why are silverfaces considered worse then blackfaces?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by rich2k4, Jan 27, 2008.


  1. rich2k4

    rich2k4 Supporting Member

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    i always hear that silverfaces are considered worse then blackfaces.

    is this true? if so why? or is it just collectors spewing BS to make themselves feel better?


    also where do brownfaces fit in? how do they compare?
     
  2. JubileeMan 2555

    JubileeMan 2555 Member

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    Its not complete rumor. Its a mixture of a little fact and myth.

    The bigger reasons it started has to do with the circuit changes a big corporation made to designs that worked perfectly fine the way they were. This is where emotion tends to set in a bit and the collectors, and vintage purists get caught up and give advice to players that ends up being biased. It feeds itself.

    Also, CBS cheapened parts and assembly.

    Doesn't matter what industry you watch. If you cheapen parts and build, the quality reduces in a product, it will simply be worth less and will be regarded that way.

    Silver faces can and DO sound as good and sometimes better then their blackface counterparts. But its more the exception then rule. But at the same time different players hear different things.

    in the end, its simply up to a player to compare them side by side and tell for themselves, and I think the general population tends to lead towards the blackface being "better" because a majority of those players have made that personal comparison and have chosen blackface.

    Brownfaces are different circuits. Like the tweed amps before them, they fall into a separate catagory. Since they were not adopted by the CBS corp as amps in production, they are then separate from the debate.
     
  3. fr8_trane

    fr8_trane Member

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    The general rule is that the smaller amps had fewer changes than the larger amps. Thus the SF champs, princetons and deluxes are more desirable that the twins, pros and supers. Also the changes get progressively worse the further into the 70's we go. Again the smaller amps weather this storm better and even late 70's Deluxes can be brought back to BF standards for the most part. However the 70's cabs were particle board instead of pine, the wiring is sloppy, the stock speakers are terrible etc.

    That said SF fenders are a MUCH better value than BF's because they can be brought back to BF spec without the big price tag.
     
  4. IPlayHamers

    IPlayHamers Member

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    While I've played and heard some wonderful Blackface Fenders, about a year ago I plugged into a early 70's Super Reverb that almost brought tears to my eyes. I'm not much a Fender amp guy, prefering the British circuits, but this one was special. I should have bought as I now find I need to compliment my studio gear with a nice Fender amp.

    I'll be keeping an eye and ear out for a good sounding Silverface in the near future. There are a few jems out there for sure.
     
  5. kimock

    kimock Member

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    yep.

    100% agree. The BF Fenders are a roll of the dice in the parts tolerance dept. You get an occasional happy accident, but for the most part, they all need work. No reason to think that a SF Fender wouldn't sound better than most original BF's with a little TLC. There's a lot of a tired old Fender amps out there that could all be great amps if they were just in spec. with the design, BF and SF. imho ymmv etc. . . :)

    peace
     
  6. JDJ

    JDJ Supporting Member

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    I played a 1978 SF Deluxe Reverb about a week ago, and it sounded fantastic. Used to own a 1972 Twin Reverb years ago w/ push-pull master volume & factory JBLs, and it was a cat box of tone.

    That seems to jive w/ CBS messing with the bigger amps and leaving the smaller ones alone.
     
  7. sundaypunch

    sundaypunch Member

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    IMHO the main reason that people knock the SF amps is because of circuit changes that increased the clean headroom over their BF counterparts. Yes, there are issues with the components but the fact is that most haters are happy with the amps once they have been blackfaced.

    There are many people that prefer SF Fenders over the BF models (gasp). Give a pedal steel player or many jazz players the choice of a BF or SF Twin Reverb and most will take the SF.
     
  8. soldersucker

    soldersucker Member

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    I own many BF and SF Fenders.The construction quality suffered during the Silverface years everything already mentioned but and a big but i think silvers are the best deals going on the market.
    They were made in much greater numbers than blackface (late67-80ish VS 64-67)and they are P-P Fenders which makes them better than 90% of what's out there.
    If you sell it you don't get a reaming when the Dentist bedroom players more on to the next flavour you actually make money.
    Here's about 1/4 of my stable.
    [​IMG]
     
  9. Steve Dallas

    Steve Dallas Supporting Member

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    If you can get your hands on earlier silvers, you can often get the black circuit in a silver box before CBS ruined the cabs and speakers. They are a terrific value.
     
