Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 34
The Sequins (from left,
Marvin Ordy, Drew Moniot,
Dave Lytle, Dan Metrick)
with The Monster after a
job well (and loudly!) done.
BY DAVE HUNTER
rew Moniot and his band, The Sequins, were on top of the world,
playing Gibson SGs through endorsement-deal amp stacks as 16-yearolds in 1967. Among their many favorite memories was playing through the
Magnatone Monster - the world's largest guitar amp.
If you happen to be a fan of Neil Young
and Crazy Horse and you're thinking, "That
looks really familiar," you'd be right. Young
has owned one of its matched speaker cabs
and used it as a stage prop for years. But The
Sequins actually played through the thing.
Moniot's path to the Monster came via
another then-new amp that was gargantuan up against anything else, and traces
a tale that could only have transpired in a
long-ago age when innocence, innovation,
and youthful enthusiasm for rock and roll
could still crash headlong into some joyous
alchemy of pop-cultural splendor. Moniot
lends context to our dreamscape...
"We were a local high-school rock band
in our hometown of Butler, Pennsylvania,
playing Top 40 music and learning one or
two new songs a week, usually playing two
gigs a week earning money for college and
expenses - and having the time of our lives!"
he relates. "I was the lead guitarist, lead
Photos courtesy of D. Moniot, M. Ordy, D. Metrick, and D. Lytle.
vocalist, and leader of the band,
which had two guitars, bass, and
drums. At one point, myself and
the other guitarist, Marvin Ordy,
both had Cherry Red '63 Gibson
SGs while the bassist, Dave Lytle,
had a matching EB. Those made
us the envy of many local bands."
What really propelled The
Sequins toward their brush with
gear history was not the SGs, but
the Vox and Gretsch amps they
first plugged into.
"The Vox amps were routinely
blowing up," Moniot said, recalling repeated trips to have them
serviced at a music store in
Pittsburgh, an hour away. But a
solution was at hand.
"In '66, Dave saw a newspaper
article in the Butler Eagle about
a music plant opening (in nearby
Harmony) - the Estey Music
Company - to manufacture
electric guitars and amplifiers."
In the mid/late '50s, Magnatone guitar amps (with stereo and
vibrato) were manufactured by
Magna Electronics, in California.
But, as Douglas Ahern writes on
magnatoneamps.com, by the early '60s, Magna had been bought by
the Estey Organ Company (later
Estey Electronics) and aimed to
plunge headlong into solidstate
designs while also locating more
centrally. An executive named
Jack McClintock had been hired
by parent company Commercial
Credit to sort the stumbling
Magnatone and Estey operations, and it
just so happened McClintock was from
western Pennsylvania, where Commercial
Credit held a long-term lease on a dormant
manufacturing facility in Harmony.
"We called Estey and made an appointment
to check out the new equipment they were
going to be manufacturing," said Moniot.
"They head of the company was a guy named
Hank Milano, and we hit it off from the
start. He invited us to visit the plant and play
for the employees. We set up and played to
workers and managers right on the floor of
their assembly line. They loved it and offered
us an endorsement deal; we would play their
state-of-the-art solidstate amps, which they'd
sell to us at a 50 percent discount, and they'd
service and repair the equipment free of charge
during the length of the agreement."
The amps Moniot and Ordy took home were
Magnatone's M35 The Killer, which made 300