Vintage Sound System

Yes, there is still a hard-core bunch of people willing to spend time (and a cosiderable amount of hard earned dosh!) in order to keep the Sound System culture alive… In this case we’re talking about Jeremy Collingwood, a well known name in the UK reggae scene.

His passion for vintage sounds is unrivalled. He imported some King Tubby’s bass bins from Jamaica in order to get them restored and put back to working order… Here’s a brief introduction to what he’s doing now!

For over a decade Jeremy Collingwood has been collecting old Sound Systems boxes from JA & the UK, whilst also accumulating a series of period amplifiers to record the first 25 year of Sound systems.
The oldest box is from the 1950’s V Rocket Sound which is made from Jamaican hardwood. V Rocket was quiet Uptown and famed or audio quality – though from just the one box!
The WASP base bin is probably from the mid 1960’s and was part of another 1950’s period sound that also had it own Wasp & Hornet imprints.
There’s a pair of twin mid ranges boxes from Sir Harry’s Active Sound. These are painted hardwood and would have sat with a single 15” bass unit. I also have Sir Harry’s Horn – which is a fibre glass PA horn. The
capacitor that protects it from over load is the original one and was taken out of a fluorescent light!
King Tubby’s Hi-Fi bass bin is my pride & joy as it’s from King Tubby’s first set of boxes – probably from the early 1960’s and claimed to be the first box with a reflex design, as opposed to the old style straight
porting. Won in an eBay auction! Original it had a pair of 12” mid boxes with it. Tubby replaced the boxes in the mid-1970’s – as seen in DennisMorris photo’s from the time.

King Tubby\'s speaker box
The UK Tip-A-Tone sound was rescued from rotting away in a lock up and is now back to its former glory. (see for images)

Tip-a-tone sound!!

The Amplifiers
Traditional Sounds split the signal from the deck up into its Bass, Mid & Top parts and each signal was amplified separately and then fed to the appropriate boxes.
The Tip-A-Tone set came with its original 8 KT88 valve powered amp, which has its own small pre-amp in. It uses huge transformers, which means it has to be wheeled about. It delivers about 400 watts.
For the vintage set we use Lord Koos special built 100watts amp plus a series of guitar / PA amps from the likes of Sound City, Vortexion and Linear Conchord.
Downbeat Melody uses a 10 KT 88 amp built a few years back by a London based Jamaican electronics engineer, who has built Sound amps for decades.

I met reggae when I was a student in the mid & late 1970’s. Barrington Levy, Wailing Souls, Sugar Minott, Mighty Diamonds, Black Uhuru carried my sway then. My work with the catalogues of pre-1972 Bob Marley and Lee Perry’s cannon can be seen at Jeremy’s very happy to be working with Steve and actually getting all this old equipment repaired and improved and out there as working history. It’s been a long, demanding & expensive decade!
I enjoyed being part of Black History Season at London’s City Hall, by the Thames at Tower Bridge. Who would have thought those boxes would have ended up being played there?

Current deck favourites:
Super Tartans: Woman is a contradiction (Sunfire JA)
Cornell Campbell: Natural Facts (Trojan JA)
Alfred Brown: One Scotch, One Bourbon, One beer, (Muffat JA)
Fabulous Falcons: 2 Dub (Happy-Tone JA)
Bob Andy: Desperate Lover (Supreme JA)
Cool Sticky: Train To Soulsville (Amalgamated JA)
Jimmy Riley: Reggae Music (Full Moon JA)
The Upsetters: Chim Cherry (Dub plate)
Susan Cadogan: Do It Baby (Orchid JA)
The Upsetters: Jucky Skank (Dub Plate)


  1. I have been following the scene from around 83 got inspired by the digital era 85 onwards….good to hear that someone has done this…to me, to let it all go would be like destroying the pyrimids..RESPECT

  2. Pingback: All things Dancehall and Sound System Culture | daddynoc

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