The Standel Company is an American company specialized in the manufacture of electric guitar amplifiers. It was founded in 1953 by Robert "Bob" Crooks in Temple City, California. Standel (a portmanteau of the words standard and electronics) was the name of Crook's side-business of radio and hi-fi repair, located in his garage at 10661 Freer Street, Temple City, California.
- 1 History
- 2 Technical achievements
- 3 Amplifiers models
- 4 Musical instruments
- 5 Notable users
- 6 References
- 7 External links
In 1952, Bob Crooks was approached by inventor-musician Paul Bigsby, who advanced the engineer 75 dollars to build him a custom amplifier to go with the then famous Bigsby solid-bodied electric guitars and pedal steel guitars. It was to be the first ever made under the Standel brand.
When designing the amplifier, Crooks would play Les Paul's recording of the song "Lover" several times through the amplifier and tweak it until it sounded "right". However, the final result was inappropriate for amplifying a musical instrument. Paul Bigsby played through the amp with one of his steel guitars and it "sounded terrible". Crooks noted the difference between building a guitar amplifier and building a standard hi-fi amplifier. As a result, Bigsby loaned Crooks a guitar so he could continue improving the amplifier.
For a time, Bigsby lost interest in the project, but Crooks nevertheless continued working on his design for several months. He eventually came up with one he was satisfied with. Its cabinet featured padded Naugahyde, aluminum guards around the cabinet, a lighted control panel, JBL D-130 speaker and independent bass and treble controls. Crooks's amplifier was both visually and sonorously appealing. He used his shop's name "Standel" as the amplifier's brand. The model was dubbed the 25L15 because it had 25 watts of power and a Lansing 15-inch speaker. Bigsby eventually purchased a Standel 25L15, #1018 on April 10, 1954.
Ascent to popularity
Once satisfied with his design, Crooks started attending local concerts in order to spread the word about his amplifiers and get musicians to test them. The first one of these musicians was the late "Speedy" West. West, a steel guitarist, was asked by Crooks, while at Cliffie Stone's "Hometown Jamboree" show, to try out his guitar amp. He liked it and ordered the very first Standel amplifier that same night.
Standel amplifiers would benefit from a relative rise in popularity among professional musicians, although at a small scale. Only 64 amplifiers appear on "The Butcher List" (Bob's handwritten chart of amplifiers and clients). Due to the high cost of building these amplifiers, (the JBL alone was $90, about 2–3 months rent in those days) they were used mostly by session musicians, as their high prices made them difficult to attain for an amateur or hobbyist (price being about double that of a standard production amplifier).
By 1963, Standel introduced hybrid amplification and by 1965 developed a full line of all solid-state amplifiers. In order to protect the designs from reverse engineering, Crooks coated the amplifier's modules in color-coded epoxy resin from 1963 to 1969. With the exception of the Red Tremolo module (which usually fails), 95% of these circuits continue to function after 45–50 years of use. For those needing repair, the Standel website (www.standelamps.com) post all known epoxy module schematics to aid technicians in keeping these amplifiers in service.
In 1970, Standel unknowingly received a batch of output transistors that, over time, would fail with a burst of DC taking the speakers with them. The once dependable Standel brand began experiencing a high rate of warranty returns.
Eventually, in 1971, the cost to cover warranty repairs became too high for Standel to endure so CMI (Standel and Gibson distributor) covered the cost, and in doing so, acquired controlling interest in the company. By 1972, the Standel brand was replaced by SG Amplifiers (Standel Gibson) being manufactured in the Standel factory at 4918 Santa Anita Ave., El Monte, California. The SG line was a hybrid design (solid-state preamp, tube power amp), developed by Bob Crooks, which harkened back to the original Standel hybrid designs of 1963.
After just over a year of operation, the SG line of amplifiers was discontinued. and the old factory closed down.
For the next 25 years, Bob continued design work for various amplifier companies, including BBE, and developed the Sonic Maximizer. This circuit was licensed by numerous companies and is arguably Bob's most successful design.
