Is a '65 Bassman head right for me?

Mike37

Member
Messages
48
Hi guys. First, I should say that I'm a total vintage amp noob. I've read the whole Bassman Bunch thread and gained some good knowledge, but still consider myself pretty clueless. Okay, so a guy I know offered to sell me his son's '65 Bassman head for $200. Here's the catch. It appears that a couple tubes are missing and the guy isn't sure if the amp is working or not. He was going to plug it in and switch it on, but I quickly stopped him, thinking it would fry with a missing tube. Neither of us have access to cabinets or tubes to test it out, so it's basically a "buy it and see what might be wrong" situation. The guy is elderly and just trying to clean out his basement.

I have two main questions here...

First, what are common concerns/problems on these amps? As far as I can tell, aside from a tube or two missing, it looks like it hasn't been touched in years. It's covered in cobwebs and dust. I'm assuming it's mostly original if not 100% original, again aside from the missing tubes. I've heard these referenced as the small block Chevys of amp heads, so that's a good sign I suppose.

Second, I currently just play in my windowless basement with my Bugera V5 for the most part. Neighbors are about 20 feet away on either side and there's a busy road in front of the houses. If I would run the Bassman through a 2x10 or 2x12, cranked up enough for some overdrive, would I be asking for trouble? I've never heard a 50w head inside a basement, so this might not even be a good idea from the start. I mean, I'm not expecting to play at bedroom or sleeping wife levels, but I just want to try to keep the neighbors happy. If it helps, I can play my V5 on the 5 watt setting with everything cranked and it's *just barely* audible outside the house. Even then, you have to be listening specifically for it.

So I apologize for the long winded, noobish thread. I would just really appreciate some insight on this thing while I try to learn some more about it. What should I do? Thanks!
 

rambleon223

Member
Messages
210
Buy it, find a good tech, have them go through it and get it cleaned up and ready to rock, then enjoy......thay are great amps imo. I have a '71 that is my main amp and it is a workhorse.
 

smolder

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
14,365
Bassman's are great, great amp. They are not the classic fender... Probably the most distinct of them. The sweetspot on mine is between 3.5 and 5... After that it gets pretty overdriven, but that may be what you're after. Even at 3 it's damn loud in my basement. I end up attenuating nearly everything but the 12 - 15 watt amps, and it really works well with the bassman. My speaker of choice is a re-coned EV 15 in a beat up Kustom cab.
 

JosephN0624

Member
Messages
456
Everyone should play a Bassman at some point. I had one as one of my earlier amps....still remember some of the awesome tones I got out of it. Theyre cheap and reliable for the most part too.
 

ScioBro

Member
Messages
1,353
Thats a great deal

even if you spent another $300 in repairs

good thinking to not turn it on
..not good when its old and unknown
..when tubes are missing
...not plugged into a speaker cabinet first (big no no)
 

zoooombiex

Member
Messages
2,549
65 bassmans are great all-around amps. major workhorses - guitar, keys, bass if you like the grind. easy to service. not to hard to find a replacement if something bad does go down.

If it hasn't been used or serviced in a long time, I'd expect you need new filter caps at the least. Probably a few other misc parts will either be bad or may go bad when you do start it up. It's also possible someone modded it to hell. you'll only know that by opening it up and looking in. hopefully all the parts look old and of a common vintage. if you have a smattering of new and old and any messy wiring or soldering it's probably had some work done and that will add a little more to the repair cost.

You might want to check the transformers & choke before buying to see if they are original. You can cross-reference the serial numbers and the model numbers with the appropriate date here: http://www.svvintageamps.com/dating.php It might still be a great amp if they are not stock, but a lot of the value is in the old transformers, so it's a big plus if they are stock.

You probably won't really hurt anything by starting it without a tube, but it also won't work and you won't be able to tell too much useful information just by looking at the pilot and heaters come on. Better to buy it and just hand it over to a tech.

$200 is a good deal. You'll probably spend another $200-$300 in repairs, but you still end up with a 45 year old amp for about $500 that is probably well broken in and should be good to go another 45 :)
 

teleharmonium

Member
Messages
2,552
As long as it hasn't been previously modified, it should be a safe buy, with the understanding that it will need a thorough servicing as well as a set of tubes.

However, they are definitely loud when they break up naturally. If you are only going to be playing at home, and you don't need it for clean sounds (which they are very good at), it sounds like it isn't the right choice for you.

Maybe you can find a healthy bassman to try somewhere ? You might find that with an amp with a really nice clean sound, playing clean becomes something you might want to do a lot more of.
 

smolder

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
14,365
400 is a good deal for a blackface...

200 is a great deal! I'd buy all comers at that price.
 

Mike37

Member
Messages
48
Thanks for the insight, guys. I might pick it up to fix and maybe resell, but I'm starting to have second thoughts about using it in my basement. Considering the loudness of my little five watt practice amp, I just can't see me getting that heavy, greasy, natural overdrive I love so much without putting the Bassman in a sound treated room or something.

