Watkins Dominator valve (tube) amp in superb restored condition and excellent working order. Dating from around 1963, this...
Watkins Dominator valve (tube) amp in superb restored condition and excellent working order. Dating from around 1963, this 18 watter has 2 x EL84s and sounds superb – we’ve been using this in our studio for the past couple of years since it was rebuilt. The tremolo is great – plenty of depth, a little thump at more extreme settings, but very useable – has had the slowest speed setting reduced for greater versatility.
These are extremely under-rated amps – they give equivalent vintage Marshall and Vox amps a run for their money – Charlie Watkins was well ahead of the game (ask anyone who owns a pre-WEM Westminster). No wonder Jim Marshall found ‘inspiration’ from these amps for his classic 18w design. We’ve got three V-Fronts in at the moment (see our other listings) and they all sound great.
Internally, it has its original transformers and twin Elac alnico 10” speakers, mostly new valves throughout, and a superb quality rewire/rebuild. These amps are now a mass of out of spec and failing components and need work to sound as they should – it absolutely sings.
This amp arrived in a very sad state – it’d been painted black and had big ugly black speaker grilles – but it was clear that the important parts were still good. I wanted a V-Front for the studio, so spent many hours stripping and preparing the cabinet for John Beer of AmpFix – who makes the reissue Dominator/Westminster/Clubman amps – to recover. There was an issue with some black marks showing through the new covering (detailed in the many photos below), but overall the finish looks great. This was a labour of love and a great deal of time and money was spent to bring this superb amp back to life.
It’s been much-loved in our studio, but I’m slimming down the studio collection to fund our new desk. It’s priced lower than our other V-Fronts as it’s not cosmetically original, but if you’re looking for a great playable vintage amp that won’t fail you, this is a steal.
An advantage of this re-covered amp over an original one is how everything it tight and new – no loose screws/buzzing grille etc. You will want some Blu Tack or similar to place under the handle when playing to damp the vibrations – the old handles on these amps buzz and rattle when you crank up the volume (which you’ll want to do because the breakup is superb).
It’s had a thorough overhaul to bring everything back up to original spec. Many components in these early Watkins amps are way out of specification now and they usually need a good deal of work to make them sound as they should.
Please see detailed photos – some valves have been replaced with new since the internal photos were taken.
This is a UK 240v mains-powered model and will require a step-up transformer for operation in countries with 110-117v mains supplies. The UK plug will be removed prior to shipping to countries with 240v mains supplies, unless otherwise requested.
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PUBLISHED: 21st Nov 2023
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