NAD: 1970 Ampeg Gemini GV-22

Make it loud here.
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NAD: 1970 Ampeg Gemini GV-22

Post by garyfanclub » Mon Aug 07, 2017 6:45 pm

Maybe it's time to admit I've got a vintage Ampeg addiction?

I made the pilgrimage to Atomic Music on my way up to visit my folks in NJ, and lo and behold, I stumbled across this MINT beauty, a 1970 Ampeg GV-22. This is the second old Ampeg I've purchased from them (see other thread re: 65 Reverberocket 2) - they're serious enablers with their willingness to wheel and deal. Anyway...

This example looks like it lived in a closet for the last 40 years - a bit of dust and some stained tolex, but otherwise looks brand spanking new (Look at that foot switch, WHAT?!). These blue-line Ampegs were some of the last Ampegs built in Linden, and are an evolutionary step between the darker (smokier?) blue-check amps, and the brawnier V-series behemoths. I'd almost characterize it as if Ampeg decided to clone a 40W Fender (hence the 6L6s) - it's not wooly and dark like a blue check, nor is it as beefy as a V-2. It's also got a positively psychedelic trem/vibrato circuit, and some seriously splashy reverb. I played it for about 15 minutes and was sold on it - made and offer, hustled out of there. Aside from having been retubed (7199 > 6GH8A w/ Adapter and some Ruby 6L6s) and a three-prong cord, it appears to have been unmolested.

Needless to say, I'm really excited about this one. Anyone have experience with these? This is the first one I've seen in the wild, and from what I've read, these are pretty rare given the limited production run (69-71?)

Pics!

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Re: NAD: 1970 Ampeg Gemini GV-22

Post by MechaBulletBill » Tue Aug 08, 2017 3:11 am

Sounds like the perfect amp for me! Sucks that we don't get many old US amps here.

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Re: NAD: 1970 Ampeg Gemini GV-22

Post by garyfanclub » Fri Aug 18, 2017 8:18 am

One last glamour shot, then I'll shut up!

Finally got a day off work to crank this thing up with the Jag.

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Re: NAD: 1970 Ampeg Gemini GV-22

Post by wproffitt » Fri Aug 18, 2017 8:33 am

Looks great!
Years ago, I played one of these at...you guessed it, Atomic Music. It sounded great but was WAY more amp than I could possibly ever need. Enjoy!

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Re: NAD: 1970 Ampeg Gemini GV-22

Post by garyfanclub » Fri Aug 18, 2017 8:59 am

wproffitt wrote:Looks great!
Years ago, I played one of these at...you guessed it, Atomic Music. It sounded great but was WAY more amp than I could possibly ever need. Enjoy!
Thanks man! Atomic is such an easy way to burn up an afternoon.

I'm actually surprised this thing isn't louder, given its size. I spent a good portion of the morning playing it turned up to about 12 o'clock and it's not /painfully/ loud. If you're into older Ampegs, you should check out some of the mid-60's blue check stuff. This thing sounds similar, with a more of a Fender vibe (but not quite as thin and spikey as Fenders from this era can be.)

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Re: NAD: 1970 Ampeg Gemini GV-22

Post by Racing » Fri Aug 18, 2017 3:04 pm

...then...


...then there´s the older ones.

Image

Just did that one there. Nice sounding amp being a stocker.

Btw. That chromed pedal ontop is a Clark 600. A fuzz.
The worst sounding POS i´ve ever encountered,still collecting prices it´s silly. Made in -68 i believe.

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Re: NAD: 1970 Ampeg Gemini GV-22

Post by garyfanclub » Fri Aug 18, 2017 3:11 pm

Racing wrote:...then...


...then there´s the older ones.

Image

Just did that one there. Nice sounding amp being a stocker.

