BlackFace vs Silverface. John P or anyone.

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Tag, Aug 31, 2005.

  1. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    I actually think I prefer Silverface. Growing up, I had read BF was so superior, I always took it for granted. Over the last 10 years of having and playing both, I have been finding myself to really prefer Silverface. (I think) Both are great, but I do not think either is better. They are EXTREMELY similar tonally. What makes it even stranger, is that i think the SF amps have a better breakup. Its smoother, and sings more, while the BF amps have that harsh, edgy distortion, like turning up a cheap stero into total distortion. (Even old tube stereos) Also, why is it that the reverb seems deeper and richer in SF amps? Is the reverb different, or is it the tone of the amp making it SEEM that way. My SF Vibrolux reverb is the closest to my Brunos I have found. No BF reverb can match it. What are the differences in the circuits, and what was it they were trying to achieve? They may have actually done it, and maybe guys were just "use" to the BF sound?? (Which is great, no doubts here!)

    I think its really interesting, because some of these old SF amps sound UNREAL. They go for next to nothing just because they are not BF!! At a local shop several years back, they had a BF SR and a SFSR for sale. The SF was a MONSTER sounding amp. Both had been serviced, and sounded fine. the BF sounded good, but not great. We were all playing both amps and discussing just this. Well, the BF sold in days, and that SF sat there for close to a year! UNREAL!

    I would also like to hear from guys who have both, and what their opinions are. I sold my BF SR, still have my BF Pro reverb, but my fave may be my SF Vibroluxe reverb, that I liked more than its BF counterpart. All of these amps have just STELLAR clean tones IMO.
     
  2. spikeRI

    spikeRI Supporting Member

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    I had a SF Princeton Rev and now own a BF one..........I A/Bed them together using the speaker in the SF (a weber P10Q) and could barely hear a difference. The SF was a pinch louder and cleaner.........the BF had just a touch of hair and seemed a little more 3D (but were talking micro percents here). Turned out the SF had the PI mod done to it (stokes mod) and that prolly accounted for the pinch louder and cleaner part. I kept the BF mainly because of value and it was slightly cleaner in appearance......also the SF was a 74 which fixed baffle and I wanted to put a 12 in.......so kept the BF, bought a crusty baffle and a red fang. Looks like a well cared for 10 year old amp now and sounds incredible....

    btw- got another buddy who swears the SF's sound and drive better also...
     
  3. Sofus

    Sofus Member

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    If you read about SF vs BF Vibrolux Reverbs circuit changes Tag, I think you would be in for a supprise ;) - especially before the pull boost introduction on the SF.
     
  4. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    Yes but Tag, you think the BF RIs sound as good or better than the originals too :p.


    Just kidding (although I think you're nuts on that one, but never mind...)

    I agree that most SFs are good-sounding amps. They're slightly different from BFs (mostly - some models were changed more than others, generally the further up the range the more alterations were done; the Champ was basically not altered, and I think you can guess what Sofus means ;)), but definitely in a direction that I think you will like. I do like them for clean, but not really for distortion, unless it's from an offboard preamp. I don't think they break up that nicely themselves, they have more of that strident "purity" that I dislike, I prefer the rougher BF breakup.

    The major differences (discounting the MVs and later ultra-linear versions) are in the phase inverter, which has less gain and is probably less likely to cause asymetrical distortion, because it uses symetrical plate loads. The BF PI uses asymetrical ones, in theory to compensate for the different gain in each side (because they're driven differently), but I think it does produce more asymetrical distortion once it does, even though it may be marginally more symetrical clean... if that doesn't sound too confusing!

    Most of the BF early distortion does come from the PI, which is precisely why CBS/Fender changed it - back then, the goal was still simply maximum clean headroom.

    I'd need to check the schematics again, but I don't think there is a difference in the reverbs (except for on the late Twins, where the 12AT7 bias network was changed and they run much hotter, not too good for them), so it's probably just the cleaner PI that makes them sound different.


