Explain Blacface vs Silver face for me, please.

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by SFW, Sep 21, 2008.

  1. SFW

    SFW Member

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    I always hear that BF Fenders are better than the Silverface amps, but could someone explain why the BF models are better that their SF counterparts? I played a SF Super Reverb in college that belonged to a friend, and I thought it sounded great. So is it mainly hype, or do the BBF models really sound better?

    I'm thinking about picking up a nice used Super, but what to know which moder I sould be looking at. Thanks!

    JD
     
  2. doc

    doc Member

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    The blackface amps were largely produced before CBS took control of Fender, and the circuits for many of the amps were altered in the new silverface versions. Some of the changes were benign and a matter of taste - they were trying for a cleaner, more accurate sound, and so used things like ultralinear transformers, more negative feedback, etc. Some of the changes were of dubious value and even clearly not such a great idea. Many guitarists prefer the sound of the blackfaces, but its not unanimous. Often the differences are fairly minor and the circuits can be altered to an earlier version; such an amp is said to be "blackfaced". Beyond that it is sometimes just an issue of collectibility value. My "big" Fender is a Vibrosonic Reverb (a silverface) that I've converted to be similar to a blackface Twin. Great sounding amp now. They're all wonderful amps, some just need tweaking to taste.
     
  3. Han Solo

    Han Solo Member

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    BF amps aren't better, they are different. Most players feel BF= warmer and SF = squeeky clean. I like both, BF and SF amps, depending on the application.
     
  4. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

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    I have been told SF were made to have a bit more headroom in addition to being brighter. Think surf guitar and Bakersfield country sound.
     
  5. sixty2strat

    sixty2strat Member

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    Well said right tool for the righht job.

    My BF basmman will do 60's 70's uk hard rock but my 77 SF pro will not but it is a killer roots music amp ...blues country jazz.Good speaker and tubes are a great way to tweek them. However Remember Cobain did inuetro and Jones did never mind the bollocks with SF twins...so the only limit is you...not the amp. I am non mastervolume Marshalll guy....so I never got the comlaint that SF fender were to clean and the pre CBS were the real deal since they overdrive real well. Comming from 67-76 marshalls the clean thing was great.
     
  6. 56_Special

    56_Special Member

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    Depending on the year and model, there maybe no difference other than cosmetic. Other than the late model ultralinear Twins and the like, the differences are quite subtle. Most SF's overdrive nicely and are quite warm. SF amps are great!
     
  7. acoupland

    acoupland Member

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    Yes, early silverfaces were same circuits. Except bassman's - even a BF bassman has SF style circuit (except for few, but according to e'bay there must be 500k of them)

    SF is very good but yes are more clean and less warm. Also a tech can easily mod silverfaces (basic BF mod or more complex mods) and since they're not worth so much they're a great starting place for alterations. But leaving them as-is you still have big great clean in a non-pcb amp for cheap.
     
  8. pfflam

    pfflam Silver Supporting Member

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    Early SF circuits are fantastic . . . the earliest SF Bassman circuits are very nice, they still grind at the edges, but they also have a very snappy crispy-clean.

    One of my favorite amps is a Black-Panelled 65 bassman with an early CBS circuit . . for a while I had it modified to the BF circuit but I eventually put it back realizing that I simply like the SF better.
     
  9. Formula1

    Formula1 Member

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    Some silverfaces seem a little thinner or not as 3d. But also each amp can have a feel that is completely its own. Most sf's before 75-76 are still great amps and could compete with a blackface in some senses and sf's are the way to go if you want to mod them....
     
  10. adamzappa

    adamzappa Member

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    Silver faced fenders with a master volume are evil. No hope for them. Any non master fender amp will sound killer with the required BF conversions. Deluxe Reverbs will all sound as good as the bf ones if ste up right. I would advise replacing the speaker(s) in any Fender amp for a good tone though. I believe that any non master fender with a good speaker can beat the best boutique amps for way cheaper.
     
