Tweed vs Blacface - Difference?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by gmpckd, Sep 15, 2005.


  1. gmpckd

    gmpckd Guest

    Howdy,

    I've been playing for over 35 years. Most of the amps I've had include MUSIC MAN's (in the sventies and early eighties). since then I have been using a MESA Mark-III simul class, a CARR Rambler and a Victoria 3x10 EL84 VICTORILUX. I never really got to play FENDER amps that much.

    SO - I'd really love to learn more about the differenc between what many call a BLACK FACE sound and a TWEED sound. I read about this so much that I feel like a dinosaur or something not understanding what it means. Can anyone explain the rems better along with the charachteristics as well as some examples of current amps or artist the evoke these two sounds.

    Thanks
    Gene
     
  2. John55

    John55 Member

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    Fender tweed is much better overdrive tone IMO. It has much more of an organic sound, very rich and full even when clean. BF is tighter with scooped mids and the OD is more harsh. Think ZZ Top's La Grange for tweed tone at it's finest, as well as most of Clapton's tone for the past 15yrs, or Keith Richards. Most anything SRV for BF tone.
     
  3. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    I agree with J55.
    I never liked BF at all for a long time (I'm English and they weren't ubiqitious over there) - however when they are serviced properly they sound great, otherwise a little shrill and lacking midrange compared to the Tweed. You can get a simulcra of Tweed by switching the tone stack out of a BF.

    Best, Pete.
     
  4. Robboman

    Robboman Member

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    The BF period represents the next step in Fenders amp evolution when the design goal was to provide as much clean volume as possible - they weren't interested in creating overdrive or distortion of any kind - those were just side effects. As such, the BF amps in general have more clean headroom and a somewhat 'harder' attack and tone.
     
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  5. leofenderbender

    leofenderbender Supporting Member

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    My opinion of the two:

    Blackface cleans are the best Fender cleans, period - swirly and deep. When overdriven, the sound is deeper and less edgy than tweeds. I prefer a blackface because I play clean as much as I do dirty. There are a number of pedals that make a blackface pass as a tweed - of those, the Gainster is my favorite.

    Tweeds have the most organic sounding overdrive - great for blues & Texas style R&R. I prefer a 6V6 tweed amp over a 6L6. Tweeds are a bit difficult to tame at times when you want to play clean. In my experience, there is no pedal that makes a tweed sound like a blackface.

    Of the two, tweeds are better as a stand alone amp without pedals, blackfaces are more friendly to pedals. I use both since they each have their uses.
     
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  6. Don L

    Don L Member

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    Could not have said it better myself.

    Also, to add a little more, the BF Fender OD tone is great when used properly in the right setting. I love Mike Bloomfield's live tone with his Twin Reverbs and Duane Allman's studio tone with the Twin Reverbs! :dude
     
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  7. rorschah

    rorschah Member

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    In another question, for those on a budget and who can't afford vintage, how are the Blackface RI vs. the Tweed reissues, d'ya think?

    I've heard a lot about affection for the blackface RI, but relatively little for the Tweed.
     
  8. Don L

    Don L Member

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    I did not care for either of the reissues as they came out of factory. I know lots of people like them after they've done some mods and replacement of parts.
     
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  9. Curly

    Curly Member

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    I agree that tweed amps are generally warmer and have a sweeter overdrive

    let's put things in context a little ....

    most of the tweed amps we're talking about were made in the 50s. even then, Fender was trying to make amps with clean volume, but at that time, music was played at lower volumes than, say, the 60s.

    a lot of the changes in the blackface amps were to accomodate clean volume at louder and louder levels. One key ingredient was adding a negative feedback loop. (Although the tweed circuits with some negative feedback still seem warmer and sweeter.)

    I think somewhere along the way, as players cranked the volume, they realized that the old tweed amps had a great tone, perfect for blues and rock.

    another aspect that's not always mentioned is the difference in feel ... tweed amps to me feel softer, spongier, with more sag and natural compression, and longer sustain. They are more touch responsive, and yes, organic, like an extension of the player and guitar.

    when the '59 RI came out, my amp tech commented that he thought it was a decent amp, but an unfortunate name. What he meant was that there were major differences between the RI and the original. Even so, it was a step in the right direction, and when they are set up well, those amps are pretty good for gigging.

    I haven't tried the new '57 Twin, but I'd like to, and friends have told me they sound terrrific.

    I do have a '56 Deluxe that I love and play all the time, and I recently bought a Victoria Double Deluxe from a forum member here. It's a great amp with the tone and lineage of the old Fenders.

    I think the great irony is that the tweed Bassman, Deluxe, and some of the other original amps were just generic circuits, licensed from AT & T and Western Electric.
     
  10. george4908

    george4908 Member

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  11. jetlag

    jetlag Member

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    Late, narrow panel tweeds have a much more scooped clean sound than blackfaces. Most people don't realize it because they use a non-stock 12AX7 in v1 instead of a 12AY7 (40 % as much gain). Also, you get swayed by the numbers game - looking at the amp an not being satisfied that it's only on 3 - even though it has a killer clean sound at a good volume. So people turn it up more, it get's distorted, and they say " no cleans in this tweed." Once the respsective amps start breaking up (BF vs later tweeds) they sound very different. tweeds have that crunchy edge to them in the BALLPARK of Marshalls. Bassmans being closer to marshalls, while supers, bandmasters, pros and deluxes being more ratty. BF amps, when set up right, have a more rounded off distortion . The tweeds also have more gain - especially when run non-stock with a 12AX7 in V1. At the higher volumes, tweeds alnicos cave in and dump highs, emphasize mids - the opposite of their clean sounds (which are real scooped). BF amps are generally different in this regard because almost all of them had ceramic speakers (except about 1/3rd of the Super Reverbs). The ceramic speakers retain their highs and don't emphasize mids when pushed hard. I know that what I'm sayin' runs against some conventional wisdom expressed around here, but I have a huge stable of vintage fenders (tweed and BF) that I gig with regularly, to back it up.
     
