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Hello:

Can someone share some lore on the Fender Bassman?

I understand the amp came in various wattages, circuit configurations and appearances.

I'd like to understand a little history, have the various "Face" colours cleared up, and the different circuits identified.

Why are some Bassman's preferred over others, and therefore so much more expensive?

Bryguy
 

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"must have" bookmark

Hello:

Can someone share some lore on the Fender Bassman?

I understand the amp came in various wattages, circuit configurations and appearances.

I'd like to understand a little history, have the various "Face" colours cleared up, and the different circuits identified.

Why are some Bassman's preferred over others, and therefore so much more expensive?

Bryguy
http://www.ampwares.com/ffg/

Answers most of your questions!

Why are some models preferred? The only ones generally disliked are the SilverFace models. This is true of most Vintage Fender models.

:food-smiley-004:

:food-smiley-004:
 

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QUOTE Wild Bill The only ones generally disliked are the SilverFace models. This is true of most Vintage Fender models. QUOTE

Wild Bill: Why are the SF's "disliked" so much? Other than the BF's being older (i.e., more vintage), are they that much better?

Are the circuits that much different? Poorer quality components?

Are you talking specifically about Bassmans here, or all SF's in general

I'vre heard some great tone from SF's.

Thanks

Dave
 

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QUOTE Wild Bill The only ones generally disliked are the SilverFace models. This is true of most Vintage Fender models. QUOTE

Wild Bill: Why are the SF's "disliked" so much? Other than the BF's being older (i.e., more vintage), are they that much better?

Are the circuits that much different? Poorer quality components?

Are you talking specifically about Bassmans here, or all SF's in general

I'vre heard some great tone from SF's.

Thanks

Dave
You have to get a bit of history first, Dave! Leo Fender started making amps and went through a number different families over the years he ran the company. In late '65 he sold the company to CBS Music Inc. and in '66 they took over.

It took them a year or two to start putting their own stamp on things. They hired new engineers to make changes to his circuits and changed the cosmetics of the amps to the "silver face" style, referring mainly to the colour of the faceplate with all the knobs.

As they changed the circuits more and more the sales became less and less! Players who had really loved the former "blackface" line did not seem to accept the newer non-Leo models. They just didn't like the sound as much as before.

By the early 70's the company was nearly bankrupt. CBS wound up selling the company to the employees, who started heroically turning the ship around. Obviously they succeeded. Look at the size of Fender today!

As a techie I look at the circuit changes the new engineers made and it looks to me like these guys were hifi engineers and not players. The reason I say that is that I've spoken with many electronic engineers over my career selling parts to manufacturers and unless they play guitar themselves they think of an amplifier as what they call a linear device. It can change the amplitude of a signal but not colour or modify it in any way.

This is fine for playing records, tape, CD's or whatever where you've already made your sound but of course it makes for a terrible amp for guitar. An electric guitar is SUPPOSED to be distorted! And not all distortion is the same and not all is to the same taste. Anybody who ever plugged their guitar into their hifi system immediately knows what I mean.

Meanwhile, look at a company like Traynor. The whole place is full of players! That's the way things have always been! It shows in how their products sound.

Guys like me get a lot of jobs "blackfacing" the SF Fenders. The changes were mostly part values and a few wiring mods. So it's usually not that hard to restore a SF amp to BF specs. To a collector it doesn't improve the value but to a player who just wants the tone it's a very cost-effective deal.

Some SF changes were only minor with some amps and some, like with the later Super Reverb, were just awful! There were some actual improvements, like with the SF Twin Reverb. The Twin is one of the few amps that can sound good at low as well as high volume. That's because it's specifically designed to be both clean and loud. "Hifi" circuit changes actually made it even better, IMHO!

Mind you, I don't really care for those early 90's Twins with pull-boosts and gain channels. They are very much a PITA to work on, which means a bigger repair bill to the owner. Besides, to me Fender has never really come up with good gain "crunch" compared to other brands. Then again, nobody else's "clean" is as good as Fender "clean"!:smile:

Hope this helps...