Btw. That chromed pedal ontop is a Clark 600. A fuzz.
The worst sounding POS i´ve ever encountered,still collecting prices it´s silly. Made in -68 i believe.
Beautiful! I wasn't sold on 15's in a guitar amp until I tried a Gemini II - what an amazing clean sound. I recently replaced the speaker in my '65 Reverberocket II with a Eminence Cannabis Rex (per a ton of recommendations) and I'm pretty happy with it. The new speaker adds some additional high end articulation that the stock speakers don't really have.

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Re: NAD: 1970 Ampeg Gemini GV-22

Post by duncanjames » Sat Aug 19, 2017 3:44 am

Woah! I've owned one of these since 2009, and since then I've never seen another that's as clean as mine. They are surprisingly quiet amps for the size, but I believe that's all down to the stock CTS speakers. I once plugged it into a different pair of averagely efficient modern speakers, it was MUCH louder. I'd suggest a speaker swap if you wanted more volume, but I personally like the built in attenuation of the old speakers.

I feel these sound cooler than the V4 and V2 that I used to own, and at a much more manageable volume. I can see how they might've been taking a page out of Fender's book, but it seems to me they are their own thing as well. To my ear the breakup is much smoother than a blackface/silverface amp, and the reverb and trem are definitely unique yet usable.

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Re: NAD: 1970 Ampeg Gemini GV-22

Post by garyfanclub » Sat Aug 19, 2017 8:26 am

duncanjames wrote:Woah! I've owned one of these since 2009, and since then I've never seen another that's as clean as mine. They are surprisingly quiet amps for the size, but I believe that's all down to the stock CTS speakers. I once plugged it into a different pair of averagely efficient modern speakers, it was MUCH louder. I'd suggest a speaker swap if you wanted more volume, but I personally like the built in attenuation of the old speakers.

I feel these sound cooler than the V4 and V2 that I used to own, and at a much more manageable volume. I can see how they might've been taking a page out of Fender's book, but it seems to me they are their own thing as well. To my ear the breakup is much smoother than a blackface/silverface amp, and the reverb and trem are definitely unique yet usable.
Nice! These are somewhat rare gems, and this is the first one I've seen in the wild. Glad to see someone else here is part of the club!

I'm with you on the speakers - sure, they're not particularly loud, but they actually sound pretty decent compared to the stock speakers I've heard in other Ampeg stuff. To your point, I'm sure a couple Weber Chicagos or Californias would make this thing an absolutely beast. That said, I don't think I'll be changing mine either. I love the way this thing sounds as-is, and the fact that it's basically dead stock and clean as a whistle is appealing given the road-warrior status of my other amps.

Have you noticed that channel two (the dry channel) is significantly louder than the effects channel? Also, what's the deal with the bright inputs? They're MUCH quieter than the normal jacks. I still need to try the jumpering the channels trick - have you given that a shot?

Agreed that these are much closer to a Fender than their successors. From what I've read, these are a direct descendant of the earlier blue tolex Reverberockets and Geminis, with some additional tone shaping controls in the Ultra-Hi and Ultra-Lo switches (by the way, the Ultra-Hi... Ouch!). Listening to this and my Reverberocket II side by side, the GV-22 is much more modern, and does more than just the dark, middy, smoky cleans that the earlier amps are renowned for. It's as if Ampeg recognized it was time to get with the times and dip into what was making Fender's amps so successful. So... not surprisingly, the GV-22 actually sounds really close to my SF Twin, with a bit more oomph and complexity in the low mids than the Twin.

While these bear some resemblance to the V2/V4, they're definitely more understated. I love my V2 for certain applications, mostly louder rock stuff, but it doesn't have the same simplicity these have. The variable midrange is cool, but truth is, sometimes you just want to plug in and not fiddle with knobs, and that's a big part of the appeal of these. I think the biggest difference comes in how they behave when they start to break up - the Gemini and earlier Ampegs are ratty and raspy in a very late 60's garage rock type of way. The V2/V4s are much more modern and smooth sounding, and definitely do the big power chords/soaring leads thing much better out of the box.

Phew. Typed quite a bit here...

