What is the deal with the Fender Custom Vibrolux Amps?

aleiberman

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332
What is the deal with the Fender Custom Vibrolux Amps?

What are the good and bad about these. I'm talking about the "blackface reissue", and not the 68 Custom version.

They are often cheaper used, then a used DRRI.

Do they sound good? Noisy? Take pedals well? Are they made well? The usual questions...
 
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1,686
I thought they sounded ok but not very great. my 74 virbrolux is a completely different sounding amp (I do know there are some differences but not many)

I'd honestly look around for a used SF virbrolux preferably from the early 70s. they can be had relatively cheap you just may need to be a little patient. I picked up my 74 for $850 and it's one of the best amps of all time imo. the newer versions just fall flat


that said. I actually really thought the newer deluxe ri amps we're really great. impressive really.
 
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swiveltung

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14,483
The Vlux Custom is nothing like the original Vlux, different architecture than BF/SF amps, and they are known to have some repair problems and noise.
But I have heard them sound pretty good. OTOH, the DRRI circuit is built very much like the original.
 
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6,837
That first Custom Vibrolux is modeled on the 6G16 Reissue amp.....same PCB. IT is noisy due to the lack of a negative feedback circuit. IT has the bias vary of that brown 6G16 Vibroverb. Fwiw, the '68 SF Custom Vibrolux is based on the same circuit....bias vary trem on that one, too. So, the '68 SF Custom VR thing is not a SF circuit at all.....it is not a true Vibrolux Reverb.
 

TylerRex790

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73800D06-1CE0-476E-A83D-127CB1683296.jpg


I use one and I love it. It has much more gain and it's closer to a Vibro King than a rea Vibrolux Reverb from everything I've read. Zinky designed it. It starts breaking up a little as soon as 2 on the volume knob. The reverb and vibrato is much more shallow than Blackface stuff, but I enjoy it. What do you want to know specifically?

I read about noise, but mine doesn't seem to have any more noise than any other amp I have. It's built well and the blue frame Alnicos that came in mine are fantastic. It takes pedals quite well.
 

benadrian

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490
I was just in one of these recently. The schematic is not TOO far off from the blackface. There are a few changes. For instance, they're wired so both channels get the reverb. Also, the have the Brownface '63 Vibroverb tone stacks and Tremolo.

The absolute biggest change is that there is no negative feedback in the power amp. This gives a very different feel compared to a BF or SF Vibrolux. The Custom power amp is looser, enters distortion earlier, and has a smoother transition into power amp clipping. It's a pretty great sound, but it's definitely not what someone would expect if they're used to the old amps.
 

70 Mach 1

Silver Supporting Member
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5,917
i think fender does a disservice to the public by rehashing old names with a "new twist"
afaik the super, twin and DR RI are as close as you can get. but not the others.

I have a pro rev RI. they made em from 01-04. sorta a rare bird to find. does it sound like a PR, NO.
does it sound great, YEAH. why they call it a PR is beyond me but they do.

and i can on an on about the twins and evil twins and all the other BS they rebranded
 

VaughnC

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
19,041
I purchased one of the '68 Vibrolux Custom amps new a while ago and have no real complaints about it. If I wanted to pick nits, the reverb could be a little more Fendery sounding, but I seldom use reverb so it's a non issue to me. And the amp is no more noisy than any other tube amp I've owned. I especially like the Bassman voiced Custom channel as it adds another flavor to a nice all around amp. The Classic channel sounds classic Fender to me and the Vibrato is great. It also has the big bottle 6L6 sound that the Deluxe lacks. But, as we all know, tone is very subjective. My amp is currently for sale as I've retired from gigging and it's a bit much for my den. But I'd buy it again need be without hesitation.
 

pedalcr8z

Member
Messages
3,456
I REALLY wanted the BF version but about 5 years ago when I tried to buy one I couldn't get past the incredible noise (hiss) level with the amp volume all the way down. The noise was so loud that is was audible from 15 feet away WITH OR WITHOUT a guitar cable connected. I tried 4 different examples at 2 different stores several months apart. Hopefully they got this issue addressed.
 

jklotz

Member
Messages
3,918
I had the 68 ri for a while. I just couln't dial out a "clank" kinda sound that hurt my ears. It was on both channels. I sold it.

