8/23/2017

1967 Fender Blackface Bassman 50w Tube Amplifier



Update: I've added pics of the speakers in the cab at the bottom of the post. They're brown-label Jensens.

The AB165 model Bassman (this one) is something of a transition model between a normal mid-'60s Blackface Bassman and the later Silverface ones. It's 50w of tube power and, even at volume turned to 2 or 3, crashingly-loud. While intended for electric bass, these really shine as clean, soaring, guitar amps and a Strat or Tele plugged into the "normal" (guitar) channel brings back '60s chime instantly. It's an excellently-clean amp, operates quietly, and has all the highs (and good, sweet lows) you could need.

A friend of mine bought this from a neighbor of his way back in the late '60s. After some use, it sat for a long time. When he brought it in, it would power-up but only the guitar channel would emit any sort of response and it was the quietist whisper you could imagine. Time for action!

My rehab regimen included replacing all of the electrolytic capacitors (a typical thing on old tube amps -- called a "cap job") with F&T or Sprague equivalents (good-quality stuff), conversion of the cord to a socketed three-prong so the amp would be safe to run, and a re-heat of every connection in the amp with my soldering iron to kill any bad solder joints. All the original "blue molded" caps, ceramic caps, and resistors are in place. The result presents itself immediately: everything works as it should, the amp has oodles of reserve power, and it sounds tops.

The owner bought a whole complement of spare new JJ tubes for it, too, and currently the only JJ installed is the 12AT7 phase-inverter tube (the original was bad). The rest are all original '60s RCAs -- 2x6L6 power and 3x12AT7 preamp tubes! I tried the JJs in place of them and the sound was roughly-similar but had a bit more of an aggressive high-end and a bit more gain/overall power.


The physical condition of the amp is pretty good, too, with only minor tugs at the grill cloth and most of the scuffs, nicks, and dings to the black tolex covering on the sides and back.



The "deep" switch sort-of muddies the tone a bit darker for simple bass thump.


Keep that bright switch engaged! Classic Fender chime is right there.


The front panel is pretty clean.


One can mount the cab any way they like, but "vertical" in this manner allows for the head to clamp on to some little catches built for it and lock in place.




There are two or three screws missing from the zillion-screw backplate. All the damping foam and speaker wiring is original and in great shape, by the way.



The "ground" switch is disconnected and I've removed the original "accessory" 2-prong power outlet and replaced it with a 3-prong receptacle for the power cord. The new 3-prong cord is thus detachable and quite long.


Here's what that looks like up close.


The original Fender speaker cable is going strong.


This thing even has both vinyl covers for it! They're in good shape but show a little use/storage wear.


An aluminum dolly with adjustable-length bottom-bars comes with it, too, and looks to be original. There's a cargo strap rolled-up on it for attaching the cabinet more securely.


Here's the baggy of old guts -- bad electrolytic capacitors, the original 2-prong cable (with Fender-branded plug), and a few redundant screws and clips.


Fresh JJ 6L6 power tubes (2) and 12AX7 preamp tubes (3) come with it as backups for the probably-original RCA tubes.


Here's a Strat in front of it for size comparison.


Here's one of the speakers -- I've removed some of the damping foam in the cab to get a better shot of it.



Here's how that foam looks as-normal.

4 comments:

guitarhunter said...

Hi Jake...It's insanely rare to see a blackface head with a blackface tall cabinet...in fact I've never seen another one. These could only have been made for a couple months. What speakers are in it? I've found that the original blue Oxfords in silver face or "drip edge" cabs are really voiced for bass and don't sound particularly great for guitar but if this has brown label Muter Jensens that makes it one of the best guitar cabs ever...

Jake Wildwood said...

Oh, gosh, I'm pretty sure they're blue label speakers. I figured the tall cab was a little strange with it. I guess I'll have to open it up and look again... :D

Jake Wildwood said...

Well, eff my memory, they ARE the browns. I'll add some pics.

guitarhunter said...

Score!