Advice regarding vintage deluxe reverb

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by lchender, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. lchender

    lchender Member

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    Hi Everyone,

    I was hoping I could get some advice regarding shopping for vintage deluxe reverb amps.

    I'd like to pick up a blackface or early silverface deluxe reverb, but the prices on the blackface amps seem incredibly high in my area (Ontario, Canada) when they come up (often $3000 ish). I have heard that there are relatively minor differences in the circuitry of the early silverface amps as compared to the blackfaces in the smaller combo amps of that era.

    What year did major changes happen in the Deluxe Reverb circuit? I'm not that bent out of shape about having a blackface as long as I could pick up an early silverface that would be similar with respect to tone.

    For the experts in old Fenders amongst us:

    1) What years are 'good years' for the silverface Deluxe Reverb?
    2) What would be a fair price for those amps?

    My apologies if this has been asked 1,000,000 times before.

    Thanks!
     
  2. smolder

    smolder Gold Supporting Member

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    It has been asked a million times, but so have most questions here ;)

    The deluxe is about as in demand, and therefor expensive fender amp out there. The champ, princetons and deluxe were left alone longer than any other amps in the early cbs era. The closest you get to bf years, the closer it will be and the more expensive, so there is no definitive date.

    If you go to this page...

    http://ampwares.com/amplifiers/fender-silverface-deluxe-reverb/

    and scroll to the bottom, you'll see some comparative pricing across years. This data is not current, but will give you a relative range. Take your time... they do show up, if you are in a hurry you're likely to pay in the high range or get a less than optimal amp.
     
  3. lchender

    lchender Member

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    Thanks for the input! What year did the pull-boost show up on the Deluxe Reverb? I'm thinking I'd like to get an amp that is before that change...

    Ideally, I'd love to get a late 60s Deluxe Reverb (i.e., drip edge). Does anybody know what range those tend to go for these days?

    Thanks again!
     
  4. LarryN

    LarryN Member

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    I don't know all the year/price/features stuff offhand, but I had a '77 silverface that had no master or push/pull and was one of the best I've had.
     
  5. starjag

    starjag Member

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    I think the boost came along in 78.

    lchender: what about a blackfaced late 70s DR? Perhaps a way to get to the blackface specs without the price tag.
     
  6. lchender

    lchender Member

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    Is there a year of manufacture beyond which attempting to black face a deluxe reverb is not a good idea? I'm not sure if the deluxe reverb ever got a master volume, but I've heard that there is little point in blackfacing a fender silverface amp with a master volume.
     
  7. 335guy

    335guy Member

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    While there were some very minor changes in circuitry with the DR, IMO, the biggest differences were:

    1) went from cloth covered wiring, which was typically neatly done, to PVC covered wiring, which wasn't as neatly done. Look at any internal chassis from the BF era and then the 70's era and you'll see what I mean.
    2) Went from single solid pine planks for the cab to laminated pine planks in '73
    3) Used various speakers, some sounded better than others.
    4) Also in '73, went to the glued in front baffle opposed to the screwed on baffle of previous years.
    5) The GZ34 rectifier was replaced with a 5U4GB
    6) The cosmetic appearance changed and the overall weight increased a little

    All this said, IMHO, most all Fender amps I've played sounded a bit different. So, some SF models sounded better to my ear than some BF models did. I chalk that up to different tubes, different speakers and component drift. For the collector, a BF in great condition is desirable, and that's why they cost what they cost. I think a SF from the early 70's can sound as good ( to my ears ) and be a better value for the player. Another option is to get a quality repro from Vintage Sound, Allen or Headstrong. But a SF will probably cost less. FWIW, I have a '78 SF PR ( blackfaced ) that sounds as good as any BF I have ever heard. The pull boost is not an issue. Either don't use it or replace it; easily done. If you're buying as an investment, the BF are much more desirable. But I'd go with a SF as a gigging amp.
     
  8. smolder

    smolder Gold Supporting Member

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    I'm not sure if the deluxe ever got ultra linear transformers like the larger amps did. That happened when bassman went to 70 watts and twins to 135. I'm told that those transformers and the associated circuitry make it more difficult to put back to blackface specs.

    There really aren't any bad years for silverface fenders, they're just different than blackface.
     