Reformation of Standel
In 1997, after 25 years of abandonment, the Standel Trademark became public domain and Bob Crooks was quick to secure the brand. Wanting to produce Standels again, and after a number of coincidences, Crooks came into contact with Danny "Sage" McKinney, the founder of Requisite Audio Engineering and through Franklin Garlock (Standel's west coast sales rep from the 1960s), requested a meeting with McKinney. McKinney, having first met Crooks when he was only 14 years old, always saw Bob as a mentor and looked forward to seeing him again. Shortly after this reuniting, Bob offered Danny the licensing to build and market Standels, with Bob acting as technical advisor to the new Standel Co. For the next 10 years (1997-'07) Standels were built at the Requisite Audio Engineering shop, in Glendale, California, 17 miles from the original Standel factory.
Over the next two years, Bob's health began to fail and, in 1999, he died at 79 years. Bob lived to see his original design, reintroduced at the 1998 NAMM convention in Anaheim, California, 45 years after its introduction in 1953.
After Bob's death, McKinney continued to operate the Standel Company under the original licensing agreement, granted by Bob's widow, Deloris Crooks. In 2005, McKinney became the sole owner of The Standel Company and The Standel Company trademark.
In 2007, the company was moved to Ventura, California, where they continue to build, to original specification, the Standel 25L15 and variations of the 50L15 and 100L15 models and Acoustic Magnifier versions of all models. They continue to use original (50-year-old) JBL D-130 speakers. Each speaker receives a specially developed surround edge treatment and full re-magnetization before being put into another 50 years of service, in a Standel amplifier.
Standel was a pioneer in modern amplifier design; the following are some of the company's achievements.
- First to use JBL speakers in a musical instrument amplifier
- First to use padded upholstery
- First amplifier to have illuminated dials
- First closed-back bass amplifiers
- First piggy back amplifiers
- First amplifier to contain its dials on the front panel
- First hybrid amplifier (used both valve and solid state circuitry)
- First self-powered speaker cabinets
- First to have separate "Bass" and "Treble" dials (most amplifiers only had one "Tone" dial at the time)
Vintage Plus series
- 25L15 - 25 Watt valve amplifier, JBL D130 speaker and padded upholstery.
- 50L15 - 50 Watt valve amplifier, JBL D130 speaker and padded upholstery.
- 100L15 - 100 Watt amplifier, JBL D130 speaker and padded upholstery.
- AM-25L15 – Self-powered extension speaker system with JBL D-130 for the 25L15
- AM-50L15 - Self-powered extension speaker system with JBL D-130 for the 50L15
- AM-100L15 – Self-powered extension speaker system with JBL D-130 for the 100L15
- L15 – 1x15 speaker cabinet. JBL D130 speaker.
- 30C24 - 30-watt amplifier sporting an all-tube circuit with a high-gain preamplifier.
- 100C24 – 100-watt version of the above. Uses Celestion speakers instead of JBL.
- Model 484 – 30-watt rack-mount power amplifier
- S30-H - Head-only version of the 30C24
- S100-H - Head only version of the 100C24
- C24 2x12 – Lightweight cabinet with two 12-inch speakers. The buyer decides which speakers are to be used.
- C48 4x12 - Lightweight cabinet with four 12-inch speakers. Buyer decides which speakers are to be used.
From 1961 to 1967, Standel had a short period as a manufacturer of stringed instruments. Bob Cooks made several attempts to market a Standel guitar. The first attempt resulted in 10 prototypes made by Semi Mosely. Joe Hall built the next line of guitars, a run of Mosrite-inspired double-cutaway guitars and a basses that featured an aluminum casting that housed the pickups, bridge and tailpiece. In 1967 Sam Koontz and The Harptone Manufacturing Co. designed and built a product line of 10 simi hollow body and arch-top guitars, five acoustic models in six-string and 12-string variants and two basses: a simi hollow body and the first production acoustic bass.
- Chet Atkins
- John Cippollina
- Larry Collins
- Ry Cooder
- Deke Dickerson
- Pete Drake
- Buddy Emmons
- José Feliciano
- Vincent Gallo
- Cliff Gallup
- Hank Garland
- Barbara Mandrell
- Joe Maphis
- Grady Martin
- Wes Montgomery
- Ralph Mooney
- Jefferson Airplane
- Lovin Spoonful
- Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
- The Righteous Brothers
- Hank Thompson
- Merle Travis
- Speedy West