The Galaxie Guitar Amplifier by Vadis

Happy New Year and welcome to 2012 !!  Recently, we carried out a major repair of a Galaxie 60 watt head for David Challinor of the Sydney-based indie band, Sounds Like Sunset. The Galaxie amp is actually a rebadged Vadis amplifier, obviously rebranded for one of the major music stores, possibly Palings, possibly Nicholsons, J Stanley Johnston or Harry Landis, all situated in the Sydney CBD back in the day, but we don’t actually know the details. This was fairly common practice in the 1960’s manufacturing scene, and the Vadis amp may well have been rebadged with other brand names as well. If anyone reading this blog can shed some more light on the subject, please contact us via email, it will be most appreciated.

Vadis amplifiers were manufactured in a small factory unit in Brookvale, a northern beaches suburb of Sydney, Australia. The business name of the manufacturer was Soundcraft Industries, Pty Ltd. The name of the proprietor was Jerry Dewey, although I can’t be sure of the correct spelling. Production started in the early 1960’s and continued through to the early 1970’s, but those dates are just approximate. Vadis amps were distributed exclusively through Dynamic Music, who were located in the same general area of Sydney. No doubt this arrangement would have limited the profitability of Soundcraft Industries, but it also gave them a broad penetration of the musical instrument marketplace, as it existed at that time.

Believe it or not, we actually have a family connection to the Vadis amp. My father, Jack Richards, a guitarist and arranger on the Sydney pro music scene back in the day, lived in the North Narrabeen/Elanora area of Sydney, as did Jerry Dewey. Knowing that Jerry was in the electronics industry, my father suggested to him repeatedly that it would be a shrewd move to start manufacturing guitar amplifiers, as at that point in time there were only two serious competitors, Moody in Lidcombe (Sydney), and Goldentone in Melbourne. By the time Jerry actually started production, however, there were several new competitors starting up in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Nevertheless, the enterprise was successful.

My father also claims to have suggested the name Vadis, from the name of a Sydney nightclub, Quo Vadis (also the title of a movie). We have no idea what became of Jerry Dewey after Soundcraft Industries closed its doors.

The classic Vadis 40 watt and 60 watt heads and combos typically employed a pair of 6CA7/EL34 output valves, originally with a 5AR4/GZ34 rectifier, but later replaced with solid-state rectification. A resistor (eg 1000 ohms, wire-wound) was normally used rather than a filter choke. These models had two preamp channels, one brighter than the other, and very effective all-valve reverb and tremolo. The reverb design is very similar to that of the 60’s Ampeg amps, but using a 12AU7/ECC82 driver valve. The tremolo employs direct modulation of the 2nd 12AX7/ECC83 gain stage cathode bias, in the 2nd (reverb) channel, resulting in that classic valve amp tremolo, unobtainable any other way. The 2-band passive EQ in each channel, was sometimes as per the Vox “Top Boost” channel, but driven from the anode of the preceding stage, rather than by a cathode-follower buffer stage, sometimes a very simple “tweed amp” style, but most often used a modified Baxandall EQ, optimised for guitar, and obviously a design unique to the Vadis amp. The more expensive amps used Ferguson transformers, manufactured in Chatswood (Sydney), with cheaper alternatives used in other amps.

There were numerous other lower-powered models employing different output valves, and were generally single channel. Most of the lower powered amps employed the 6GW8/ECL86 dual function triode – pentode valves, which could deliver up to approx 12 watts output in push-pull. These valves were very common in Australian-made guitar amps and record players, etc, in the 1960’s, but are long out of production.

The speakers used in the Vadis amp were primarily MSP (Manufacturers Special Products), a division of AWA in Sydney, or Rola (later Plessey Rola), also manufactured in Sydney. The Rola 12PEG (15 watts) and 12UEG (20 watts) alnico magnet guitar speakers sounded very fine indeed and are quite collectable today. Later, Plessey Rola introduced the updated ceramic magnet versions, the 12U50 and 12P30. The 12UX50 twin-cone model was widely used in PA systems at the time (late 60’s through early 70’s).

