They built a low watt amplifier inside a wooden English Leather Cologne box that distorted like all get out.
Pignose was THE first portable, battery-powered amplifier made specifically for guitar.
It sounded like an over-driven Marshall 50 stack, but could be put on a guitar strap and slung over your shoulder.
The amp had that same gritty, dirty distortion of refrigerator-sized amps, but only pumped out 3 to 5 watts and weighed in at around 5 pounds! The Pignose represented The Counter-Culture thumbing their nose at the status quo of the day. Namely, when it comes to amplifiers, bigger is better.
However, it is once again selling for $79.95. Clapton, Joe Walsh, Zappa, and Led Zeppelin used the Piggy for recording.
The Eagles joked about having a wall of Pignose amps in concert.
The origin of the name is questionable and may have its origin in a drug-induced conversation.
The amp looked like a small valise. The Pignose was a 5” speaker, mounted in a hinged box that contained a solid-state battery powered amplifier and six AA batteries. The box can be used for storage as well. The only control is for volume; however, tone can be controlled by opening or closing the box. When the Pignose is un-hinged, the tone turns into screaming treble. A closed cabinet provides more midrange and bass. By having a friend rapidly open and close the amp, it can produce a wah-wah type sound.
By 1974, Chicago’s accountant purchased the rights to Pignose Industries and held on until ownership passed.
In 1985, Howard Chatt purchased the company and has been running it ever since under the name Pignose-Gorilla. (There was a budget line of low powered solid-state amplifiers under the brand name Gorilla.)
Hog 20 guitar amp and the Hog 30 bass guitar amp. Both are powered with rechargeable batteries.
Pignose 30/60 amplifier. This was Pignose Industries first attempt at a larger amplifier, which was offered for sale in around 1977. The 30/60 put out a respectable 30 watts RMS and 60 watts peak power into a 12” Eminence speaker. The advertising states it goes from clean to dirty. Most reviews emphasize its distorted tone.
The Pignose G40V. It was designed by Dennis Kager to have a similar schematic to a Fender Bassman. This amplifier was among the first to be manufactured in China, perhaps accounting for some criticisms and lack of acceptance. As of now, many guitar and bass amplifiers that carry famous USA and European trade names are being exported from China and have gained acceptance. This was not true in 1997.
Unlike the original tweed Bassman, the G40V came with a preamp volume and master volume control. Like the Bassman, it had treble, middle, bass and presence potentioments. There was no standby switch. The stock 8 ohm, 10” speaker was rated at 80 watts. The tube sockets were ceramic, which was a very unusual feature for a low priced amplifier.
The amp was originally offered at $199 and as the years went on the price got up to $329. This was all housed in a 14” X 9” X 11” package that weighed around 28 lbs. When played through a larger speaker cabinet, the bass and midrange perk up and gave this amp some very nice bottom. It had speaker jacks for 4 or 8 ohms. Interestingly, the cabinet is very similar in size and shape to the one used for the 30/60.
Kager launched his own brand called Sundown Amplifiers, which had a brief following. He was the force behind Reverend Amps. He has consulted for Fender, Yamaha, Mesa Boogie, Tone King, and Soldano. Kager runs an electronic repair company in New Jersey known as Central Jersey Music Service.
If you check out the picture of him you may note that one of his small Sundown combo amps looks surprisingly similar to the Pignose G40V and an amp that Reverend Guitars used to offer.
When my Pignose G40V was experiencing an unusual hum, my local tech spoke directly with Mr. Kager who resolved the problem. He was very impressed to speak to the man that modified amplifiers for the Allman Brothers, Bruce Springsteen, Peter Frampton, Rick Derringer and many others.
|PB-30 Bass amp|
They have since offered a few new models of guitar amplifiers; some housed in a cabinets very similar to the G40V.