Blackfacing a 72 Vibrolux Reverb?

Bossanova

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,991
Hi folks, I'm new here, and just purchased a 1972 VR on EBay. I suspect the amp will need a little tlc, including new filter caps at a minimum. My question is, while the amp is in the shop anyway, should I get it blackfaced or leave it alone? I don't want to go crazy with tinkering and just want to play it, but I do want it to sound as good as it possibly can! What are your thoughts on this?

Bossanova
 

JamesT

Senior Member
Messages
6,234
No leave it as it is. If you want black face buy one. Generally mods decrease value. If I was in the market for what you have it is because I like SFVR. I would never buy a modded one. From what I know the main difference is a stronger power supply or something to give you more clean head room. I have 3 BF amps and they all distort early. I love playing my BFVR on 2 or 3 being 6 feet from it. Warm and clean and rich with 2 10s. But it is just my opinion.
 

smolder

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
14,455
I'm gonna disagree. Bf VR's re off the scale expensive. Personally, I like most sf better, but the cost to bf your amp, and even put it back, will be much less expensive. It's really just a half dozen resistors and a couple of caps... All reversible. That said, find a reputable tech, have it done right.
 

corn husk bag

Member
Messages
4,242
I'm gonna disagree. Bf VR's re off the scale expensive. Personally, I like most sf better, but the cost to bf your amp, and even put it back, will be much less expensive. It's really just a half dozen resistors and a couple of caps... All reversible. That said, find a reputable tech, have it done right.
Yep, if you can't afford a BF VR, do as Smolder says.

Steve
 

BadHat

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,275
do it, you won't regret it. Not every amp purchase has to be an investment.
 

FF71

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,554
What are your thoughts on this?

Bossanova
There's really no point, that's my thought. Silverface Fender are great as is. Can you tell a blackface vs. a silver face tone without looking at the amp? Plus, I think silver faces are "hipper" than blackfaces at the moment anyways. ;)
 

critter74

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,124
There's really no point, that's my thought. Silverface Fender are great as is. Can you tell a blackface vs. a silver face tone without looking at the amp? Plus, I think silver faces are "hipper" than blackfaces at the moment anyways. ;)
Depending on the amps, yes (mostly with larger bottle Fenders). Many of the early SF Fenders break up later (good or bad depending on your needs/wants), are a little brighter in the top end, a little more scooped and have a Hum Balance bias which is a pain.

The differences may not be huge but they are there. And the UL's are even more different.

Now I don't think SF Re better than BF, especially the early ones. It's preference. But to say they all sound the same is just not accurate. Not remotely.
 

Bossanova

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,991
If it's that easy, I think I'll go for it. I appreciate all the replies. I got the 72 because that's what I can afford, the BFVR prices are ridiculous right now. Some are going for 3k, this one was 1/3rd of that.
 

Heady Jam Fan

Member
Messages
9,009
I just Blackfaced my '74 Deluxe Reverb. I think it absolutely sounds better.

Tighter bass, much clearer, better overdrive, punchier amp, more touch sensitive feel.

Some people who want a big clean amp with a lot of warm bass prefer the SF spec. I usually use my amp as a clean platform and still prefer the BF spec.

As far as telling the difference by ear - the difference was night and day before and after Blackfacing my amp. I'd expect you can tell a good example of a BF from a good example of an SF by ear even if they were set to sound the same. But I'm sure there are some BF and SF amps that sound fairly similar. Just depends which two you pick to compare ;) - very few of these amps actually match any single schematic/circuit.

The SF sounds muddy to me - clean or dirty. Having owned many SF, BF and Blackfaced amps. I alway prefer the BF circuit.
 

JamesT

Senior Member
Messages
6,234
I think there is more than what they say to making it sound like a BF. Including IIRC different speakers. I think you should just get it working and play it for couple of months. Use some peddles...
 

Heady Jam Fan

Member
Messages
9,009
I think there is more than what they say to making it sound like a BF. Including IIRC different speakers. I think you should just get it working and play it for couple of months. Use some peddles...
Yeah, well... I haven't heard an old Fender I didn't prefer with new speakers, but I agree, there are other things.
- The cabinet construction makes a difference.
- IIRC (but I could be wrong) some of the transformers changed from BF to SF.

But still, the common Blackface Mod adjustments make a big difference:
- Fender changed the type of rectifier tubes (in amps that use them)
- A lot of changes in the PI circuit, which tightens the bass
- Suppression caps which suck the 'air' out of the treble, but prevent parasitic oscillation (caused by sloppy wiring, which is exacerbated by the stranded wire)
- One of the Voltage Dropping Resistors was changed to increase the headroom. It makes for punchier bass as well, but less touch-sensitive feel.
 

teleman55

Member
Messages
3,587
Why??? Those are great sounding amps on their own. Plus, there is very little difference any way. It's not the same as comparing a blackface twin to a late 70's twin.
 

rmconner80

Cantankerous Luddite
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,121
In the SF amps, Fender used a 5U4 and a higher secondary on the power transformer to compensate. Unless you change the PT, you can't mod that away. In a SF Vibrolux you can use a GZ34 but you're going to get higher B+ than a BF amp.

Does it matter? I'd say yes, but all may not agree.
 

billyguitar

Member
Messages
5,515
I have a/b'd my BF VR with Oxfords to another guy's SF VR with old Radio Shack speakers and they both sounded great. I don't think yours would need any more than maintenance to sound great again.
 

Pelagic

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
385
Obviously no consensus here, therefore do not mod the amp before living with it.

Part of the journey/education is really getting to know the circuits. How can you know if you'll prefer Blackface if you don' t know what Silverface is?

First get it to top notch Silverface status. Some of the "improvements" people hear may be due to normal maintenece that was done concurrently with the Blackfacing.

Personally I'd not skip a step and miss an opportunity to learn about a classic in its own right.
 

slider313

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
8,330
In the SF amps, Fender used a 5U4 and a higher secondary on the power transformer to compensate. Unless you change the PT, you can't mod that away. In a SF Vibrolux you can use a GZ34 but you're going to get higher B+ than a BF amp.

Does it matter? I'd say yes, but all may not agree.
^^^^
This. I have blackfaced a '71 Vibrolux and when put side by side with a '66, it was a very audible difference. We even crossed over the '71 to the brown & gold Jensen speakers in the '66. Then we crossed over the '66 to the Oxfords in the '71. The '66 sounded better to my ears, either way.
 






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