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Bassman 135 Head

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by bluesman355, Mar 22, 2013.

  1. bluesman355


    Mar 22, 2013
    I got a Fender Bassman 135 head a few months ago and I'm struggling to learn more about it. I've heard lots of different things about them, both good and bad. I have no complaints, especially since pairing it with the new Fender 115 cab. If anyone could give me any information about the model, I would appreciate it. Particularly I am wondering if it is handwired or not.
  2. DudeLeap


    Feb 11, 2013
    I have a '78 135 and I like the sound I get out of it. These heads are weird with impedance but what I've learned about the head is that you can run one or two 4 ohm cabs but also have the option to run one 8 ohm cab out of the ext. jack. Also there is limited information on them compared to other heads on the Internet.
  3. Hi.

    Congrats on the amp.

    A cool, a bit underappreciated little amp.

    Some claim they can hear SPL difference between the 100 and the 135, I sure couldn't. I had both at the same time back in the day, and they were a bit different, but the volume was the same.

    IME You'll need quite a bit more speaker surface area than 115 if You want to gig anything loud with it.
    I used my Marshall 412+215 stack with 'em.


    It is, but so are all the Fender tube amps from that era AFAIK.

  4. The Fender tone stack is weird. Here's an explaination: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f15/fender-alembic-bbe-tone-stack-explained-491699/

    I set mine at 5 bass, 10 mid, and 3 treble when I had it. You can jumper the guitar and bass channels for more volume... That's also what I did. Plug your bass into channel 1 bass then run a cable from channel 2 bass into channel 1 normal.

    Is it a black face or a silver face? Mine was black. I loved mine, but sold it to get my SVT. I'm not unhappy for doing so... The SVT has awesome tone and way more volume than the Bassman but I think I like the Bassman tone just a little bit more.

    Congrats, man. That amp rules if you don't need a ton of volume.
  5. BogeyBass


    Sep 14, 2010
    when all else fails the Fender field guide for the Bassman 135
    should give some information.

    at one point whether its pc board or tag board or turrents or point to point wiring.
    every amp is at some point "hand wired" pretty dumb term really in musical equipment.
    but the amp uses tag board like every other fender amp. Bassman 100's are really known for having poor lead dress
    and oscillating problems, but I have not heard to many issues with the later 77 - 83 fender heads and ultra linear models.

    The main difference between the silver face bassman 100 and the later Bassman 135. Was to squeeze the most power out of the 135 they ran the 6l6 tubes above there voltage handling around 500 to 520 volts instead of the usual 400 to 450 volts.
    So cheapo tubes are not recommended for the higher voltage ultra linear fender heads. And the JJ 6l6 seems to be the good runner for this
    not to be confused with the JJ 6550's or kt88's that get a bad rep. the JJ 6l6 is preferred for higher voltage heads

    And the output transformer and output taps are a little different than the usual bassman 100's because not only do they run the voltage higher but the output section is also Ultra Linear which helps a little with the extra voltage and gives them a little more clean overhead. So the output transformer has extra taps for the ultra linear so its a different part number than the standard transformers used for the bassman 100 and other quad 6l6 fender amps
    seems to be a little beefier too.

    great head and i always liked the fact that they went back to the blackface style panel for the late 70's. Field guide says from 77 to 83. seems that some of the 135's had chrome hardware and towards the end of the run about 80ish to 83 they had black hardware.

    I forget exactly how it works but I think there is a switched jack for the speaker output taps. that gives you more options than the load printed on the back panel.

    also if you date the head by serial number it does not follow the usual fender amp serial numbers. Not sure i think it was 77 or 78 when the amps started using a serial number system similar to the more modern guitars numbering system.
  6. jumblemind

    jumblemind I also answer to Bryan Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2011
    I had one for a long time on the 90s, when I knew absolutely nothing about amps. It came with a matching 215 cab, and I added an 8ohm hartke 410 for a while. I later only used the 410. I got rid of it because I was tired of having to get new tubes so regularly. The above info makes me understand why that was, as I'm sure I was using whatever was the cheapest.
  7. elwuss


    Feb 24, 2013
    Zagreb, Croatia
    I own Bassman 100 SF from 1974. and like it a lot better than 135, which has IMO a bit sterile sound compared to 100...
  8. RSNG


    Sep 6, 2010
    I have a SF Bassman 100 and 4x12 cab that I bought slightly used in the mid 70's. The 4x12 is a big, deep, heavy cab; and each speaker points in a different direction.

    I've only seen one other 4x12 cab like this one. I think must be fairly rare. Does anyone have info on this cab?
  9. will33


    May 22, 2006
    Unfortunately, technically, they're known as one of Fenders worst attempts at a bass cab. The speakers aren't very robust, though they don't have to be getting 25-30 watts each at best. There isn't much room in the chambers to make real bass, and mostly, the cabs are known for poor construction and getting leaky and wobbly over the years.

    That said, I used to play one once in a while in a pretty small, very reverberant little chapel. It did sound nice and thumpy in there, though the speakers didn't have to work very hard in that setting. It'd probably get lost in a modern day, louder gig.

    I do like my 135 though, just always looking for ways to make it louder ao I can use it on more gigs.
  10. will33


    May 22, 2006
    Because of the construction and small chambers, most agree it isn't worth it replacing them with better speakers. $$ per speaker x 4 = too much money for little improvement.

    But hey, if you like the sound and it's loud enough for what you do, enjoy it. Watch for the cabinet getting wobbly if you move it around a lot.
  11. elwuss


    Feb 24, 2013
    Zagreb, Croatia
    I had one.
    Sold it a month ago:D

    Nice tone, but no low end.
    That cab is all about middle.
  12. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Not so much rare then, but due to poor build quality and a found generally not wanted, not a lot survive 30+ years. As others said, they're not really worth fixing when they break, and they frequently come apart at the seams (literally!).

  13. tbirdsp


    Sep 18, 2012
    Omaha, NE
    My high school bought a Bassman 135 and one of these oddball 4x12 cabs back in '77 or so (along with a Gibson Grabber) for the jazz band. I don't remember much about it, except being surprised by how weird the speaker placement was when I took the grill off.
    Would love to have the head now, speaker, not so much...
  14. BassmanPaul

    BassmanPaul Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2007
    Toronto Ontario Canada
    One 4Ω load in the speaker out jack run from the 4Ω tap of the OPT. Two 4Ω loads one in the speaker jack one in the External jack. they rune in SERIES from the 8Ω tap of the OPT. you can run a single 8Ω load from the Speaker jack if a shorting plug is inserted into the external jack.
  15. RSNG


    Sep 6, 2010
    Very interesting. I was using it in the mid to late 70s. I wanted more power and a more modern tone, so I bought a GK400B. I used it with the 4x12 for a while, and blew a speaker. After that, I bought 2 Carvin 1x15 cabs with JBLs. I got the blown 12 reconed, but I haven't used the Bassman or the 4x12 since around 1979. I still have it, though.

    I bought a new SVT and 8x10 in 1983 or so, and I've been an Ampeg guy ever since. I would like to dig out the old Bassman and see what it sounds like. It could probably use some new tubes.
  16. BogeyBass


    Sep 14, 2010
    I think i know what you mean, not really sterile just cleaner.
    the Ultra Linear and higher voltage just keep them clean way up to the top.

    With a 100 it gets a little warmer earlier i would say, not raging distortion, but it gets warmer and more compressed without the UL.
    Especially guys that like a more distortion or warmth, the silver face 100 usually has more of a "tube" sound i guess you would say.

    The 135 still sounds rather lovely, and has a tighter lowend
    with the right cab. If you like to push amps into distortion a non ultra linear output is better.

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