I've been suspicious of these amps since I first saw one a few
months ago. Some models had odd similarities to Hilgens - such as the carrying handle, which is, so far as I know, unique to Hilgen amps. Common wisdom on the internet was that they were all made by either by Sano or a nameless Japanese company. I was pretty sure that could not be accurate. However, I already had (and still have) a huge backload of Hilgen material to investigate. So I let it go.
Earlier this week someone who is in a position to know such things told me that he'd seen a document connecting Jack Gentul to these amps. As fate would have it, there was an Excelsior amp for sale on eBay. I drove about four hours to get it yesterday.
Here's the front of the amp:
Here's the back:
But now let's take a closer look at one of those 7591's:
On top of that, at least three of the pre-amp tubes are re-branded "Radio-Matic." The amp was made in 1964. [That fact is inconsistent with my current timeline. However, based on other information I received last week, plus the force of inconsistencies that just won't go away, I know that my current timeline for the period after Jack Gentul left Brook Electronics has huge gaps and downright errors. Oh well; electro-archaeology is meant to be a discipline, not a belief system.]
The control panel has some corrosion I'd like to see if I can reduce (gingerly) before I photograph it. It is very different from the Hilgen control panel cosmetically. It has a gold, brushed-aluminum faceplate similar to that of a Marshall Plexi, with chicken-head knobs.
Other Excelsior amps have model names, such as the "Americana." However, the only model designation on this amplifier is "High Quality Amplifier." Where have we seen that before?
I had thought Jack Gentul was an unsung master of amplifier design, but this is getting a little out of hand...
More to come.
*There is no resemblance between the original Excelsior amps and the Fender "pawn shop" reissues. I do not know how Fender acquired the right to the Excelsior brand, but what it purports to have "reissued" never existed. The originals are vastly superior to Fender's cynical counterfeits.