VALCO
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VALCO
Amplifiers previously produced between the early 1940s and late 1960s in Chicago, IL. A majority of Valco's business was supplying amps to other companies including National, Supro, Gretsch, Airline, and Oahu.
Louis Dopyera bought out the National company, and as he owned more than 50% of the stock in Dobro, Dopyera merged the two companies back together (as National Dobro). In 1936, Dopyera moved the company to Chicago, IL. Chicago was home to many of the mass production instrument companies such as Harmony, Kay, Washburn and Regal. Major wholesalers and retailers like the Tonk Bros., Lyon & Healy, and Sears & Roebuck were also based there. In 1943, Victor Smith, Al Frost, and Louis Dopyera (the three owners of Dobro-National), changed the name of the company to VALCO (the initials of their three first names: V-A-L company). Valco produced war materials during World War II, and returned to instrument/amplifier production in the mid-1940s.
Although Valco produced thousands of amplifiers, very few appear with a Valco name on them. Valco produced most of their amplifiers for sale under another name. Amps were built for National (their flagship line), Supro (a budget brand of National), and other manufacturers including Airline, Gretsch, and Oahu. Valco probably produced more Supro amps than any other single brand. In the late 1960s, Kay bought Valco and continued for a short while as Kay/Valco Guitars, Inc. when they went out of business in 1969 or 1970. The Strum & Drum Music Company of Chicago, IL bought the Kay and National trademarks, but Valco was never used again. A few amplifiers appeared with National on them, but they were completely gone by the early 1970s. Information courtesy: Aspen Pittman, The Tube Amp Book, Deluxe Revised Edition.
Since Valco produced for so many companies and mass production was very cost-effective, the same amp can appear in five different brands. The only differences include the brand's unique cosmetics and logo. For example, a Supro, National, and Gretsch all look very different from the outside, but it is possible that the chassis are identical. This is helpful when it comes to identifying and evaluating amps that are not individually listed. If an Airline amp isn't listed, the Supro version can serve as a general guide to its features and approximate value. This may take quite a bit of research since there doesn't seem to be any pattern to the numbering/naming system. Currently, there is no cross reference between brands, but look for more information in upcoming editions. Refer to the Supro, National, Gretsch, Airline, and Oahu sections for more individual model listings.

From Blue Book Publications:


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