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Fender Showman (brownface vs blackface) for bass?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by OldSchool50, Nov 29, 2017.

  1. OldSchool50

    OldSchool50 OldSchool50 Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2013
    I realize there have been quite a few threads discussing the Fender Showman for bass, with many opinions and disagreements. I currently have a 66 Dual Showman that I think is a pretty decent bass amp with the right cabinet. So the Blackface issue is settled for me. But I wonder how the early 61-62 Brownface circuit compares for bass. I picked up a very nice original 61 Blonde/oxblood tone ring 12-inch cab. Just beautiful and with a modern Eminence bass speaker (4 ohm) it sounds very nice with the 66 DS.
    TO satisfy my need for aesthetic balance, I'm considering a 61-62 Showman in blonde to match the cab. WOuld the 61-61 be a decent bass amp or would I be better just getting a blonde cab for a blackface, since I know I like the tone. This amp might do small gigs but more likely stay at home as practice eye candy. Here's the cab
    Anyone have experience with the 61-61 circuit. Any reasonably informed opinions welcome, experience or not.

    DSCN4971 copy.JPG DSCN4969.JPG
    Linnin and bobyoung53 like this.
  2. IMHO, those are guitar amps and cabs. Lots of other better options out there for the price that will offer you better tone and performance for bass.
  3. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Yeah, I'm not sure there's much difference circuit-wise between a Fender Dual Showman head and a Fender Bassman head of the same vintage, other than the reverb...but I'd probably say the same thing about the Bassman anyway: They're guitar amps, and you can find other amps better suited for bass. But, having said that, when I was playing both guitar and bass in the same band (1970s) my rig was a Fender Bassman 50 head into a Fender Dual Showman 2x15 (JBL) cabinet, and it sounded wonderful for bass.

    (It also sounded really freakin' wonderful for guitar.)

    Only caveat was you couldn't really crank it up to bowel-rumbling volumes when playing bass through it...though I believe that was more a limitation of the speaker cabinet than the amp.
  4. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2006
    To directly answer the OP's question, both work equally as well (or not, depending on your POV) for bass. With the right speaker cabinet.
  5. Showman's are good bass amps, before 360's and SVT's they were one of the big boys in town for bass. I had a 67 black face Showman head and cab which was pretty loud and sounded good for bass. Have you ever though of getting one of the bigger double 15" Showman black cabs that came out somewhere around 1966-67? That's what i had and it sounded pretty good
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2017
    Iristone, pbassjbass and OldSchool50 like this.
  6. OldSchool50

    OldSchool50 OldSchool50 Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2013
    [QUOTE="Have you ever though of getting one of the bigger double 15" Showman black cabs that came out somewhere around 1966-67? That's what i had and it sounded pretty good[/QUOTE]

    the size of that 2x15 is impractical for my use these days. Just too darn big. Maybe in a studio setting for practice. From what I hear, the 115 tone-ring showman is a very good compromise, with excellent bass tones because of the construction. I have to say, I"m impressed with the 112 tone ring.
    bobyoung53 likes this.
  7. The Blackface and Brownface Showmen are very close.
    I remember when that was the big dog in town,
    before Sunns, SVTs and 361s.
    Better with D140s. :D
    IMHO a pair of single 15 tone ring cabs with 140s would
    be the definative vintaqe Fender bass amp. :smug:
  8. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    Did it have JBL D140F drivers in it?
    bobyoung53 likes this.
  9. No it had D-130's in it when I got it, the surrounds were gone from sitting in a barn and I destroyed them trying to fix them so I bought some cheap Rat Shack 15"s which sounded actually pretty good with that set up. I wish I had had the D-130's reconed but i was a kid and didn't know any better. i had them re-coned later on and used them. I had D-140's in 2 Sunn 2000S cabs later on though.
    lo-freq likes this.
  10. Novarocker


    Oct 12, 2015
    Just a thought, but fender does make a Bassman 100T head that matches that cab. It's got the oxblood cloth and all. Not sure if the speaker can handle it though.
    OldSchool50 likes this.
  11. somebrains

    somebrains Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2017
    Splicing in external power to a Showman or Bassman was everywhere in the Bay Area.
    Mesa Boogie started with repowered tweaked Princetons.

    You may want to try out any of the Alembic pedals, that's the Showman circuit, with your choice of tube or Class D power. Whether you want to go big warm tube or fast class D attack is your deal.

    Fender circuits are tweaked RCA designs out of a book, with a Fender tone stack.
    The $ spent on a Showman is fine if it does what you want, but spend some time exploring before you buy.

    I'd want a modern cab, which can have vintage voicing, with more power.
  12. mark107


    Jul 10, 2009
    In the late 60s I had a DS 2x15 cabinet with the stock JBL d140s. If I played loud, the cabinet back would rattle something fierce. In 1969 I got a SUNN 200S cabinet with JBLs. WAY better. Not since 1969 have I even remotely considered using any Fender stuff of that period for bass.
  13. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    188D771E-DE7C-42CF-ABC0-AFD7C860466A. Sorry, can’t answer your question but sure love blonde Fender cabs. Mine is a decidedly more modern rig capable of ferocious volume. Like you I see the asthetic benefits of a matching set so I added a bit of tolex so the collar matches the cuffs.
    sneha1965, craigie and bobyoung53 like this.
  14. headband


    Oct 18, 2013
    Lake Havasu City
    I recently sold an early blonde Bassman with the 12" tone-ring cabinet. Mine was rare in that it had a tube rectifier (Fender switched pretty quickly to ss as I understand) and it also came stock with the twin reverb output transformer to match the 8 ohm impedance of the tone-ring cab. I still have a similar '61 Bandmaster with 2x12 cabinet, all original. How do they sound? Much better as guitar amp - they sound great for guitar. I never liked the tone-ring cabinet - it was not very loud and broke up quickly. I did have a '66 Blackface Dual Showman that I used to use. It was ok - had good tube sound but was not very flexible. As others have said, I think you can do better for less dollars today.
  15. pbass2


    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    One of the best rock tones I ever got was with an old 100w Bassman head with an SVT fridge. Man, that rig kicked serious ass!
    deathness and shadven like this.
  16. Wesley R

    Wesley R Gold Supporting Member

    Congrats on the 12" Tone Ring find, way cool. I co-owned a Blond Showman head, sold it to a guy in a local/regional band Gypsy. I tried through a B25B and it sounded dandy.
    OldSchool50 likes this.
  17. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I used to own a brownface (blonde/oxblood) Bassman. Those amps have no bright switches but add a presence control that affects both channels. This really changes the sound. Trying to describe it in words is pretty useless, you really have to hear it.

    BTW the original cab for that Bassman was also a 1-12", but no tone ring. Not great bass cabs by modern standards but at lower volumes they have a nice sound.
    heynorm likes this.
  18. I have a 65 Showman with the tone ring cabinet. The tone ring cabinet is a real difference maker it enhances the low end to make it a great bass amp. I have a 61 Bassman with the single 12 cabinet and this head is my favorite. I can get way more sounds out of it than the showman. I can get a real grinding tone out of the normal channel that is much more like an early Marshall than a Fender. People that weigh in without experience on this topic cant give you the total picture. I often use the White Bassman with a single 15 Bag End cabinet and believe it or not it is quite loud, in fact it is as loud as the showman. IMG_1775.JPG
    OldSchool50 likes this.
  19. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2006
    The 1962 Concert Amp I used to have got bloody loud with the appropriate bass cabinet connected to it.
  20. somebrains

    somebrains Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2017
    It was the 410 more than anything else.

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