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  #1  
Old 06-16-2005, 05:43 PM
dumb donnie dumb donnie is offline
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Arrow Blackface Bassman Experts Help! (AA864 Circuit Questions)






I have the opportunity to buy a Blackface Bassman with an AA864 circuit. I have been told that these are the best sounding and rarest of the Bassman circuits.

-I previously owned an AB165, what will the difference in sound be?

-Should I be worried about the reliability of a 40 year old amp?

-Any comments on about the originality/authenticity of the circuit?

-Any comments on the AA864 in general, any recommended mods (it already has a 3 prong chord)?

-How well will it take to fuzzes, anywhere as well as a Marshall?

-Finally, about how much should I be looking to pay, what would be a good price?
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  #2  
Old 06-16-2005, 06:10 PM
John Phillips John Phillips is offline
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Re: Blackface Bassman Experts Help! (AA864 Circuit Questions)

Quote:
Originally posted by dumb donnie
I have the opportunity to buy a Blackface Bassman with an AA864 circuit. I have been told that these are the best sounding and rarest of the Bassman circuits.
Actually the AA165 is the rarest (made for less than one month in Jan '65), but the AA864 is rarer than the AB165 - made for only four or five months in late '64 to the start of '65.

Quote:
-I previously owned an AB165, what will the difference in sound be?
I've owned and directly A/B'd both these too - I found the AA864 to be more dynamic and open on the normal channel (about the same on the Bass, but you won't really be needing that ), and much more 'balanced' sounding when pushed really hard - the AB165 has an odd split-bias arrangement, and to me sounded both too squashed and a bit uneven and farty. The AA864 was just big, gritty and crunchy.

Quote:
-Should I be worried about the reliability of a 40 year old amp?
No, because...

Quote:
-Any comments on about the originality/authenticity of the circuit?
... that amp looks like it has been correctly and professionally overhauled - 3-wire cord, all electrolytic caps replaced, and the screen-grid resistors replaced with better modern types. You can't see the main filters, but since all the caps in the main chassis have been done, it would be surprising if they haven't as well. Everything else looks stock. That's the right way to do it .

Quote:
-Any comments on the AA864 in general, any recommended mods (it already has a 3 prong chord)?
No! Leave it alone! It's the best-sounding amp Fender ever made IMO . And that one is in unusually nice condition.

Quote:
-How well will it take to fuzzes, anywhere as well as a Marshall?
Better. Mine was extremely pedal-friendly. Just the right combination of power and clarity.

Quote:
-Finally, about how much should I be looking to pay, what would be a good price?
I can't help with this one, sorry - except to say BUY IT. These amps are very undervalued by vintage-Fender standards. Did I say I regret selling mine? I got 450 ($800 or so) for it about five years ago, which was a good price for the UK at the time, but in hindsight I should have kept it.
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  #3  
Old 06-16-2005, 06:32 PM
tonezoneonline tonezoneonline is offline
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From the parts used and the work done I beleive that is an amp that I owned and serviced.If so it is in very good shape and there is no need to worry about it failing.If I'm correct it will have new Sprague Atom electrolytics also.
I would buy the amp either way if it's what you want and the price is fair.They are getting harder to come by these days and I have always thought the prices were low for what you get.
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  #4  
Old 06-16-2005, 06:34 PM
sundaypunch sundaypunch is offline
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Here's a great link for you to explain the difference between the AB165 that you had and the AA864- AA864 vs. AB165

First you should verify that it's actually an AA864. Many of these are actually AA165's and many with the AA165 chart are actually AB165's. Fender had a habit of using old charts until they ran out. I play a June '64 blonde 6G6-B Bassman and it actually has about half of the AA864 mod's incorporated.

Either way the AA864 and AA165 are similar to each other and more desirable than the AB165. Don't screw with a AA864 or AA165 amp and mod it That's what AB165's are for I wouldn't worry a bit about reliability. Of course you should have it checked out by a tech and replace any old caps. I see your bias supply cap has been replaced so your filter caps (under the pan) likely have already been done. If your caps are good and the basics are taken care of you should be fine.