:food-smiley-004:
 

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Thanks Wild Bill...once again you have enlightened me on yet another topic related to amplifiers.

Someday, I hope to pry you away from your busy schedule and buy you a glass of something refreshing (your choice) as a way of saying "Thanks".

Much appreciated.

Dave
 

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Thanks Wild Bill...once again you have enlightened me on yet another topic related to amplifiers.

Someday, I hope to pry you away from your busy schedule and buy you a glass of something refreshing (your choice) as a way of saying "Thanks".

Much appreciated.

Dave
Hey, I'm always up for a free beer!:smile:

Seriously Dave, just help someone else someday! Pay it forward!

Keep the flame of tube amps alive!:rockon2:

:food-smiley-004:
 

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another view

I've read another explanation for why so much changed in the late 60's early 70's: here goes.
When Leo and his contemporaries began producing amplifiers for guitars, they were looking to provide a device that would amplify a hollow body guitar with pickup to match the volume of a dance orchestra playing acoustically. Their goal was to produce as natural a guitar sound as possible, and to do this they only needed an amplifier in the 10-20 watt range, which, to handle the dynamics of the electric acoustic hollow bodies of the day would have lots of head room. these amplifiers would normally be played with the volume at three or four, after which, as we all know, strange , and now considered wonderful, things began to happen to the signal. These amplifiers were, as any commercial electronic product of the day, built with whatever components were economically available, i.e. radio (and later TV) components and circuitry.

Along comes the 50's and a new style of music, loud, aggressive and not particularly worried about sound quality as sound quantity, i.e. rock and roll. the artists loved playing the old amps in the electronic nether regions, where distortion and wild harmonics ruled; unfortunately playing night after night in the overdrive zone took a toll on the equipment, and breakdowns and blow ups were frequent. As a response, amplifiers got more powerful and more rugged, heavier duty components were utilized to improve reliability and costs began to soar. Another unexpected spin off was that the great sound of all those light duty components working at the limits of endurance wasn't there,the consequence of which was the appearance of numerous little boxes with knobs and switches which could be put between the guitar and amp to "reproduce" the desired but no longer available sound of an amp at the edge of destruction.

By the mid 60's the hundred watt amp had pretty much become king, solid state heads were everywhere (they weighed next to nothing and roadies loved that) and amp companies were building for portability, durability and reliability. If you had atube amp, tubes were expensive (try $200-$300 for American or European tubes) and most came from Russia or China, where they were used mainly by the Military. (interesting aside: the Canadian Navy had several old submarines with tube driven electronics and we had to buy our tubes from our Cold War enemies!)

By the 80's guitarists were starting to rediscover the sound of the "vintage" tube amps of the fifties and early sixties, and amps like the Bassman started to go way up in value; the old Bassman circuit, by the way, is the granddaddy of too many "boutique" amps to mention.

Just another way of looking at things, but that's good, I hope.
 

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Well....I might as well wade into this one as well....the BF bassman was actually the most tweaked amp that Fender made...unlike its brothers; the Bandmaster, Vibrolux, Tremolux etc..there are at least 3 or 4 revisions on this amp in the '60s alone! I believe they were trying to find some way of making a bass amp on their 40 watt platform which, as we now know is not nearly enough wattage to justify this as a 'good' bass amp. The Ampeg SVT however, is a great example of how to make a bass amp with 300 WRMS of bone wrenching power...
 

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I've read another explanation for why so much changed in the late 60's early 70's: here goes.
When Leo and his contemporaries began producing amplifiers for guitars, they were looking to provide a device that would amplify a hollow body guitar with pickup to match the volume of a dance orchestra playing acoustically. Their goal was to produce as natural a guitar sound as possible, and to do this they only needed an amplifier in the 10-20 watt range, which, to handle the dynamics of the electric acoustic hollow bodies of the day would have lots of head room. these amplifiers would normally be played with the volume at three or four, after which, as we all know, strange , and now considered wonderful, things began to happen to the signal. These amplifiers were, as any commercial electronic product of the day, built with whatever components were economically available, i.e. radio (and later TV) components and circuitry.