  11. ozspawn

    ozspawn Member

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    Whether you prefer Black Face or Silver Face is a matter of taste. Others have noted that Black Faces generally sound warmer and break up earlier. Silver Faces are cleaner and have more head room.

    The tonal changes between BF and SF are attributed mainly to two factors:

    1) changes in circuit design - Fender was aiming for more head room. The Silver Face mods were a reaction to the need for louder amps to be played in larger venues; and

    2) declining build quality - CBS implemented many changes for the purpose of cutting costs. For instance, cabinets went from finger-joined solid pine boards to rabbet-joined laminated pieces. Caps went from sweet-sounding Mallorys to sterile-sounding Chocolate Drops. Most importantly, lead dress became more sloppy, and circuit changes were needed to stop the Silver Faces from having oscillation problems. In some amps, these changes eliminated the sparkley top end that Black Faces were noted for.

    As far as circuit changes go, some amps were changed alot and others were left unchanged. As a general rule, the smaller amps (The Champ, Princeton Reverb, and Deluxe Reverb) weren't changed as much as the larger ones (Pro Reverb, Super Reverb, and Twin).

    Silver Face amps can be modified (Black Faced) to approximate the tone of their predecessors. Whether this is a good thing depends on your preference.

    I play through Black Face and Silver Face Fenders every day. My two favorites are my '66 Deluxe Reverb and my '70 Vibrolux Reverb. They both sound heavenly. BTW, the Vibrolux has been Black Faced. I don't know if it sounds better than it did before because I put new speakers and NOS tubes in it at the same time.
     
  12. SFW

    SFW Member

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    Thanks for the responces guys! You have been extremely helpful!

    JD
     
  13. smolder

    smolder Gold Supporting Member

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    One exception of the blackface vs silver face issue is the champ. It has the same circuit from '64 through '82... so in theory the black face 'champ=amp', the silver face 'champ-amp', and the silver face 'champ' are all the same. Though I have heard that some components may have changed through the years, but I am not sure of the specifics or the tonal differences.
     
  14. dead mike

    dead mike Member

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    I just bought the parts needed to BF my FS 69 Pro Reverb. Only cost 35 bucks through Kendrick and contained about 6 small capacitors. Seems like a small price to pay to BF an amp, does this seem right?
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2008
  15. shngn7

    shngn7 Member

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    Silverfaces look uglier.
     
  16. sixty2strat

    sixty2strat Member

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    master volumes are not evil. crank it and use the ch volume. I have a UL pro and it70watts but it will break up and sing. not like my plexi of bassman but it still has tube warmth and will take it over any new fender product....barring some customshop creation that I will never afford or play
     
  17. ozspawn

    ozspawn Member

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    Hey Dead Mike,

    Black Facing means different things to different people.

    To some people, black facing is not complete until the SF amp has the same components, including transformers, tubes and capacitors, as it's BF counterpart.

    Others believe that black facing is achieved by simply changing the values of certain critical capacitors in the signal chain.

    It doesn't really matter. BF is not superior to SF. It's just different. Follow your ears.
     
  18. hasserl

    hasserl Member

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    That is a ridiculous statement. While I would agree that the stock Master Volume doesn't work very good, it is easy to replace the stock MV with a post PI MV that works terrific in Fender amps. A MV Fender is a much more versatile amp, allowing hte use of powerful/loud amps, like a Super Reverb, to be used in places where you wouldn't be able to because they'd be too damn loud. So it is actually an advantage to buy a MV Fender, because they already have the place on the chassis for an MV and a properly labeled face plate, they need no holes drilled and defacement done.

    No, seems like about 30 bucks too much. But then, you're paying for more than the parts, you're paying, I assume, for Kendricks experience in well laid out instructions, right? If not, you got ripped off. There is plenty of info available on the net for free, and the actual parts needed should only cost a few bucks.
     
  19. dead mike

    dead mike Member

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    ya it comes with 10 capacitors and instructions and a manual.
     
  20. smolder

    smolder Gold Supporting Member

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    in general, from tweed to brown, to blackface, silver, and solid state, the fender folks were trying to clean up the amps and reduce 'unwanted' distortion.
     

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