Kalamazoo Amps

Rebuild Service

I no longer sell these amps. But I'm happy to rebuild yours!

I had craved one of these old girls for a long time while searching for something to give me the sound I wanted. Greg provided the means of getting a good 'Zoo that he made safe to use by modern standards. I'll never part with it! Thanks Greg! — Hawkeye Kane, Springfield, IL
I spent an hour messing with it today, played harp through it and a Harmony 400A and a tube swapped blues jr,. and I think the Zoo sounds better than all of them! Nice sound, excellent condition, Thanks! — Rick B, Indianapolis, IN.
The Kalamazoo is the PERFECT amp for me. At least gives me (maybe approaching intermediate player) a shot at getting that elusive "sound/tone", while I improve my amplified playing. And, I did not have to spend $600 or $1,200, or whatever. — Mike M, Westminster, MA

I normally gig through one of the most coveted harp amps there is, a Sonny Jr. Avenger. But I wanted a smaller practice amp. I'm pretty handy with tools and a soldering iron, so I considered building a Fender Tweed Champ from a kit. It was going to set me back about $500 plus a lot of time, so I decided first to check with Sonny Jr. himself - the guy knows more about amps for harp than anyone else I've ever met. He said "Save your money and get yourself a Kalamazoo Model 2 off of eBay. Best little harp amp I ever heard." So I took his advice, and bought the amp you see pictured to the right. It has a typical Kalamazoo "patina". Fixed it up and you know what? Sonny Jr. was right! That was 20 years ago. Since then, I have rebuilt over 400 Kalamazoo Model 1 and Model 2 amplifiers. I know what they're supposed to sound like!

I'm happy to rebuild your amp(s). I know what they're supposed to sound like and have rebuilt over 300 of them. I charge $99 for the basic rebuild. That includes complete disassembly of the amp, cleaning and lubing the pots, cleaning and re-tensioning tube sockets, adding a 3-wire power cord, eliminating the "death cap", replacing the power filter supply capacitors, adding my front panel reinforcement mod, and replacing a few other minor components that sometimes need it. It doesn't cover major issues like blown speaker or transformers, bad pots, tubes — or tube sockets — but if the amp is working now those aren't an issue and they rarely, rarely are.

For an additional $49 I will install the line out option. (See below)

For an additional $49 I will chemically dry clean the grill cloth and re-dye the cabinet.

Check out Japanese harp wonder Koei Tanaka's performance at SPAH 2009. Winslow Yerxa asked if they could borrow my Kalamazoo Model 2 for that show - Mr. Tanaka had fun with it. That was a big room and the amp was unmic'd - shows what this amp can do when the band controls their volume. Although it will be drowned out at an uncontrolled jam, it is louder than most people expect, and louder than most amps of this size.

Line Out Option

Kalamazoos have great tone, and amazing volume for their size, but no 8W amp is going to win volume wars at a loud jam. The line-out is a high impedance signal accesible via a 1/4" jack, and the output is equivalent to that of a good microphone, so you can connect the amp to the house sound system (via high-Z input or DI Box) or another amp. This is no sterile-sounding pre-amp line-out. The signal is derived from the speaker side of the output transformer, so all the great Kalamazoo tone gets amplified. It really works! The Kalamazoo becomes an on-stage monitor but can be heard by hundreds, even thousands. A line-out is the optimal way to connect one amp to another. Using a "Y cable, "A/B/Y Box" or other cable splitter will cut the input impedance in half, doubling the load on your mic and altering its tone. The line out does not lower the input impedance at all. Cool, eh?

(Thanks to Gary Onofrio, aka Sonny Jr. for his assistance in developing this circuit.)

Shipping a Kalamazoo

I've received and shipped over 400 Kalamazoos - that's over 800 shipments! So I have some useful experience about how to pack them for shipping.THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS ENSURING THE AMP CANNOT MOVE INSIDE THE BOX. The bigger the box, the harder this is to do. THE OTHER REALLY IMPORTANT THING: Please ship the amp FACE DOWN as the most vulnerable part is the speaker baffle board. This way the shock of an innocent drop is spread around the baffle board - otherwise it is focused on the 4 speaker mounting screws and will crack the baffle board at those spots. Ensure that the box is marked "this side up" on all 4 sides. Place at least one layer of medium/heavy bubble wrap around the amp itself, and stuff the cabinet cavity with airbags, crumpled paper or bubble wrap to prevent the power cord from flopping around and to protect the tubes in case they fall out in transit. The box doesn't have to be much bigger than the amp, (I use 18x16x8 or 18x16x10) - just be sure to pad it on all six sides so the amp is sort of "suspended" in the middle of the space - that way some external shock can crush the outside box a bit without hurting the amp. Pad any space left over so the amp can't move inside the box with something that cannot shift in transit- bubble wrap, cardboard, styrofoam sheet all work. Crumpled paper is OK but it needs to packed in tightly. There MUST be at least two layers of bubble wrap between the amp and the box on every side of the amp. Please, PLEASE I'm begging here... do NOT use styrofoam peanuts! Peanuts are effectively a liquid. They WILL shift, the amp will then slam around inside the box and destroy itself! When packed this way they have the best chance of survival - I've shipped the amps this way and not had one problem (knock wood) though I've received many poorly packed amps that completely beat themselves to death inside the box. Please ship UPS or FedEx. I pay about $40 to ship these UPS anywhere in the country. USPS Parcel Post subjects the box to the most handling and has the highest rate of damage.

Finally — I recycle the packing material. Please do NOT use miles of packing tape on the bubble wrap or around the tubes — then I just have to hack everything up with knives and scissors and the material will be useless.