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Blackface versus silverface

jorgenegeland

Member
Messages
49
There's a pretty big price difference (at least here in Norway) between silver- and blackface Fender amplifiers, but how big are the actual tonal differences? I've read about people loathing the silverface Fenders (especially the master volume ones from the mid to late 70s) and people who love their sound. I know the early silverface amps (the '68 ones) are the same as the late blackface ones, but how are the 70s models? Is the sound of the blackface amps so much better that it justifies the price difference or is it all "just hype"? I'm not too knowledgeable on Fender amps, but I'm kinda lusting for a Super Reverb and/or a Bassman head.
 

Laxrappa11

Member
Messages
393
i actually just saw a 70s SFTR in guitar center today with a master volume, never had seen one of those before with a MV
 

skip

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,000
the blackface sounds better in my opinion-- is it worth the extra money-- your call--- i have a blackface bandmaster head--- but i would have no problem getting a silverface-- i may get a silver face next-
 
Messages
2,605
Better is certainly a matter of taste. it depends on what your looking for. I have a few of each. In the twin reverb catagory, the Silvers are cleaner, brigter, and heavier. the master volume is nice, but wont get you Marshall overdrive. I think it all comes down to what your looking for.
 

Gtrman100

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,901
Here's a good site to learn from:
http://www.ampwares.com/

Many of the early Silverface amps didn't change much or at all from the hallowed Blackface circuits, especially the smaller ones. For example, my '68 SFDR is identical to the Blackface amps that preceded it. It wasn't until the mid 70's that Fender really screwed things up, but many can be modded back to Blackface specs.

If you check out the site, you can find out what changes were made and when.
 

Brien

Member
Messages
1,153
The early SF can be pretty close to the BF equivalents. My experience has been that BF sounds better than SF 9 out of 10 times, as long as the amp is in good working order. I've owned 4 SF amps and 4 BF amps, played dozens more of each, and as a group, there was really no comparison-BF wins for me. If it's worth the extra bread is really a personal decision, but it is in my opinion.
 

drbob1

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
28,098
It's quite hit and miss actually. Right after the switch to SF cosmetics, most amps were very similar to their late BF companions but there were apparently some ill-conceived and short term changes in 67-68 on some of the bigger amps (I don't know specifics). From then till the mid-70s most of the circuits stayed pretty much the same, then started drifting into silliness: master volumes, pull-boosts, ultra-linear outputs... I think you'll be happy with most SF amps till 74-75 anyway. There's FAR more variation in sound between one BF amp and another than consistant variation from BF to SF. Also, many of the BF amps went thru a revision in 65-66 (such as the AA763 to AB763 change) which means that a 64 and a 66 may not sound the same. Bottom line is that these are older amps, and condition makes a huge difference. If you like the sound, buy it; if not leave it alone even if it is a 64 Vibroverb in mint condition...
 

Bruce

Member
Messages
229
The very early Silverface amps are nearly identical to the Blackface ones. In fact I would suspect that the only differences would be from what batch the electronic parts came from and if they change parts vendors. Some of the Silverface amps are actually cleaner but when they started putting master volume controls on them is when they went down the toilet. I've had both and in the early years of the Silverface they sounded every bit as good as the Blackface amps. The bottom line is STAY AWAY FROM THE SILVERFACE AMPS THAT HAVE A MASTER VOLUME.
 

karmadave

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,448
Fender started making changes, to the larger amps, around '68. Some people feel that Silverface amps have a more 'sterile' sound, but I've heard some that sound great. Fender also started using cheaper cabinet materials and some of the later wiring is sloppy. The reason most people hate the MV Silverface amps is that these use 'ultra-linear' transformers and are impossible to rewire to Blackface specs. There are also a number of great builders that make Blackface and 'Blackface-style' replicas.

The key thing is to listen with your ears.

-KD
 

mrface2112

Member
Messages
2,043
It's a matter of opinion, really......and you can find examples of "great" ones and "crappy" ones to support both side of the argument.

as others noted, the "big" amps were changed first with the smaller ones staying relatively untouched for a couple years.

one of the biggest differences (IMO) is the change from pine to plywood cabinet, which happened in/around 72. put the same amp chassis and speaker into a BF pine cabinet and it's going to sound dramatically different than when it's in the SF plywood cabinet.

in some cases (champ, vibro champ, etc) the circuit didn't change at all, but the part quality decreased. in some cases, the circuits changed considerably (including in some cases, the transformers used).....it really depends on the amp and when.

in the end, find one (or ones!) that you love the sound of and play the hell out of em. :BEER


cheers,
wade
 

vicdeluca71

Member
Messages
1,503
I'ts all about taste....I have owned blackface to silverface and my favorite of all is not to popular here(I really don't care).135 watt U/L TR,people here call them "sterile"(now thats popular).Second to that was a 66 blackface TR with RCA blackplates but was not as versitile due to the breakup at earlier volumes and that you cannot remove.

Bottom line is,listen with your own ears not everyone elses.
 

Desperado

Vertex Effects, Inc.
Messages
1,551
Generally Blackface Fenders or Silverface with Blackface circuit amps are going to have a more traditional Fender sounds and are generally regarded as the best sounding.

The exceptions to that rule in my experience is:

Silverface Deluxe Reverbs (I've even played a '79 that sounded great)
Silverface Vibrolux Reverb
 

KennyM

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,887
I've had 4 or 5 Deluxe and Deluxe Reverbs all BF except one SF. The SF was absolutely magical and one of my favorite amps. I'd still have it if it wasn't stolen years ago.
 

jorgenegeland

Member
Messages
49
Yeah, I know the late '60s models are pretty much identical. But I'm talking about the later stuff.

And there aren't many here who have commented on the actual difference in sound (although a couple of you have). It seems that people just say "Yeah, the blackface amps sound so much better", without actually trying to explain why and how. Thanks to those of you who have tried though.
 

teleman55

Member
Messages
3,587
One extra thing...
The silverfaces with a rectifier tube got switched early on to a 5U4GB. This slightly changed some specs a bit. More importantly, 5U4GB=more sag than the 5AR4. Good if you like that, bad if you don't, but not a huge thing. The blackface will be more punchy. The Twin will be punchy either way as it has a SS rectifier. Best silverface or blackface Fender amp I've ever played is my '79 Deluxe Reverb. Second best is a tossup between an old BF Bassman head into a Bandmaster Cab and my old singer's BF Vibrolux. I'd take the Vibrolux out of those two for the Tremolo and Reverb.
 

superswede

Member
Messages
181
I would like to say that you should stay away from master volume and ultralinear, but I could not. Everything depends on what you want your amp to do.

Personally I prefer BF or as close to BF as possible. I have played rented amps on festivals and because I am a Fender player I have usually got a master volume SF TR. I have disliked them so much that I rather chose something completely different like a Marshall Super Lead Ri and been more happy than with a scrappy Twin. I no that I can´t judge an amp model based on rented amps. I would like to play an UL or MV twin that´ve been taking care of to sound its best. Some people prefer UL amps and I completely respect that.

Your question about price and if it is worth it. When I bought my 1965 SR for about 15 years ago I thought it was to expensive but I know that it would be a collectors item and prices would go up.Supply and demand. I was right, I could sell it now for 3 times that amount. If you pay collector prices make shure that you get a collectable one though, look for original transformers and speakers. If some of that are changed part of the value is to. Could be better players amp though but do not pay to much.
 

shane8

Member
Messages
31,453
Yeah, I know the late '60s models are pretty much identical. But I'm talking about the later stuff.

And there aren't many here who have commented on the actual difference in sound (although a couple of you have). It seems that people just say "Yeah, the blackface amps sound so much better", without actually trying to explain why and how. Thanks to those of you who have tried though.
the difference in sound is gonna vary on any amp that's 30+ years old but the facts are fender started using cheaper and lower spec components when they went to silverfaces but again any components that have failed since then have prob been replaced by decent parts

the bottom line is if u like it then buy it
 

Seegs

Member
Messages
10,170
I really like the pre-master SF amps...in fact I prefer SF Supers up to about 74...might have to do with the Fender alnicos that I have seen in the late 60's early 70's Supers...don't really care for the BF Supers with ceramic speaks...

don't worry if Germany is any indication of what's to come then SF amp will start appreciating in value to the point of absurdity...

IIRC I just saw a SF Princeton listed for 1200€/$1500 on ebay Germany...

it seems that people like to associate old with vintage/value:barf

Chow,
Seegs
 

aidan7737

Member
Messages
476
Popular question!

My experience is owning a very late '67 drip edge SF (s/n 28XXX blackface guts) and early 70s SF Super Reverb (s/n 69XXX). Still own them both, the 70s going on 5 years and the '67 about a year.

To me the differences are as follows:

"BF" has a a more present, lo-fi sound. Possibly due to the firmer 5AR4 as described above. Crucially, the speakers are attached to the grill-come-baffle in the "BF". The reverb in this particular amp is crazy OTT! Overall, a great vintage sound and the CTS alnicos drive very nicely (but rarely able to turn up to this level, certainly never at a pub gig). Pick of the two for OD sounds.

"SF" has far more complex, hi-fi sound. The PT in this amp is about twice the size of the BF (I know the general consensus is that tone is in the OT but there's gotta be something to this!). 5U4GB rectified. This amp has solid ply baffle and separate grille baffle which I think accounts for a lot of the difference in tone along with the PT. The sound of a Telecaster's low E thumping on this thing is ridiculous! Good with OD when eq'd but the cleans/driven cleans are where it's at here.

FYI, I have access to and regularly played for about 3 years a mid 70s Master Volume Twin which sounds stellar. I don't buy the whole MV = bad thing.
 




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