  10. fullerplast

    fullerplast Senior Member

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    Just like Blackfaces, Silverfaces can sound good, bad, or somewhere in between. Don't assume that all Silverfaces can be "Blackfaced" and sound the same as a real Blackface. Many have redesigned power sections and higher voltages that would require a power transformer change to be equivalent. That's why many went to 5U4 trannies instead of GZ34's...to drop the voltage. You can't simply swap in a GZ34 without exceeding voltage specs on the caps and tubes. That in itself will change the amp response and feel.
     
  11. willhutch

    willhutch Member

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    SF and BF Feders are all old amps now. As such, component values have drifted in their own unique ways leaving each amp a unique specimen. My experience tells me you have to evaluate each amp on its own merits. Whether it is BF or SF has little to do with how a 30-40 year old amp sounds. YMMV.

    FWIW, I own a SF Vobrolux from '74 that is the 3rd best sounding Vibrolux I've heard. The first was a BF from '66 that had recently rcvd a cap-job. The second was a SF with a non-original output transformer. I've heard a number of really crappy-sounding BFVRs.
     
  12. tralfax19645

    tralfax19645 Member

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    I have had that same experience!
    I had a BFSR super in to do a simple repair on and although I did not have them both at the same time to do a side by side test, I think I liked the SFSR I played a little better, going strictly from memory.
     
  13. pgissi

    pgissi Member

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    Great summation above of the most major change in the SF series, redesigned power sections which include what fender called hum balance for bias meaning, you can only adjust the bias of one side of the output section to match to other side which was fixed.

    This is just the begining of SF "issues"

    I actually own a 1979 SF Twin, the 135 watts rms nonsense, it was the 1st amp I ever bought and hampered any quest for tone which I of course did not grasp for some years and how would one know.

    The only way to know is to get perspective and play its BF counterparts and compare and once my brother brought out his 66 BF Super, it was obvious.

    Today I see these things for sale to the tune of 700, 800 and laugh...chalk it up to "lack of pserpective".

    As Billy G said when he went El Loco, I Wouldn't touch it with a 10 Foot Pole unless it was priced for 50 maybe 100 bucks since it is mod worthy with their point to point innards. I modded my amp in several ways to lower voltages, installed proper bias circuitry, eliminated the master volume besides updating caps and resistors, tubes and so on.

    It was an extensive list of tasks, very invavsive and I stopped short of doing one thing I really should have, changing the tranny which I may do eventually when I need something to do which is never. Despite that its tone is more akin to its BF older bro probably outputting about 80 to 90 watts. Its fat, spanky and loud. Has tons of headroom and if you turn it up (while wearing hearing protection) goes into a bassman like OD.

    It usually maims its victims its so loud but is now classic BF.

    The most obvious problem with this model Twin was that you cant get 135watts out of 4 6L6 since you would not be able to bias those tubes with enough current without exceeding the max plate dissipation of the plates. 120watts is the max from 4 6L6. This should clue you in to the state of the engineering here, its suspect.

    Probably the absolute worst design aspect was the master volume with its "Pull" function. This was supposed to render OD. What it really delivered was the sound of a tube amp gone wrong with its intermodulation distortion laden fuzzy clipping that reduced your tone to suck in a way hard to describe but that can only mean, its all wrong.


    One of the mythical aspects of this period in Fender history is that CBS after purchasing the company, brought in "hi-fi" types to re-engineer the line for Hi-Fidelity No distortion amplification.

    They did exactly that, most SF in their stock configs are very clean but yet are shrill/harsh and loud lacking dynamics and what really sets a guitar amp apart from traditional Hi Fi, tube driven magic!

    I am not saying that your SF does not sound good but consider this, what else have you compared it to? I cant speak for all SF but am assuming of my Twin was subject to "re-engineering" by those who did not understand Guitar Tone, they must share some of the misery.

    My experience and what I observe is that the SF series BLOWS without modification and is why you just dont see them on pro stages and when you do, someone has taken some time to make it right.

    Unless its an artist who enjoys the shrill, overly bright and harsh way too clean thing it does and does well and there is a place for that in music, I just dont have any of their albums!

    Sorry to spoil the party
     
  14. JubileeMan 2555

    JubileeMan 2555 Member

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    pgissi:

    I think we need to separate the silverface fenders into two catagories:

    •1968-75
    •1975-1980

    Most of your post applies to the latter silverface amps with ultra-linear transformers and master volumes. There are exceptions to the rule, but for the most part, I think we all agree that era of fender should probably be avoided.

