HIWATT DR103

HIWATT Amplifiers

Whenever a HIWATT amp comes in for a little attention, your general mood gets lifted to a higher level. Dave Reeves started making amplifiers from his flat in Surrey. He had served his apprenticeship with Mullard and Marconi. Then set about designing and manufacturing equipment himself.

The amplifiers are really tough and robust. They used good quality capacitors, decent resistors which were over rated for most of their circuit applications. The transformers were bullet proof. These amps were well suited for a hard life on the road and would stand the riggers of on tour set ups and being chucked around. You could throw one of these out of a DC3 at 5,000 feet and after hitting the ground it would work fine with enough grunt to start a Foden Diesel truck that had been in the snow for 2 days.

This one came in for a service as it was going to be gigged around Spain for a couple of months. A quick check of the main capacitors, coupling and smoothing showed everything was as good as it was in the mid ‘60s. Resistors were all well within spec. The output valves looked newish, shame not the original Mullards, but at least all the same which is nice to see. Tested on the AVO valve tester, they were certainly good enough for the job. The only issue was a bit of microphony when the amp had been on for 10 minutes. Not the output valves fault, but a 12AX7 – ECC83 in the preamp stage. And of course, it was silly JJ type which had been used as a replacement. Having a stock of decent used Mullards, in one when and all was fine.

This amplifier will not probably outlive all of us. Nice big potentiometers, not silly little PCB mounted things which fall over like a professional footballer when tapped on the knee. No stupid combinations of crunch, drive, overdrive, OD2, OD3….. all controlled by a switching matrix using crap relays and LDRs. Just straight forward quality amplification. Use a FX pedal if you want to make a racket. These amps could easy pass as a HiFi unit. Tribute to Mr Reeves who sadly passed away in his prime.

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