A Look Back at WEM Music Equipment
A long established British manufacturer of music performance equipment, Watkins Electric Music, later known as WEM, began supplying their products to customers in the early 1950s. Their customer base ranged from amateur to professional musicians, and their amplification products became known globally after being used to great effect at rock concerts and festivals by big names like Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, and many more. You can find a sizeable collection of their sound equipment on eBay.Is the company still active?
Yes, but their focus has changed. The company no longer produces new designs of sound equipment for vocals and rock music instruments, but now produces accordions and accordion amplifiers as well as limited re-issues of their now vintage rock concert gear. If you want an original product, look for them being sold second-hand on eBay. Theyre very popular because many discerning electric guitarists love the valve and early transistorised amplifier designs that produced the distinctively warm sounds of the golden years of rock guitar music.Can vintage WEM products connect with other electronic music equipment?
Yes, theyre furnished with 1/4" jack sockets, which is the music industry standard for audio performance equipment. You can easily connect electric guitars to them using standard guitar leads.What products were WEM best known for?
As early pioneers of rock music performance equipment, WEM produced several models that became classics, including:
- Dominator: A classic 10-watt valve amplifier from the 70s, the dominator is a popular choice for electric guitarists and home studio users due to its distinctive valve-based tone.
- Starfinder: This large speaker cabinet provides protection to any speakers fitted to it and offers minimal impedance to the speakers sound projection.
- Rapier: No longer produced but available second hand, the Rapier was an affordable and very popular electric guitar aimed at amateur guitarists.
- Slave: The WEM Slave power amplifier was also able to connect to others in a slave chain via signal in and out connectivity. The purpose of the slave chain was to enable high power output to speakers with the required power handling capacity.
- Copicat: This tape echo unit is still being produced by WEM, and its variable delay functions are now digitally augmented by memory patch settings and selectable effects such as flanging, phasing, and tremolo.