But now that I'm on a vintage Fender kick, would a blackface Champ be a good alternative to a Bassman or is it not even in the same ball park in terms of tonal character? I can see myself being able to easily and comfortably crank one of those.
 

kevinhifi

Member
Messages
3,430
A champ would be fun, but the Bassman is a whole different game. You can get mean muscle and sweet sparkly clean in the same amp by manipulating your guitar volume and the amp volume. Just about any tech knows his/her way around that circuit and can get it in like-new shape easily. If you're curious about the sounds, here are a bunch of clips I've recorded for various demonstrations with my '68, which has been modded to the '64/'65 circuit. I happen to have a master volume installed on mine (post phase inverter), which is a mod that I highly recommend...especially if you want to be able to crank it.

These are all recorded with a Strat or a Tele. If these are the sounds you like, then this is a great amp for you. One of the clips shows off the amps ability to take a fuzz pedal quite nicely.

Bluebird Fuzz
CLIP
MIDDLE POSITION
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---
---
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ben_allison

Member
Messages
3,045
I think a BF Bassman is the most versatile, and best deal in amps. Even if you get a post-CBS model, modding them to ideal specs is easy and cheap.

The cleans slay, they growl nicely when pushed, take pedals amazingly well, the Bass channel can be turned into a JTM 45... they're just a amazing amps, at any price.
 

teleharmonium

Member
Messages
2,552
But now that I'm on a vintage Fender kick, would a blackface Champ be a good alternative to a Bassman or is it not even in the same ball park in terms of tonal character? I can see myself being able to easily and comfortably crank one of those.
They're way different, but great in their own way.

Non reverb Princetons are nice little amps too, and they distort in a different way than a single ended amp does. They're a bit closer to a downsized Bassman in that respect.
 

Holliman

Triad Abuser
Messages
2,344
Might want to consider the volume that a Bassman can dish out. Mine tears my head off past 4 on the volume knob. They are loud.
 

Kojack19

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
655
Like a small block chevy...Just turn the key. These amps are the best and once it is operational, you will have a dependable rig forever. Fantastic with pedals but they really shine above 4 on the volume knob.
 

motis1953

Member
Messages
1,546
A handwired collectable piece of history for the price of a dirt pedal? You HAVE to buy it and take it to a good tech for cleanup.
 

JKjr

Member
Messages
978
A Bassman for 2 beans? What's to think about? I have 4 at the moment, all different and all killer. My '64 was hacked in Plugerville and ressurrected by Todd Sharp. All stock and my favorite of the bunch. Great cleans up to about 4 (especially with Mr Springy) and progressively woolier as you go up but retaining clarity. And while they are loud, they REALLY like pedals and can pump out some pretty convincing OD sounds at very low volume...better than any of my other amps. And they still sound like a only a big amp can doing so.

Even if it's a basketcase it's a great platform to mod. I have a Jim Price (Omega Amps) modded BF that's a world class amp in every respect and sounds waaay too good to be wasted on the likes of me. Cubic sh*tloads of tone and sustain for days. You can't lose. I'll bet there's a thousand people thinking like Hulacat right now. I know I am!
 

schwa

Member
Messages
2,567
$200 is a serious deal, less than half the going price ($500).

I think BF Bassmans are really good amps, and a great value. But they're not for everyone. (I had one and it was not for me).

Bassmans are not neighbor friendly, they need to be turned up to give the goods.
They have awesome overdrive, but really need to be turned up. A 50W Marshall has more gain (even without a MV).
They use 4 ohm cabs. No a big deal in itself, but you can't use the more typical 8/16 ohm cabs with them.

"If I would run the Bassman through a 2x10 or 2x12, cranked up enough for some overdrive, would I be asking for trouble?"

Yes you would.

For $200, I would say it's worth checking out and fixing as needed. If it's not for you, you could sell for a modest profit.

I had my Bassman for almost 20 years and couldn't bond with it. I sold it and am playing Marshalls and I don't miss the Bassman at all, even though it was a good sounding amp.

It sounds like a very good deal, but you'll probably only be happy if it does the sort of thing you want to do.
 

mrface2112

Member
Messages
2,033
Non reverb Princetons are nice little amps too, and they distort in a different way than a single ended amp does. They're a bit closer to a downsized Bassman in that respect.
I have a '65 Princeton Non-Reverb and it's the farthest thing from my '67 Bassman one could imagine. The Bassman is chewy and greasy and overdriven. It's got a thing all it's own.

The Princeton NR is CLEAN. Mine's clean to 9.5 on the volume. I can't get it to overdrive. it's like a mini Fender Twin.

Maybe you're thinking the 4-knob princetons with the 6G2 circuit? Those came in both brownface and early blackface cosmetics and are little overdrive machines.

Anyway, to the OP......Bassmans are LOUD. Really freaking loud. I love mine. And they're nothing like a blackface Champ.


cheers,
wade
 




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