How to tell if a vintage amp is authentic?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Nuclearfishin, Oct 3, 2008.

  1. Nuclearfishin

    Nuclearfishin Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2007
    I'm looking at a 1959 Fender Bassman at the local shop and was wondering what some of the key things are to verify authenticity? Guitars are easy but I've never spent much time on vintage amps. I'm aware of the speaker code dating as well as the number on the cones in addition to the 2-letter code on the tube sticker, but how do you know if the electronics are original? Original caps? anything else?

    The amp looks pretty beat up but the shop says it's all original. What's the current market for a beat up but original '59, assuming everything is in working condition?
  2. jtindle

    jtindle Member

    Nov 9, 2005

    The above link states a 1959 Tweed Bassman average price is $6649.

    I don't know much about vintage amps either, but if it was me, I would get something in writing from the seller stating that it is all original. ANd then go have it checked out by someone else more knowledgeable.

  3. Brock

    Brock Member

    Feb 15, 2007
    Portland, Or
    My GC by my house has a beat one and I mean beat for $12,000. Crazy stupid company.
  4. paulg

    paulg Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2005
    San Rafael, CA
    The likelyhood of caps being changed and speakers reconed is pretty high. Those parts wear out over time. The real value killers are re-tweed and changed transformers. Look at some online photos and get familiar with the look of the parts. It can be pretty easy to spot changed caps. Especially if they used "orange drops"! Unless someone is trying to flim flam you, it's pretty easy to spot changed transformers by looking at the part and the solder joints. If your uncertian, have a tech look it over before buying.
  5. Mark Robinson

    Mark Robinson Member

    Sep 9, 2002
    Redondo Beach, California
    Smell it! All real vintage amps have really wierd and unique sort of musty electric smell that would be difficult to fake. As far as the authenticity goes, I would let that go a bit, since any amp that old has needed caps for decades, jacks etc, if it hasn't already gotten them, the transformers are a key component of value. It's not likely that the speakers are completely original, that would be surreal.

    Buy for sound and to hold. If you are worried about money, buy something newer. Definitely, wring it out and listen hard to it, get it if it sounds good, something that gets you fired up! I'm way amazed at folks taking three grand flyers on stuff they've not heard. I just can't do that.
  6. SatelliteAmps

    SatelliteAmps Member

    Oct 19, 2007
    Normal Heights, Calif
    There are so many factors to look at for a 1959 Bassman. Everything from the tweed, the chassis, the speakers, the transformers, the internal circuit, the grill cloth, the handle, the feet, the info tag, and the logo. To try and teach all of that in a post is going to be difficult. There are certain parts that would have to be inside the amp for them to be considered original and authentic. On a 1959 Bassman (one of the more expensive amps out there), everything should be verified. There are tons of websites documenting this amp, so finding similar ones shouldn't be difficult. There are lists of what the transformer codes should be, what the date codes on the pots, and caps should be, etc.

    On the pots there are EIA codes, with six numbers total. For instance 137915. The 9 in the code indicates the year. The 137 is the manufacturer, and the 15 is the week of the year it was made. That only id's the pot. The amp HAS to be made after that.

    On caps, especially the old electolytics, there is a date code on them. They should also look old, and be orange Ashtrons.

    The transformers should have specific date codes on them, similar to the EIA code above. Same numbering system, 606915, where 606 is the manufacturer, 9 is the year, and 15 is the week. Make sure you know which transformer model number should be in there.

    A real 1959 Bassman in good original shape is almost always over $10k. Every music store in the country knows what one is. There is usually one or two on eBay that you can reference for pictures as to what it should look like.
  7. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

    Aug 9, 2004
    Yup. Tough call to make without knowing a LOT about amps. Beside caps, pots and transformers matching, the speakers should be Jensen P10R or P10Q, with date codes 2029xx, with the xx being fairly close to each other. As to identifying original tweed and baffle boards, panels, logos and so on, you do need an expert unless it's obviously been changed. As to cost, well $6k should be a complete chassis with all the right parts, cab could be recovered, speakers could be matching but not original. If it's any farther from perfect than that, I'd definitely walk away...
  8. WarofGhosts

    WarofGhosts Member

    Dec 11, 2006
    Wilmington, NC

    God I LOVE that smell.
  9. kurtsstuff

    kurtsstuff Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    Lincoln City,Oregon
    Smells like money....:dude
  10. RCCola

    RCCola (|@ / \ @ |.) Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2008
    Back! Back in the New York Groove!
    Can you take pictures and post here? Might be the best way.

Share This Page