    FWIW, I had a SF Vibrolux for a while... I though it was quite nice clean at low volume - very shimmery - but for me, unusably strident and harsh when pushed. My favorite amp-distortion sound from the two periods is an AA864 Bassman - huge and growly, I'm sure you'd hate it ;).
     
  5. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    My SF Vibrolux reverb has the pull boost. I never use it, as it actually makes it raspier and more blackface like when distorting.

    What did they change in the pullboost circuit vs pre pullboost that you know of? Thanks for any additional info. :)
     
  6. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    Hey John! thanks for joining in, and for the info. I thought you would know the difference. :)

    Do you think you could you tell on clips which is a vintage SR a SRRI, or my HR Deville? I bet you cant. :p Imo, and in person, they are so close, it is impossible to tell when not looking. The ONE giveaway is the HR Devilles reverb is not as good.

    Ill repost the clip of my Vibrolux wide open later on. Very smooth sounding! Its funny you think its harsh, because the reason I prefer it is that it is less harsh and smoother! We HAVE to get together some time and try this. I still think if we check the same exact amps, we will have very similar feelings. :)
     
  7. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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  8. clunk

    clunk Member

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    Hi guys. In the BF's the 5AR4 (GZ34) rectifier was the most commonly used one or possibly the only used one, as far as I know. It seems in the 70's the 5U4 was more commonly used although i've heard that some amps were still made with the 5AR4. I own a BF Super Reverb and a SF Super Reverb. For the same reason as John i prefer the break up of the BF super reverb ,or BF's in general, in that it sounds more rougher or raw sounding. It also uses a 5AR4 (GZ34) for a rectifier. On the other hand the SF i own uses a 5u4 rectifier. I'm not an expert with the specifications but i beleive it draws more current thus creating more SAG than the 5AR4. This in turn makes the SF super reverb much more smoother sounding compared to the BF. At least this is what i attribute the smoothness too. I really like the SF's clean sound more than the BF with this particular amp. In fact a freind of mine borrowed it to record a song with an acoustic guitar plugged in LOL. Surprisingly the recording turned out fantastic. In comparing the reverbs between the two they both pretty much sound the same to me.
    I also own a BF twin reverb and SF twin reverb (100w). Different story here. While the SF has more clean headroom the BF just sounds better overall to me. As far as reverb on this one, for whatever reason Fender put the tiniest reverb tank on the SF. Of all the fenders i've owned this one has the worst reverb. I dont care much for the SF twin reverb. I'm thinking of having this one ODS modded by Fuchs or scottl if i ever decide what im doing with it. I'll have to email Fuchs sometime about it. It's not bad sounding i just dont have much use for it personally.
    The only other fender i own is a BF deluxe reverb. Great sounding amp. very lush reverb. I have never had a chance to A/B it though to a SF.
    Anyway i've gone through a few other older Fenders. This is just my take on the supers and twins that i have now.
    I'd really like to hear what your vibrolux sounds like Tag.

    Clunk
     
  9. clunk

    clunk Member

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    BTW the BF's i own are originals NOT RI's. :D

    Clunk
     
  10. KennyM

    KennyM Supporting Member

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    I just read something in a column by I believe Gerald Weber in Vintage Guitar magazine. I'll have to dig it out to relay this word for word, but the point of view he expressed was that while he favored the BF circuits, he thought the transformers in the early SF sounded better. This, to my thinking would make an early SF modded to BF specs to be the favored setup.

    As far as my own experience, I have owned 5 or 6 Deluxe and Deluxe Reverb amps and all of them were BF except for one. Back in the 80's, I had Lee Jackson mod one BF and the SF. The BF sounded great but the SF just demolished it. The amp actually sounded so good that Lee wanted to buy it off me. The only conclusion he had for why it sounded so much better was that the SF transformers just had the mojo that the BF didn't. Since his mod replaced almost all of the other components, the transformers were the only difference.