Well, by the late 60’s live performance of rock’n’roll music was changing in a big way, with ever more powerful amps appearing on the scene, and we can imagine that Soundcraft Industries, with their mid-60’s style amps, would have been under a lot of pressure from their distributors, and from retail, to reduce costs to stay competitive. By the beginning of the 70’s the Vadis amp was still a valve (tube) power amp, but with a solid-state preamp. Tone and performance suffered compared to the older models, but the writing was really on the wall when the entire range went completely solid-state. Thus, the Vadis story came to an end.

Getting back to Dave’s amp – both the transformers in this amp had previously been replaced by the writer, installing custom wound replacements from Special Transformers, of Sydney (no longer in business). This amp has had a hard working life and has been used in live performance until quite recently. The power transformer was replaced a 2nd time by a tech not known to us, this was possibly a Mojo unit, but was unfortunately underpowered for this application and developed a short circuit, blowing the fuse of course, and leading Dave to bring the amp down to our workshop. We selected a Mojo Tweed Bassman replacement unit, as having closest to the desired current & voltage ratings, ie able to support EL34 output valves plus a GZ34 rectifier, and importantly it would fit in the available space with some additional metalwork to enlarge the rectangular chassis opening.

Apart from replacing the transformer, there were numerous other issues to sort out, as you would expect in a 45 year old amp. I’m sure the designer would be amazed that these amps are still in use, and even more amazed at the alternative styles of music being performed !! In this amp the GZ34 and its octal socket required replacement, and the 240V wiring tidied up with emphasis on a good earth connection, as per compliance with Workcover NSW standards. All these amps will require replacement of 40+ year old electrolytic capacitors, we recommend a good quality cap such as Sprague Atom (USA) or F&T (W. Germany). Some caps will need to be bedded down in silicone to keep them secure. The bias supply voltage is adjusted by means of paralleling up resistors as required, so is not at all convenient. Jacks & pots will need cleaning or replacing as required. One problem will be the condition of the 9-pin preamp valve sockets. In many cases they will be so damaged and/or corroded that replacement is the only option, which is labour intensive as the Vadis amp is wired true point-to-point, with all components mounted directly between tagstrips and valve socket pins.

The tremolo function in Dave’s amp hadn’t been working for some time, but replacement of the 9-pin socket and a couple of resistors & capacitors restored it to full working order. It sounds fabulous !! In spite of the seemingly random earthing employed in the chassis wiring, the amp is amazingly quiet, and sounds pretty damn sweet. The reverb is a bit surf’s up for our tastes, but is definitely useable – just turned down a tad. We think that Mr Jerry Dewey probably knew a thing or two about electronic design, 60’s style.

Thanks again to Dave for his continued custom, and for supplying us with such rare & unusual items to discuss here in the blog.

http://soundslikesunset.com.au

Once again – if anybody can shed any light on any of the missing pieces of the Vadis jigsaw puzzle, please make contact via email and we will publish an update as appropriate.

Regards, Ivan.

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25 Responses to “The Galaxie Guitar Amplifier by Vadis”

  1. Mark Todd Says:

    I have my vadis listed on ebay at the moment. Although I’m starting to get cold feet & may pull it early..

    http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/120844105065?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649#ht_2089wt_983

    • ivanrichards Says:

      hello Mark, I hope the blog provided some useful information and filled in a few gaps – your model looks like mid to late 60’s manufacture to me, but I have no cross reference between dates and serial numbers, I am only relying on memory; also there a lot of small variations in the circuit from one production run to another; regards IR.

