanted to say thank you so much for your pinch roller and echo tape. I've had a space echo for years, been sent to a shop in NYC and it never worked quite right. After installing the roller and tape, my echo works like a dream. Really incredible expertise you all have! Thank you.
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We can't stop here, this is bat country! Our next auction (November 22nd) features some head-turning, show-stopping synths, however we also wanted to put the spotlight...
PUBLISHED: 21st Nov 2023
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