This futuristic looking Yamaha amp had an interior that strove to be equally cutting-edge, with solid-state circuitry, flat Flexion speakers, and then-new silicon transistors and diodes.

Yamaha TA-60

Made during the late ’60s and early ’70s, these truly original amps were sold alongside the equally interesting Yamaha SG guitars. I often hear players bemoan copied designs and lack of originality among current guitar makers, and to these people I point to Yamaha products of the late 1960s. This TA-60 amp is totally gonzo. The wedge shape and strange speakers and the ethereal tones are just out of control. The shape was innovative at the time because the engineers were thinking about a fresh look combined with a low center of gravity, so the amps wouldn’t be accidentally knocked over. These amps make a statement in every aesthetic way.

The solid-state circuit touted the use of “new” silicon transistors and diodes (as opposed to germanium), and the wedge shape supported Yamaha’s flat Flexion speaker design. Advertised as “Natural Sound” speakers, these units were a complete departure from traditional speakers. They were described as having a “non-directional” design featuring a “columnar crystal magnet.” Made of some sort of white plastic, Flexion speakers have an extremely flat trapezoidal shape.

The TA-60 weighs around 46 pounds and claims to produce 60 watts of undistorted “music power.” I can say the TA-60 can achieve serious volume and can fill a good-sized room with a kind of crazy space-age sound. The tone of these amps is just about indescribable. It’s airy, spacey, and open. Try to imagine your guitar sounds reverberating off a piano soundboard. There is a lot of variation to explore when plugging into the two channels and dual “High-Low” inputs. When cranked, these amps can get plenty aggressive, but because there’s already so much coloration going on in the circuit, I’ve found they don’t take pedals very well. Really, every studio should have an amp like this.

The TA-60 cost a whopping $650 in late 1967 and was marked down to $480 in 1968. There was also a smaller TA-30 and a larger TA-120 amp offered during the same time. Studying old Yamaha catalogs, it seems that these wedge amps disappeared by 1971, although the Natural Sound speakers continued in different variations in other audio applications. Most notably, these same speakers achieved some horrific infamy in early-’70s Fender Bantam bass amps. Used in this Fender bass amp, the speakers had a high rate of failure and just sounded bad.