Fidelity 1000/Cheiza/Johnstone/Gecol – The Ultimate Rig Test!

Gecol CB Radio

Axel Jack looks back at the Fidelity 1000 CB Radio and it’s other various guises to remember how bad these radios really are… 😉

Way back in the early days of CB, when it was legalised in 1981, there was many CBs that arrived very quickly on the market. Some were acceptably good, like Unidens, Rotels, Yorks, Midlands etc. Since the required specifications were fairly tight on the transmit side and very relaxed on receive, some sets were built as cheap as they thought they could get away with. Hence Amstrads, Binatone route 66 and a hundred other “bleed over boxes” were marketed which worked OK, but had terrible adjacent channel rejection.

But amongst all these sets there was one that stood apart from the others, the Fidelity 1000. It was also available as a Johnstone or Gecol (and even the lovely Cheiza brand – Ed, TM1), who made two models based on the same design. A Fidelity 1000 look-a-like called a GT858 and another which is exactly the same rig with a few more buttons called the GT868. But don’t think Fidelity got it all wrong, the Fidelity 2000 was a cracking rig, same chassis as a Rotel, York or Harrier. The 2001 was the same as an Amstrad and wasn’t nearly as good. But if you haven’t ever seen a 1000, try to, you’ll never forget it. The rig is a basic simple set with just volume, squelch and channel change controls. But even so it is huge. It is so big that the case is much larger than the PCB that it houses.

Even though it has abundant empty panel space the mic socket still exits on the left side rather than the front so the rig requires even more space to mount in a vehicle. The mounting bracket is a strong enough affair, with 4 bolts to screw into the side of the rig. These bolts are 2 lengths, and the short ones must be used in the top holes. If you screw the long ones into the top you destroy a screened tuning can which is immediately behind it. Why didn’t they make them all short? Feck knows!

So to the controls. The volume turns the sound up and down and works fine. And the channel selector does actually select channels, but from there on it goes down hill. The squelch is the slowest I have ever experienced. It takes about a second to close after a signal is heard. On a quick fire contact, you might as well not use it. There is also a low power switch on the back panel, but who uses them?

The Johnstone and Gecol GT868s have another three controls. An RF gain which does not alter the gain at all. It just turns the signal down so that it is still as audible but the meter reads less. Then there is a dimmer, which dims the channel readout until it disappears altogether, but leaves the signal meter light as bright as usual. There is also a PA switch, which is about as useful as shoes on a snake.

The signal meter reads way too high. And I mean WAY too high. If its not indicating S9+30db, you wont hear it too well. Received audio is very bassy in tone and buzzes all the time. Adjacent channel filtering was obviously an optional extra as if there is a strongish signal anywhere near, all 40 channels drop out completely. It is common to see the signal meter jump up and down wildly as middle distance signals de-sense the receiver. Transmitted audio is also bassy and buzzes, and is best described as crap.

How to make the best of your Fidelity 1000

  • Give it to someone you don’t like.
  • Grip it front panel down in your right hand with the speaker facing away from you. Fourth finger between volume and squelch control and first finger on the channel change. Rotate your body at speed with the 1000 at arm length. Release the 1000 when at full speed. Then run away before someone throws it back.
  • Use it as a garage doorstop.
  • Keep it as a conversation piece so you can laugh with visiting CB’ers about how crap rigs were in the early days
  • Break it for spares. You never know, some of the smaller components might be common parts with a rig worth keeping.
  • Give it to a rig doctor so he can use it as a “loaner”. That will make sure the guy putting the rig in for repair comes back and settles his bill very soon.

In conclusion. This is the worst rig I have ever seen. If you are a bit insulted by this because you have used one for years and are happy with it. Then I salute you. But for goodness sake, get yourself another rig, you deserve it! Reviewed by Axle Jack who foolishly bought a Gecol as his first rig after legalisation day. (forgive me I was only 14). (That’s alright, we’ll let you off – TM1)

About TM1 78 Articles
Simon is the founder and owner of the TM1 website. Since 1999 he has provided the online community with a place to meet up with like minded radio enthusiasts and discuss projects relating to the hobby and a large number of equipment reviews and resources totally free of charge.


