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The ol' Fender Bassman Head from Years Gone By???

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by jokerjkny, Feb 26, 2004.

  1. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    and no, i'm not talking about those little practice combo jobbies, but the all tube 60 watt guitar heads from the '50s thru the '70s that Alembic based their F-1X preamps on.


    i'm really tempted to pick one up for the mere $325 i've seen them go for on ebay.

    i know most my guitar buds use 'em for that classic jazzy/blues sound, but what about its namesake? has anyone tried it for bass? might be a nice little head for small gigs, and low volume situations, no?
  2. $325??? GO! Buy Now!!!! If you don't like it for bass, you can always sell it to your guitar player bud at 100% markup....

  3. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Really closer to 40 watts than 60 (Fender claimed 50). I owned one for years, they suck for bass compared to similar powered Ampeg or Sunn heads (which can be bought for less money) but they are great for guitar. They are too mushy in the low end and start breaking up at a pretty low volume. Cool for old school rock and roll playing and a rehearsal room beater but not much else.

    At $325 they're not really a "bargain", that's strictly going rate these days. I recall 20 years ago when they were everywhere for $150 or less and noone wanted one...too low powered for bass, no reverb for guitar use. I bought mine back then because it was cheaper than a new Peavey head. The one advantage of getting one...they will last forever, or at least as long as you can still buy tubes.
  4. My first real bass amp was a Black face bassman with a small tilt back 2x12 cab. It sound tight and clean but it wasn't very loud. I used it mostly for college stage band and it was great. I ended up selling it and buying a Kustom 200 2x15 CTS. yea baby!
  5. The Alembic's were (are?) based on the Showman heads.

    The Bassman has a extra cathode-follower circuit that I do not think is in the Showman circuit. I'm too lazy to look it up.
  6. MrBonex


    Jan 2, 2004
    New Hampshire
    I love those amps. I want one for low-volume gigs. They are very rich harmonically. As long as you don't expect to get loud, there's almost nothing better. Especially with passive Fender-style basses (as you might imagine).

    Issues: Fresh caps. Gotta have 'em. Three-prong cord. Fresh tubes. A lot of folks think they sound mushy because they have old caps or bad tubes (people keep 'em forever).

    The silver face ones also sound great, and you can usually get them cheaper than the blackfaces.

    I would GO FOR IT. (and "they" are right -- you can always sell it to a guitarist if you don't like it).
  7. MrBonex


    Jan 2, 2004
    New Hampshire
    One more thing:

    I remember playing a gig at the Rodeo Bar in NYC a number of years back (featuring April Kline and Laura Cantrell). I had my rack (Yamaha PB-1 preamp, Rolland power amp) and my Bag End 2-12 bin loaded with EVMs. I thought I was SO F****** COOL.

    The other act's bass player had a blackface Bassman with it's original small-box 2-12 bin.

    His tone wiped my ass all over that club. I have never been more embarassed in my musical life. Now it's true, my rack wasn't state-of-the-art, but it was pretty damn good (or so I thought). It's simply amazing how a simple amp set-up in some situations just can't be beat.

    That's why I still long for a Bassman.
  8. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    For a little while back in the late 70's I ran through a friend's silverface Bassman head and 2x15 cabinet. It sounded really cool at loud rehearsals... that is, if you like the bass tone on those old live albums by Mountain, Grand Funk Railroad, and Cream. ;)
  9. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    I use a Silver Faced Bassman that has been 'restored' to Black face specs in my project studio. Through a 1x15 JBL, the mic loves it. I'd rather have a B-15 from the 60's, but then I can't afford a good one ...

    If you aren't going to gig with one, but want it as a recording setup ... Find a non-reverb Princeton and run it into an efficient bass cab. 12 watts of screamin' tubes! Very nice vintagy tone and the mic's love it.

    If I'm being lazy, I'll just drive an 8 ohm cab with my Fender Pro-Reverb combo which is more or less the Preamp from a Twin with 2 6L6's rather than 4 so about 40 watts. That one is also a Silver Face but with Tube rather then SS rectifier.

    That Pro is an all around useful amp. I'm suprised how often it makes the cut. At 450 to 550 in the used market they are sort of an undiscovered Fender. You pay almost as much for a Princeton Reverb!
  10. andertone

    andertone Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2000
    Southwest USA
    Yes, good tone can be generated from a Bassman, but the 40 watt output is a problem. A high efficiency speaker (like a JBL D140F) certainly helps.

