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Fender Bassman amp, #AB 165

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by fishmonkeystew, Mar 1, 2008.

  1. I've recently had an old Fender Bassman Tube head refurbished, and I'm trying to find a good match for a cabinet. Is there a good method for sizing a cab? Also, in trying to figure out what year the head is, the only serial number I've found is AB 165. Is anyone familiar with how to interpret this? Or is there another number hidden away somewhere? I tried searching this subject but didn't really find any good info. Thanks!
  2. Jazzman


    Nov 26, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    AB165 is the circuit designation. 1964-1967ish. Check the tube chart for a two letter stamp - that will determine the year and month for you.
  3. Thanks for the info. Unfortunately, the head had been sitting in an old barn for about 30 years, and the tube chart is missing. Is there any other way to identify it?
  4. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    Use the FAQ here: Fender Field Guide.
  5. Sweet!! Great link! It's still with the repair shop, but when I get it back I guess I'll be opening it up and checking the component serial numbers. The transformer is still original, as are many of the other parts. Caps are replaced, tubes, and some sockets as well. Not sure what else at this point. Its a 50 watt head, which is making me think that it may not be suited for the bass. Of course, I'm playing in my living room, not gigging, so it may be just fine. And if I do gig, it can always be mic-ed. Any opinions?
  6. Kindness


    Oct 1, 2003
    Because you might be interested: the AB165 designation indicates the circuit was designed in January (1) 1965 (65).

    edit: I see from the Fender Field Guide that they list the blackface Bassman from '64-'67. This is because the first blackface Bassman was the AA864 = August 1964.
  7. For playing in your living room that amp will be plenty loud enough. I have gigged with that amp! Enjoy it, you have a classic.

  8. Excellent! I was hoping that was the case. What do you use for a cabinet? I was thinking of a Fender 2X10 210 Pro. Too little or too much?
  9. pgk


    Aug 19, 2007
    i use a bag end S15L-D with my ab165, a killer setup. gigged with it last night in fact
  10. Here's another possibility: I have a fender 2x12 cabinet, but no speakers (didn't know that part until after I got it home-but hey, it was free). I could just buy a couple of speakers, but the 210 pro has a horn in it, which appeals. Is it possible to modify the cab to hold a horn, and are the components readily available.
  11. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    A lot depends on what kind of gig and how reasonable your fellow musicians are. I have a B15 and I believe I could do some gigs with it. I believe that there are modifications that can be made to the Bassmans that will increase it output but I'd be more inclined to leave it alone and enjoy it for what it is.

    As for the cabinet, if it were me I'd find a good pair of 12's and use the Fender cabinet as is. I would not modify the cabinet.
  12. Any suggestions on speakers? I've never built my own rig before, so this is all fairly new to me. I'm lookin' at new pick-ups for my jazz bass, but that's a whole 'nother story.
  13. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    None. But there are lots of very knowledgeable folks here. I'd bet Jazzman or Psycho Bass Guy or Greenboy or Bill Fitzmaurice would have some good suggestions.

    Me either. I need help changing a lightbulb. :oops:
  14. nothumb


    Sep 20, 2006

    I just came into a silverface AB165 (if I'm not mistaken there was some overlap, the AB165 circuit design was used in both blackface and silverface Bassman heads in the mid to late 60's). Serial number dates mine to 1968.

    I too was looking for a cab for this amp. Specs say it came w/ a 2x12 or 2x15 @ 4 ohms (8 in parallel). I don't know a lot about impedance but I do know I don't want to screw up buying a cab and ruin this great amp by overloading it.

    Is a 212 the way to go here? Or a 115 (with or without tweeter)? I play a 6-string tuned E-to-E, so I like to have some high end. I was thinking it might be good to run a 210 and a 115 together eventually, if I can get my money right.

    Not looking to drop a ton of dough here - if you had to pick one cab for this amp what would it be?
  15. jimbilly


    Apr 19, 2006
    Ask your tech to check the output transformer to see what loads it will handle. I run my '68 50w bassman through a 4ohm 8x10, it gets a little bit loud, not loud enough for most guys I imagine, but it sure sounds good. I may be pushing it by running it into a 4ohm load (I don't run crank it way up), but I've often heard that Fenders are plenty tough.
  16. Bluesbob


    Mar 13, 2000
    Springfield, TN
    The output transformer of the AB165 Fender Bassman was designed for a 2X12 4-ohm cabinet. I'd go with an Avatar 2X12 bass cab. Don't expect earth-shaking volume though. 50 watts is still only 50 watts. Great guitar amp, can only go up in value.
  17. main_sale


    Apr 26, 2004
    Cape Cod
    Back in the 60's I used one of those amps as my main giggin amp in an 8-piece Soul Band. Initially I had on 212 Fender Cabinet and it struggled to compete. I eventually added an 212 extension cabinet and Electro-Voice SRO speakers and they all helped but it was maxed out. It was absolutely reliable and ran flat out with only good tone to report, but alas it's only 50 watts. That is why the Dual Showman became so popular for bass. It had 100 Watts and was usually paired with a 215 cabinet. Ah, those were the days............The amp is long gone but I still have my bass. Here it is....

  18. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.

    (Oh be still my beating heart.) Wow what a beautiful bass.
  19. Fish-
    Congrats on bringing a 'lost' Fender back!
    A 50 watt Fender Bassman needs a 2 x 12 cabinet or Karma will be disturbed. Not the high powered 1200 watt speakers either...something small that will break up a little at 100 Watts. Keep us posted!
  20. nothumb


    Sep 20, 2006
    I was looking at these cabinets and they look like a good fit. I assume go with the 4 ohm version?

    I also have a 4x10 Crate guitar cab that can be run at 4 or 8, I was thinking of splitting the highs out to that... could this work in tandem with a 2x12 for recording or small venues?

    Any other 2x12 cabs people are fond of?

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