Today, I shall introduce you to Paul.

I could probably start a ‘Reader’s Gear’ category, with all the questions I get ’bout things people have.

This probably doesn’t make sense to most normal people, but I’ve explained it before. We’re hoarders, possibly in need of an intervention. Try as we might, we just keep amassing stuff.

I’ve had my hands on a lot of guitar related stuff, so I often know something about it. If not, I ain’t scared. I’ll go find someone who does.

This particular stuff is something @mustard_of_puppets appeared with and said he’d acquired at a garage (or lawn) sale – at like $25. That’s probably Canadian dollars, so like $5.45 USD!

This particular lump of stuff is a guitar amplifier – if you can call it that. It does, technically, amplify a guitar. I’m going to tell you about his new amp.

His name is Paul.

Paul happily comes with a name tag. When you buy this amplifier, you know right away what you’re gonna get. You’re gonna get Paul.

Paul is probably one of the shittiest amplifiers you can possibly own.

Paul is, to me, worth about $5.00 – and maybe $10.00 if, for some fucking odd reason, I needed Paul for parts.

Paul is awesome.

Paul is potentially perfect for the owner.

Paul is probably going to break – a lot. Paul is never going to technically sound very good – it won’t have a dynamic range, be capable of clarity of any type, have any appreciable volume, or (normally) be anything more than a practice amp. It won’t even be very good at that.

Or…

You can probably get Paul to make some pretty fucking awesome noises – before mic’ing it up and blasting it out of real amps. It’d potentially be pretty sweet.

Also, I think it might be grounded to the chassis, so Paul is eventually going to try to kill you. I have to look, and I haven’t gotten that far yet, but I might have a manual for Paul. You don’t need the schematics for a damned thing with Paul. Nope…

Paul is a Model 201 – frequently called a Pepco 201. Paul was made by a company called Pine Electronic Products Company, showing yet another attempt at naming stuff. They sold under lots of names – but this one is Paul.

Someone named J W Fahey best described Paul as this:

There were some ultra-cheap hot chassis models, they were all basically the same: straight out of the RCA or whatever datasheet (look under AC/DC radio amplifiers), nobody was getting “creative” there, except by finding how many parts they could pull and let the amp still sound (somehow).

‘Snot just me, either. He then goes on to warn people that the damned thing is going to try to kill you. (He tells folks to make sure they properly ground it and to use a proper outlet.)

Paul is pretty horrible.

I have pictures of Paul. I even have permission to post ’em. Paul, let me show you him.

Yup. That's him.
Ladies and gentlemen, Paul. You can even click that and get a big picture of Paul. You’re welcome!

Paul is pretty horrible – and possibly going to bite you with a little something we call electricity. It probably won’t kill you, but you have been warned.

Now, let me tell you why Paul is kind of awesome.

Paul came out in the mid-1960s.

Paul was pretty much the cheapest guitar amp that a Canadian could buy.

This crazy thing has like four inputs.

I’m pretty sure every Canadian musician, over the age of say 60, has plugged into one of ’em.

None of them actually did any recording with one, as far as I know. At least not anything meant for large-market success. Shit, Geddy Lee has probably plugged a bass into one of these in a garage – when he was like 12.

The results of that were surely terrible. My guess would be that Geddy Lee played himself a bitchin’ solo on it – or at least tried. It probably sucked, but the spirit was there.

It’s got two knobs. Volume and Tone. Yup. You know what those are gonna do. It’s right there on the label.

I can guarantee you that I don’t have an amp profile for Paul.

To replicate Paul, I’d have to buy a similar model and then feed it through a mic. The odds of my needing to replicate Paul are really slim. So, Paul isn’t very interesting – to me.

The person who owns Paul is not me.

No, the person who owns Paul is the kinda guy who plays a three string cigar box guitar. Paul’s owner is kinda weird like that and this amp is, for this day and age, pretty weird.

It’s got four inputs – when it can’t satisfactorily handle the input from one instrument! Four… Four inputs on this thing. You could put Cyrillic text on it and everyone would think Paul was straight out of the USSR.

I guarantee that all four of those inputs have been used – at least once. I also assure you that it was a horrible idea and the results were terrible. Some sixties high school band plugged into that and jammed, after one of them saved up enough lawn mowing money to buy it.

You’re probably going to die as the result of a horrible electrical accident. The amp is probably going to break as the soldered components age and then break from new vibrations. But, it should do exactly what it says on the label – which is be Paul.

I suspect that, with some attention to detail, one can get an optimal tone from Paul. If it vibrates, you can probably make music with it. These are electrons moving sound and doing so in a distinct manner. You can make music with that.

It’s so weird that it just might work. The tone from this is not something I’d want – but it may very well suit your needs. I’d say crank it up and go for a blues tone, but that’d probably result in a house fire.

I’d absolutely NOT recommend anybody buy Paul for $25.

I’m not you and you don’t have to listen to a damned word I say!

Though, if you are going to buy Paul, you can probably expect a fair market value of about $100 – if it works. If it doesn’t work, you can fix Paul. Paul is not a very complicated piece of equipment, no.

Paul can be given a stage-repair with a screwdriver, cigarette lighter, and duct tape. Paul is pretty simple. Paul is probably going to eat tubes for breakfast, for Paul is needy and hungry.

From an environmental standpoint, Paul is probably about the least efficient thing you can do with electricity. It’s only marginally better than just sticking wire leads into the ground – and only a little safer. Paul uses lead solder – with who knows what for other contaminate matter. 

Paul is a combination of catastrophe and heartache, spiced with labor and frustration.

The only redeeming trait that Paul has is that Paul moves air. Paul is not particularly good at it, but he does do it.

Paul is also probably pretty distinctive. I need to hear more of Paul.

I kind of like Paul already. Buying Paul was either the dumbest thing he could have done – or it was brilliant. Time will tell – and I expect lots of stories about Paul. (I expect many of those stories to actually be questions about how to fix Paul.)

If you don’t know anything about electronics, don’t buy Paul. If you do want to learn some basic electronics skills, go ahead and buy Paul. I really expect Paul is gonna break – a lot.

We’ve all probably owned something like Paul. We all played bitchin’ solos on it, or tried like hell.

There are like 3 people, on the entire planet, who collect Paul. They don’t have any money. What money they did have, they spent on amps at $25 to $100. There is no money to be made (as near as I can tell) from restoring Paul.

Paul will be recreating the tones that many guitarists (all 17 of them from Canada) will have learned with. Paul, and his ilk, were fairly ubiquitous. Not a damned one of them was any good. But, there’s pretty good odds that it’s fairly distinctive.

There is one fan-site for them, that I can find. It looks like one person went crazy for them and then realized the error in their ways – and moved on. You can see it here.

Good luck with Paul! I kind of like ’em already. I don’t want to own Paul but I suspect Paul has some character and that the sound can be taken advantage of. No, nobody seems to know exactly why Paul is called Paul. Maybe someday Paul will tell us. Until next time…

Shut up and play us a song!

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