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Maxim is a very elusive brand of vintage Aussie valve amplifier, hand-made in Richmond, Melbourne* by Peter McCarthy. This is the only one I have seen.

Guitarist Rick Veneer has used a 60 watt Maxim amp as his main guitar amplifier since it was built for him by Peter in 1972! In his website (click here to view), Rick says, "This is teamed with my 100 watt Marshall quad box (half stack) and is simply the best amplifier I have ever used. In nearly thirty years of service it has never broken down and still has some of the original valves in it! Sounds like the best Fender/Marshall ever. Loud and clean, fat and warm with sparkle."

I've also received an email from Ron Murfett, who said, "in 1960 Peter made me a 40w guitar amp which was fantastic. He had a small workshop in Bridge Rd, Richmond. He made slide guitars, and wound his own pickups which also sounded great - a wonderful old guy. As well as making his amps and guitars Peter was a very good player, and worked in theatre orchestras in Melbourne for many years."

The amp came to us as virtually New Old Stock - it had languished in an office store room since the early 1970s, and looked virtually like new. Even the metal corners on the speaker cab were still bright, with no oxidisation. Naturally, with 35 years of non-use, I elected not to turn it on (the power caps would have been highly suspect after being sitting unused for this amount of time), but brought the amp to my favourite tech so he could cast his eye over it. To my surprise, the amp actually needed a fair bit of work, with a faulty switch having been replaced and incorrectly re-wired way back before the amp was stored causing some head-scratching for a while. Other than the two pre-amp valves, the amp needed re-tubing, so a new pair of Sovtek 6L6WXT+ output valves were installed, along with a new 5AR4C rectifier valve. Of course, new filter caps were the first thing to be replaced before it was even powered up for its initial inspection and test.

The speaker is a very high quality (and original) made-in-Japan Alnico Pioneer 15" 60 watt unit. Opening the back of the cabinet was like opening a time capsule - the speaker is absolutely MINT! See the 'more pictures' link below.

This amp sounds great. Very 'alive', with plenty of urge and gain. Rick Veneer's description of the tone (above) sums it up perfectly. The head would make a fantastic guitar amp powering a suitable 8 ohm box, and even sounds great with guitar with the present 15" Alnico box, but the combination is truly a magnificent bass amp. Loads of tone, great detail (especially with my double-bass), nice solid bottom end, and a very, very rare unit in exceptional condition.

The head measures 49cm(W) x 26cm(D) x 26cm(H) and weighs 15kg, while the speaker box measures 54cm(W) x 31cm(D) x 62cm(H) and weighs 21kg.

* Some sources state that peter McCarthy's workshop was in Elwood, but I received an email from Peter's son, Brian, in September 2011 which completely debunks this statement. Brian writes;

"Peter McCarthy (myfather) was NEVER in Elwood.All his amps came from his workshop at 619 Bridge Road, RICHMOND. (Now a McDonalds - I think)"

When I asked Brian whether I could name him when correcting the record on this issue, he instantly replied;

"G'day back at you, Neil,

At 84 - 3years older than Peter when he died in 1983 - I don't mind what you say as long as it is correct. I am the eldest of two sons and a daughter. My brother Kevin died in 1990 and my young sister died in 2002.
Peter played banjo and guitar and among many of his jobs, he was in the ABC Dance Band and the ABC Concert Orchestra. He played under both Harry Jacobs and Hal Moschetti at the Palais de Danse and the Palais Theatre in St. Kilda. He was also in the George Wallace film "A Ticket in Tatts" where he and George Wallace (as band leader) did a hilarious bit of business. In the thirties there were many nightclubs in Melbourne but I only remember two of them - The Ambassador and the Green Mill (this is now the site of the Arts Centre in Melbourne). - Peter extreme right - obviously the slicker with the Martin D4(?).

If they think that 40 watt amp had some grunt they should try the 100 watt with KT88s in push-pull.

Sorry about rambling on but at least now you can speak with authority. There is so much misinformation and urban myths around.

Take care,


So there you go. Some actual FACTS on the internet! Thanks so very much Brian!

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