EA-26 RVT Electra review by Epiphone

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 3.3 (7 votes)
Epiphone: EA-26 RVT Electra
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Price paid: $ 350

Purchased from: eBay

Sound — 10
I play this amp with my Gibson Les Paul and Fender Strat. It is completely clean (even dimed with my Les Paul), I can only dirty it up with a fuzzbox. I like the tone with the both guitars, and I find this amp really lets you hear the true voice of your guitar (amazing). I like the Strat better, because I find it fits the tonality of the amp better and gives you a bit more tonal flexibility. With my bridge humbucker on my strat, this amp is extremely bright without being harsh, it's a great early 60's sound (back when ulta-treble was in fashion). The reverb is extremely lush, and the tremolo is amazing sounding, much better than any stompbox. These two features open up a very big door to surf sounds. There's not an abundance of hum, a little bit when you turn the volume past 6 or 7.

Overall Impression — 9
I play mainly blues, classic rock and the like. Rock encompasses so many tones, and this amp harkens back to the early days of rock n' roll. At first I wished I could coax some breakup out of the thing, but after a few weeks I came to greatly appreciate the clean, chimey, crisp, defined, sweet sounds of a Vintage amplifier. I have been playing for three years, and I have modern Epiphone tube amps like the Blues Custom 30 and Valve Junior Head and Cab to compare this to. I play a Gibson Les Paul Vintage Mahogany (Burstbucker Pros) and a Fender Standard Strat (Texas Specials). If this were lost/stolen I would feel a great loss because these are not in production anymore, and I feel it is more of a collectible than any other piece of gear I own. My favorite feature is the tremolo, because it is not easy to find a good tube-driven tremolo these days without paying and arm and a leg.

Reliability & Durability — 8
I don't trust this amp for too awful much since it's so old. The tubes are still the original RCA's and the power supply isn't grounded. The amp doesn't turn on sometimes, or maybe the light doesn't. The amp has cut out on me a time or two, but if you are careful with how hard you Drive it, it will give you no guff. The tolex has some cuts, dings, and scratches, but it's still there after about 40 years. The handle is sort of ratty looking, I might replace that. Hardware (screws and metal corners) are looking a bit rusty, might clean them off.

Features — 9
This amp is from either 1968 or 1969, made in Kalamazoo, Michigan (copy of an earlier Gibson amp, the GA-20 RVT Minutman). All tube 12.5 watt combo with 12" speaker. This Vintage piece is not very versatile at all, it fills a certain niche in my tonal desires. This amp excels at surf, rockabilly, honky-tonky, jazzy, and clean blues sounds. It has tube-driven reverb and tremolo circuits, 2 non-switchable channels with 2 inputs each, and 2-band equalizer for each channel. Channel 1 is what I call the "dry" channel, and I don't ever use it. Channel 2 is what I call the "wet" channel, because it utilizes the reverb and tremolo circuits. I really don't think it needs anything else, except for a three-prong ac cable mod and I wish it had an external speaker output.

10 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Rogue_Danar
    I know this is dredging up an ancient review, but I've had the chance to extensively play with an Electra, and absolutely love it, and I wanted to correct a couple of things he mentions: It's very much clean on the first channel, but the second channel can give you plenty of dirt if you crank it. Unfortunately there's no footswitch for switching channels (it's only for switching trem and reverb), but with an AB switch, it'd work fine. Add on a slight boost, and you'll get as much crunch as you want. Your tone will also vary depending on the tubes you're using, and which tube configuration it is (there are 5+ variations of this circuit with the same model name and no easy way to tell them apart, and each sound a little bit different from the others). As far as reliability is concerned, as long as you do a decent job maintaining it, it should last you fine. Yes, the wiring does look like a rat's nest, but that's primarily because it's a pre-PCB amp, and the chassis is remarkably small for the amount of stuff in it. As to Epiphone and Gibson making amps, they've both made guitars and amps for a very long time. This is basically the Gibson Minuteman with an Epiphone badge (I believe they even came out of the same factory). Epiphone didn't stop making guitars at this time either; the original Epiphone Sheraton came out not long before this amp did. I find that overall, this is actually a remarkably versatile amp; depending on which guitar I'm using and how much I'm digging in, I can go from light and clean to dirty without having to engage any pedals. And if you add in a decent overdrive (I'm a big fan of Paul Cochrane's Timmy OD), you can really get some sweet tones.
    HeartRaz0r
    filthylittleboy wrote: good review! are there gibson amplifiers too? or just epiphones?
    just epiphone... at that time epiphone produced just amps and gibson just guitars i think.
    AdamOnDrums
    HeartRaz0r wrote: filthylittleboy wrote: good review! are there gibson amplifiers too? or just epiphones?just epiphone... at that time epiphone produced just amps and gibson just guitars i think.
    I got a gibson amp, but its very old..?
    bolezhinkov
    HeartRaz0r wrote: filthylittleboy wrote: good review! are there gibson amplifiers too? or just epiphones?just epiphone... at that time epiphone produced just amps and gibson just guitars i think.
    epiphone has been making guitars for ages - way before this amp was made.
    axis56
    bolezhinkov wrote: HeartRaz0r wrote: filthylittleboy wrote: good review! are there gibson amplifiers too? or just epiphones?just epiphone... at that time epiphone produced just amps and gibson just guitars i think. epiphone has been making guitars for ages - way before this amp was made.
    ther could have been a point after gibson bought thme that they stopped producing guitars no idea though
    V_mike
    Yeah, it's basically a copy of a Gibson GA-20 RVT Minuteman. They made these a few years after they stopped making the Gibson one, but it was made at the Kalamazoo factory. I had played a few of these before I got one off ebay, so I was pretty confident.
    Bluesman55
    Really old reply, but Epiphone did make both guitars & amps during the 60's. I know because I got a Epi Casino model (from the Gibson 325/P90) with this amp for Christmas 1965. Some of the Epi's hardware has Gibson trademarks, like the bottom of the bridge. The tuners were a direct match to the Gibson units of that era too. SWEET guitar, comments about the amp dead-on, expect that with volume to 10, can get some pretty raunchy sounding distortion from the speaker. Have to protect speaker with guitar volume controls. Bluesman55
    joe.befumo
    This was my very first amp, back circa 1968. I used it with my 1961 Gibson SG/Les Paul, and the combination sounded great. Unfortunately, I had some notion that bigger was better, so I traded it for a monstrous, 2X15 solid state Bruce stack that sounded like crap. One of many regrettable decisions over the years. I would grab one if I got the chance. As far as reliability goes -- well, it's still working after almost 50 years, and with original tubes at that, so what's the concern? Have it serviced, add a 3-prong plug, replace dried out caps you'll have an amp that would cost you over $2k today.