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Epiphone Electar Century

Epiphone started selling their Electar Century amp model in 1939 at a price of $62.25. It was originally a 4 watt tube amp with a 12" speaker. Back in those days, guitarists placed the amp in front of their music stand, so it had rear mounted controls.

As the electric guitar took over on the bandstand, the Century became a favored amp among guitarists with its striking furniture grade cabinet that employed figured maple. The Century was endorsed by big band guitarists including Al Hendrickson of the Artie Shaw Band, Lloyd Gillson with Sammy Kaye and Harold Aloma with the Tommy Dorsey Band

When I bought this 2014 limited edition reissue used, the amp had a terribly loud hum in it, even with the volume turned completely down. I spent a lot of time checking out the grounding, replacing tubes, rewiring the heater wires further away from other components, adding a resistor to the heater circuit, etc. all to no avail.

I couldn't stand the hum so I ripped out the amp (been using it for parts) and replaced it with a Joyo BantAmp BlueJay, which is a 20w real tube preamp with a solid state power amp. Since you can't reach the back panel of the amp the way it had to be installed, I cut an opening in the back of the cabinet and added a black metal plate with DC power, aux send and aux return jacks and hooked them into the corresponding jacks on the amp. Finally, the Electar speaker it came with sounded pretty bad, so I replaced it with a Jensen MOD-12 speaker.

The amp sounds fantastic now with a loud and smooth clean tone. It's also incredibly light for a 12" 20w guitar amp. Just the way jazz guitarists of the 1940s liked it!



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