  2. Tim Mason Says:

    Hi I have a BR20 saved from the rubbish tip…, after many hours saturating the chipboard that was flaking out with water based epoxy , Dusting of the circuit board, looking for the problem that was pretty obvious, a burnt out filter capacitor. When I blindly started this project I had a very little idea what i was doing, after 2 months of reading any valve amp blogs i could get a hold of, and many valve amp schematics I found a few that looked some what like a vadis circuit 2 Gibson layouts and one from ozvalveamps. I some what foolishly replaced the filter resistor firstly with a 800 ohm 5 watt. I closed my eyes and hoped for the best……The result a brightly lit jewel light, and a dim hum..I then plugged in my guitar lead connected to my Arbiter Les paul copy……….It was at this moment I got the biggest surprise, a great sound, even wonderful when I plugged into the accordian socket.By the way this amp was my first valve amp….since then there has been no turning back,and one year later on I am armed with an oscilliscope, a variac, a home made transformer tester and a valve tester……..plus the grown knowlege thanks to the internet. I have restored a sawn in half Goldentone 1744 combo, moody BA17 AWA100 watt school PA and 2 Nomis 15 watt PAs (wicked little amps when replacing the 12au7s with some 12ax7s).. The vadis BR20 remains my favorite..I have payed many Fender,Gibsons and marshalls during visits to Neils Guitar n Amps in Manly thanks to my sons guitar lessons…..I have learnt not to underate Australian designed amps. They are all different,great sounding and some spectacular……

    • Chris Clarke Says:

      Hi Tim, my mate has the same amp (br20), but a few of the tubes are missing.. he just plugged what ones he had in, and switched em around till he got sound… um yeah… i told him you need to use right tube type in right socket etc he cant remember which was where… could you please tell me what type of tubes to use (gunna get new ones) and where they go? Please! As info on this amp hard to find!! Thanks

  3. shayne Says:

    I have a galaxie badged vadis here. I found it in a junkyard when I was 16 and took it home as I’d just purchased my first electric and had no amp. It is an all in one, not a head and amp cab. It’s quite large and has an even larger sound. Aesthetically, it’s in poor shape, and I could probably replace the volume and tone soup to, but it’s yet to fail me. I call it Old Faithful, once I replaced the valves it sang every note loud and clear and still does to this day on the same valves! I would be happy to supply photo’s and some information regarding it via email, if you would care to message me.

  4. Ray Vanderby Says:

    Hi, I just picked up a Vadis LB60 Extended Version series 3 60watt amp and I also managed to find 2 x Vadis quad boxes with Rola/Plessey speakers, guess what? I’m selling my Marshall stack because it is crap compared to the Vadis. What a sound, so creamy and woody. I’m having a local tech here in Orange NSW replace all the filter caps, trannies etc so it will be like new. I played in bands in the 1970’s so I remember Vadis very well. I played keyboards for Blackfeather, Doug Pacrkinson, Marcia Hines and Stevie Wright. Ive been teaching myself guitar since June 2011 and I have a 1998 Gibson Les Paul Standard plus a 2004 Telecaster. My 3 piece band EROS is a 1970’s prog rock original band so the Vadis stack is perfect, cheers

    • ivanrichards Says:

      Hi Ray, thanks for your comment & thanks for checking out the blog – the Vadis stuff was well made and has lasted a lifetime ! The owner of Vadis was a perfectionist – regards, IR.

  5. Ray Vanderby Says:

    Hi Ivan, I have had the Vadis Extended Range series 3 bass amp components mostly replaced with JJ Electronic ECC83S/12AX7, JJ Electronic EL34 Matched Quad, Sprague ATOM 100uF 100v Capacitor, Sprague ATOM 40uF 500v Capacitor, Potentiometer 10K Bias, Diode 1N4007, screen grid resistors etc. Unfortunately there is no HT fuse nor is there a Standby Switch in the amp. Can you tell me please are these 2 things advisable to put in for long life transformer and valve protection? I wonder why they were not put in the amp at manufacture? cheers Ray

    • ivanrichards Says:

