This model was Ace Tone’s early-’70s flagship amp, with about 100 watts on tap, and came in several cabinet configurations—all as heavy as they sounded. One quirk: a built-in VU meter to monitor overloading.

Ace Tone Solid Ace 10

There was a time when I once avoided solid-state amps at all costs, and it had to do with an old ’80s Peavey amp I used to own. I can’t remember the exact model anymore, but that amp sounded so sterile and lifeless that it scarred me for a few years. That injury lasted until I started trying out early solid-state amps from the ’60s and ’70s. There is something about early solid-state amps that sounds more organic and natural than newer amps of the same ilk. It’s hard to pin down, but one listen to some of the old Ace Tone amps and you’ll dig.

I’ve always known the Ace Tone name from old fuzz boxes, like the awesome FM-2 Fuzz Master, but I never really knew much about Ace Tone amps. It turns out that Ace Tone was started in the early ’60s as a maker of electronic musical instruments such as organs, effects, and drum machines. The mastermind behind the company was Ikutaro Kakehashi, and his designs were innovative and original. Eventually Kakehashi left his Ace Tone company in the early ’70s to start the more famous Roland Corporation.

The Solid Ace 10 was the company’s flagship amp in 1971 and could be purchased with a number of different cabinet configurations. The head alone cost $420 new and ran a whopping $1,200 with twin-column speaker cabinets housing four 15" speakers. These are 2-channel amps full of “red-blooded” tone (per the catalog) and had enough power for “3 acres of auditorium.” Gotta love vintage ad hype!

Similar to the mid-’60s Teisco amps, Ace Tone amp heads could be ordered with any number of speaker cabinets. This one came with a 2x15 cabinet that weighs close to 100 pounds. It’s a true widow-maker! Now with all this power—something like 100 watts—on tap, there is a curious, yet cool VU meter to warn of overloading. But if you somehow manage to overload this amp, then you probably deserve a trophy. The two 15" Japanese Gold Bond speakers feature a cool golden cap cover, à la JBL speakers. The stock speakers feature alnico 5 magnets and sound superb. This amp takes pedals very well and, as expected, this Ace will rattle the house even at lower volumes.