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Re: NAD: 1970 Ampeg Gemini GV-22

Post by duncanjames » Thu Aug 24, 2017 12:21 am

Hmm, if your dry channel is much louder, there might be something funky going on in the electronics. I suppose there's a lot more in the signal path of the reverb/trem channel that could've gone bad in the past 47 years. My dry channel is a little louder, but not significantly so.

I haven't used the bright inputs in a long while, but I remember thinking they felt more like they were cutting bass than boosting treble. I think the schematic suggested that, as well. I think the bright inputs run the guitar through a small capacitor, kind of like the strangle switch on a Jag or Bass VI.

The Ultra-Hi switch is another thing I haven't used in a long time, though I think it proved pretty useful with dark pickups. There's a lot of versatility in these amps, it seems a shame that they weren't more renowned. Overall I'd agree it's like a Twin with more low mids, which is what I love about it!

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Re: NAD: 1970 Ampeg Gemini GV-22

Post by garyfanclub » Sun Aug 27, 2017 6:19 am

duncanjames wrote:Hmm, if your dry channel is much louder, there might be something funky going on in the electronics. I suppose there's a lot more in the signal path of the reverb/trem channel that could've gone bad in the past 47 years. My dry channel is a little louder, but not significantly so.

I haven't used the bright inputs in a long while, but I remember thinking they felt more like they were cutting bass than boosting treble. I think the schematic suggested that, as well. I think the bright inputs run the guitar through a small capacitor, kind of like the strangle switch on a Jag or Bass VI.

The Ultra-Hi switch is another thing I haven't used in a long time, though I think it proved pretty useful with dark pickups. There's a lot of versatility in these amps, it seems a shame that they weren't more renowned. Overall I'd agree it's like a Twin with more low mids, which is what I love about it!
So I think you're right about the channels - it's more of a frequency cut than a volume drop. Not sure why they designed it this way, because even with the bass at about 1 o'clock, it sounds pretty anemic in the low end.. That said, I'm playing a Jag, so I'll have to test it out with something a little darker and see what I think. As far as the dry channel, it's definitely louder and ballsier than channel one at the equivalent volume setting. Perhaps it's intended that way? Seems to overdrive way sooner, and it's WAY loud at 10 o'clock. I can only imagine how loud this thing would be with some modern speakers, and it's only 35 watts!

Not sure what the point of the Ultra-Lo is - seems to cut some low end frequencies out in a way that's not particularly useful. I'll need to give the Ultra-Hi another chance, seems to peel the paint off the walls when I turn it on.

That said,reallyl loving how this thing sounds. Ampeg really got this one right; sounds perfect plugged straight into the amp with no effects. Like you said, it's a shame they're so under-appreciated.

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Re: NAD: 1970 Ampeg Gemini GV-22

Post by RodMagnet » Sun Sep 16, 2018 12:04 am

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Thanks for posting this. Your amp is a beauty! I just recently bought a 1969 GV 22. Like yours, it's amazingly clean and in perfect working order. And - it seems - all stock. The tubes are original as are the caps. My tech didn't seem to think it merited replacing either of these yet. He just fixed a trem / vibe issue. Also a reverb issue I was having (due mostly to turning on the reverb coil damper on accidentally without knowing it's function). Fixed those, added a 3-prong and it was good to go..

It lives at my practice space, so I don't have as much access to it as I'd like. And even if I did bring it home to the apartment, there's no way the neighbours would sit still when this amp gets cranked.

I'm curious to know anything you've discovered sound-wise?

Drive / Boost type pedals that complement it nicely? New speakers? (I should mention mine has the stock CTO ceramics in there.)

Are you able to achieve that Stones in the 70s sound, and if so, how did you dial it in?

I've tried jumpering the channels, and though it does allow me some nice tweak-ability when it comes to how I might want to blend reverb or vibrato / tremolo I don't notice it making the amp break up any earlier. It has glorious full cleans and my tele sounds great through it - the fat low mids really add some girth to what can sometime be a very bright model of guitar. So - not complaining but looking for advice on expanding this thing's range.