  12. MVrider

    MVrider Member

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    Lots of different tweeds out there. After all, these things were built from the late forties until 1960 and there were PLENTY of circuit and speaker changes in that time.

    But generally speaking, I hear tweeds (until pushed) as warm amps with nice, full cleans and a tonal response that's slightly mid-heavy. The mids increase (in most cases EXCESSIVELY, to my ears) when the amps are pushed. Or maybe the trebles are cut as the amp is pushed.

    IMO, Blackface amps also have great cleans but are not as flat tonally as they are more scooped in the mids.

    When BF amps get pushed, the characteristic Fender high-end "ring" becomes more prominent and they seem to get even brighter. Maybe they just lose less top-end, so the mids don't seem so pronounced. In any case, they do sound significantly brighter at top end than the tweeds.

    Speakers make some of that top-end difference, but I don't think that's all of it. Supers still sound like Supers to me whether they have alnicos or ceramics.

    There's a huge difference in cabinets especially at low-to mid volumes. Tweed cabinets and baffles are softer, so the amps are "softer sounding" with less attack. Because their cabinets and baffles are stiffer, BF amps are stiffer or more "forward" sounding.

    Plug a Super chassis into a tweed Bassman and you'll be amazed at how much the Bassman sounds like the Super. Cabinet and baffle stiffness play a big part.

    Circuit differences (like negative foldback and cathode vs. fixed bias) also have an effect. BF amps use higher plate voltages on the tubes. I'm of the opinion that this increases headroom and the trebles in the BF amps. OR maybe it's that the lower votages (and the cathode bias of many, but not all) of the tweeds knocks off more of the trebles, however you like to look at it.

    YMMV
     
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  13. MojoHand

    MojoHand Supporting Member

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    I agree. The concept of "tweed sound" vs. "blackface sound" is an invention of latter day guitarists. I think Leo Fender would've seen all his amp designs as part of a continuum. He was simply improving, refining, and responding to the needs of musicians over time.

    There were a number of turning points in the Fender design philosophy through the 50's and 60's: the switch from a paraphase inverter to the long-tailed phase inverter; the addition of negative feedback; the move to more complicated tone stacks; the addition of tremolo and reverb; the use of ever more power supply filtering. All these changes (and more) constitute an evolution in design, with the brown/blonde era serving as "the missing link" between tweed and blackface. Not surprisingly, the amps at either end of this evolution sound the most different from each other and so we talk about "tweed tone" and "blackface tone." But really they're just different points on a timeline of research and development.

    It's interesting to note that Leo Fender didn't particularly like rock and roll or distorted guitar sounds. He was a fan of country music and, especially, Hawaiian music. His idea of "good tone" was a clean sound. The musicians who's opinion he valued were almost all country western musicians. Now, the Fender Sales organization, under Don Randall, was very responsive to the needs of ALL guitar players and they definitely had their finger on the pulse of rock and roll, so it would be wrong to imply that Fender "only made amps for country players." That's not true. But it's worthwhile to remember that the principle inventor, technical lead, namesake and guiding light of the company was primarily interested in a clean tone. Distortion, for him, was a side effect. If people wanted to turn their amps up real loud until they distorted, that was their business, but Leo mostly designed his amps around how they sounded clean.
     
  14. saltbird

    saltbird Member

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    So this was always my understanding, however I recently purchased a '68 Vibrolux Reverb reissue which has a vintage Vibrolux circuit as well as a tweed bassman circuit in its Custom channel that Fender says is better for overdrive pedals. The Bassman channel does in fact perform better with overdrive pedals so I'm confused as to why the tweed side of the amplifier would be more optimal.

    Anyone have any insight on this?

     
  15. Flogger59

    Flogger59 Member

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    Tweed circuits, at the right volume, are more mid forward.
     
  16. ctreitzell

    ctreitzell Member

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    I find BF breakup very velocity reactive
    and has been said, BF distortion is more “ratty”
    with the right settings.

    I love tweed sounds, especially, I find tweed makes hollow and semi-hollow body guitars to sound more hollow.

    I’m no expert, just sayin :)
     
  17. saltbird

    saltbird Member

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    Which is to imply that mid forward amps are better for pedals?

    So my question still stands, why is a tweed circuit better optimized for pedals when mid-scooped blackface circuits are widely considered the best pedal platforms?

     
  18. BMX

    BMX Supporting Member

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    A lot of the stones and beatles stuff was blackface/silverface.

    I think both blackface and tweed amps are great. Blackface style amps are a lot more versatile imo- with pedals you can get them to sound like a lot of different amps including tweeds. Tweeds are basically 1 trick ponies, but it's a great trick. If I could only have one I'd have a blackface but tweeds are great if you have a gig where you can crank them.
     
  19. stevieboy

    stevieboy Clouds yell at me Gold Supporting Member

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    I dunno, I would be more likely to not care if I use a pedal with a tweed amp myself, which for me are mostly lighter ODs. I guess when I play a BF type, I’m just trying to make them more tweedy in that regard.
     
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  20. lavinci

    lavinci Member

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    I have a 54 Tweed Twin Amp and 65 BFVR... I would put the 54's cleans up against the 65 BF...

    Don't ever under estimate the cleans from a Tweed Amp.... 3D...
    I do agree the BF has a slightly more appealing clean tone and a better early break up tone.

    The Tweed circuits are very basic, and the circuit allows for full bandwidth/throughput... hard to write and choose word to explain this..
    the BF circuits are more complex and refined tone... BF are a great pedal platforms.
     
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