The History of Roost Amplification
by Terry Bateman (an ex-Roost employee)
Roost sound equipment was started back in 1972 by Brian Roost (hence the name) and Ron Bailey, who were both local musicians based in Southend-On-Sea, Essex. They were also at the time fixing amps for the local music shops and bands.
Terry Bateman circa 1978 - Live with Brad "Brother of Robin" Trower Band (note Roost ST22 Bass rig with optional pint of bitter accessory)
The Roost amp is similar to the Hiwatt amplifier with a little bit of the early 100W Sound City amp thrown in for good measure. The early amps also used Sound City transformers, as Sound City were also built in Southend at the same time. The Early amps had a black engraved front panel similar to the Hiwatt amplifier; the circuitry was built on tag panels, whilst the later amplifiers had black screen-printed metal front panel; and the circuitry was then built on a Printed Circuit Board.
The range consisted of 50, 100 & 150 Watt amp heads with the option of reverb, the later units had a master volume control, there was also a range of 2x12 50 & 100 Watt combo amplifiers, both available with reverb, there was also a range of speakers to go with the amplifiers 2x12, 4x12, 1x15 & 2x15 early units had Fane speakers but the later units had Celestion speakers, there was also the option of EV as well.
The amplifiers were of a rugged construction with a hefty steel chassis and large transformers, the 50 and 100W amplifiers gave a good 50 & 100 Watts RMS output, whilst the 150 Watt gave 125 Watts but it did have six EL34ıs (viz Sound City 120 head). The circuit was well engineered and gave the typical British valve sound. The driver and output stage gave a lot of grunt, typical of the Hiwatt and Sound City circuits. I remember the 120 Watt amp with its six EL34ıs making a good Bass amp, whilst the 50 watt really ³sung² .
I first got involved in Roost in 1975, whilst at school, and looking for bits (transformers chassis etc) to build my own guitar amplifier, I went on to spent that summer working at Roost, and in exchange they gave me parts to build my own amplifiers, I went on to join Roost full time the next year when I left school, the experience I gained working at Roost building Roost amplifiers & fixing + hotting up other makes of amplifiers is invaluable even to this day, Roost never had more than eight employees, in fact when I joined there were only four employees including me.
Roost was sold in 1980 to FAL who were based in Leeds, I was also made redundant when Roost was sold, and so I moved on, I now work for a local Hi-fi company as a design engineer, but I still fix and work on valve amplifiers for local musicians. (EDITOR: It should be noted that the ever patient Terry Bateman has managed to weave his magic on two of my Roosts)
Production Scale of Roost Amps
According the Terry Bateman, Roost's amp production was fairly small in scale. "I haven't got production details prior to mid 1975 when I first got involved. From memory when Ron Bailey took over from Brian Roost, it was Ron just doing the amplifier assembly with one guy (Ray) making the cabinets, with Phil Jackson helping all round and with sales etc. The PCB, while designed by Brian Roost, was manufactured off site. The production would have gone up from the early days (as above) to when it ended for us in Southend in 1979. During late 1977 - 1978 I was doing test and development full time, plus three guys doing wiring with one guy on chassis bashing and packing. There were two guys making the cabinets (could have been three?) and one girl covering cabs with vinyl etc. I suppose its peak would have been late 1977 to mid 1978, as for quantities made, I donıt really know, but amps were made in batches of ten units once-twice a month with odd ones made to cover an immediate demand a required. One interesting observation I made when testing the batches of ten is that eight would sound good exactly as they should sound, one would sound fair (still ok) and one would be the dogs B*****s with lots of go (yes it went to 12.)."
The FAL Connection
There is a misconception going around that FAL (who took over the Roost company in 1979) had something to do with Fane - the world famous speaker manufacturing company. According to research conducted by Andrew Kemp (a regular contributor to roostamps.com), this is incorrect although both were Yorkshire based companes.
FAL (which is sometimes quoted as Fane Acoustic Ltd hence the misunderstanding) was actually Futuristic Aids Ltd based in Henconner Lane, Leeds, while Fane was in Bradford Road, Batley.
A late 1970s FAL advert
The Funkshun Connection
Started by local musician Doug Marriot in Northampton, it had already been in business for about 8 years in a small shop at 152 Wellingborough Road before moving into huge new premises at 158, 160, 162, 164 and 166 in April 1977 (coffee 5p: advice free!). Knocking through to get larger premises was obviously a favourite occupation of Roost dealers to quote Southendıs Honky-Tonk (below): I took over the shop next door after a while of having to walk outside to get next door, I got fed up with it and just knocked the wall down anyway and then got permission!ı.
The Funkshun store was run by Gary Tyla (brother of Sean see The Tyla Gang and Seanıs active website). In January 1978 Funkshun were talking about following their existing range of speaker cabinets in the near future by a range of Funkshun amplifiers, which are destined to enhance the storeıs reputation even furtherı. The speakers were in fibre laminated wood with fibre angle riveted on all edges. The twin horn enclosure looked almost identical to the white Funkshun amp on Roost website.
The shop closed in the early 1990s.
The Honky Tonk Music Connection
In October 1978, this Hadleigh (Southend) shop claimed to be Essexıs biggest group gear dealer. Started by ex-professional drummer Pete Brewer only three years before, it was also a hire shop and later added a recording studio. Honky-Tonk is still in business, as a music superstore at 108-110 Southchurch Road, Southend. Find them at: www.honkytonkmusic.co.uk
Honky Tonk Price List from 1978
If you look carefully you can spot at least one Roost in the line-up in the 1978 photo (above) According to the price list, they had a 100W combo in stock at £198: just £12 cheaper than an AC30.
Inside Honky Tonk
Roost Employee Biographies
MUNDY, Bob Robert John Mundy, born London, 1950.
Company Managing Director Career Following his career as a professional musician from the mid 60's to the mid 70's, Bob Mundy joined Roost Sound Equipment in 1976, manufacturing guitar amplifiers and loudspeaker cabinets. Within a year of joining, he was running Roost's production department on a day-to- day basis, and after a further year was also looking after purchasing.
In early 1980 he joined Adam Hall Limited as stock controller and buyer. The company is Europe's biggest producer and distributor of hardware for flight cases and distributor of professional audio products. He was appointed a director of the company in 1984 and also acquired a shareholding in the business. During 1985 he set up Adam Hall's procurement and quality control branch in Taiwan. As well as securing the success of the Adam Hall group of companies, the Taiwan branch has gone from strength to strength in its own right, serving some of the largest professional audio and hardware companies throughout Asia and the USA. In the spring of 1994, Bob Mundy was appointed managing director of Adam Hall Limited. Since then he has continued his involvement in the growth and improvement of the company's product lines as well as leading the sales team to achieve a much wider market penetration. In 1996 the Adam Hall Group purchased loudspeaker manufacturers Fane Acoustics.
Note: Bob Mundy was also lead singer of "Granny" in the 1970s. The group had a hit with a song called "Lady".
Brian Roost (to be updated soon)
Ron Bailey (to be updated soon)
Note: Bob Bailey was bass player of "Granny" in the 1970s. The group had a hit with a song called "Lady"
Terry Bateman (to be updated soon)