In this edition of Old School, bassist Mike Whited shares his classic 1960’s Kustom Model 200 bass amp, an amp Mike has shared a lot of miles with over the years.
Kustom introduced the 200 model as an upgrade to their 100 model amp, offering it in black, blue, cascade, gold, red, white and charcoal. The company later introduced emerald green, and silver with gold sparkle options. Black was the most commonly seen color today. The “Tuck & Roll” reference comes from the naugahyde used to cover the amp, similar to certain kinds of car upholstery of that time. Kustom abandoned the tuck & roll finish in the late 1970’s.
We asked Mike to give us the story behind this vintage amp.
How long have you owned it?
47 years. I purchased it new in 1965.
How did you come across it?
I was home from touring for a couple of days in the summer of 1965 and stopped by a Coyle’s Music in Columbus Ohio to pick up some strings and browse. It was right inside the entrance, and I was smitten. I had never seen anything like it.
Stock or customized?
The stock Jensen speakers were replaced with JBL D130’s.
Give us all the specs!
Not many specs out there. About 10 years ago I contacted the Vintage Kustom site for some information and received this:
“It appears that you do have a 1965/66 model 200 amp. I would guess that it is more towards the 65 era. In any event you have a nice example of the lay down 2×15 cabinet. Yours may have had solid plastic handles and the knobs are before the big black ones with the silver ring around the outside. The power output of the 200 is 100 watts RMS into a 4 ohm total load.”
Any special characteristics?
The amp is called the “Frankie” (or Frankenstein) because the top of the amp is thicker than the bottom giving it a “Karloff” like appearance. It has the early thin plastic handles, a red power light that in later production was changed to blue and the stove top style control knobs. The serial number is hand written and according to the number chart and Vintage Kustom, it is the 193rd one of approximately 110,000 tuck and rolled amps made.
The amp has two channels marked guitar and bass.
What’s your favorite story about the gear?
Just the reaction people have to it the first time they see it. It holds true even today.
Any notable bassists (other than yourself, of course) play the same instrument/use the same gear?
Not anymore that I know of. Kustom amps were quite popular in the late 60’s early 70’s though.
Any special history or story behind this instrument or the company who made it?
Here’s an excerpt of an e-mail I received from a Kustom enthusiast when I first put pictures on the web:
“…you have a really great piece of gear there, a prime collector rig and the earliest of examples of a Bud Ross handmade amplifier.”
Do you use it on gigs?
No, this baby isn’t leaving home.
Any other vintage gear?
- 1964 Gibson EB-0
- 1967 Fender Coronado II bass
Kustom Model 200 Bass Amp Photo Gallery:
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m 64. In 1965 (I had just turned 16), my band was contracted as the backup band for a touring rock show called “The Shindig All Star Review.” We traveled to 13 states and three Canadian provinces. We backed Bobby Sherman, Del Shannon and a lot of local one-hit wonders. We toured with the show again in ’67.
I’ve also backed Freddy Fender, The Mills Brothers, and opened for the New Colony Six, The Byrds, and Grand Funk Railroad.
After I returned home, I left music, went to college, enlisted in the Army, got married and raised two children. Ten years ago I retired and got back into music and am having a ball!
I play rock, Motown, blues, bluegrass, country, light jazz, Cajun and Latin. Recently I’ve been backing the Drifters when they come to Ohio.
What did we miss?
I appreciate the opportunity to share a piece of music history with your readers.