  9. jimmybcool

    jimmybcool Supporting Member

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    I am certainly not an expert on Fender amps. Call me an interested party who owns a few blackface amps. My understanding is the changes to the amps happened over time and in various ways.

    For example if you bought a 1968 Silverface DR the difference between it and a 67 blackface is cosmetics. But as time marches on Fender began changing the parts in their amps using cheaper components, cabinet work, transformers, to the point where they also started modifying the circuit (ala push boost in 1977).

    I am also not convinced their quality control was maintained as time went by. My opinions are formed mostly from conversations with guys who lived through the changes and a guy who worked at Fender in their amp department a while.

    The net result is I "think" that the newer you get away from the blackface era the lower the quality of the amp. BUT, you might get a silverface amp that just happened to be built right and got the upper end of the components used that year and it sounds great. I would certainly not hesitate to buy a silverface amp from the late 60s or early 70s if it sounded great and felt solid.

    For me I just decided I can afford the blackfaces because I have the money now and it isn't lost money as I expect them to at minimum hold their value.

    BTW, the pricing I have seen lately for the bf deluxe reverbs in the states is about $1800-2500 condition dependent.
     
  10. SG_Seth

    SG_Seth Member

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    Pull boost started in late '77. I used to own a non pull boost '77 that was killer. Bought it for $900. You can find them for this price....they're out there.
     
  11. lchender

    lchender Member

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    Thanks everyone for the great advice! It sounds like I might want to be looking for a pre-1973 Deluxe Reverb to avoid some significant construction/component changes. I'm not that bent out of shape about getting a Blackface as long as I get a good sounding amp as I'm interested in it primarily to play (rather than collect).

    There seems to be a significant difference in price up here as compared to the USA. Every BF Deluxe Reverb I see here has a crazy price attached to it (usually $3K+). Part of me thinks I should just try to buy one from the USA, but it seems like a risk to try to buy a vintage amp online without having played it. If the silverfaces can be hit and miss in terms of tone, I may inadvertently purchase an amp with all the period correct components documented by pictures that just doesn't sound all that great.

    Is it easy enough for a tech to get a ho-hum sounding silverface sounding better by cleaning it up internally or do some old Fender amps just tend to sound better than others?
     
  12. 335guy

    335guy Member

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    Here's the deal about older amps. If you had played that SFDR brand new back in 1972, then that amp had been used for 40 years, it would sound different today than when it was new. Why? Because components drift and tubes wear out and speakers get broken in. That is why brand new amps, even with top flight components, often don't sound like their old counterparts. So, can a ho-hum SFDR be made to sound better? It depends on what is making it sound ho-hum. Generally, amp techs replace only the components that have drifted way beyond their proposed specs. Or components not working ( typically caps ) And some components ( caps and resistors ) from back in the day, could be as far as 10% off of the stated specs, also causing slight differences in sound and performance. I had a bud with three different SFDR's, and each one sounded different to me. But most older tube amps needs periodic maintenance ( cap jobs and tubes ) and that would be considered normal and acceptable for an old amp. There's nothing magical about those DR circuits that a good amp repair guy cannot get back to factory spec. The speaker and tubes do play an important role in the sound of those amps as well. So, NOS tubes and a good, broken in speaker can make a big difference in tone as well.
     
  13. mc2

    mc2 Member

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    335guy-

    You say you had a 78 SFPR blackfaced...it's the same circuit unless you or your tech undid the pull boost. Am I missing something here?
     
  14. jimmybcool

    jimmybcool Supporting Member

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    What he said. And a big second speaker and tubes. And tube BIAS.

    I've bought 4 BF Fenders sight unseen (pictures) and every one has been a good amp. Some better than others. One needed a minor repair and new speaker, and another (in process with my tech) might need a new tube(s).

    If you buy one of these older amps part of the deal is you will have to do some maintenance on them.

    To be blunt here, I'm not convinced that they are any better than many builders today.

    For example I own 2 66 BFDR and a Vintage Sounds take on a BFDR. All 3 are killer amps IMO. And if I was NOT also a collector and wanted to play for a living (assumes I COULD) I would keep the Vintage Sounds. Built in 2010 I suspect it will be a long time before I need maintenance on it and it has a few features added compared to the older originals.

    OTOH, 10 years from now I'll be lucky to get 75% of the price I paid for the VS whereas the Fender vintage amps will likely be worth more.