    Much better: Get a Showman, 88 watts, enough for a small
    club and delicious tone.

    Even better: Get two, and have two 2 x 15" JBL cabinets, my best tone ever was with this setup.

    And I have the two herniated disks to prove it <grin>

    Phil Anderson
    Tucson, AZ
  11. Rezdog

    Rezdog Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    T.Rez, Canada
    Greetings from the north,
    I had a Bassman 100 from 1974. Bought it new with two Bassman 4X12 angled cabs. Being just a kid I didn't know that it could hardly power one cab, let alone two! Another lesson the hard way. Shortly a sweet deal for a 1971 SVT head came along and that was a God send. Had to sell the SVT due to financial problems when I went back to school. But I held on to the Bassman 4X12 cabs and I'm so glad I did. I now run one or both of them with a SVP Pro using the power amps of a Carvin R1000. Thick,Thump & Chunky....and as loud and clear as I need be.
    Every time I see an old Bassman head, I smile because it did introduce me to the world of tubes and for that I am greatful. If only it had more power than to just light up that little coloured light on the front:)
  12. The guitar player in my band does some amp repair/mod work and last fall he finished a black face Bassman and I took it for a couple of test runs at a couple of our gigs. It sounded fat and fabulous through my compact Sonic 1 X 15" JBL loaded cabinet. My first "real" amp, like Graybeard, was a black face (mine was a '64) Bassman with a 2 X 12" cabinet.
  13. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    This should probably be under some old farts thread,
    but everyone I knew used the Showman (dual) for bass.
    It had more power and better tone for bass. Used it with
    a fender dual showman 2x15 JBL box. For bigger gigs, I
    used a Twin Reverb (same amp as showman) with 2x12
    EV's with the 2x15 box. 1960 P Bass or 1965 Jazz Bass.
    WHOOH!!! Any wonder why its tough to find a "modern"
    rig that I'm in love with? Rick Turner said the Alembic pre
    was based on the Showman preamp. VERY similar.
    Guitar players always liked the Bassman heads more than
    bass players did.
  14. You mean like this?

    I kept my old one with the JBL D-140s. It actually sounds great in the studio... with an old Pbass or something more modern. It's not great at handling low B however.
  15. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    Dude, get it. I love my bassman 135 (late 70s model), although it does need new tubes and new caps, so once I replace them, it'll probably sound even better!!

    If you like a good overdriven sound that isn't Ampegish, you should go for one. I picked mine up for $350. If you need something louder than the 50 watter, they also make 100-watt and 135 watt versions (like mine).
  16. bassmantele


    Jul 22, 2003
    Boston MA USA
    Some corrections. The Bassman head was first made as the "blonde" model in the early sixties, followed by the blackface and silverface. Each "type" was made up of different circuits over time. There was no cathode follower in any of the designs. You might get a silverface for $325, but not a blackface or blonde. I paid $225 for my '67 at GC because it was just after Xmas - clearance time - , and they didn't know what they had.

    And a Pro Reverb for $450? :eek:

    Where? More like double that around here.

    Edit: Almost forgot, for details, check here:

  17. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    I got the Pro in Lousiville at a Music Go Round a few years back. I wasn't unhappy with that deal a bit. After I drove the Explorer from Indy to Louisvill round - I guess it was more like $500 (freakin' gas hog!)

    Pro's seem to turn up on EBay with much lower value that I think the are worth... None of these heads are really worth gigging with as a bassist anyway. My Bassman makes a fine studio amp though...
  18. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    Well, maybe if you only want a clean tone, but when these are overdriven, they are perfectly gigable. :bassist:

  19. Click here for schematic: (I put it inline but it was too wide and screwed up the thread.:D)


    There was a cathode follower in some early Bassman circuits. Check out the 12AX7 that drives the tone circuits.

    Marshall basically copied an early Bassman circuit for his first amps and the circuit had the cathode follower in there. I think they kept it in their later circuits and it helps create the Marshall distortion sound.

  20. I'd love to be in your market - a Bassman head in good condition in this area goes for close to $1000. Even factoring in US exchange rates, $325 is still a bargain to me.


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