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Old Fender Bassman's

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by MMStingRay, Oct 18, 2004.

  1. MMStingRay


    Aug 17, 2004
    supported by Hipshot, Diamond strings and Clayton picks
    I'm getting the itch to get some old classic gear and want to know more about the Fender Bassman heads. I understand they were 50/70/100/135watt models, black and silver face.

    A. what's the differance between the Black and Silver face?
    B. Do they sound cool for bass or are they guitar player
    amps? (allot a guitar players use the 50 watter)
    C. Is 50 to 100 watts of tube power enough for a bass rig?

    What can anyone tell me about the Bassman 10 tube, 410 combo amp? (watts, sound, lbs, anything?) :bassist:
  2. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    They are lousy bass amps by today's standards. Not enough power, not enough low end. For guitar though, the 50 watt heads can really rock.

    The 70 and 135 watt models are the least desirable, from Fender's "super linear" amp line of the late 1970s.

    Black face amps and silver face amps vary in small circuit issues. Guitar players prefer black face for tone, silver face is probably better for bass (cleaner). There are also "brown face" heads with blonde rather than black tolex. These are MONSTER guitar heads, but again poor for bass (I used to own one).

    The Bassman 10 combo is a 50 watt silverface head mated to a 4-10 closed back cabinet. I own one and you're welcome to it :D Muddy, not very loud and weighs about 80 pounds. They often sell for less than the heads, that shows you how popular they are ;)
  3. they sound good in studio at low volume and farts out the more you turn it up. yes they sound better for guitar.
    i´ve used to play through a 100w silverface with matching 2x15 and it was really not that fun. but it is quite a cool looking rig.
    if you want a good 100w valveamp that can get loud get a 70´s ampeg V4B.
  4. 8_finger

    8_finger Supporting Member

    Jun 1, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    I agree, I tried 100W bassman(silverface) against V4B with same bass (yamaha TRB) and same box 4x12 Trace Elliot (V-type green box) and Ampeg was simply far louder than bassman.
  5. Antonius


    Nov 26, 2002
    Same here. My first bass amp was a 50w bassman, with some weird cab (not Fender). Low volume playing was ok, practicing at home and the like. Not enough controls to play with by todays standards. Not enough power to keep up with the rest of the band, and too much weight to lug around. Sold it to a guitar player, made both of us happier.
  6. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    The 'standard' Bassman have a great classic tone to them when recapped and tubed properly. They are not loud bass amps but can do OK when paired with an efficient cab. Think coffee house acoustic support and recording. The Showman Amp 85 watts is a much better bet as those extra 2 tubes really help in the volume department. Great tone!

    In comparison to modern amps, these are not gigging machines for most of us. The V4B wouldn't be either. It is louder for sure, but no enough to make a real difference. A guitar player with a 30 to 40 watt tube amp will bury you ...
  7. jiant.


    Jul 3, 2004
    Fort Mill, SC
    Yeah, I'm not a big fan of these as far as bass amps go. I use the 50w head and 2x 15 cab about once a week at my band's practice space. It's ok for in there, but it has too much treble and couldn't cut through the sound quite well enough for a live situation. I use the 300w Behringer head and Ampeg SVT 410 HLF cab live. As for it being used as a guitar amp, it works pretty well IMO. One of the guitarists in my band used the head and just ran it through a 2x10 cab, and it sounded awesome.
  8. Stinsok

    Stinsok Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2002
    Central Alabama
    I was at musician friend's wedding this weekend, and his guitar player used a 50watt silver face Bassman with a 4x12 Marshall cabinet. It sounded wonderful.
  9. pbassnut

    pbassnut Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2004
    Falls Church, VA
    I have a near mint 1983 (last year of production) black face Fender Bassman 135 with cover for sale. I bought it off eBay a while back and the bad news is that the seller packed it poorly and two of the power tubes fell out breaking one of them. The good news is that he was a standup guy and reimbursed me enough $$$ to purchase a matched quartet of SED 6L6GC power tubes and an hour of shop labor to bias it. I also changed the preamp tubes with a pair of Ruby 12AX7s and a N.O.S. Mullard 12AT7. The shop tech did a complete once over and checked the caps, retensioned the tube sockets, cleaned all the pots and in/out jacks and generally gave it a once over and a clean bill of health. I've used it on roughly 10 gigs since then and it works like a champ. I agree that it is underpowered compared to many of the tube and SS amps available these days. However, it does have a good roots music bass tone when used within its headroom limits and it has worked well for me for the gut bucket blues I play. However, I generally prefer my Mesa Boogie Buster 200 for it's added headroom and 4/8 impedence selector capabilities so I'm thinning the herd a bit. $525 shipped. Pictures available upon request. Steve (703) 533-2007 or email steven_reiter@hotmail.com
  10. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    If you mean really vintage, like a 60's Bassman, I agree with everyone who dissed them. Hell, I played through plenty of them when they were relatively new and they stunk for bass......mainly because of the cabs, IMO.

    But they are fantastic guitar rigs.

    Our lead guitarist, back then, had two Showman cabs with 15" JBL's powered by a Showman head and that rig sounded so much better for bass.

    I'd much rather have an old Ampeg Portaflex anytime. Those things pumped some bass!!!

  11. I play in a "traditional" blues band (guitar, bass, drums harp)- Chicago, west coast swing and jump blues. For 2 small joints we play regularly, I use a recently retubed and recapped silver-face "Bassman 50" and a compact, JBL loaded Sonic 1 X 15" cabinet. I always play my P-Bass clone with the rig and it sounds great (great enough that non-musicians comment about the tone) but I couldn't even think about using it in 90% of the places I gig. As long as you can keep it in the sweet spot you have a great rig but things can get ugly if you leave the sweet spot.
  12. BassGreaser


    Aug 22, 2002
    Austin, TX
    why is the 70, and the 135 models less desirable...
  13. scraig


    Apr 15, 2004
    Virginia Beach
    The guitar player in my band wants to buy my ventage Fender Bassman amp head. It has a matching cab with two 12's or 15's - I not sure. Guitar players like the tube sound these heads produce. For a bass the sound is muddy. Maybe some bass players like that. Not me.
  14. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    A. The silverface amps are generally cleaner, and the blackface amps generally break up earlier. Also other small differences in tone.
    B. They can sound cool for bass. I've had good luck with vintage Bassmen in the studio, they're very easy to record.
    C. No, they don't have quite enough power for live work in today's world. IME 100 watts is "just under" the minimum power that a working bass player needs on stage. Double that would be fine, like Fender 300PS would be good, or a Marshall Major, or an SVT, or a Sunn 300T. If you had a "very" efficient speaker, 100 watts might get you over. But I haven't seen any "new" speakers like that in a long time, the last of those that I recall as being commercially available were the old Gauss's back in the early 80's. These days, with y'r average Eminence's or BagEnd's or something, I'd target 200 honest tube watts as the minimum power for a live bass rig.
  15. Remember too that the power ratings on the old Bassmans were quite optimistic. They were claiming 100 watts out of a pair of 6L6's (true power output=44 watts) if my memory serves me right. And with an undersized power transformer and rectifier tube, the power supply sagged easily. Terrible for high-power bass needs, but perfect for guitar.
  16. MMStingRay


    Aug 17, 2004
    supported by Hipshot, Diamond strings and Clayton picks
    The old Portafles fliptops what are they going for and how do they sound?

    I'm looking at getting a old "vintage" rig. If I cangig with it is a plus. But that old Ampeg looks cool as He&%. :hyper: