Fender Bassman Blackface and Silverface

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by alastairblake, Sep 27, 2005.


  1. Hey everyone.... I am interested in getting a Fender Bassman head, and it is looking like the Blackfaces have a better tone, but the silverfaces have more volume due to their 100 watts.

    I have heard that the AB763 circuit is the one to have, but that is found in the blackface. Soon after, CBS bought Fender, and circuits and quality changed.... in 1965. some Silverfaces were made before the switch... but do they ever come with this AB763 circuit? I want an amp that is wired well, with the best circuits and all that jazz. what do you all recommend that I do? I wonder if the 50 watts that the blackface is limited to would be enough of live performance.... but is it worth it for a tone sacrafice?

    thanks. alastair.
     
  2. Blue Strat

    Blue Strat Member

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    First, let's clear up a few misconceptions:

    1) Most Silverface circuits were 50 watts, only a few were 100 watts and are clearly indicated in the amp's name.

    2) Blackface amps were also available as AA763 and AB165. Silverface amps started with AB165 and continued onward.

    Don't always follow common wisdom on the circuit numbers. There are people who prefer later circuits to the AB763 and every amp of the same circuit type sounds somewhat different.

    Also, all of the later models can be modified, to varying degrees, to meet 763 specs.

    If 50 watts isn't enough, you must be playing LARGE venues. These amps are too loud to get much past 5 in a lot of clubs...assuming that you want to get asked back.;)
     
  3. Phil M

    Phil M Supporting Member

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    A 50 watt Bassman is SO LOUD. If you want breakup from the amp itself, the best way is to get some inefficient speakers.

    I do like the blackface heads (or better yet, the blondes), but that is some serious volume.

    The blackface heads are slowly creeping up in value, but they're still a good bet if you want vintage Fender on the cheap. Someone here was selling a nice looking '65 Bandmaster head in the past few days for a good price ...
     
  4. I do not know which years and circuits are best for this, or if there even is much of a variation, but I would hope to get a nice responce with some clean tapping, sliding and open string playing. I am gona have a hard time trying out blondes, blacks and silverfaces becasue of my school schedule. I gota try to find a place that has these guys in... maybe a guitar center, and go play some... Thank You for the help... (I do not need a lot of break up when I turn up)
     
  5. Phil M

    Phil M Supporting Member

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  6. Argonaut4

    Argonaut4 Member

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    I have a few BF Bassmans. Like previously stated, they are LOUD.

    If I had to start over from scratch today, I would look for a SF AB165. I prefer that circuit (slighty tweaked;) ) over the stock AA864, and they'll be cheaper than the BF. Just MHO.

    Regardless of the model you choose, keep in mind it will probably need a cap job. If it's the AB165 circuit or later, have the bias circuit changed to AA864 specs. That way, you'll be able to properly bias the amp. It's a very simple procedure that any tech should be able to perform. IMO, it really brings the amp to life.

    J
     
  7. rgt320

    rgt320 Guest

    +1
     
  8. how might a 66 bandmaster with a ab763 be to a blackface bassman in sound.?
     
  9. Reactionjackson

    Reactionjackson Member

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    +1

    I would also like to add that there's also a common misconception that once CBS took over there was an inherent drop in quality. I'm sorry, but while it isn't without merit, it's far from the truth. For the most part, in the initial phase of transfering the business they were using the same parts, same circuits, same layout, etc. etc. and your basically getting the same instrument.

    Also there change from BF to SF presented some ambiguity as far as changes are concerned. While some amps got a good (and much needed) facelift...er should I say gut-lift :D ... others basically remained untouched. Off the top of my head I can't remember in what category the Bassman falls into.
     
  10. Swarty

    Swarty Member

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    Let me clear up a misconception; There are no AA763 or AB763 Bassmans.
     
    cygnusx1 likes this.
  11. fr8_trane

    fr8_trane Member

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    What Swarty said.

    Forget Blackface anything unless you are a collecter or have a lot of disposable cash and don't mind bringing an expensive vintage amp into a dive bar and resting your beer on it. Get a '68-'70 SF bassman ab165 (the circuit designation is not always accurate for transitional years) and have it partially or totally blackfaced to the AA864 normal channel circuit. Anything goes with the Bass channel which is usually useless for guitar without mods. I have a '68 that I am sending to David Allen this week for his Bassman mod - AA864 normal channel, hybrid tweed/BF bass channel with extra gain stage for mashall like grind. MMMMMM :dude
     
  12. Phil M

    Phil M Supporting Member

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    Are you referring to the combo amps? I see Bandmaster and Bassman heads for $300-$500 all the time.
     
  13. E-Rock

    E-Rock Member

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    I have a very early Silverface Bassman and it ROCKS!
    It has been serviced and is in great shape. I run clean, just on the verge of some breakup, and use pedals to kick it over the top. This may be one of the best gig rigs I've ever played. GREAT tone, very veritile. I've played lot's of amps, and still own quite a few, but the Bassman is a FAV.
    Oh, I play it with a Avatar 2x12, and if you turn it up, it is LOUD!
    I ususally have it running around 3 or 4. With my PRS HBI , this will start to just barely break up when I really lay into it.
    Add a couple of dirt pedals, and I'm a happy man :)
     
  14. PlexiBreath

    PlexiBreath Member

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    You really want a sweet Bassman, rather than change a Silverface to become a Blackface, make it a Blonde.
     
