Blackface Tone Thoughts

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by aleiberman, Mar 5, 2015.

  1. aleiberman

    aleiberman Member

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    I own a bandmaster, pro reverb, and champ. All early 67-69. Two of which are blackface circuits.

    The only complaint I have, is that they seem a little dull at times by themselves. For instance, a Blues Deluxe, or HRD has much more sparkle, chime, and better dynamics compared to these amps. Am I wrong? Is this expected? It's made me rethink what I like for amps. I might be happier with a HRD or Blues Deluxe for a fraction of the price for what I've paid for these combined. Or maybe a boutique brand.

    I play mostly at home, so maybe these are the wrong amps for me. Out of all them the $300 champs sounds the best to me :)
     
  2. DeaconBlues

    DeaconBlues Member

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    Have these amps been serviced/tuned up?
     
  3. aleiberman

    aleiberman Member

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    They get turned up occasionally. I like to keep the volume on 2.5 - 3 on these amp. Maybe I'm running them with the volume too low.

    As far as service, goes, I probably should have a tech check them out.

    It's funny how, I have these amps, and I figure the new fenders are supposed to sounds like these. But I find that the new/cheaper fenders almost have more life to them, at a fraction of the price, with stock tubes and stock speakers. Maybe my ears are off :)
     
  4. DeaconBlues

    DeaconBlues Member

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    "Tuned up", not "turned up".

    I suspect that once a tech goes through your current amps you'll forget all about "newer" Fenders.
     
  5. Blue Strat

    Blue Strat Member

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    Many people feel the opposite or that HRDs are too bright, but it's all about personal preference.

    If the old amps haven't been serviced recently, you don't really know what they sound like.

    A couple of things to try: Move the HRD's preamp tubes into the vintage amps. Cross connect to the speakers in the HRD. This should give you a little more information.
     
  6. Heady Jam Fan

    Heady Jam Fan Member

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    To me, this sounds like old tubes, old caps, and/or a beat old speaker. I like Mike K's ^ suggestion about testing the tubes and speaker from the HRD. However, if the caps are original - and you can only tell this by opening up the amp and looking (don't get shocked!) - then that could be the culprit. New caps + about 4 hours playing can breath new life into an old Fender that sounds a little... soft.
     
  7. zenas

    zenas Member

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    67-69 CBS Fender was changing things fast so who knows what you really have there. Add in unknown service history and all bets are off.

    At home I can see the Champ sounding best since it's the one you can turn the volume up on without blowing your eardrums.
     
  8. Rumble5

    Rumble5 Member

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    The BD and HRD series are supposed to be modeled after tweed amps, the Bassman in particular, so they're not supposed to sound like Blackface amps. Tweed amps have a more "Marshall" feel with more midrange than Blackface amps.

    I have a 2x12 Blues Deville and the characteristics of its distortion (when pushed to its limits) are very similar to that of my '76 JMP 1987, though not as full or as rich.

    But the cleans on those amps are not as pristine as those on my '66 Pro Reverb. I'm currently tweaking the Pro Reverb to get it more into that tweed territory when pushed yet retain the Blackface sparkle with the guitar volume rolled back.

    As far as what you're experiencing, my guess is that it has to do with not being able to turn the vintage amps up loud enough (and they don't have master volumes to push the tubes harder), the fact that the new and old amps are voiced differently, and that the speakers are probably very different.
     
  9. Blue Strat

    Blue Strat Member

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    BD's aren't modeled after tweed amps. Check the schematics.
     
  10. aleiberman

    aleiberman Member

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    Great information guys. A lot to think about here.

    Thanks
     
  11. Rumble5

    Rumble5 Member

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    Don't care about the schematics. Fender marketed them as being modeled after the Bassman just with reverb, and they do have similar tonal characteristics, though to what extent can be debated.
     
  12. DeaconBlues

    DeaconBlues Member

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    The only thing the HR/Deville series has in common with Tweed amps is the tweed covering.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2015
  13. SupremeDalek

    SupremeDalek Member

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    Absolutely. Old tubes can make any amp sounds like garbage, BF or not. Bad caps, bad speaker(s), and out of spec components will all add to your displeasure. Have a good tech go through it, replace what is necessary with GOOD quality (preferably NOS) components, and you will be happy.

    When I got my Super, I had a similar feeling. I know what these amps sound like when they work and this one did not sound "correct." After a weekend replacing resistors, suring up solder points, a tube replacement, rebiasing, and speakers, the amp sounds like only a Super can sound. There is no ability to explain the difference between before and after other than "night and day."
     
  14. Leep Dog

    Leep Dog Member

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    You may also be finding the Blackface sound just isn't your thing.
     
  15. wgs1230

    wgs1230 Fully Intonatable Silver Supporting Member

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    I agree with the previous suggestions about a tune-up... for the Pro Reverb. If there's a cashflow issue, sell the other two and use the proceeds to have the PR optimized: new filter caps, upgraded tone caps for lower noise, the best tubes available and, if needed, new speakers. If you're not getting "sparkle, chime and dynamics" out of the PR, it needs attention.
     
  16. swiveltung

    swiveltung Member

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    The BF style amps are a bit scooped... which many like. Maybe you just like the more middy sound?
     
  17. Rumble5

    Rumble5 Member

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    Well, they have that, and then there's the fact that Fender's goal with the series was a "reinterpretation" of 50's tweed amps. From Fender on the BD: "These modern versions of vintage Fender amps from the '50s improved those designs with channel switching and reverb, while retaining the vintage style and tone... The Blues Deluxe Reissue, a reinterpretation of the classic Deluxe amp..." Fender claimed the Deville's sound was modeled after the Bassman.

    Now do the BDs sound a lot like tweed Deluxes? Not really. Do the Devilles sound much like Bassman amps? I think they do to some extent.

    Blackface amps are scooped with lots of bass and treble but little in terms of mids, and they don't break up easily. The BDs series is not scooped at all to my ears and is heavier in the mids. From that perspective they are more like tweeds and early Marshalls tonally than they are Blackface amps.

    But of course, YMMV.
     

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