Smaller 1960s and 1970s WEM amplifiers are undergoing a bit of a renaissance just now; they make great recording amps, and can be used live when mic'd or more than one is used. The WEM Dominator is a particular favourite, but the WEM Clubman and Westminster also perform very well. It drives at low volumes, providing some great crunchy and overdrive tones without disturbing (at least too much) the neighbourhood.
WEM (Watkins Electric Music) produced their first amp in 1954, but it is between the late 1960s and early 1970s that the brand had their biggest impact, in venues large and small and for smaller practise amps like this.
The Clubman is actually the smallest amplifier in the early seventies WEM range. Despite this, it is still quite loud. If you like the tone of an overdriven valve amp, but don't want to disturb the neighbours too much, then this is a great amp for playing at home.
Tonally, this is a smooth, deep amp that sounds just amazing when cranked up, and the tone rolled off; some great cleaner tones too, but absolutely never sterile. Have a listen to some of the soundclips below.
This is a lovely late 1960s dual pickup Gibson Melody Maker D guitar. Pots date to December 1968 / January 1969. It plays beautifully and just rocks through a WEM. This Clubman (mk8) probably dates to the very early 1970s. 5w, all-valve, with superb clean tones, but super gainy when pushed. This has a lot of crunch with the volume up high, and extreme bite when the treble is turned up too. It's loud, but not too loud. This is an AWESOME combination -you just can't stop playing!
The WEM Clubman is one of my favourite amps. It's small; probably too small to play out; but capable of some really gritty sounds. Fantastic recording amp. Clean sounds first, getting gainier as we go through. Check it out!
The WEM Clubman is one of the brands smaller amplifiers - just 5 watts through a single 12 inch speaker. But it's an awesome sounding amp, especially if you want a bit of grit! And the three-pickup Vox Super Ace has a lot of different tones. This video shows just one sound: the middle pickup of the Vox with the tone rolled down a little, through a fairly tame amp. Crank up those controls for some MUCH hotter sounds. Check out the other long version of this video in the vintageguitarandbass 'supporting members' area to see what this combination can do. Strung with Gibson bright wires (10-46).
The WEM Clubman is one of the brands smaller amplifiers - at just 5 watts through a single 12 inch speaker, you're probably going to have the volume turned up somewhat. And this is where the magic is. Yes the clean tones are nice, but when you crank this amp, you get some seriously rich, and superbly creamy overdrive. As always, we start clean, turning gain up as we go. The three V2 single-coil pickup Vox Super Ace has plenty of tonal variation too. The combination of Vox Super Ace and WEM Clubman must have disturbed countless neighbours in the UK in the early 1970s. Not loud enough to gig, but a great recording set up with some awesome tone! TURN IT UP! Strung here with Gibson bright wires (10-46).
This is an awesome guitar, and an amazing amp. Early seventies Hagstroms were similar in style to the 1960s ancestors, but equipped with humbuckers and a vol / vol / tone / tone control layout. Great guitars, exceptionally playable. This one's fitted with Rotosound RS200 (gauges 12-52) top tape flatwound strings.
This video goes from clean to fuzz, as we turn up the amp. The 1972 WEM Clubman is an awesome 5w, all-valve combo with super nice warmth, that gets super gainy when pushed. A really great recording amp!
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