1953 Gretsch Electromatic Deluxe “6163”

Here’s a vintage 1953 Gretsch Electromatic Deluxe 6163 electric guitar amplifier. This particular example, serial number X23322, is in exceptionally clean all original condition and includes the original Mackintosh canvas protective cover, as well as, the original paper schematic! This first generation 6163 would later evolve into the famous “Western-finish” Electromatic, as well as, the numerous other incarnations with the same chrome “refrigerator” handle, but not before being initially introduced as the 1 x 12″ combo with (2) 6L6s and a lacquered Tweed covering. Whether you’re interested in finding a beautiful matching amp for your early-mid ’50s Gretsch guitar, been looking for a completely unique vintage tube amp, or you’re an amp enthusiast with an eye for the exotic, this is an incredibly cool find.

Serial Number: X23322
Transformer Codes: E-2639, C5026 2
Speaker Code: 220150 (Jensen)

This ’53 Gretsch Electromatic Deluxe features an entirely original matching set of RCA vacuum tubes, including; (2) 6L6 Coke-bottle power tubes, (2) 6SJ7 pentode preamps, (1) 6AX5 rectifier, and (1) 6SN7 preamp, with an original 1 x 12″ Jensen P12P Alnico 5 speaker.

Assembled from components spanning a 2 year production period between 1951 to 1953, it is quite obvious that not many of these amps were produced, and that they were most likely manufactured in small batch quantities. On the “tube positions diagram” the number 18 is written in pencil, and while the serial number placard/plate is the actual serial number, it does not indicate actual production totals, as these metal tabs were used on all Valco-made instruments. So, it can be inferred that the penciled number is a more accurate batch number. In any case, this very early short-lived version features a unique combination of both an identical schematic found in a National 1210 amp, while sporting a unique single 12″ speaker, as opposed to the 15″ which later became standard. It is probable that shortly after this amp was made, Valco determined a 12″ speaker to be potentially overwhelmed by the powerful 6L6 duet, which would prompt all successive 6163 models to have at least a 15″ speaker, if not, a combination of both a 15″ Jensen speaker and a smaller 4″ Rola as well.

This ’53 Gretsch Electromatic Deluxe’s simple schematic does not include a tremolo circuit, unlike later 6163 varieties. So, the straight-forward simplicity sensibly produces some of the best tone of any 6163. Interestingly, this amp is quite similar to a first generation 6G6 Fender Bassman which share the same power tubes, in addition to, a single 12″ speaker.

Incredibly intact in 100% all original condition, this ’53 Gretsch 6163 Electromatic Deluxe still works perfectly, and sounds surprisingly great. All channels sound similar, and when completely dimed with both the tone and volume all the way “on,” as the controls indicate, the amp produces a beautifully rich overdrive whilst retaining incredibly musical and sweet headroom. Most definitely a better amp for strumming heavy chords and aggressive playing, it doesn’t quite respond as well to single-note solos. It has powerful compression that responds particularly well when used in conjunction with overdrive, distortion, and fuzz pedals.

The overall cosmetic condition is very excellent. Aside from superficial humidity damage on the bottom of the tweed sides only, it is otherwise near perfect. The grill cloth is nearly immaculately preserved, the control panel plate is unreasonably crisp, and all of the original components are in highly functional condition. It was recently serviced, and the original power cable was replaced, as was the original power On/Off switch: both of which are included.