Thanks in advance for any wisdom!

(Also, sorry for the zombie post but it's not every day I get to pick the brain of a GV 22 owner.)

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Re: NAD: 1970 Ampeg Gemini GV-22

Post by garyfanclub » Sun Sep 23, 2018 10:09 am

RodMagnet wrote:
Sun Sep 16, 2018 12:04 am
Image

Thanks for posting this. Your amp is a beauty! I just recently bought a 1969 GV 22. Like yours, it's amazingly clean and in perfect working order. And - it seems - all stock. The tubes are original as are the caps. My tech didn't seem to think it merited replacing either of these yet. He just fixed a trem / vibe issue. Also a reverb issue I was having (due mostly to turning on the reverb coil damper on accidentally without knowing it's function). Fixed those, added a 3-prong and it was good to go..

It lives at my practice space, so I don't have as much access to it as I'd like. And even if I did bring it home to the apartment, there's no way the neighbours would sit still when this amp gets cranked.

I'm curious to know anything you've discovered sound-wise?

Drive / Boost type pedals that complement it nicely? New speakers? (I should mention mine has the stock CTO ceramics in there.)

Are you able to achieve that Stones in the 70s sound, and if so, how did you dial it in?

I've tried jumpering the channels, and though it does allow me some nice tweak-ability when it comes to how I might want to blend reverb or vibrato / tremolo I don't notice it making the amp break up any earlier. It has glorious full cleans and my tele sounds great through it - the fat low mids really add some girth to what can sometime be a very bright model of guitar. So - not complaining but looking for advice on expanding this thing's range.

Thanks in advance for any wisdom!

(Also, sorry for the zombie post but it's not every day I get to pick the brain of a GV 22 owner.)
Hey there! Glad you're enjoying the amp, these are definitely a hidden gem among 60's American amps. Almost any Ampeg amp from the mid 60s to the early 70s will make you grin, especially if you're a reverb and cleans junkie.

Sadly, while I still own the amp, I haven't played it much since I posted this last year. I moved from a house to an apartment, and much like you, this thing is WAY too loud to use in this living situation. That said, I'm inspired, so I'm going to drag this beast to the practice space next week and get reacquainted.

From what I remember, the tone is exactly what you're describing - a more muscular Fender-style clean with more midrange girth and less high-end ice pick. I haven't tried jumpering the channels like you have, so it's definitely something for me to try out when I drag it out.

Haven't tried new speakers, but I'm sure they'd be a big improvement - the stock Ampeg speakers from this era aren't known for their quality, and tended to blow pretty quickly when subjected to high volume playing. The fact that mine (and yours) are still present is a sign that these probably weren't played much. I bet a pair of Weber 25W 12s would sound amazing here.

Can't say about the pedal question -- I was plugging straight into the amp. While I can't say for this amp specifically, my general impression with Ampegs is that pedals that sound "shrill" in other applications (Fender) tend to work out really nicely with this tone stack. This holds true with both my V2 and my 65 Reverberocket. YMMV with the GV-22, but wouldn't that it would be world different.

I'll post another update when I get this thing over to the space and put it through some paces - also using a tele, so we'll have the same baseline.

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Re: NAD: 1970 Ampeg Gemini GV-22

Post by clef051 » Tue Sep 25, 2018 1:42 pm

I think I just saw one of these at a place near me. I looked quickly. But really don’t need another amp. So I walked away. I thought it was a head that I saw I could be wrong. The control layout was the same though.

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Re: NAD: 1970 Ampeg Gemini GV-22

Post by garyfanclub » Tue Sep 25, 2018 4:50 pm

clef051 wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 1:42 pm
I think I just saw one of these at a place near me. I looked quickly. But really don’t need another amp. So I walked away. I thought it was a head that I saw I could be wrong. The control layout was the same though.
Might have been a B25, similar era and vibe to these. No verb/teen though, which is the real selling point. Putting one of these in a V4 cabinet would be insanely rad.

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