TRASH OR TREASURE
ZACHARY R. FJESTAD
I was hoping you could shed some light on
this Baldwin Professional amplifier I’ve had
for several years. I rarely use it, but I was
thinking it might be a neat amp for my son,
who is really starting to get interested in
guitars. Please tell me as much as you can
about this amp and an approximate value!
Jim in Joliet, Illinois
Baldwin tried to buy Fender before CBS
became involved—think of what Baldwin and
Fender would be today if that had happened!
Instead, Baldwin ended up buying Burns guitars
from English luthier Jim Burns in 1965. Burns-built guitars began appearing in the US labeled
as Baldwins on the headstock. This arrangement with Burns lasted through 1970 and
ended largely because Baldwin bought a much
larger trademark/company in 1967: Gretsch.
Baldwin Model C1 Amplifier
I’m glad to hear that your son is interested
in guitars—it’s mainly up to parents to get
kids involved in music today, and I applaud
your efforts. If your son truly has guitar
fever, he’ll love to play through just about
any amplifier you show him. Trial and error
is all part of the guitar experience when
it comes to selecting gear, and since you
already have this amp in your house, you
might as well start there and see where it
goes. Let’s take a look at Baldwin and the
Professional model you have.
While your amp says it is a “Professional” it
is actually the Model C1 (Custom Amplifier
with Supersound). It features 45W power
RMS (125W peak), 2x12” Baldwin-designed
nylon-reinforced speakers, two channels,
tremolo, reverb, four inputs (two per channel), nine knobs (Ch. 1: Volume, Bass, Treble,
Ch. 2: Volume, Bass, Treble, Tremolo Speed,
Tremolo Intensity, and Reverb), and the
Supersound circuit with five push-buttons and
a three-way switch. A two-button footswitch
is included as well. It’s all encased with attractive baby blue side panels, a black speaker
grille, and a brushed aluminum control panel.
We’re talking serious ‘60s groove here, baby!
Dwight Hamilton Baldwin opened a music
store in Cincinnati, OH, in 1862 and by the
1960s, Baldwin was one of the largest piano
and organ manufacturers in the world. In
response to the guitar boom of the early
1960s, Baldwin decided to expand into
guitars. A little known fact is that in 1964,
It was around the same time in 1965 that
Baldwin began building guitar amplifiers.
All assembly took place in the Fayetteville,
AR, organ plant, which was supervised
by Stan Krueger. Baldwin amps utilized a
very innovative design from the late 1960s
with a solid-state chassis. Another unique
feature of Baldwin guitar amplifiers is the
“Supersound” tone circuit controlled by
the colorful push buttons on the right-hand
side of the control panel. These were basically pre-set EQ settings for Treble, Mid 1,
Mid 2, Bass, and a mix. A three-way toggle
switch allowed the user to switch between
normal operation, Supersound operation,
and dual operation. All of these effects
could be switched while in operation, and
according to Baldwin’s factory catalog,
“Hear it, and you might think it’s a happening,” whatever that means!
Most reports and reviews on these amplifiers
indicate that they sounded full and responsive,
but again, they are from the dinosaur era of
1960s solid-state amplifiers. Since Baldwin was
a piano and organ manufacturing company to
begin with, the amps actually have many tendencies towards organs, such as pushbutton
presets. Because of these factors, collectors
and players have never really taken an interest
in these amps. Today, this amplifier is worth
between $325 and $400, which is quite a bit
of amp for not a lot of money.
Baldwin ceased amplifier production
in 1970 to fully devote time to Gretsch
(although Baldwin did offer some Gretsch
amps in the early 1970s, they were Sonax
branded, which were built in Canada).
As long as this amplifier is in full working
order, your son could have many hours
of enjoyment experimenting with the
Supersound circuit, which is a treasure in
itself, regardless of the monetary value!
Zachary R. Fjestad
Zachary is the author of the Blue Book of Acoustic
Guitars, Blue Book of Electric Guitars, and the Blue
Book of Guitar Amplifiers.
Questions can be submitted to:
Blue Book Publications
Attn: Guitar Trash or Treasure
8009 34th Ave. S. Ste #175
Minneapolis, MN 55425