1968 Heathkit Combo Head

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Oren Hudson, Sep 9, 2017.

  1. Oren Hudson

    Oren Hudson

    Dec 25, 2007
    Gastonia, NC
    IMG_1279.JPG IMG_1289.JPG IMG_1291.JPG IMG_1294.JPG IMG_1295.JPG IMG_1288.JPG Recently brought this early '68 Heathkit Combo head home. It looked great and powered up, but with the weird speaker jacks, no way to check what worked and didn't work. So off it went to Alpha Sound for a run through. Al replaced the weird jacks with traditional ones, replaced 3 caps and installed a 3 prong power cord. He then pronounced it fit.

    This Heathkit is a factory build with 120 watts RMS @ 4 ohms and, even though it's just the head, they called it "Combo" since it featured a combination of offerings. Going from left to right. A guitar section with volume, bass, treble, tremolo (rate & depth) and reverb. Also rocker switches for brightness and distortion (labeled H-M ?) mic phono and bass boost. Two input jacks. The next section is labeled MICROPHONE and has volume, bass and treble controls and has an input jack for mic AND an RCA jack labeled PHONO. The last section is labeled BASS and has tone and volume controls and 2 input jacks. Quite an array of usages --- and they all work!

    I gave it it's first workout today using a 2x15 JBL D-140F cab. Excited that it performed so well. Didn't try the phono, but I did everything else, including playing bass with tremolo, reverb and distortion. Far out!
  2. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Central Ohio
    That's hip.:thumbsup:
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  3. D M C

    D M C Oh good god, this again? Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2015
    North America, Earth
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  4. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    Actually I had the bass version of that (my first amp) and those were only offered as combos - many ended up decapitated and made into heads. Mine was already just a head when I received it directly from the guy that decapitated it.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2017
  5. Ampslut

    Ampslut Supporting Member

    May 15, 2017
    Barrackville WV
    I always wanted to build a Heathkit or Dynaco kit. Now that I have the time they don't make them any more. :(
  6. BadExample


    Jan 21, 2016
    Very cool head!
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  7. BadExample


    Jan 21, 2016
    Sadly, I think the good kits faded out with the fairly recent lack of interest in learning electronics outside learning as a profession.
    Old Garage-Bander likes this.
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    H-M probably stands for "harmonic modulation" or some such hi-falutin' term.

    Killer score!
  9. 120 Watts of SS power in '68? Killer amp!
    I love the old Heathkit stuff.
    We had a store in town many years (decades) ago.
    I think that's where I honed my GAS skills.
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  10. Londo Molari

    Londo Molari

    Jan 1, 2014
    2 blocks east of Mars
    Decendant from the Clovis culture. "Emitting that wonderful bass effect since 1970".
    Back in the dark ages a lot of guys I hung with had Heathkit gear.
    Most of the speaker cabs ended up having the H's & K removed from the logo.
    eat it
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  11. CryingBass

    CryingBass Ours' is the only Reality of Consequence Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 8, 2016
    Now that takes me back! Don't make me get my soldering rig back out!
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  12. There's still a bunch of kit makers out there that produce quality stuff - mostly tube amps of course. Mojotone is a good place to look for them, as well here's a list of guitar tube amp kit makers.
    RSBBass, Ampslut and BadExample like this.
  13. BadExample


    Jan 21, 2016
    Cool site! Thanks for the link.
    BioWeapon likes this.
  14. BassmanPaul

    BassmanPaul Inactive

    In my early days my lead guitar player had his dad build him a 2x12 Heathkit guitar amp. The power amp section sat on the floor of the cabinet and delivered 50W from a pair of cathode biased KT88. The thing weighed a ton I swear!
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  15. b_carville


    Jun 26, 2008
    Ahh...the good old days!
    My band in 1969 used one of those for PA. We plugged a four channel Bogen mixer into the microphone channel and used two 2 by 12 horn cabinets along with a 100 watt solid state Bogen Challenger that powered two Atlas Sound Banshee horns.The cabinets were Heathkit and had decent components.
    It was a pretty loud PA for the era although a tad lacking in tone. It got my voice over three guitarists who were using two bassman heads a man!
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2017
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  16. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    BYOC makes point to point guitar amp kits, no bass amps though. I've built 5 of their pedal pedal kits, truly idiot proof instructions and paint by numbers manuals. I taught myself to solder building the kits. They have a few bass specific pedal kits, the chorus is excellent. I also built a muff, flanger, tremolo, phaser, and compressor kit, pretty much all I can ever see using.
    Classic Brit 50 Amp Kit
  17. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
  18. beans-on-toast


    Aug 7, 2008
    Nice find. The assembled unit was crazy expensive.

    H-M is short for Harmonic Modifier, a fuzz that uses antiparallel clipping diodes. You can see it in the attached schematic.

    TA-17 ca;talog.jpg

    Attached Files:

  19. bherman

    bherman Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    I built one of these (bass combo) back in the day. Fun project, don't remember it sounding all that great though. Lots of farting sounds when pushing it loud enough to be heard with my band made up of other 13 year olds.
  20. LordRyan


    Dec 9, 2012
    I built a few Heathkit amps back in the day. My first was the TA-16 which was a 60 Watt 2x12 combo. Never really knew if it was working properly but I didn't like the sound and it wasn't loud enough. Then Heathkit came out with the TA-17. If you purchased the whole package you got two big speaker cabinets each with 2-12's and a horn driver. It was roughly comparable to a Vox Super Beatle. I got the amp with one speaker cabinet which took me a week or two to build. The TA-17 sounded much better than the TA-16 so I was happy with it. Then the amp head got stolen from our rehearsal place and I had to get a replacement so I built two of these. My brother took up Bass Guitar and ordered the TA-38 120 Watt Bass amp. We spent a week or so building it and it really was loud as it says in the add. You could crank it up all the way and it still sounded solid.



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  21. I love how everyone use to tell you how many transistors and diodes a thing had.
    beans-on-toast likes this.
  22. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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