Along comes the 50's and a new style of music, loud, aggressive and not particularly worried about sound quality as sound quantity, i.e. rock and roll. the artists loved playing the old amps in the electronic nether regions, where distortion and wild harmonics ruled; unfortunately playing night after night in the overdrive zone took a toll on the equipment, and breakdowns and blow ups were frequent. As a response, amplifiers got more powerful and more rugged, heavier duty components were utilized to improve reliability and costs began to soar. Another unexpected spin off was that the great sound of all those light duty components working at the limits of endurance wasn't there,the consequence of which was the appearance of numerous little boxes with knobs and switches which could be put between the guitar and amp to "reproduce" the desired but no longer available sound of an amp at the edge of destruction.

By the mid 60's the hundred watt amp had pretty much become king, solid state heads were everywhere (they weighed next to nothing and roadies loved that) and amp companies were building for portability, durability and reliability. If you had atube amp, tubes were expensive (try $200-$300 for American or European tubes) and most came from Russia or China, where they were used mainly by the Military. (interesting aside: the Canadian Navy had several old submarines with tube driven electronics and we had to buy our tubes from our Cold War enemies!)

By the 80's guitarists were starting to rediscover the sound of the "vintage" tube amps of the fifties and early sixties, and amps like the Bassman started to go way up in value; the old Bassman circuit, by the way, is the granddaddy of too many "boutique" amps to mention.

Just another way of looking at things, but that's good, I hope.
Some good points but the time line and costs must have been written by a younger fellow who didn't grow up in those times!:smile:

First off, by the mid 60's 50 watt tube amps were pretty well the most powerful. And solid state amps didn't really start to happen until the mid 70's, over 10 years later. It was at the end of the 60's when 100 watt amps really became readily available, pioneered by guys like Pete Townsend of the Who working with Jim Marshall of Marshall amps.

Of course, Pete Traynor had already beat them to it with some high powered tube bass and guitar units! In fact, he had invented the YBA-3 Custom Special bass amp in 1966 or so. It made history by breaking the 50 watt barrier with over 100 watts of tube power.

Tubes NEVER hit prices of $100-$200 dollars! And audio tubes like those used in guitar amps (12AX7's, 6L6's, etc) never did go out of production. I know, 'cuz I was working for the last of Canadian Westinghouse, Tube Division, in 1989. We sold 6L6's for maybe $12.00, wholesale. 12AX7's went for maybe $4.00.

Solid state guitar amps never came out in big numbers. Starting in the 70's you'd see one model hit the market, die due to poor sales and then some months later someone else would try. Late 70's successes like the Sunn Concert series were rare.

Setting aside bass amps and cheap practice amps, even today if you go through the guitar player mags you'll see that maybe 80% of the new amp offerings are tube. The other 20% claim "Tube Like Sound!" Some will stick one 12AX7 in the preamp and try to make you think that's all you need to sound like a vintage Plexi!:D

And those "numerous little boxes" weren't invented until the late 60's, for the simple reason that new-fangled transistors were only then available. There were NONE in the 50's!

There is a some great timeline info for Marshalls at the http://www.drtube.com site. You might also poke around at Traynor's site for Jim Holman's fabulous FAQ on the history of Traynor. It's not just the amps and young Pete Traynor but also history of rock and roll!

Just FYI!

:food-smiley-004:
 

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Hey, I'm always up for a free beer!:smile:

Seriously Dave, just help someone else someday! Pay it forward!

Keep the flame of tube amps alive!:rockon2:

:food-smiley-004:
Lots more interesting reading here as the thread progresses.

Wild Bill: Someday we are going to have that beer !!

I'd really like to help someone on the forum, but I have fairly limited knowledge and experience to offer, compared to many. That said, I'll do my best.

On the Seymour Duncan forum, I once spent about 5 hours walking a fellow through a total rewiring of his Gibson 335 like guitar...he has thanked me often. The best part was that he started with a 6 watt soldering iron :eek:

I came back onto the forum after he returned from the store with a new iron.

Thanks again

Dave
 
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