Canadian Amplifiers – Wort
Sadly, the guitar community is not more cognizant of the artisan talents and incredible technical knowledge that belong to Walter Romanyshyn. A walking encyclopaedia of theory and formulas, you are hard pressed to find a more experienced technician, and it seems any ‘unfixable’ solid state dinosaurs (e.g. old Crown or Yamaha power amplifiers) can be easily resurrected by Walter. Walter’s first solo venture went by the name Wort Amplifiers. After a very brief period of producing tube amplifiers, Wort embraced the ‘here-to-stay’ technology of solid-state devices. Therefore, about 99% of the Wort amplifiers you’ll see 30-odd years later are transistor circuits. Today Walter builds ‘high-end’ audio equipment with the latest silicon devices, and these exquisite pieces command a premium price tag. However, I lucked out in finding this well-used tube guitar head from the days Mr. Romanyshyn states he’d like to forget. The Model LT100 can be incorrectly thought of as a 100-watt non-master volume Marshall, although it does have a few deviations. It features a built in fuzz circuit, courtesy a 6AU6 paralleled up with the first gain stage. The tone circuit is similar to a tweed-era setup, and not the typical Fender/Marshall tone controls. The result is a little more preamplifier gain, as there are less insertion losses through this circuit. The output transformer is about twice the size of typical Marshall examples, and has all of the impedance taps known to man. It is a ‘full-bandwidth’ transformer, meaning it is rated to carry the full bandwidth +1dB at full output power. Lesser transformers lose low frequency response rapidly as the power output reaches the rated maximum. A similar ‘full-bandwidth’ transformer is found on the Marshall Major. I scoped the output of my ‘new’ Wort at approximately 115 watts RMS before clipping.
Small and compact, this is still one loud mutha that weighs a ton. Back photo shows just how compact this amplifier is.
According to Walter, this amplifier was one of only seven made, from approximately 1969. The ‘regular’ model used 6550 output tubes, where this rare example uses 4 very unmatched EL34/6CA7’s. The ‘box’ is also shorter than regular 6550 equipped models. The tubes look ‘old’ and it would appear only one has ever been changed. The unmatched tubes are 1 Sylvania, 1 GE, 1 Philips, and 1 silkscreened Dynaco! It sounds great to me any everyone who plays it, so there goes the matched tube shtick. To be fair, all output tubes are branded Made In England, and appear to be actually manufactured by Mullard. While the fuzz circuit may not be a desirable sound by today’s standards, for the time it admirably mimicked germanium-fuelled foot pedal units. With the fuzz out of the circuit, most players who hear this head are impressed how close it sounds to a vintage ‘Plexi’ Marshall. Mr. Romanyshyn’s final comment was how unfortunate I was that I didn’t find the matching speaker cabinet. The 4X12″ cabinet would have had stock JBL speakers featuring Alnico magnets. Below is a photograph of the chassis interior, showing the careful hand wiring. I still look at this picture every now and then to remind myself how ‘pretty’ an amplifier can look inside. And then I think about Walter’s comments about how the earlier amplifiers were not wired as nice inside as the later ones, and wonder what those later examples must look like.