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Equipment

Much of the equipment used by the crossBeaTs (or Seekers as they were first called) was "home made" by members of the group.  Some was bought.  Others have confirmed to me that 'this is how it was'.  I wonder to what extent the 'gospel groups' of today would go to this length - see below (or is that just an 'old man' talking?).

Our first amplifier, dating from before 1962, was John's red and white15 W lead amp that we used for lead and rhythm - and probably vocals early on.  I'm not sure what the make was.  It had a small 8" speaker and basic controls (plus a simulated tremolo effect).  This can be seen in the colour picture below.  It lasted him until he bought his VOX AC30 in April 1965.

Clearly, bass couldn't go through this, so a second-hand 'Fenton Weill' bass amp and speaker was bought early on (June 1963), and was thought to be a luxury.  However, it distorted badly.  It can be seen in the bottom left of this St Benedict's picture (21 September 1963).  The guitars in this picture are: Framus bass, Hofner Senator rhythm and Hofner V3 lead.  Eric's first (cheap) set of drums is also visible.


ABOVE: John Millington (bass), Eddie Boyes (rhythm), Tony Mathias (lead vocals), Eric Knowles (drums), John Boyes (lead)

After some early poor buying decisions (a 15 W Bird amp for PA to try and fill the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool, 28 March 1964), we decided to make our own speaker systems.  We used "Linear" valve (tube) amplifiers.  The L30 (30 watt, or was it L25?) and the L50 (50 watt) were made by a firm called 'Linear', and they were grey metal platforms covered in a grey metal grill-type of cage - with two chrome handles.  The valves (tubes) could be seen through the grill.  They had two high impedance 'jack' inputs, and a single low impedance speaker output (they had a large step-down output tranformer as well as the mains transformer).  The benefit of them was that they were fairly cheap - for 30 or 50 watts.


We made our own PA cabinets and bass cabinet.  The two PA cabinets were made (Jun/Jul 1964) of half-inch ply - each to contain first two 10" Stentorian speakers and later, when these blew (on Isle of Man Cruise - 3 Aug 1964), two 12" Fanes.  Even later still, these were replaced by Goodmans Axiom and Audiom (20 W each) for better quality.  Because we had been reading about speaker design, the PA cabinets were made with bass reflex ports.  The bass cabinet was made (Sept/Oct 1964) of three-quarter inch blockboard and contained two 15" Fane speakers.  Again, it had bass reflex ports and lots of old carpet underlay inside it.  Mike Bews was extremely helpful in all this.


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ABOVE: John Boyes, Tony Mathias, Eric Knowles, Eddie Boyes, John Millington

This picture above shows the pre-VOX red and white lead amp (left of centre), the home-made bass cabinet (right of centre) and, on the extreme right - just in view, one of the home-made PA cabinets.

We also spent some time trying to make guitar 'effects'. There were no effects pedals to be bought (that we could afford) so we built simple 'fuzz' boxes from circuits in electronics magazines. These simply drove a transistor to 'clipping' and gave a distorted sound. They were of dubious quality and usefulness.

The home-made bass cabinet can be seen on this open air picture below, as can the Linear valve amps on the grass (13 June 1965) - the L30 (30 watt) on the extreme right, for bass and rhythm, and the L50 (50 watt) at Tony's feet in the centre.  By this time, a couple of the guitars had been improved (Hofner bass and Gibson ES330).
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ABOVE: John Boyes, Eric Knowles, Tony Mathias, John Millington, Eddie Boyes

Next to the vocal amp in the above picture (L50 - lower middle), you can see the Watkins Copycat (echo chamber) which was used for vocals.  John also had one for the lead guitar.  Eric's new set of drums (here) were bought in June 1964. The sign on the drum was later changed to our "standard" logo, as at the top of this screen.

Notice the Reslo ribbon microphones. These seemed to us (after advice) to give the best sound (for high impedence mikes) - you could also get two people on each mike, one on each side facing one another - so that saved money.  However, they were extremely delicate (the ribbons broke), and were sent back for repair often.  They also "popped" a lot, so you had to be very careful (they had virtually no wind shield).  We moved over to AKG, low impedence balanced mikes with transformers, after the first recording session in Birmingham (we bought them through the recording engineer, some time after September 1965)


As we were always concerned about the clarity of the words, at some point the 'Linear' L50 PA amp was replaced by a second hand Leek Hi-Fi amplifier of about the same power, which we put in a wooden box (June 1966).  We naively thought this 'Hi-Fi' amp would give extra clarity.  At some point too, we managed to get hold of a second hand Vox T60 for bass, and Sam purchased the second Vox AC30 (for rhythm).

As we only ever took expenses (or what a few people offered over and above this), equipment was always a problem.  We updated our own guitars (selfishly, and out of our own pockets), but even in 1970 we were building our own transistor amplifier (2 x 150 W) for PA, as we could not afford to buy (up to then, everything had been 'valves' or 'tubes'). We had some electronics expertise (John and Eddie), and by 1970 you could buy 150 W amplifier circuit boards which only needed output transistors adding (with suitable heat sinks), pre-amps making and the whole thing boxing.  This we did in the summer of 1970 (I think).  Everything was over-engineered - with massive heat sinks - even on the diodes in the power supply.  

This next picture (Royal Albert Hall, 13 February 1971) shows that by 1971 we had two Vox AC30s (for lead and rhythm), and a second hand Vox T60 for bass (on its side in the picture). The home-made 2 x 150 watt PA amp can be seen in the bottom right of the picture (with something on top of it).

By this time, also, we had made some stronger (more robust) and compact PA cabinets - 4 in all, again out of half-inch ply.  Two of these, for normal use, each contained 2 Goodmans 12" speakers.  The other two were much bigger and each contained 4 Goodmans 12" speakers.  This then gave us 3 options, just the two small ones (4 speakers in all), just the two big ones (8 speakers in all - see the bottom left of the US photo below) or the whole lot (12 speakers in all) - they were all wired sensibly to give optimum power transfer from the 2 x 150 watt amps.  In the Royal Albert Hall we would have used the whole lot - though it was still pathetically small (300 W vocals) for such a place.

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ABOVE: John Boyes, Tony Mathias, Sam Pennington, Joe Roberts, Eddie Boyes

You can see one of the home-made boxes, with 4 speakers in, on the floor to the left of this picture from Saginaw, USA - by the US flag

ABOVE: John Boyes, Tony Mathias, Sam Pennington (Joe Roberts behind), Eddie Boyes
Guitar-wise, the progression was :
Lead: unknown make in the 1960s -to- Hofner V3 Solid (August 1963) - to - Baldwin semi-solid (in the above picture)
Bass: unknown make in the 1960s -to- Framus (September 1963) -to- Hofner McCartney (April 1965) -to- Gibson SB400 (Oct 1972)
Rhythm: unknown make in the 1960s -to- Hofner Senator (August 1963) -to- Gibson ES330 (May 1965, second hand price £145).

If you can help to supply any extra information, please get in touch. Email

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