In the early-mid 1960s, WEM produced a number of combo amplifiers (such as the Scout, Dominator, Westminster etc). But the 15 watt WEM ER-15 control amplifier head was designed to be a more versatile unit, depending on what speaker it was paired with: e.g. suitable for guitar (Dual Ten, or Super Twelve) or bass (Power Bass). Furthermore the control unit could be paired with more than one cabinet. As the name suggests the Dual Ten was fitted with two 10" speakers, the Super Twelve just one 12", and the Power Bass, one 12" bass speaker.
The WEM Control ER 15 evolved from the early 1960s Pick-a-Back / Pick-a-Bass control unit. Visually they were very similar, though the Pick-a-Back / Pick-a-Bass was slightly less powerful at just 14 watts. But both were 2 channel amps, with the same volume, treble and bass controls for each channel, and a choice of speaker configurations, but just two: the Pick-a-Back corresponding to the Dual Ten with two 10" speakers; and the Pick-a-Bass with one 12" bass speaker. But there was some crossover - in the rig shown below the ER-15 is paired with a slightly older Pick-a-Bass (not Power Bass) cabinet.
The ER-15 was described as follows in the 1964 WEM catalogue
15 watts of wide range playing power. Two input channels each with independent volume, treble and bass controls. This unit is typical of the W.E.M. electronics. It will give long and reliable service under any conditions. The E.R. 15 is primarily intended as the power source for any of the loudspeaker systems shown separately to drive existing 15 ohm speakers. Used with other W.E.M. equipment it proves to be a very versatile piece of equipment.
Like other WEM gear, these were produced in London, England, and had a January 1965 price of £24 3S
The Control ER-15 head with two channels - each with gain, bass and treble control. Included with this unit were two metal 'screws' each XXcm long, enabling the head to be attached to the speaker cabinet. Naturally, from the early 1960s, this is a valve amplifier, equipped with two 12AX7s, and two EL84 power tubes.
But the two units were designed to be positioned horizontally (as shown above), vertically (as shown below) and, in fact, in a number of other orientations (see page 4 of the 1964 WEM catalogue). This amp was all about versatility! The cab even came with four detachable legs that screwed into the bottom, allowing it to stand upright.
Height 18cm/7ins • Width 40.5cm/16ins • Depth 20cm/8ins
Speaker cabinet: Height 66.5cm/26ins (without legs) • Width 43cm/17ins • Depth 30cm/12ins
This is a wonderful playing guitar - and it sounds pretty cool through the WEM ER15. The Hofner Colorama was sold by Selmer in the UK 1958-1965: yet the several different guitars were included under the moniker at different times. In 1961 it was a nice set-neck solid body, with a Hofner 510 diamond logo pickup, and a long 6-in-a-row headstock. The controls of these single pickup models are easier to understand than the dual pickup examples, but are still not totally intuitive. These are 1) natural pickup sound 2) treble cut 3) bass cut 4) treble and bass cut. Because the electronics on these controls only act on a single pickup, there is not quite the range of sounds on a dual pickup example, and frankly, they seem pretty subtle. Compare this to the dual pickup 1960 Colorama - the treble/bass switches also turn pickups on/off making the effect far more noticeable - and because of this, using the treble and bass cut together is not possible.
Long version of this video with extra amp settings: starting off clean and gradually getting crunchier as we go. An easy playing guitar and a sweet sounding amp.
This is a great little guitar - and it sounds pretty cool through the WEM ER15. The Hofner Colorama was sold by Selmer in the UK 1958-1965: yet the several different guitars were included under the moniker at different times. In 1960 it was a nice set-neck semi-solid - and one of the lightest guitars i've ever played! The controls are not totally intuitive, but the five basic settings have real character. These are 1) both pickups 2) neck pickup 3) neck pickup with treble cut 4) bridge pickup 5) bridge pickup with bass cut.
Long version of this video with extra amp and guitar settings. The treble pickup is biting, the 'bass on' (neck pickup + treble cut filter) is fat and warm. Very easy to alternate between jagged stabs and lazy laid back jazz.
This is a fabulous guitar - Vox's take on the Fender Telecaster (which was in pretty short supply in mid-1960s Britain), and actually a pretty awesome player. It sounds pretty good through this 1963 WEM ER15 with some lovely rich tones, but check it out through the 1965 Vox AC4 and early 70s WEM Dominator
This clip shows this 1966 Vox Symphonic bass played through a 1963 WEM ER15 with 1x12" Pick-A-Bass cab. This is a really nice playing bass, not dissimilar from the early 1960s Precision on which it was based. It's got a good tone, and is a far more substantial bass than many made by Vox. Strung here with Fender 9050L flatwound strings. This video shows a small sample of sounds using different bass and amp settings. See the longer version for a more in depth view of what this guitar/amp combination can do.
This clip shows this 1966 Vox Symphonic bass played through a 1963 WEM ER15 with 1X12" Pick-A-Bass cab. This is a really nice playing bass, not dissimilar from the early 1960s Precision on which it was based. It's got a good tone, and is a far more substantial bass than many made by Vox. Strung here with Fender 9050L flatwound strings.
A UK-built (JMI) 1963 Vox Bassmaster dual pickup bass guitar, played through an (also 1963) British WEM ER-15 head with Pick-A-Bass cab. I usually prefer flatwounds on basses like this, but the ancient rattley roundwounds that were on it just sounded so great cranked up, I had to record it. Check it out - listen to the end!
More about this guitar: https://www.vintageguitarandbass.com/vox/1963_Clubman_II.php Two from 1963. The Vox Clubman came as a single or dual pickup guitar - pretty basic, but with Vox's standard V1 pickups pretty nice sounding too. The WEM ER15 functions equally well as a guitar or bass amp, and with the gain turned up has PLENTY of bite.
A nice dual pickup 1963 Vox Shadow played through a 1963 WEM ER15 amplifier. Early Vox guitars often don't have great build quality, but the pickups are pretty nice. With a little love and attention (specifically frets and set-up), these lightweight guitars can sing like a lark!
There were several Vox Shadow variants. Check out vintageguitarandbass.com for a whole lot more on the Vox Shadow.
A really cool bass, played through an equally cool amp. A rare Gibson Melody Maker bass, circa 1967, through a British WEM ER15 tube amplifier, with 'Pick-A-Bass' cabinet. With Gibson's hot EB-humbucker, a short 30" scale, all-mahogany construction - and finally strung with flatwounds - this bass is just SUPER FAT.
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