The Copicat Section

Wonderful - Echo - Machines


Watkins - Electric - Music

Small Box Watkins Copicat First series from 1958

The rarest of all the Copicats

Only 100 of these units were made, Charlie Watkins has serial No. 1 minus its lids.  All 100 were sold on the first day of issue. The first one was reputedly sold to Johnny Kidd & The Pirates, though probably not serial No. 1  People queued right down the street waiting for the Watkins Balham Road shop to open in order to buy one. 

Where are the other 98?  If you have one, or know somebody who has one, I would like to hear from you.  I am sure there will be a few lurking somewhere. I have never seen another, it would be interesting to know how many have survived the test of time.
(since writing the above, a few more Mk1 units have come to light, I will add more pictures soon)

The machine below belongs to me, the handle and centre catch are not original


Front lid open, knobs not original.  Head selection by rotary switch.


Both lids open, serial No. hand scribed & difficult to see, could be 5, 15, or possibly 75

Note the white lettering against a gold background.

After this model came a larger box for lead storage etc. The lettering was changed to black

From my collection Serial Number 102 is the second one of this type made. 1958

Someone has stripped the covering off, I will restore it at some stage.  I have some blue cloth, and am looking for some grey.  As far as I am aware only 100 of these were made before changing the face plate colour to blue, and placing the storage box on the left side, where it stayed thereafter.


Below is a blue faced version, the storage box has now been moved to the left. 1958.  I understand the blue cellulose paint for this batch, the lid having come off the tin, spilled over in the boot of Charlie's car.  He managed to salvage enough to complete the batch of possibly another 100 units.

(Charlie can you confirm?)


This is the more famous machine now with push buttons enabling more than one head to be selected, and individual gain controls for each input  C.1959

There could be a little doubt at to the exact dates of early Copicat machines, but below is a nostalgic look via a YouTube link to some pictures and a 1960 recording by the Hunters, claiming to have used a Copicat exactly like the one below on their instrumental version of "TEEN SCENE"  recorded on the Fontana label


Same type machine here with rear lid closed


The record amplifier / bias oscillator from now on is a 6BR8 triode pentode tube.  The units previous to this used an ECC83 or 12AX7 double triode.  This model is from 1960 I have no idea how many of these were made, but I think several hundred.


Same as the previous machine this one, but graphics changed due to the new advertising agent Unsworth Murray.  This style machine was built at the new Offley Road factory.

It dates from 1961 and is from my own collection.  Serial number 2534


Next on the scene was the Black and Cream version.

Picture courtesy of Christopher Devine, an ex employee of H-H electronic with an interesting tale to tell !


 Below, a W E M logo version pretty much the same as above but now with a printed circuit board instead of the former
tag-strip construction.

I am indebted to Mr Alan Westby for the next 3 images of his superb machine.


Lids Closed


Rear view


An all Black version with the early type heads so I suspect hand wired tag-strip construction. This one has a toggle switch for 220 - 240 volt selection.


PCB of the later Black & Cream versions


PCB The valve / tube side


The earlier Blue and White Tag-strip view

This was about the end of the line for the Valve machines.

The Custom Copicat from about 1965.  Any I have seen of this model, the record amplifier / oscillator valve has reverted to the original ECC83 double triode configuration.  Possibly cost cutting, or 6BR8 availability problems.  Who knows?

Picture courtesy of Lester from Belgium (Sorry Lester, haven't got your surname)


A nice full face view of A Custom Copicat  (ebay)

Here we have the chassis underside of a Custom Copicat. Note the oscillator valve on the right, is an ECC83 double triode, not the more common 6BR8 of earlier models.  You can also see to the left of the push button switch, the transistor part of the output stage.


WEM  Powercat, I suspect much like the Custom.

I have yet to see one of these in the flesh

I am indebted to Mr Piet Verbruggen of the Netherlands for the following Watkins Shadow pictures.  A budget machine I know little about, as I have never actually had to repair one of these to date.

The Shadow Lid Closed

I guess from 1963 - 64 same period as the later Black & White and The Custom

Nice image with open lid.  Note: only 2 replay heads, selected by the 2 toggle switches.  The tape on this model like that of the Italian made Meazzi is fitted inside out.  The heads are placed on the outer edge of the tape, whilst the tensioner wheel and motor spindle are on the inside edge of the tape.

Unlike all the other models, The Shadow has only one tensioning wheel.  Charlie must have made a 50% saving here !!

What he gained on the tension wheel, he lost on the erase magnets.  Here we have 2 magnets

A few savings here, only 2 valves used on what looks to be the same PCB as was used on the Black & White machines.   2 X ECC83 valves, no expensive 6BR8.  You can see on the right valve base, a bridge soldered from pin 9 to the adjacent track and  a cut in the track before it joins pin 5, which is now linked to pin 4  re routing  the heater supply to pins 4 and 9.  Effectively modifying the heater connections from a 6BR8 (single heater) to parallel connections of the dual ECC83 heaters. 

Here is a top view of the board clearly showing the 2 valves and unused valve socket position.  With so few components on the board it's amazing it works.

