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Industry Musical instruments
Genre Producer
Founded 1940
Founder Victor Smith, Al Frost, and John Dopyera
Defunct 1968
Products guitars, guitar amplifiers, lap steel guitars

Valco was an American manufacturer of guitars, guitar amplifiers, and other musical instruments from the 1940s through 1968.


In the 1930s, Valco was formed by three business partners and former owners of the National Dobro Company; Victor Smith, Al Frost, and Louis Dopyera. The company name was a combination of the three partner's first initials (V.A.L.) plus the common abbreviation for company (Co.)

Valco manufactured Spanish acoustic guitars, metal-bodied resonator guitars, electric lap steel guitars, and vacuum tube amplifiers under a variety of brand names including Supro, Airline, Oahu, and National. They also made amplifiers under contract for several other companies such as Gretsch, Harmony, and Kay. In the 1950s they began producing solid body electric guitars.

Valco merged with Kay Musical Instrument Company in 1967, however the merged company quickly went out of business in 1968[1] because of financial difficulties.[2]

Replicas and revivals[edit]

Since Valco's demise, a number of manufacturers have reissued several different reissues or derivatives of Valco instrument and amplifier models. Eastwood Guitars currently produces a variety of reissue Airline guitars,[3] as well as at least one Supro model,[4] though all of the former semihollow Res-O-Glas models are now wood solidbodies.

Several of Valco's earlier amplifier models are currently reissued by Vintage47 Amps of Mesquite, Nevada. These amps are somewhat unusual in modern times because they implement octal preamp tubes, whereas later amplifiers leading right up to present times use miniature noval preamp tubes.[5]

In late 2013, it was announced that Absara Audio of Port Jefferson Station, New York, had purchased the rights to the Supro trademark from noted electronic engineer Bruce Zinky.[6] Zinky himself had used the Supro name for a series of amps beginning in 2005 from his company, Zinky Electronics. Absara announced in January 2014 that a series of new Supro amps would debut at the Winter 2014 NAMM Show in Anaheim, California.[7] The new Supro amps are cosmetically reminiscent of their progenitors from the 1960s.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "History of Henry Kuhrmeyer and the Kay Musical Instrument Company. Contains Engelhardt Information". Kay Bass Information and Registration ( 
  2. ^ Tony Bacon, ed. (2000). Electric Guitars: The Illustrated Encyclopedia. San Diego: Thunder Bay. pp. 243, 287. [verification needed]
  3. ^ "Airline Guitars". ( Eastwood Guitars. Archived from the original on 2013-04-12. 
  4. ^ "Supro® Dual Tone". ( Eastwood Guitars. Archived from the original on 2013-04-14. 
  5. ^ "Vintage 47 Guitar & Harp Amps". ( Vintage 47.  (See also: About us by David Barnes)
  6. ^ "Supro USA - The Legend Returns". ( Supro USA. 
  7. ^ "Legendary guitar amp brand Supro set for rebirth in 2014". press release ( Supro USA. December 4, 2013. 
  8. ^ Vintage Guitar Info Guy 1995–2002.
  9. ^ ADMIN 2001.
  10. ^ Wright 2007.
  11. ^ Ray 2012.