Not long ago, gc had a 70's sf. That thing was a different beast alltogether! It sounded fantastic. They were askung $1200, which I thought was high, and wouln't budge on price. Kinda wish I had bought it now. Great amp!
 

jnovac1

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,337
What is the deal with the Fender Custom Vibrolux Amps?

What are the good and bad about these. I'm talking about the "blackface reissue", and not the 68 Custom version.

They are often cheaper used, then a used DRRI.

Do they sound good? Noisy? Take pedals well? Are they made well? The usual questions...
they can be easily modded to the 63 vibroverb specs, same circuit board. i liked the very early one that i bought new, it was made in lake oswego. i ab'd it with a new 63 vibroverb, and chose the lux. turns out it was the speakers in the verb that werent quite right. i now have a 63 vibroverb reissue with c10q's, and its all good. excellent amp either way, IMO
 
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okie

Silver Supporting Member
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1,662
Used one for countless shows mainly blues and classic rock, sounds great and takes pedals very well. I did not notice any noise and I turn it up pretty good sometimes, it's been a solid amp and gets allot of use and abuse without any complaints. On 2.5 - 3 on the volume, it's already loud. Its sonically very similar to my '67 Blackface Bandmaster with a tremolo disconnect mod for more preamp gain.

IMG_0871_zps37kqczfm.jpg
 
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joevacc

Member
Messages
1,139
I have had one for almost a year now and I love the thing. I think that it is one of the best amps Fender has come out with since the good 'ol days.

They are often confused with the '68 Custom Vibrolux Reverb but they are nothing alike, nor are they like any other Vibrolux amps. They are a modified brown '63 Vibroverb reissue from the same era. (early 1990's-2010?) As has been mentioned, there is 'verb and trem' in both channels and the negative feedback is greatly reduced from the "63 Vibroverb RI.

There is little love for them on the web and I am not sure why? They do start to break up early but that breakup is beautiful Brown Fender break up. The Jensen P10R's suit it nicely. They get a rap for being flubby but again at gig volumes have great high end and the lows are defined until pushed pass their ability to cope. That is pretty damn loud though...

The bad rap the amp gets for hiss seems to be the biggest complaint and there is no end of people modding these amps. Once they are modded though they loose the harmonic breakup that makes them sound great IMO/E. There is no more hiss in these amps than other Fenders that I have come across in my life and certainly no more noise than a vintage Fender amp. If you are only playing this amp in your living room the hiss that is there may be an issue for you but in any live situation (rehearsal/stage) it is completely irrelevant. At least with mine.

The lack of super clean head room gets cited often as a flaw but that is the sound of this amp. They are not for everybody. If you can bring your own guitar and plug into it for a few minutes you will know if it is for you. You can gig this amp with no pedals if you like but it takes pedals like a pro. I take mine to rehearsal often and leave my pedals home. Guitar volume knob is all I need. My pedals these days are just a Klon/e and a Rockett Blue note, they sound really great. My Dude "D" pedal makes the thing cry like an angel! ;~)

Mine was in complete disrepair when I found it and I got a deal on it. It made all matter of unpleasant noises. After a fresh set of tubes and a pot cleaning it sounds fantastic. It is a professional amp that can take the road. Mine, I believe / was told - was on the road its whole life before I got it.

So, this post got longer than I anticipated but there are those of us that think the world of these amps and we seem to be out numbered on the internet!
Now a gratuitous photo of my amp...

cOcltxz.jpg
 
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neils

Member
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1,792
I have one. I'll elaborate more later but mine loves short TAD 6L6's Tall 6L6's, any brand have way more metallic clang/edge than I like. It's smoother with short TAD's

The hiss. This is a longer story and I can tell you for a fact the noise isn't the NFB or lack of. Mine has the Fromel mods and I added a NFB switch. The difference "the noise that rocked the internet" is between stock CVR zero NFB and 63 VVRI spec NFB is NIL, barely perceptible.
NFB or not the amp is quieter after the mods. FWIW I never turn the NFB "on".