  15. I am thinkin... a head, and run it through a 2 x 12.
     
  16. kingink

    kingink Gold Supporting Member

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    Argonaut, what's the slight tweak of which you speak?

    I like the extra sustain/distortion you can get with the AB165 circuit (on the normal channel), but I wish it sounded a little more "open," like on an AA864.

    alastairblake, the SF Bassmans that say "Bassman 50" (the AA371) in blue block letters on the faceplate are probably the cheapest of the 50 watt Bassmans and can be modified to the AA864 circuit, which some consider the most desirable. AA864 is the circuit that most resembles the other early blackface fender amps (like the super reverb, pro reverb, etc., but of course the Bassman doesn't have reverb or tremelo).

    But as Argonaut points out, the AB165 has its charms too.

    An original AA864 "blackface" Bassman from 1964-65 probably is going to cost more than a blackface with the AA or AB165 circuit, since Fender made so few of the AA864s. But if you like the look of the black faceplate with script logo, the ones with the later circuits are still pretty cheap. Midwest Buy n Sell in Chicago had two or three of them for $400-450 when I was there a couple of years ago, and I bought my '66 blackface Bassman through the newspaper here in austin for $350. About a year ago, a local shop in Austin had a silverface for $275.

    Now that we've all confused you with too much info, go get a 50 watt Bassman and see how you like it. ;) Like Argonaut says, it might need a cap job and possibly new tubes. The Bassman head is probably my favorite vintage amp.
     
  17. Swarty

    Swarty Member

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    Yes, or better yet, a 5F6A w/ SS rectifier...just enough jacks and knobs! Or better yet, a SWARTY .:D

    The non-presence control Bassmans have some gain, but are really kinda lack-luster.
     
  18. cameron

    cameron Member

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    The Bassman is the exception to the general rule that the early CBS amps are pretty much equivalent to the pre-CBS ones. The CBS guys left the smaller amps pretty much alone until well into the 70s, and started doing silly things to the power sections of the larger amps sometime after the change to the silverface cosmetics. But Bassmans were the guinea pigs that got the silly silverface power section mods in the blackface era. Thus while many people talk about early SF Twins and Supers being effectively BF amps with SF cosmetics, the AB165 Bassman circuit (i.e. by far the majority of BF Bassmans) are actually SF amps (with BF cosmetics.)

    The thing to do with an AB165 (whether BF or SF) is to have a tech modify the power section to the AA864 spec. Leave the preamp alone and just undo the silly SF-style power section changes. You don't want to convert the preamp to the AA864 spec, because the two channels in that version of the design had a different number of gain stages; thus if you leave the pre-amp topology of the AB165 amp in place, you'll have the added flexibilty of being able to bridge the two channels.

    However, even if you don't convert the pre-amp to the AA864 design, that doesn't mean you should totally leave it alone. In general the stock Bass channel isn't going to sound very good for guitar, so you might as well mod it. Lots of people turn it into something Marshall-y - or more like the Tweed Bassman. David Allen does a cool Bassman mod where the Deep switch on the Bass channel switches between a more Marshall-ish preamp and one more like a Tweed Bassman.

    My Bassman has the Bass channel converted so that it's the same as the Normal channel, but the Deep switch bypasses the tone control. Removing the insertion loss from the BF tone circuit gives you a huge gain boost, so my Bass channel can now be a really raw screaming beast.

    The classic article by Andy Ruhl on Bassman mods should still be on line somewhere. Look it up.
     
  19. UconnJack

    UconnJack Member

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    I have a 67 Silverface Bassman. I had it modded as described above, by David Allen. This amp and my Avatar 2x12 Cabinet have recently become my No 1 go to rig. The normal channel Bassman tone is now pure SR Fender (without the reverb of course). The modded bass channel, i leave in the "plexi" setting. It really cuts through. With my Loooper A/B switch, this amp has become a versitle rock and blues machine.

    Payed around $300 for my used Bassman. And yes, it is loud.

    I'm digging it!
     
  20. fr8_trane

    fr8_trane Member

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    Do a search for Andy Ruhl of Machine gun amps. The mod is an AB165/AA864 hybrid that supposedly sounds better than either one alone. Basically it transforms the power amp to AA864 specs and leaves most of the preamp including the shared 3rd gainstage (V2) alone. The AA864 like most BF circuits only has 2 gain stages on the normal channel and is cleaner by comparison.

    Hmmm... Is this true? So I won't be able to JUMPER both channels on my Allen Modded Bassman (bass ch. 3 gain stages - normal has 2). Why does it matter how many gain stages each channel has? I thought ALL non reverb fenders were jumperable including the AA864 and blonde bassman which both have the gain stage imbalance you're referring to. What gives?
     

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