  1. Everything you say about the fidelity 1000 is true, but in todays world of little cb activity it is one of the best on the market due to its oversensitive receive, back in the day it suffered bad bleedover due to so many nearby operators but was favoured by those willing to up high on a hill somewhere and do long distance dx ing, because it picked up signals so well..
    where i live its my rig of choice, there is no-one who lives within a mile of me who uses the cb that im aware of so need it to pick up those distant stations…
    It seemed that the sensitivite cb radios were too sensitive back in the day and even today they have still kept a bad name, ok the squelch control is not very useful at all unlike the very smooth uniden radios like, cobra 148s and audioline and uniace models, but there problem was they were deaf and if you put them beside a fidelity 1000 and had a weak signal on fm my money would be on the cheap fidelity for being able to hear the signal..
    Ive always been a cybernet guy, harrier cbx, cbhq, rotel rvc 240, york 863, 869, fidelity 2000, nato 2000, etc etc, because they had the best blend of receive and transmit, but had a noisy squelch operation.
    Yea they look cheap and have a large case for its small board but its uncomplicated design is why there are still so many in use, they just dont really go wrong.
    P.S Interesting comment on the rf gain operation and very correct, the same thing happend on the amstrad 901, harvard 404 as well, seemed pointless ust moving the needle back but not actually reducing the radios sensitivity, would have made the fidelity 1000 a classic in its day, but sadly it never happend..
    Paid 25 quid for mine 7 years ago and its been in 4 different cars and used as a homebase on a power supply, it looks battered the lettering has worn off but it still keeps on working…

  2. Fidelity 1000, was like lionel blair is today, annoying, tacky but just keeps on going.
    Agree with the other comment in that the receive is sensitive and has a good pair of ears, its plain and simple, never drifts of frequency and is a tough old bird.

    Squelch control is not good at all on this radio, best not using it at all.
    Mine kicks out the legal 4 watts and works fine, signal meter can be adjusted internally and then gives a fairly accurate reading.
    Ok it aint a cybernet or a tuned up uniden, but pulls in better signals than some of the newer midland and tti models.
    Ive had a few over the years and think there ok, not good but reliable radios.
    Got my first rig in 1982 when i was 17, must have owned over 100 cb radios from 1982-1989.
    came back on again in 1993-1995, and had mainly ssb rigs, superstar 360, cobra 150, colt black shadow, ham jumbo, nato 2000 and my 2nd fidelity 1000.
    2001 hit by the bug again after the second time of selling up, bought a you guessed it fidelity 1000fm for 20 quid, nicked a mates old magmount and found there was still a few breakers around, picked up a stalker xx and a layfayette 1600 fm and sold it all in 2003 for good.
    2008 i came back on again and found a fidelity 1000 and stalker st9f in the loft that i forgot all about, ive been using them both since, its now october 2010 and ive just made contact with portugal and spain this morning on uk fm, running 4 watts on the fidelity 1000fm as my stalker st9f blew its final last week

  3. Fidelity 1000fm was a rather crudely designed radio, it was simple and straight foward, no bullshit features that you dont ever use.
    Ive seen these rigs modded to use on the 10 meter band, and they worked ok on 28mhz.
    The Fidelity 1000 fm, was crude in operation and basic in design it received ok, suffered bleed over from nearby stations, i think the fidelity 3000 base station was the worse because it looked nice, built in swr, fresh looking and quite modern, lots of switches, buttons and nobs, but was a bleedover box that hummed gave wrong swr readings, faulty buttons, low power, dull audio and was a nasty piece of equipment.
    Best looking and performing rig was the superstar 3900f original, not the cheap modern eft.
    Cobra 148 was to big, clunky and dated for my liking..