Soundwise it's a fantastic amp. Great cleans and great crunch if you crank it up a bit. It won't quite get you to Marshall land, you can come close with Celestions in the cabinet but you won't quite have the mid's you need. I personally like it just as well. The blondes will come a bit closer. My 6G6-B is great with pedals, my favorite amp of all time. I don't know what to tell you price-wise as I pretty much stick to the blondes. Have you checked the ebay completed auctions?
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  #5  
Old 06-16-2005, 06:36 PM
sundaypunch sundaypunch is offline
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Disregard my last post, I should say "yeah, what John said"
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Old 06-16-2005, 06:48 PM
dumb donnie dumb donnie is offline
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Thanks for all the replies, you guys have helped me out a lot! Just a couple more things for now. First, what are the tonal differences between the AA864 and the 6G6? How easy is it to bias one of these at home?
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  #7  
Old 06-16-2005, 07:09 PM
sundaypunch sundaypunch is offline
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6G6-B is just a bit more raw sounding w/ slightly more mid's to my ear. Kind of in between the tweeds and BF amps. You won't be biasing one at home since it doesn't have a bias pot. Most people have a tech solder a small pot inside the amp which isn't a big deal.

Don't quote me on this but I think the AA864 is the first one that went to the adjustable bias pot. You can buy a "bias rite" or similar to adjust it on your own. It's handy to be able to do it. I find that swapping power tubes in mine has a big effect on gain / headroom.
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  #8  
Old 06-16-2005, 08:57 PM
dumb donnie dumb donnie is offline
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One more thing, I just recently read about swapping the 6L6's for EL34's, is this safe? Has anyone here ever attempted such a feat? The guy that swapped out the tubes said that there was increased headroom (and some other tonal changes) and that the amp jumped up by 15w or so.
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  #9  
Old 06-16-2005, 09:10 PM
sundaypunch sundaypunch is offline
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It's got 6L6's, not EL34's. I don't know anyone that would put EL34's in a Bassman.
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  #10  
Old 06-16-2005, 09:36 PM
dumb donnie dumb donnie is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by sundaypunch
It's got 6L6's, not EL34's. I don't know anyone that would put EL34's in a Bassman.
I know that it's usually 6L6's, but this guy reported some nice sounding results with the EL34's.
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  #11  
Old 06-17-2005, 06:17 AM
Shemp Shemp is offline
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I had my 68 SF Bassman with an original AB165 circuit modded to 1/2 AA864, 1/2 AB165 "The Andy Ruhl Mod" Gives me the grind of the original BF circuit and the cleaner 1/65. I use an ABY box with it. Great amp. They must have built a million of them because prices haven't moved that much.
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Old 06-17-2005, 08:32 AM
doctorx doctorx is offline
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Like John said, this amp looks to have been tuned up properly, caps, etc. It should sound awesome.

I have a 67 BF Bassman, I love it.

You can't put EL34's into a Fender without mods to the power tube sockets. I did this to my SF Bassman tops and really liked it, although I have since gone back to 6L6's.

This amp of yours has adjustable bias, put JJ's or Winged C power tubes in it and bias it hot (usually around 40-43 milliamps), and dime it through a 4x12. That's rock and roll.

About the price, probably around $600-$700. People usually ask stupid money for these, though.
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  #13  
Old 06-17-2005, 01:06 PM
dumb donnie dumb donnie is offline
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Ok, I came up with yet another question . Has anyone put 7581a's into a Bassman? I only recently heard about these tubes, from what I know they will increase the bass response and add a little headroom. I was just interested to see if this has been done, and if so, is it recommended for something a little different.
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  #14  
Old 06-19-2005, 08:23 AM
Shemp Shemp is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by dumb donnie
Ok, I came up with yet another question . Has anyone put 7581a's into a Bassman? I only recently heard about these tubes, from what I know they will increase the bass response and add a little headroom. I was just interested to see if this has been done, and if so, is it recommended for something a little different.
They'll work. I run them in a Carr Rambler. In the bassman they'll need to be biased.
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  #15  
Old 06-20-2005, 09:23 AM
Swarty Swarty is offline
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The 7581 is just a real good 6L6GC. If it is the Sylvania/Philips variety, it is the same as their big bottle 6L6GC that many companys put their name on the late '70s and '80s; Fender, Peavey, Groove Tube, etc...

FWIW, the AB165 has the dubious distinction of being the first amp to recieve CBS era "enhancements" by virtue of that bias balancing control. Other amps didn't get this fine "feature"until about 2 years later.
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