WTF is a Thor amp? That would’ve been my reaction before I ran across a recent thread at the Metroamps board. The thread is authored by tubetramp, more properly known as Terry Kilgore, who grew up with Ed Van Halen, is friends with him, was in DLR’s band for a bit and no doubt has done more of note.
Here’s the story, according to Terry, edited for readability and brevity:
“Stray Dog was one of my favorite groups in ’73. They were discovered by Emerson Lake and Palmer. This band hailed out of Texas and was most definitely ahead of the pack in guitar tone and skill, not to mention hard rock content that boggled the mind.
“Edward comes to mind because he turned me on to them. Unfortunately, when they played the Whisky a Go Go for four nights in a row [back in the day], I couldn’t catch their set. I was one block a way at Bill Gazzari’s doing six nights…. In those days you could work 20 days a month if you alternated just a few clubs week to week. Van Halen generally would do two weeks a month there in the early days, then Barnacle Bills in Duarte and some other sh*thole in Covina.
“Anyhow, Ed came down one night and watched [Stray Dog], and then hopped down the street to see us. I asked him on the break what sort of amp this guy [guitarist Snuffy Walden] used – his tone was so off the hook [that] any guitar player that had a set of gonads would have asked that first. [The answer was] Thor Amps. Hmmmm.
“Never seen one, not even a glimpse, ’til 3 days ago. I found this in Downey, CA on craigslist. No one wanted it. It is a Thor 100 – four EL34s. I was surprised I ever found one in operating condition. Then I come to find out that Jim Marshall’s eldest son [ironically named Terry] was behind them.
“I have not been able to stop lightin’ it up since I got it. Four-input, two channel with the knob on the far right called Attenuation. What a tone.
“The guitarist in the band’s name was Snuffy Walden. Google him. We’ve pretty much been hearing him on a huge number of television [shows] and movies for years.
“The Tramp has another white elephant that does remarkable stuff. If anyone has anything to add to the Thor story, please pipe in. Edward Van Halen may possibly be the only other person I’ve ever known that knew of them.”
Anyone out there know anything about these puppies? Ever seen one in person?
> Terry, on the lack of knowledge of various British tube amps (edited):
“Few automobile companies in America ever got over the big three, if you know what I mean. [Look at] Elgen and Burman and several other English amps that never came to providence and very truthfully never got distribution. I have examples of those as well and they would be the only ones I kept over a vast collection of 100-watt British artillery pieces I’ve been screwy enough to collect over the last three decades.
“Even the well known amps like Simms, Watts, Selmer, Vamp…were names I barely knew 10 years ago.
“I promise I will map this [circuit] out. The thing that stands out about this thing is the dial to the far left labeled Attenuation. Every quarter-sweep makes the whole tone stack do a different kind of loco. Certainly ranks high in the 100-watt tone department.
“I’ve had many vintage Marshalls and Hiwatts that couldn’t touch this thing.
“It was made in sub-assemblies, like a machine gun.”
(Yes, I did Google and eBay-search Thor, came up donuts except for a small bass amp, I believe. Have fun looking!)