Finally here are two images of the PCB's from The Shadow & Black & White.  As you can see, they are exactly the same.

Piet, the owner of the above Shadow Copicat, has the Echo Tapper website devoted to Hank Marvin & Shadows fans, with suggested patches for all manner of echo devices.  A link to the Echo Tapper site can be found on the links page.

The second generation of The Shadow Echo now part of the Amp-Fix collection.  Not sure of manufacture dates for these but I would say late 60's ( Charlie recently told me 1962 and that only 300 were made)

Same machine lid removed.

The works top side

The works t'other side!
Note: Later machine, PCB traces to oscillator valve now designed for the ECC83.  The power supply now has a diode instead of the Westinghouse half wave rectifier used on all earlier valve Copicat units.


I will post some pictures of The Super Shadow soon.  As this file is now so large I might add a page for the Shadow range and move the ones shown here to it in the new year.

Versions of most of these Copicat models were specially made for Guild U. S. A. they were made in a  single colour livery, eg. all blue or all black with graphics to suit.

Last updated December 17th 2016


Please note.


Some belong to me, some I have collected from the internet mostly via ebay, some have been emailed to me.

Any I do get for sale will be listed in the 'For Sale' section of the site.

My thanks to Steve Russell, of the superb Vintage Hofner / Britamps website

for his permission to use some of the pictures shown here.

Should you recognise any images as yours and do not wish me to use them or would like acknowledgement for them, please email me and I will remove or acknowledge accordingly.


The site is still under construction, already it is the most informative site there is on the Watkins Copicat. All the machines are listed in chronological order, with repair and service tips for the faults I have come across. I will also examine the circuit and explain what each section does. None of the machines here are for sale unless so marked.

The solid-state versions are now on separate pages.

I am happy to offer free advice if you need it.  I will answer any queries as soon as I can, but my business does come first. 


I am often asked where Copicat tapes can be obtained.

You can buy boxes of 20 tape loops from Mrs June Watkins

Tel 0208 679 5575     website:

These tapes will fit any Watkins w-e-m Copicat, work well, and should not be confused with some of the inferior quality tapes available elsewhere. Copicat assured, look for the w-e-m logo


How To Make Your Own Tape Loops

You can make your own tape loops from good quality 1/4 inch recording tape. Don't use the long play stuff, it is too thin and it stretches. The tape length required is 24 inches, make a good spliced join. If you can't get proper splicing tape, I have found the brown parcel tape to be pretty good. This is the method I use, it's a bit fiddly but worthwhile. The more you make the easier and quicker it gets.

If you are fortunate enough to own a tape splicer, you probably know how to use it. These instructions are for the less fortunate.

You will need some good quality ¼ inch recording tape, preferably with a shiny recording side and dull backing. Do not use thin long play tape, it is not very satisfactory.  If the recording side of the tape feels the least bit sticky, discard it, do not under any circumstances risk using it.

Please note:  old ferric oxide tape is the type that will deteriorate and go sticky with age, it has a "Dull recording side with a shiny backing" it was the common type in use well into the 1980's and possibly beyond.
(Thanks to Herbie Mitchell for pointing that out)

You will also need a few tools. A sharp pair of scissors, a steel rule, a new Stanley knife blade, some splicing tape. A nice smooth flat working surface. Not the kitchen table or worktops, the wife will get pretty upset when you mark it with the Stanley knife!  A scrap piece of laminated worktop or glass is ideal.  For the best results, use proper splicing tape in preference to Sellotape.

1/ Cut a piece of tape 23¼ inches long. 59cm. if you prefer.

2/ Bring the ends together and overlap about ½ an inch.

3/ Cut the overlapped tape at an angle of about 45 degrees using the scissors. You should now have an equal but opposite angle on both ends of the tape.

4/ Wet a couple of inches of the tape with your tongue, and stick it recording side down on your work surface.

5/ Do the same with the other end, bringing both ends together in a good straight line with no twists in the tape. I prefer to overlap the splice by about a 16th of an inch or 1.5mm. Ready made ones have a butt splice. Check alignment with the steel rule.

6/ Cut an inch or so of splicing tape, stick it straight across the join keeping the join central.

Your tape should now be stuck together in a straight line with a nice tight join,  lay the join on your flat surface and smooth out any air trapped under the splicing tape.

Your tape loop is now ready for use, nothing magical about it, just requires a little patience, with practice you can soon make up a batch of ten or so

If you have a small overlap on the join, you will need to ensure the tape rotates in the right direction to flow over the heads without it snagging.

When the tape is fitted, the tension arm with the two wheels should be at an angle of about 15 - 20 degrees to the right of vertical. Or the 1 o'clock position. Cut your tape to achieve this angle.

If too slack it will slip, too tight will strain the join and break the tape. It will also cause excessive wear to the heads.
Note: Only use Sellotape as a last resort, the proper splicing tape is much better.

Tape too long

Tape too short

Incorrectly fitted

Tape wrong side of guide

Just right

Copyright © John Beer 2017