How does Origin Effects’ new MAGMA57 Amp Vibrato & Drive stack up against a real Magnatone M15? Cat enthusiast, dog-petting aficionado, and CME Vintage Buyer Daniel Albert intends to find out. Welcome to Tone Exploration.
Beginning in the late 1930s, Magna Electronics produced amplifiers, Hawaiian and steel guitars. In the 1950s and 1960s, they produced vibrato-equipped amplifiers which were used by musicians including Buddy Holly and Lonnie Mack. The 'real' vibrato effect called F.M. Vibrato was distinct in sound and design from the more common tremolo circuits found on Fender amplifiers.
Magnatone amplifiers began in the late 1930s as the Dickerson Musical Instrument Company founded by Delbert J. Dickerson in southern California. They made steel guitars and amplifiers designed for that instrument.
In the forties Gaston Fator Guitar Studios in Los Angeles bought the business from Dickerson. Fator owned it for a few years, and then sold it to Art Duhamell around 1946. During the years Fator ran the business, there was little engineering or innovation, he basically continued the product lines Dickerson had established and continued to build amps and guitars for other manufacturers as well.
In the hands of its new owner, Art Duhamell, the amplifier and guitar brand name was changed to Magnatone, and the company name was Magna Electronics Company. Duhamell built Magnatones alongside record players, radios, and speakers. By 1950, Magna expanded from their Jefferson Boulevard, Los Angeles location with three new buildings at 9749 S. Freeman Ave. and employed more than twenty-five employees.