The Gibson GA-5 rolled out in 1954 as the companion amp for the Les Paul Junior. This simple, low-powered Class A amplifier was intended as a student model. It was a departure from the earlier Gibson designs, and it was very similar to the 5C1 Fender Champ, but the GA-5 came it a smaller box with Gibson stylings.
As the Fender Champ evolved in the '50s, the GA-5 followed suit. When the narrow-panel Fender 5F1 featured an updated 12AX7 preamp tube in 1955, the GA-5 replaced its 6SJ7 preamp tube with a 12AX7. By 1957, the GA-5 cabinet design matched that narrow-panel look, but instead of tweed covering, Gibson used cream tolex.
Much like a good 5F1, this circa-1958 Gibson GA-5 produces smooth,compressed overdrive at lower volumes. Once you get past ~11:00, it gets into breakup territory, especially with powerful pickups, and it cleans up nicely with your volume knob. In many ways, this GA-5 is everything you could want from a good Champ, and the Gibson style makes it more fun.
This '58 GA-5 is a great example of the narrow-panel design: 12AX7 in the preamp, 6V6 power tube, and a 5Y3 rectifier. It has two inputs and a single volume control. For its age, it's in impressive condition. The original two-prong power cable has been upgraded to a modern three-prong that is appropriately grounded. The main filter cap and two coupling caps have been replaced, and the original Sprague "Bumblebee" caps have been replaced with reproduction Bumblebees from Jupiter. The Gibson badge has been replaced with a period-correct reproduction, but the original leather handle is still perfectly in place (it helps that the amp weighs less than 13 lbs).
This 1958 GA-5 is everything you could want from a small tweed amp, except it's a Gibson without the tweed covering. When you crank it up, it's all the overdrive pedal you could ever need. The original alnico-magnet Jensen sounds fantastic, and the Gibson charm comes through in spades.