  4. Had one of these, it never went wrong, even fitted a roger beep into it, Dull audio, chronic bleedover, loud popping noise from the squelch.
    But at least it did not drift all over the shop like those old Cobra 148s and it was fairly small so would fit nicely in a modern car without looking out of place

  5. The Fidelity was a well built cheap rig to give access to the 40 uk Channels, there are still many in use today, comparing it to a cobra 148 is daft, the cobra could not even get all 40 uk channels without being pissed about with and it cost about 10 times as much and was 3 times the size.
    It was cheap and it worked, and probably did more to get people on the cb radio for the first time than a lot of the more expensive radios that were out of reach of the everyday school kid or teenager working his first job.
    in 1982 when i was 16 and started work i was on 86p an hour, went up to a whole pound when i was 17 in 1983.. take home pay about 40 quid for 40 hours work, after paying my keep i was left with 30 quid to live on, i wanted a rotel rvc 240 and they were about 80 quid at the time, so i bought a a
    Amstrad cb 901 for 29.99 on pay day and had 1p to last me the rest of the week, well i borrowed a fiver off my dad.
    Next weeks wages i bought a power supply, and a mag mount antenna, stuck it up in my loft, never checked the swr and used it without any problems for over a year before upgrading to a Lafayette 1200fm which i bought second hand for 100 quid, my parents thought i was mad with all the “what does this one do that the other one don’t, why don’t you spend the money on driving lessons or save the money etc etc”
    The guy i bought it off had a Cobra 148 for sale at 175 quid and it had lo lo- hi hi, but there was no way i could come up with that sort of money without resorting to crime or saving for months at a time

  6. Dear All …..jus, got meself a 1000FM and I reckon it,s O.K…..only measures 2 watts out tho, Any ideas?…. – Andy.

  7. Hola a todos,estoy intentando revivir esta radio que estaba olvidada en el cajón ,para ello agradecería si alguno tenéis el esquema o decirme cuales son los transistores finales ya que no emite ni recibe, el ic de audio ya lo he cambiado por si acaso estaba quemado pero no consigo que funcione correctamente y sigo investigando puesto que de electrónica no se mucho. Muchas gracias a todos. Un saludo.

  8. Back on the day, the Fidelity and it’s cover names, went for about a £5 each, there was a rig doctor that kept snapping them up.
    I figured there was something about them.
    Anyways, I swapped my Amstrad 901 that I bought new in 82 January sale from Curry’s for £29:99 for a Telecomm, now that’s another story….
    Anyways the Telecomm was faulty, as when I moved the front panel, I lost all sound of breakers on about 14 channels…
    I didn’t have a clue, but then I heard some I knew talking to a group who I hadn’t heard on the 40uk…
    ’erm…what you doing down here?’
    “What you mean?…where?”

    I heard about the midnight board, and it took you some channels down….I asked him how he got the midnights.
    They were all on the fidelity 1000s and of type cbs.
    That was why the rig doctor was buying them up. The bleed over didn’t really effect the local chat on the midnights, and if you had a knock at the door, you surrendered a £5 rig and just buy another.

    So I got one for a fiver and cut the tracks on the board over the channel change, it took me to a whole new cb zone, and a scary use from a dti knock on the door.

    I don’t have one now, on the lookout, but in 2021, these rigs could very well out perform any transceiver other than an icom 703 for receiving. I’ve had the full range of rigs over the 80/90s before I sold up. So not exactly talking bollox. I’m a ham now but still can stop myself hitting 11m when there’s a lift or to talk to non ham breaker friends.
    Uk 27/81 bleedover box they were, but the right rig, in the wrong era. They would be pretty useful if moded, tuned and used with a burner.
    Horses for courses.

  9. Hmmm, Not an entirely fair or accurate review.
    I would counter, the TX audio is very clear and sharp with no humming.
    The receive sensitivity is very good.
    The meter is fine if set correctly.
    The squelch is smooth if unusual in its action as it uses a form of AM detection to operate.
    Oh, and it’s ‘Johnson’ not ‘Johnstone’

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