    That SF amp sounded so good that I sold the Dumble I also had at the time. Unfortunately, I have had bad luck with Deluxe Reverbs and theft, as every one I owned were stolen on three seperate occasions. If I had a choice to get that SF Deluxe or the Dumble back at the same price, I would take the Deluxe without batting an eye. It was my favorite all time amp until I got a D13 - FTR37.

    Weber's article was the only thing I've ever read that brought that transformer issue to question.

    Kenny M.
     
  11. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    Try me :). (If you want to post clips, either email them or post them somewhere i don't have to sign up please :(.)

    That is, with the HUGE reservation that I always disagree with you on, that you really can't tell from an mp3 clip (or often even an AIF recording). But in a room, the difference is amazingly obvious to me - the big difference is between the modern amps and the old ones, not between BF and SF.

    I did try this with a DRRI and an SF, with me facing the other way and someone else plugging into either amp at random, and I'm sorry to tell you ;) that I could tell the difference 10 times out of 10, and if it had been 100 I still would have. No matter what the control settings on either amp... it's just that obvious.

    (That said, I did recently hear a DRRI that sounded substantially better than usual - brand new, maybe they've changed something. But still not like even a SF, let alone an original.)

    To me, it's not a "tone" difference, it's a "texture" difference. The RIs get the EQ balance dead on, and even the way they break up, but the actual texture of the sound is too thin and one-dimensional. It's like the old ones are very slightly blurry or furry-sounding, and that's what makes them far warmer-sounding. I also can see, from the kinds of sounds you like, why you'd prefer the RIs... same reason as you prefer the AC30HW to a RI or an original.
     
  12. aeolian

    aeolian Member

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    Remember that in some cases like the early SF Deluxe, they changed the coupling cap into the PI and the SF's have more bottom end than the BF. I actually have a middle value in my Deluxe. Also, a big issue with the SF's is that the internal wire routing is all over the place. So there is a bigger difference between one SF and another.
     
  13. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    John,
    I totally agree about the DRRI and the TRRI. neither sounds like an original to me either. the twin is closer, the DRRI may as well have a different name. The SRRI, bassman and low powered tweed twin are the ones I am talking about. Also, regarding the SF and BF comparison, they DO sound different. Its just that I do not think the BFs sound better, just different. More raw, a touch punchier, and get sloppier when turned way up. The SF are sweeter and smoother, and richer in the mids. I also think the reverb sounds richer and deeper, but that may be because the amps sounds that way. Its the same with Brunos reverb. I am not sure if its Brunos reverb circuit that makes the reverb sound so 3D, or the amp itself. The amps sound more 3d even with the reverb off, so that may be what causes the reverb to sound better.

    It will take a while for me to line these amps up, as it will be a collection of mine and some buddies, but Ill make some comparison clips. Ill make some of my Pro reverb, vibrolux HR Deville, and borrow SRRI and vintage SR as well. It will be fun to see who can or cant hear the differences. ill post them randomly, and figure out the odds of guessing as well. Fun stuff and thanks for playing! :)
     
  14. KHK

    KHK Silver Supporting Member

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    FWIW, I had my Deluxe Reverb overhauled a couple of months ago. It's a black face that I've had since about '75. The work was done by a cool guy here in Florida who some folks here turned me on to named Bird Dog Bobby. He is the local authority on Fenders and has been working with them for over 40 yrs.

    He told me that he thought mine was made in late '66 or very early '67 and was manufactured towards the end of black face production. We were waxing nostalgic about all of the old tweed, brown, white, black and silver amps that we have owned and he stated that he still has an assortment and has worked on many over the years. At least relative to my Deluxe Reverb, he stated his opinion that there was no difference in the circuit or componentry btwn the BFDR and the first couple of years of the SFDR. In fact, he uses a silver face because it is the same amp at a more reasonable price. I didn't think to ask him when they changed the circuit.

