After this general overview, let's talk about instrument amps. Why instrument amps? Well, before the sixties about no specific guitar amp was available in Germany. They made instrument amps intended for bands, so they use to have from two to four channels with separate microphone, accordion and tape or guitar inputs. Remember that most early '50s US made guitar amps had accordion or mic inputs too. They were not so specific.
Amongst the numerous Dynacord '50s models there is a "fab four" group. These are the MIGA16/MV15, DA15/DA16, KV10/KV12 and KV6.
The good thing about all these Dynacords is that they always have a built-in extension speaker connector. In the KV6 is permanently linked to the internal speaker, but can be easily removed with an added switch. The bigger amps have the switch already, so the internal speaker can be muted. A very welcome feature! Usually the original Elbau speakers are too Hi-Fi with a broad frequency band. They give way more low-end than what these small "Kassette" cabinets would ever keep up. So they tend to sound flabby and distort the bass too much. Also the treble can be very piercing. If using the internal speakers, better be easy on the equalizer. The best way to go is using a good external guitar cabinet.
The KV6 is a small 4 watt amp. A perfect practice amp with two inputs and a small speaker. I haven't tried it yet, but I die for one in decent condition. Most of them are trashed with signs of very intensive use. I'm pretty sure it sounds gorgeous plugged to a lo-power Celestion. The good thing about Dynacord is that the modest amps were built with the same quality and craftmanship as the top end models. These babies are really well built compared any other entry level amps. It's very satisfying looking at these tidy hand built point to point circuits and the chunky transformers, not penny pinching here.
The KV10 filled the midrange range. It has from two independent channels and a single common tone control to four separate channels depending on the versions and years (the full band in a single amp!) The early version had those odd tubes I talked about, so it's not an amp I would buy. The second version had ECL82 tubes for the phase inverter and power section. These tubes put out 8 to 10 watts from a push pull amp. They tend to distort very early, even earlier than the always ready to distort EL84. Not an amp for clean sounds, but a nice one for old fashioned dirty bluesy tones. The KV10 was replaced by the KV12 loaded with ECL86, a better and juicier tube. The ECL82 sounds a bit duller in comparison. Again a distort ready amp. Great for the crunchy stuff at reasonable levels. For me, the one to look for in this range, but way scarcer than the KV10. These squared boxed amps were ugly compared with the rest of the highly appealing Dynacord range.
The MV15 and the Miga16 amps are two nice compact and small 15 watt metal boxed heads. No combos this time, so no problems about dealing with speakers, just use your favorite guitar cab. The MV15 is more PA oriented while the Miga is the instrument specific version. I haven't got the schematics yet, so I don't know the actual electronic differences, but I guess they are very similar and the main differences are the input sensitivities and voicings in the different channels. The MV15 has two different mic channels and a third channel for turntable or radio (it has an specific radio input) for some backing tracks for the singers. Who actually invented the karaoke?
I haven't got any yet, so I haven't tried it, but looking at the specs, the second channel should be perfect for guitar. The first channel should be something like the low sensitivity input of a guitar amp, the one noone uses on old Fenders or Marshalls. And I guess the third channel pickup input would be like a built-in dirty distortion device. It has a huge sensitivity for a turntable pickup and it's probably voiced for that, so I guess it will sound weird and easily overdriven by a guitar pickup. The Miga 16 was offered in a few versions along the years, some having an accordion input, some with just two guitar inputs and always a mic input just in case you want to sing along or play some harmonica. This is the amp I'm currently looking for. But don't show up as often as MV15s.
The DA15 and the later DA16 are the most abundant of them all. These are great small and light weight portable 15 watt combos. They have two removable back and front cover panels for transport, making a nice ready to go colorful giging suitcase. A very clever design. As always from Dynacord, their amps were mutants and there was a nice amount of versions. The DA15 was the main product for Dynacord. 70,000 units were produced during the '50s followed by 65,000 DA16 from 1959 on. It was the most popular german amp ever and they are still easy to find. I have one of each.
The DA15/V is the more common version, the one I have. It has three channels and a so-so popping vibrato. None of the channels are guitar oriented, but they all are usable. The best one is the Mic input. This one alone worths the amp. The internal Elbau Type 22/93 speaker is not specially good, only passable at low levels and awful if pushed. But plugging it into Celestions or some Eminences it rocks. It's impressive through a Marshall 4x12" JCM800 1984A bass cab, but likes Vintage 30s and Eminence blue alnicos too. The DA16/V is a bit more refined, with a few more features added. The one I have (and late DA15s too) has a couple of plastic tweeters mounted at the sides of the suitcase. The internal speakers make a more useable set. Still shrilling, but they keep up the lows way better, perhaps the circuit was modified somewhat to solve this. I didn't tracked the DA16 circuit yet, I've only drawn the DA15 schem. There was a DA18 and a DA20. Basically a DA16 chassis with added reverb mounted on regular guitar cabs as any typical Combo, and loaded with small speakers. It loses the magic of the suitcase and don't even have a 10" speaker! A non sense!
The bigger amps use to have EL12 power tubes, so not very good deals. Only the top of the line worth a mention. The impressive MV75. A monster having six channels with independent tone controls each powered by a couple of EL34. It looks like a beautiful huge old radio. I was about buying one a few times... but where would I go with that power?! I stopped using 50 watters years ago. 15 watts is the way to go gigging at clubs.
These are the main '50s amps and their evolutions. There's more to come. Stay tuned for the '60s stuff.