    All sorts of tradeoffs.
     
  15. lchender

    lchender Member

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    Thanks to everyone for your insights - I really appreciate it!

    I'm thinking I will keep an eye out for a SF Deluxe Reverb from the late 60s/early 70s. I'm not that bent out of shape about having a Blackface and it seems like I could get a really great sounding SF Deluxe Reverb for a lot less dough.

    Any advice for me about buying one of these amps long distance? What kind of information should I ask for about potential amps?

    Thanks!
     
  16. Kitten Cannon

    Kitten Cannon Member

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    My best advice is play as many as possible. I've got a 73 with the glued on baffle that sounds better than any other DR on earth, and I had a later 70s one that sounded terrible. I've played about a zillion others of different years and frankly, they were all different. Some better than others. My second favorite one was a '64. I wouldn't trust a tech to simply be able to open up the amp and tweak some things to make it sound better. If it were that simple, everyone would do it and the inconsistency wouldn't be there.

    Long story short - there's no "right" answer here and no shortcut. Just play as many as you can and buy the one that sounds best.

    I really wouldn't buy it long-distance, if it were me. But, it's easy for me to say that, because I already have one. THE one.
     
  17. 335guy

    335guy Member

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    I should have said, I bought a '78 SFPR from a guy who had it blackfaced prior to me buying it. I saw the receipt from the tech, who was Curt Emery of Emery Sound. He builds the "baby" amps ( microbaby, superbaby, stagebaby, bassbaby ) and also services amps for some folks. The receipt said blackfacing amp. What that entailed I don't know. And according to The Fender Amp Field Guide, the BFPR circuit # is AA1164. The SFPR circuit # is AB868, AB1270. There had to be very small changes, as the BFPR's used GZ34 rectifiers and the later SFPR's use 5U4GB rectifiers. But I hear ya, many amp guys have told me the circuitry was virtually unchanged in the PR's.
     
  18. 335guy

    335guy Member

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    If at all possible, play the amp first before committing to buy it. Keep an eye open on Craigslist for sellers near you. Also, GC has some on occasion and asks too much for them, but you can try to barter them down. Like Kitten Cannon said, play as many as possible. They aren't all the same due to the reasons I mentioned previously. Barring that, the sellers here on TGP are typically reputable. What you're looking for is all original transformers, choke and speakers, if possible. Although speakers can be and sometimes are changed for the better. Replaced power chord, tubes, caps are okay. Verify that it is truly the year the seller is claiming by getting pictures and posting them here. We can tell if it's what the seller claims it is. If the covering is beat up, then it can be recovered without losing any value ( for a SF amp ). Seems like the drip edge '68-69 amps command more money than the early 70's SF amps. Ask loads of questions like, what brand of tubes, what speaker, what maintenance has been done, any odd noise or functions not working ( like verb or tremelo ), is the pedal switch included, has the seller ever packaged an amp for shipping before, etc. Don't assume anything. Pay for replacement insurance if shipped, although getting the amp to your destination in good order is the seller and shipping company's responsibility. See if you can get a trial period or if returns are accepted. Some sellers accept returns ( I always do ) and some won't. Pay with PayPal, which ain't great but better than cashier's check or money order. If they'll take Visa, use that. There are many online reputable music stores that sell quality used amps, but typically charge a bit more than private sellers. But sometimes it's worth it to buy from a reputable seller who is in the business of selling gear and will stand behind their merchandise. And you can always try to get them to lower their asking price as well.
     
  19. 335guy

    335guy Member

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    Toronto CL isn't showing much right now, but keep an eye posted. If considering Ebay, these sound intriguing.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/65-Fender-Deluxe-Reverb-Reissue-Point-to-Point-Hand-Wired-AB763-schematic-/110812566604?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item19ccf1944c

    Also, this seems like a viable option; Find a Re-issue for cheap and buy it. Then send the chassis to these guys for a complete re-build.
    Vintage Sound is a reputable builder.
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Fender-Deluxe-Reverb-Hand-wired-Back-Face-Recreation-/230583665914?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item35afdb84fa
     
  20. lchender

    lchender Member

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    Thanks to everyone for your great advice! I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for a Deluxe Reverb to add to the amp harem. :JAM
     

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