Fender amp 101 info please

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by DanHorse, Dec 21, 2009.

  1. DanHorse

    DanHorse Member

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    Hey guys,

    No matter how much i research these Fender amps, im continually confused :crazyguy im trying to get a handle on the main characteristics and apart from knowing that tweeds sound a little twangier and nasal (only way i can think to desribe it!) than other Fenders but other than that i see a myriad of amps that seem to sound more neutral.

    So, what are the 'main' amps to concentrate on if considering a buy and what are the main differences?
     
  2. GregoryL

    GregoryL Supporting Member

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    Welcome to TGP.

    Kind of a big question ... 60 years worth of amps.

    If you can, find the "Soul of Tone" book about Fender amps, it's excellent and the CD's that come with it have sound clips from a lot of different amps.

    Also, check out the Fender Amp Field Guide at http://www.ampwares.com

    Might be easier, if you described what kind of sound you're looking for or some artists whose tone you like.
     
  3. DanHorse

    DanHorse Member

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    GregoryL,

    Thanks for the reply.

    ok I will try to narrow this down.......

    I may buy new, or get a kit. I have read a lot about the Hot rod series being harsh and not reliable, so im looking for a good fender, that is not harsh, is smooth, and has the 'Fender' clean sound.

    I need some clean headroom, but not outright power as this is a home recording amp im looking for. Good, reliable has an excellent sound, tone controls, but doesnt need many features, any effects and OD pedals will go in the front end. 2 channel useful but not a dealbreaker if not. Id like a sinlge 12inch cab if nice a roomy enough to breathe or pref a 2x12.

    Fav players are Andrew Latminer from Camel (Bassman) and Gregor Hilden (Vibrolux).

    Its quite confusing though as id like to know what seperates a Deluxe from a Vibrolux for example....... With marshalls at least you can take a stab a hearing the diferences and tell a JCM800 from a Plexi, TSL etc...... it just doesnt seem as cut and dried with Fender!
     
  4. GearHeadFred

    GearHeadFred Member

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    It's really too much info to type out... but I suggest you start by learning about the circuit types.. 5E3 (tweed deluxe), AA165 (Bassman), AB763 (Black Face Deluxe, Super Reverb, Vibroverb, Twin). These are the different Fender flavors.

    Many of the more recent Fender models are derivations on these. And the reliability issue you mention is mostly due to production issues (cold solder joints, etc.)

    IMHO, nothing beats an AB763 for warm Fender cleans!
     
  5. Kelly

    Kelly Member

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    Grab a Bassman reissue and be done with it.
     
  6. hasserl

    hasserl Member

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    Home recording amp = Princeton Reverb to me. Will give you the complete range of tones from clean to dirty, and kind of straddles the tweed/BF tones with its cathodyne PI. Also, it uses the bias wiggle type tremelo, which is better than the roach type trem used in the bigger amps, IMO.

    Difference between Deluxe Reverb and Virboluxe Reverb? About 13 watts or so, and two 10's vs one 12. Either one is too much for you, but of the two I'd go with the DR.
     
  7. DanHorse

    DanHorse Member

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    Guys this is great info, it gives me a framework to work from.

    The circuit info is very useful

    I shall look at the Princeton too....... Im iching to try a kit, so maybe something lower powered with the AB763 circuit.....

    much appreciated.
     
  8. GregoryL

    GregoryL Supporting Member

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    Depending on your experience with electronics, it might be a good idea to start with a tweed-era Champ kit, which is a good choice for a home practice amp anyways.

    If you decide against a kit, I'd agree that a Princeton Reverb would be a good choice.
     
  9. jhuse

    jhuse Member

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    I'll try to be to the point with some of the difference, and will focus on the vintage Fender lines:

    Tweeds: These really come in 2 camps, little tweeds and big tweeds. The little tweeds are the Class A (quasi- Class A), cathode bias types. Deluxe, Champ. Great little amps. Big tweeds are the Class AB, Fixed bias amps (Bassman, Twin, Super, Pro, etc.). The Bigs are the amps the eventually brought on Marshalls. Tweeds, in general, are very "rock n' roll" sounding when pushed with awesome overdrive. They have big round lows and rich, forward midrange. Great harmonically rich cleans. I love them. Distorted, the tone is rawkous and rich - think Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, and ultimately, the early Marshall (JTM45 and Plexis) guys. Fat and in your face.

    However, Leo Fender was, proportedly, a fan of country music, and was dissatisfied with the lack of clean headroom when the tweeds were pushed. Overdriven tweed = great rock, bad country. So Fender began working on circuits to give more headroom, which functionally translates into less prominent mids. Enter the Brownface/Blonde era. A lot of people love Brownfaces/Blondes because they're a little cleaner than tweeds, but still can rock. I believe Hendrix used a Brownface Deluxe in some of his recordings. Also with the Browns was the introduction of the tremolo circuitry.