    But to lump all silverface fenders into your description of Brittle and shrill isn't the truth and spreads rumors to those who are not "in the know".

    the first years of the silverface era is probably more in line with what the original poster had in mind. It just sucks that there really is two ROUNDS of silverface eras.
     
  15. wgs1230

    wgs1230 Fully Intonatable Silver Supporting Member

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    Since the info you've received about the bf/sf history is consistently good, I'll try to answer the second part: the brown panel models were manufactured from 1960 to '63 in a variety of white/off white (heads/cabs) and brown tolexes (combos). With the exception of the '63 2x10" Vibroverb (which was made for less than a year), none of them featured an integrated reverb circuit- Fender sold an outboard reverb unit at the time. They also featured one of two types of tremolo circuit, both different from what is found in most bf/sf amps: either a single-tube "bias vary" tremolo (which was carried over in the bf/sf Princetons alone), or the multi-tube "harmonic vibrato" which came with some models rated 40w or above. The latter is duly prized by people who use that effect; I'm yet to hear it accurately duplicated by digital modeling.

    Other features of many brown panel models which differ from bf models of the same or similar names:
    -Variable negative feedback in the form of a Presence control on all models rated 40w+.
    -Softer plate voltages on the power tubes- most 40w+ brown models were originally designed around 5881 tubes, their bf counterparts were mostly designed around the higher efficiency 6L6GCs.
    -Lower efficiency speakers on some models, and wider used of OEM 10s with alnico magnets.
    -Some early browns featured tone stacks which came before the Volume pots in the circuit and on the faceplate.

    They tend to have more pronounced midrange, lower clean headroom and more compression at clip than the bf models.
     
  16. pgissi

    pgissi Member

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    I understand that Fenders transition with its purchase by CBS in 66 did not change things overnight but I am doubtful that the 1st phase, meaning no or minimal design changes, stretched to 1975.

    I am thinking and have read some very early SF's left the factory with the original circuits where applicable for models that were continued so for me the cut off for the SF would have to be 68 no later than 69 maybe 70 and if I were buying one, I would want to look at the circuit, especially with the prices they are frequently asking.

    I am making assumptions of course, assuming that the new company with its new look wanted to bring forth its new design sooner than later and am doubtful they would wait till '75, especially a behomoth like CBS, not exactly the home of tone.

    Whatever the phase for the SF's, it almost killed amp line and thankfully spawned new thinking as in, modding the old fender designs ala boogie etc., something that took Fender into the 80's to begin to recognize.

    Of course today they have come full circle, whats old is new again and thankfully so.

    P.S. Most Fender SF's I see are very clean amps and do you know what that means, they dont see action, mostly see the basement or garage and the reason is, amps with tone are coveted by players versus collectors. Its because of collectors that the SF can get anything over a few hundred bucks, its perception

    And the perception of Fender overall despite this is good and I would agree, just not so much with the SF
     
  17. meterman

    meterman Member

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    I had a '71 Super Reverb with original CTS AlNiCo speakers in it. Took it in for a tuneup to a guy who had a room full of BF and SF Supers and he thought mine sounded as good or better than any of his. Absolutely beautiful.....unfortunately it didn't take fuzzes well or do heavier tones without flubbing the bass so after a few years I sent it on its way....but then it's not necessarily meant for those types of tones anyway. For "that clean Fender sound" it was breathtaking....had it Blackfaced by a well-known tech at some point and the difference was very subtle....
     
  18. Steve Dallas

    Steve Dallas Supporting Member

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    pgissi,

    I direct you to my earlier post. Early SFs are a tremendous bargain and are the same or almost the same as late BFs.

    Each model's morph time line is different. Some changed pretty quickly. Others went unchanged until some time in 1976.

    I say this as a person who has worked on hundreds of old Fender amps.
     
  19. meterman

    meterman Member

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    I always look at the addition of the Master Volume circuit in ~1973 or so as signalling the real significant changes to the circuit, if I was in the market for a SF Fender I'd only really consider a NMV version but that's just me...the pull-boost is another "improvement" from CBS.....by the late 70s you had ultralinear transformers, 70w Supers & Pros, 130w Twins, very sterile and uberclean by comparison....
     
  20. SkydogFan81

    SkydogFan81 Member

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