      HI Ray

      the lack of HT fuse wasn’t so much of an issue at the time, no OZ/NZ amps bothered with that, nor did any American amps

      however, the fact that the ‘standby’ switch was not included on the later models as compared to the earlier models (including the Galaxie that we reviewed) makes no sense at all, and I can only guess that the use of separate chassis for preamp and power amp may have had something to do with this decision – ie this would have necessitated an additional high-voltage interconnect, as the power amp chassis is designed to be completely removable from the cab for servicing

      perhaps a standby switch could be added on the rear of the power amp chassis, near the fuseholder, even though it is an inconvenient location

      an HT fuseholder could possibly be added in the same part of chassis real-estate as well

      regards

      IR

      • Ray Vanderby Says:

        Thanks for that information Ivan, I agree for the location. I’m in 2 minds whether to add these or leave it original. If the only detriment is a slightly shorter valve life-span then I probably won’t add them. I notice in other Series 3 60w amps there is 1 speaker line-out in the back but this one has two. One has an 8ohm tap and the other a 4 ohm tap from the transformer, handy for the 2 Vadis quad boxes I have. The overall sound is wonderful (I would call “woody”) with my Gibson Les Paul Standard and Telecaster. I’m recording a 70’s style original prog rock album with Eros in October with this stack so it will be interesting, will send you a copy.

        I’ve just picked up a Vadis Extended Range Series 4 LB62 (I think it says) “Multi-Instrument Amplifier” solid state with 2 Vadis matching speaker boxes containing 2 x Plessey C12P speakers in each. Hoping to use it for guitar and the initial sound is quite nice for a solid state (I guess that’s a dirty word here-ha). I can’t find any information at all on this amp. I’m guessing it’s around !975 manufacture, sure would like to find a circuit diagram for it for when it needs work. Do you know of such an amp? cheers Ray

      • ivanrichards Says:

        hello Ray

        I have only rarely seen the solid-state Vadis amps but I did repair one or two many years ago and made some notes at the time, which are all on file

        when I retire, all this stuff can go on the www. for all to access, but there’s truckloads of the stuff

        IR

  6. John Manley. Redcliffe Qld Says:

    Hi Ivan
    Have just come across a Vardis 408 R Not knowing anything about them although owning a Goldentone in the 60’s, came across some sites and doing a bit of the learning scale on the Vardis
    Found the cabinet head is wired for a single switch pedal whereas the others have a double switch for the trem and reverb so I guess it’s been mucked around with. Can you supply me with a wiring diagram /schematics. Took the back of the speaker box and looking at me are 2 brand new Rola 12PEG speakers, very much doubt the back has been off. Hope you can help me out as after much cleaning it seems I have a brand new amp, just want to hear the sound of it. Also this amp looks like it has been recently re valved with 2 x 6L6GC tubes ????? Also the reverb tank is screwed straight to cabinet floor, should it have grommets under it ?

    Regards
    John

    • ivanrichards Says:

      hello John: well these amps are 40+ years old so often have been modded, repaired with non-original parts, valve etc; most commonly the Vadis amps 40 watts and over employed 6CA7/EL34 output valves, but there may be exceptions; there are no “official” schematics for Vadis amps that I have ever seen or heard of, I keep my own hand drawn records of vintage valve amp repairs, as do other old-school techs; there may be some hand drawn Vadis schematics at the Classic ANZ Valve Guitar Amps site, but beware of errors. Valves [vacuum tubes], transformers, capacitors, amplification circuits found within a guitar amplifier operate at high voltages that can cause permanent injury, disability or death. John – please do not attempt to repair, modify, test, work on high voltage electronic equipment unless you are trained or otherwise qualified to do so. Stay safe ! IR.

    • ivanrichards Says:

      John – I meant to say in the previous reply that yes, the reverb tank should be fastened to the cab bottom not too tightly and utilising rubber grommets; isolation is the name of the game; a reverb bag would be even better; IR.

  7. John Says:

    Many thanks for the info Ivan and believe me I’m fully aware of “One flash and your ash” LOL. I cannot find the old capacitors I need although a company in Germany do make reproductions of the paper type caps but are very dear to buy. The reverb tank will get a bag rest assure but at this time the modern caps will have to go in until i can find the correct time dated ones..