    While the Brownface was a move in the cleaner direction, it wasn't quite enough, so Fender introduced the Blackface line. The Blackfaces were even more scooped in the mids, which gives much more clean headroom than the tweeds. Also, the Blackfaces have a notably different tone stack than the tweeds, and changed the positional relationship between the tone stack and the volume controls. Plus, many Blackfaces retained the tremolo circuit from the Brownfaces and added reverb (if you're looking at an amp called "____ Reverb," it's a Blackface amp).

    Blackfaces are generally considered by many current guitarist to be the epitome of clean tone (I prefer tweed cleans, though). Clean, the Blackface amps are refined, classy, clear tones, which has made them THE staple of Nashville stages (and many other genres, too). Prominent lows, snappy highs and a scooped midrange; these are great amps that produce a throaty roar when distorted (e.g. SRV).
     
  10. matchless

    matchless Silver Supporting Member

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    Tweeds-early ZZ top,Layla,Neil Young,the Who(tweed bandmaster)
    browns-Ted Nugent(studio-brown deluxe) ,the Who( blonde bassman),Brian Setzer(blonde bassman)
    blackface-who hasn't used one at some time or another
     
  11. hasserl

    hasserl Member

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    Couple of issues with this.

    1. There is a big difference between the tweed Super/Bandmaster/Pro & the Twin's and the Bassman. Big difference. The Bassman lead to the Marshalls, not the others. Your comments seem to lump them together, I don't think you really can, they are too different.

    2. A brown Deluxe does not give scooped mids or cleaner tone than a tweed Deluxe, basically just a different flavor of phase inverter which gives a different distorted feel. Oh, and different Volume control arrangement, which gives a different feel to the amps with more range of adjustment, and less interaction between the two channels.

    3. Trem was introduced with tweed amps, the Tremolux.

    4. Blackface amp tone stacks are not so notably different from the tweed Bassman. In fact they are very similar, just refined a bit, and are plate driven rather than cathode driven.
     
  12. GTRJohnny

    GTRJohnny Member

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    You might want to look into a book called the "Tube Amp Book" by Aspen Pittman (not 100% sure of the title or author's name). It's a good reference of the different years of many great amps, with comparisons and descriptions to help understand the changes.
     
  13. CaptainJake

    CaptainJake Member

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    You're right about the title and author GTRJohnny, fun book
     
  14. DanHorse

    DanHorse Member

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    Thanks guys - good info there, its helping a lot!

    Generally speaking then, we have Tweeds, Blackfaces, Bassmans and Silverfaces as the main camps?

    I can readily hear the differences between the first three, and the blackfaces go into breakup earlier than the Silverfaces i believe?

    Looking at specs the Princeton seems about right, so you guys dont dig the Hot Rods?
     
  15. JefeMaximo

    JefeMaximo Huge Member Silver Supporting Member

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    I know that kits can be fun and provide a good education, but the way the used market is now, you can get a vintage Fender amp for less than what you pay for a kit that's supposed to sound like it. If your prefer new, I suppose that's a good way to go, but otherwise why not shop for the real deal?
     
  16. GearHeadFred

    GearHeadFred Member

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    I agree the market is depressed.. but not that depressed.. My AB763 Super Reverb head was built for about $500 in parts from a Weber kit.. I haven't seen a BF Fender Super Reverb for anything less than $1500.

    Plus, in an iPhone world, I like the idea of some of us still building tube gear by hand! Playing an amp you've built with your own hands is a very rewarding experience. If you are drawn to the idea, I would encourage you to pursue it.
     
  17. DanHorse

    DanHorse Member

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    Guys, what do you think of the 65 deluxe reverb? only a little more pricey than the blues deluxe, is it a similar beast or better?
     
  18. hippiebob

    hippiebob Member

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    I own a Deluxe Reverb reissue and it does whole Fender fat clean tones nicely and it takes overdrive pedals well. Its a nice all around amp.
     
  19. djw

    djw Member

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    I love my 65 DR, it's just a gorgeous clean machine; but it always surprises me how LOUD it is, and so clean that it's practically impossible to overdrive it naturally without clearing the room. But that's ok, you can't fake that kind of tone, and as stated above it takes pedals really well. An OCD gets crazy good rocking through it.
     
  20. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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    Tweed
    Brown
    Blonde
    Blackface
    Silverface

    is the chronology.

    Yes, SF is generally more clean than BF.

    Clean on the HR's can be very good, most people have issues with the drive channel.
     

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