In the early '60s, the popularity of the electric guitar created new opportunities for mail-order catalogs and department stores alike to fill American homes with products that fulfilled aspiring musicians' rock n roll desires.
This 1960 Airline Model 7214 Amp-In-Case set was made by Valco and originally sold in the Montgomery Ward catalog. At the time, the novel "amp-in-case" concept was the perfect entry point for hopeful rock-n-rollers.
The guitar features a short 22" scale with a single-coil pickup and wiring harness that is all contained in the oversized Bakelite pickguard. It's an incredibly comfortable guitar in your lap, and its chunky neck profile provides authentic mojo and vintage charm. Since the single-coil pickup is essentially the neck position, its tone is warm and thick. Overall, it's in nice shape considering its age. It shows some general wear and tear, and the vinyl covering is slightly torn on the treble side of the waist (where it sets on your knee). It's a fun guitar to play and a great template for open tunings with a slide. Its original Brazilian Rosewood bridge is fully-adjustable, too, but the current setup is nice, even though the neck is slightly bowed.
The amp is essentially a wannabe '50s Fender Champ. It has an 8" Alnico speaker that is driven by one 12ax7 in the preamp section, a 6V6 power tube, and a 5Y3 rectifier. It is a grinder with plenty of tube saturation when you push it hard. This one appears to be all-original with its original Alnico 8" speaker and original 2-prong cord. It's a little noisy, but it functions well enough. To get the most out of it, a 3-prong cord, new caps, and general servicing could go a long way. But at present, it's fun to plug in and get classic-sounding overdrive at low volume levels.
The "amp-In-case" concept was the original "starter park"—not too different from products seen in music stores today! But unlike the cheap imports you might find in 2020, the 1960 version actually offered something cool and inspiring. Anyway you look at it, this 1960 Airline Model 7214 Amp-In-Case set provides a lot of fun, and in many ways it feels like a time capsule to the early days of Rock n' Roll.