Gibson GA-79T

I mean lets face it, G.A.S. extends to amps too! Obviously I'm not a Fender guy per se but that's not to say that there isn't one or two hanging around my collection. I was fortunate to purchase a few Fender lap steel sets early on for well less than $1K with these little Champ amps that now bring that and more by themselves. Gibson amps have been overshadowed by their Fender counterparts, with the exception of a few models like the GA79 series, making them a relative bargain in today's vintage market although that is rapidly changing. Recent articles in Vintage Guitar, Guitar Player and other industry publications has brought new interest and of course, higher prices. They are still relative bargains as compared to their Fender counterparts but get one while you can! You can check out some nice examples of both their pre and post war models in the Electric G.A.S. Gallery and Post G.A.S. Gallery. In fact you'll find my GA79 RVT in the post war group and also pictured in the 3 Blondes & A Tweed photo under About Me & Contact. Even though I already owned a tweed RVT the opportunity for a clean version of the original model, which is 1 of only 200, was destined to become an episode of G.A.S.!

Noted amp guru, Aspen Pittman (Groove Tubes, GT Electronics, etc.), listed the GA79RVT as one of his Top 10 All Time Classics and the only Gibson amplifier to make the list. Actually its his personal favorite and listed second after one of those little Fender Champ amps! Aspen stated they were, "arguably the best example of a long line of really neat and innovative amps built by Gibson in the '50s and '60s" in his book, The Tube Amp Book. With its stereo design and a unique reverb circuit in the RV/RVT versions it stood out among its competitors.


The stereo feature was originally intended for use with an accordian or players who wanted an amplifier for both guitar and vocals. Of course Gibson released their stereo guitar models, the ES-345 and ES-355, which made use of the stereo feature. The amp is loaded with a pair of 10" Jensen Special Design speakers in an angled (45 degree) cabinet covered in tweed. The RVT was also shipped with brown and black tolex coverings during its production run. Gibson also released the RV under the Bell brand name. It's a rippin' 15 watts per channel (stereo) but can be used as a 30 watt mono amp as well.  

The output tubes (6BQ5s) are called EL84s in Europe and used in Vox AC30s as well as the early Marshall amplifiers. They are known for their smooth natural compression and classic british tone. Gibson was using these tubes long before Vox and Marshall even thought about guitar amplifiers! I've always favored 6V6 output tubes but I turn to my RVT for recording sessions that need a lush reverb. The reverb on the RVT is unusual in the fact that it functions as a completely separate amplifier stage so it produces reverb without an increase in the channel volume. The reverb is deep and lush when you crank it all the way up and decrease the channel volume to almost nill. 

Advertised in 1960 as, "Gibson's exciting new three dimensional sound" the series had an original price range of $350-395 which for the early 1960s was certainly not for the starving musician. Of course with it turning 40 in just a few years The 2008 Vintage Guitar Price Guide range is $2700-2900 which is right up there with some of the notable Fenders. As for rarity, the T (tremolo) version was only offered for two (2) years, 1960-61, with a production total of only 200. The RV version was also short lived (1961 only) with 410 total shipped. The RVT production ran until 1967 with 1134 total shipped but tweed was only offered until 1962.
've had several opportunities to try both an ES-345 and ES-355 with my original RVT but alas, they were sacrificed as "post MacCarty era" guitars a few years back! I recall they sounded quite good but the whole stereo thing was not something I was focused on at the time. I primarily use the amp for its reverb during recording sessions as it truly adds a very lush ambiance especially to an archtop. Both amps run very quiet as they've been serviced and pampered. My RVT even came in its own roadcase!

This is a great example of a classic vintage piece that will just continue to appreciate with time. Its design, tweed covering, Gibson logo and most importantly, creamy sweet vintage tube tone will continue to draw loyal fans. I can say without hesitation that at least one of these will remain in my collection for a long time to come! 

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