GIBSON’S WESTERN FRONTIER
To modern ears, the ’ 57–’ 58 five-knob GA- 70
has some of the best tone, response, and
range of any vintage amp you’re going to
hear. While it has more power than the first
series, at 35 peak watts the five-knob won’t fill
a room like a blonde Vibrasonic, which has 40
full watts. But what it lacks in overall volume
it makes up for in tone. Plug in any P-90-
equipped guitar and you get a growling, perfectly twangy tone reminiscent of Link Wray.
With a single-coil-outfitted guitar, the GA- 70
plays clean and scooped, with beautiful
high-end response. Fully cranked with either
of the above guitars, it yields creamy sustain,
overdrive, and crunch—almost like a Marshall.
And the tone controls are wonderfully
dynamic, which means you can find a number
of pleasing settings across the spectrum.
Westerns ever saw the light of day before the
GA- 70 was discontinued at the end of 1958. It
seems Gibson couldn’t sell the buying public
on the concept of twang coming from Kalamazoo. But with a superlative tone and amazing
retro looks, the GA- 70 Country Western gets
my vote for coolest amp of all time.
A mint version of the 1955 GA- 70 “Country and Western” amp (left) and the original catalog listing for the 1958 GA- 70 "Country Western."
A Short-Lived Legend
In all, 160 first-series Country and Western
units were built, while only 172 Country
Thanks to Robert Chwaliszewski of
Buffalo Amplifiers and Russell DuFresne
of Savage Audio.