    Cosmetics aside, it would make sense to me that they would have changed over their entire line over a period of time rather than upgraded/downgraded (depending on your perspective) every model at once. He offered that Fender would have used up the bulk of the transformers and such that they had on hand before replacing them with ones from a different manufacturer. His opinion was that few people cared about the internals of the black and silver faces at that time.

    Wasn't the silver face introduced by CBS with the purchase for branding reasons? The prevailing urban legend was that the Silver Faces like the guitars of that period were products of cost cutting by CBS and were "less good" somehow. I never met anyone who knew why they were "less good". People liked to rail against big business taking over their institution... kind of like the Gibson thing going on today. Perhaps a perception that was accepted as fact for no valid reason.

    A good friend always used a SF Twin Reverb and it always sounded killer to my ears. It was pre-master volume and appeared to be identical to my BF Twin and I thought had the same specs. I don't remember thinking that mine sounded any better than his and we played together alot and both played LP Customs.

    Anyway, the reverb in my model at least was made by Hammond Organ. I had to have it replaced because the connectiors were bad and he told me that it couldn't be repaired as the wire guage was too tiny for a soldering iron. I forget what tank he replaced it with but I like it less well. Same physical dimensions but too much of a good thing. The original was about perfect to my ear and was consistant with all of the other black face reverbs that I've owned.
    I still have all of the old parts and may try and find someone who has the tools to replace the bad connectors because I feel there is a significant difference btwn old and new reverb.

    In terms of break-up, I love my BFDR and is my fav of all of them. It is not harsh or agressive in anyway. It is smooth and warm. The stock speaker which I still have is under engineered for the amp IMO and presents a fairly crude sound when in place. This amp really doesn't need spkr distortion to sound good. I have no frame of reference relative to a SFDR.
     
  15. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    Thanks for the cool info! Thats strange about the tank on that SF twin. I wonder what was up with that? Ill post the clip of my Vibro in a minute.
     
  16. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    Here are two clips. The third one down is the Vibrolux flat out just playing some blues licks. The one above it (second one down) is my Bruno Cowtipper 22 wide open playing the same thing. The cow is brand new, and I recorded it the very day I got it, with a brand new 1\12 G12 H 30. the Vibro is in perfect shape, and both amps have NOS tubes in them. I think the Cow sounds sweeter, and with a wider and smoother response. The fender sounds very nasal and middy in comparison. Brand new compared to vintage, although they are not identical amps. So much for vintage always sounding better though. In person, both amps SCREAM, and you cant tell, but boy oh boy are they LOUD!!:eek: I was in a large room, and was squinting from the pain. LOL!

    Clips here....http://www.soundclick.com/artist/6/tag101_music.htm
     
  17. Bigtone

    Bigtone Member

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    I think the silverface amps from 68 to 72 are some of the best clean tones I've ever heard, I agree with Tag on the reverb thing to, they seem to be more lush, Bigtone
     
  18. KHK

    KHK Silver Supporting Member

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    Interesting comparison. The vibro has 10's? Have you tried the vibro through the 12 and vice versa? Are you lighting those babies up this early in the morning? Do you live one a farm?:)
     
  19. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    Lol! I did these about 2 weeks ago. I have a clip somewhere of the amps into the others speakers. At first I thought I liked the Cow more into the Vibros speakers, but then decided I really prefer each with their own. Brunos amps are SOO sweet.
     
  20. KHK

    KHK Silver Supporting Member

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    The reason that I asked about the speakers is that I used to play a BFVR and switched over to the DR because I preferred the broader response that I imagined was due to the 12" spkr vs the 10". I wondered if the 12" gave the VR more balance by providing a fuller low end. What did it sound like with the 12"?

    I think that spkr size generally imparts a certain signature aside from differences btwn makers within the same diameter. My reference was that 10" was mid-upper prominent, 12" had best balance and 15" was too dark and low end dominant. Wondered if you heard the same things while playing around.
     

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