    Many thanks for your reply and a Merry Christmas to you and yours.
    Regards
    John

  8. ben Says:

    Hi, I have an old vadis which I was wondering you might be able to shed some light on…

    Its similar to the 601 but has a 5u4-fb rectifier and two speaker outputs.. Different to any 601 I’ve seen!

    Unfortunately the back cover is gone along with the identification badge

    its a killer amp, sounds amazing and I gig with it all the time!

    • ivanrichards Says:

      hello Ben: prior to changing over to solid-state rectification the Vadis amps employed the GZ34/5AR4 rectifier valve in the larger amps, and a variety of types in the smaller amps including miniature (ie 9-pin) such as the 6V4 (no doubt they were very cheap in the ’60s era); the thing to remember is that these amps were manufactured in the mid-’60s, so you have to factor in 40 years+ of dodgy repairs, substitutions, mods etc etc, quite often we are confronted with Aussie amps that are not strictly in original condition, as nobody cared about them during the 70’s and ’80’s; it’s only recently that we are rediscovering our musical heritage; IR.

  9. Shayne Says:

    Hey guys, I’m back.

    Doing a restoration job on the br20… which is funny because when I opened the thing up in jaycar they were at a loss with what do with half of the interior, in regards to replacements.

    However, for anyone interested, a place called element 14 in sydney has a lot of older electornics stocked, many of which can be found in our vadis amps.

    I do need some help though, in the br20, what’s the ohm of the speaker?

    it’s a plessey 12peg rola loudspeaker, and the diaphragm diameter is marked as f28.

    thanks guys.

    • Saigon Says:

      Shane.
      You will find they are 8 ohms as I have 2 of the same in my cabinet powered by the Vadis 408R head.
      Hope this helps
      Regards
      John

    • ivanrichards Says:

      hello Shayne: both Element 14 and RS Components offer a huge range of components for high DC voltage environments, such as valve amplifiers, including high voltage capacitors, 1W & 2W carbon film resistors, tagstrips etc etc. IR.

    • ivanrichards Says:

      hello Shayne: place the test prods of a digital DVM across the (disconnected) terminals of the speaker in question – an 8 ohm (impedance) speaker will read slightly over 6 ohms DC resistance (typically), and a 15/16 ohm (impedance) speaker will typically read say between 12 & 13 ohms resistance. IR.

  10. tam Says:

    hi i am tam i played in the 70ties and used a vadis 40watt head and 2 12 box plus a vox ac 30 together flat out doing rock.sounded amazing.sadly i sold both.the band was grapevine.

  11. Matt james Says:

    Hi. I’ve recently come to owning a Vadis solid state amplifier. It was in questionable condition but I’ve completely reconditioned the box, upgraded the speakers, and changed the 6 knobs. Now it sounded fine until…. I don’t know…. But I blew a resistor. I changed the resistor but I’m still getting a lot of heat from it and slight burning. I would love if you could contact me. There isn’t much on the internet about Vadis or Soundcraft. Funnily enough, I live in Brookvale! I was surprised to see the amps were made here!
    Hope to get a reply…. As I just realised how old this thread is!

    • ivanrichards Says:

      hello Matt, contact me on 0418862034 as discussed for quality service & restoration to your Vadis.

      • Mason Says:

        Sorry for the delay there are several items to look at have you placed the power supply line to the power tubes1. ie el34s or 6l6s in the right position of the filter cap after the choke or have you set it before the choke it should be after the choke. 2 the 5k resistor should be rated at 5Watts or more. 3. check that the el34 – 6l6 cathode bias cap is working well ( some new caps are buggered as brand new) this is if the amp is cathode biased. if the amp is a fixed bias check the 2 off 220k resistors of the phase inverter are of equal value and check that the bias voltage supply components are to value. 4. the 2 main filter caps can also be dodgy from brand new.

        Thats the start off it. let us know how the project is going regards Tim Mason ph 47588351

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