Another thing info is run the amp on 5 or 6 even at home. Turn down the guitar. The amp is far better turned up and the guitar low.
But so is any amp IMO

Neil
 

kidmandude

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,206
I have been sticking up for these and using one for 2 years now bought it used from someone on CL who replaced speakers, tubes and had the complete moyer mod service, so cant speak of a complete stock Custom Vibrolux directly but this amp sounds awesome. And if you jumper the channels it turns into a complete monster. Can get very loud. I love it. I use it live in stereo with another combo. Its quite. I plan on keeping it for many more years.

I actually tried the newest version with the silver face in GC and really didn't think much of it.

Tubes and speakers will make huge differences in changing amp tones and mods by moyer or framal but not absolutely necessary as much as tubes and speakers.

You can find used ones pretty affordable and throw some Webers and tubes at it and your set for life. Under $650 and it will run with amps twice three times as much.
 
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905
From what I understand, the blackfaces are really Vibroluxes in name only. I bought one a few years ago, sold it due to an odd powering error and now I really miss it. To me, it just sounded like a classic Blackface amp not too dissimilar from my Super Reverb in terms of of midrange. Had all the quality reverb and trem you'd expect, and somehow those 2x10's cut through better than a 1x12 in a live mix, to my ears. It had more headroom than I really needed at 35w and was pretty light and portable. It really overall my best and most convenient gigging amp. If it didn't randomly refuse to start up once in awhile, I wouldn't have sold it.

When I replaced it was a Deluxe Reverb, I was shocked just how much I preferred the Vibrolux. The Deluxe by comparison was more scooped sounding, had a harder time cutting through in a live mix and actually seemed a bit harder to lug around. The only thing the Deluxe had on the VL was an arguably superior reverb.

So in answer to your questions; I thought it sounded excellent, didn't have a midrange knob but it had a natural midrange reminiscent of my Super. It wasn't noisy at all, as far as I recall. It took pedals well, much better than my Deluxe (which to be fair may have had some "out of the box" issues). As far as it being made well, I couldn't say. It held up fine apart from that flukey issue I had. I would imagine it never took off because it never really found a niche. It's not small or inexpensive enough to fit in with the Hot Rod / Blues Junior lineup and not being a true Vibrolux, it didn't have the same household name as Fender's more classic reissues.

Overall, I'd just say it's a fantastic gigging amp all around which indeed served as a great clean platform for pedals, something I completely took for granted until I heard the difference in how it took pedals vs. other amps I've tried. Oh and on the one or two occasions in which I was able to crank it up, it roared beautifully.
 

neils

Member
Messages
1,792
I recently swapped the alnicos for a Ragin Cagin and a Copperhead. So far I really like it. There's no mistaking it for a Fender but the sound has more "size" to it than the alnicos. Early days still and the speakers aren't broken in so.....

Neil
 

e???

Member
Messages
3,107
They sound really good, and I don't usually like 2x10" combos. About as much idle noise as the newer 68' custom deluxe reverb. Which I don't mind, but some people can't stand it. Kinda like single coil pickups with hum, it's just worth it to me.
 

HotBluePlates

Member
Messages
14,325
Lost volume with the Moyer mod. ... I gained headroom but amp got a lot quieter

You mean you have to turn the Volume knob higher to make the same loudness-in-the-room?

If yes, then it's very likely due to the negative feedback loop. The "Moyer Mod" basically turns the Custom Vibrolux Reverb back into the brown VibroVerb circuit on which it was based. The former has no feedback loop around the output stage, while the latter does.

When you add the feedback loop, the output section becomes a little less sensitive (among other effects). It needs a little more drive to pump the same power to the speakers, and that accounts for you having to turn the Volume control a little higher.

As you note, the headroom is higher. The output section still has the same power capabilities it always did (and maybe even gets louder, cleanly, due to feedback).
 




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