Be sure to scroll all the way down for lots of cool stuff !
1968 "Blackfaced" Silver face Fender Deluxe Reverb Amplifier
This is a 1968 Fender Deluxe Reverb I bought on Ebay. Someone took the trouble to take an abused 1968 Silverface Deluxe Reverb amp in sad shape and make this "blackface" imposter amp. I bought it equipped with a Celestion G12 Blue Alnico speaker. Still this amp didn't quite compare to the Vibrolux I own (described below). After exchanging a few emails I recently pulled the chassis out and shipped it to Mission amps on Denver Co. Bruce at Mission Amps had a go at this amp and shipped it back to me. It now sounds amazing and has the cool two channel mod Bruce is famous for. (at least in my book). The normal channel is blackface only now with vibrato and reverb. The vibrato channel is a little more tweed like. Still with vibrato and reverb but a little grainier. Cool! Folks can't say enough good things about old hand-wired Fender amps. Now especially when it has been made road worthy and lost it's museum piece status. Then these amps are a great starting point for a custom amp. These are the best deals out there and for half the price of a boutique amp you get the name that defined tone in guitar amplifiers!
Mid 70's Fender Vibrolux Reverb (aka 'Custom Hot Rod Vibrolux Reverb')
One night while searching through eBay I came across this Vibrolux ad that struck me. I kept going back to it. Kept thinking about it for hours after. Now if you've been to my page before it is obvious that I have a number of amps and honestly had no intention of buying another. Still later that night I kept coming back to this ad and quickly shot a question or two about the reverb, vibrato, noise etc. The seller answered quickly and honestly by the next morning. So before heading of to work I did a quick "buy it now" and waited. When the amp arrived it appeared that UPS had a bit of fun with this box. The amp however, looked newer than the "near mint" ad described.
A quick test run showed the reverb was howling and the vibrato was dead. After a tube swap out (one 12AX7 & one 12 AT7) and re-attaching one reverb spring back on hook in the tank it became apparent that I had purchased the amp of my dreams. Rather than give all the details myself take a look at the the seller's ad below. I was sold on this in a minute. I decided after playing through both the "tweed" normal channel and the "blackfaced" vibrato channel that I needed a really well made A/B+Y switch to make this amp complete. After a bit of research I decided to buy a Startouch pedal for this purpose. Startouch makes a super quiet rock solid nice heavy pedal that has two different colored LEDs for easy viewing, A/B+Y combinations so both channels can be used separately or together. Startouch pedals are typically more expensive than most of the factory (Chinese made) stuff that others sell but they are hand made in the USA and hand soldered possibly by brain surgeons from the looks of it. Back to the amp. I love this amp so much that I quickly sold my Fender Custom Vibrolux Reverb amp without blinking an eye.
Check out the seller's eBay ad below. It is all true:
"Mid- Seventies Originally Silver-Faced Vibrolux Reverb. This is a very great sounding and unique amp. Amp has had professional modifications done by Bruce at Mission Amps in Denver, CO. Bad sounding push-pull treble volume knob removed and re-capped. True blackface conversion performed on Vibrato channel. Custom blackface specs panel was installed along with new vintage style cloth front. A tweed conversion was done on the normal channel and now has both reverb and vibrato, as well as that great early tweed tone. Has two new Weber 10" speakers, one Alnico and one Ceramic. This combination gives a tremendous range with a nice tight bass with the usual Fender high end. We also changed the rectifier tube and with a re-bias, the amp now pushes around 25 watts instead of the normal 40 watts. Similar to a Deluxe Reverb but with a fuller sound. This is a great feature since it allows you to turn the amp up more and get more true natural tube distortion without busting your ear drums. Should you need full power, simply replace the original rectifier tube (included) and re-bias back to a normal Vibrolux. This is a truly awesome amp which I hate to sell but I must fund a new business venture so a few items must be sold. Comes with foot switch and cover. This amp has roughly eight hours playing time after the modifications. I play only in my basement. Never gigged. Not a reissue."
The rest is history. Pictured above to the left is my new combination Tweed/Blackface Custom hot Rod Vibrolux Reverb amp with cool and useful pedals old and new. Note the Weber 10F150 Ceramic (left speaker) and the Weber 10A150T Alnico one on the right. Despite the blackfaced appearance of this cool amp a keen eye will detect the 70's Fender tailless logo on the front and 3 prong grounded utility outlet on the back as Silverface attributes. The tone however is all Blackface......oh and tweed!
Fender Blues Junior
It's no secret that Blues Junior is the hottest little 15 watt amp around these days. It is also no secret that it's "all tube" circuit makes it gush with great and easy to dial up tone. What is a bit of a secret though is the various revisions made to the circuit over the years and of course various mods out there to "do and undo" them depending on your tastes. This particular eBay special is of the revision 'C' variety. A bit darker in tone than later versions but with the desired reverb modifications already done at the factory. Speaking of reverb mods I found a guy on eBay that actual cuts up larger Accutronics reverb tanks to fit the 16" width of the bottom of this amp. Pictured below is the before and after pictures of adding the larger reverb tank. Also while I was in there I saw fit to replace the Fender Eminence speaker which I hated in the Hot Rod Deluxe as well as the Junior. It turns out that an old cabinet (assumed to be Ampeg) I acquired in high-school, and used for years until I got tired of lugging it around, was nicely equipped with two original Jensen C12N speakers. Because the back of this cabinet had twenty screws with proprietary screw heads I had never gotten around to opening it up until a few weeks ago and lo and behold there they were just waiting to be plucked for more immediate use. As I write this one speaker sits in the Junior and the other in the Ampeg Jet II. Both amps are the better for it. The Jet speaker was anemic and the Fender speaker was flubby and lame. Check out these links for great info on the Blues Junior and other amps: Great Junior Mods Great Reverb Resource More Junior info
Below left is the Junior with the larger reverb tank waiting to be installed. Look closely in the lower right hand corner of the photo and you can see the parallel extension speaker jack I added next to the foot switch jack on bottom of the amp chassis. The picture to the right is the Fender Eminence speaker and the nice old Jensen C12N. Note the similar labeling. The Jensen speaker really does blow the original Junior speaker away.
Below left is the Jet and the Junior. Note the cool old Jensen speaker domes barely visible through each amp's grill. Below right you can just make out the two Jensen speaker labels through the backs.
1964 Fender Princeton Reverb
Pictured here is a very cool little 1964 Fender Princeton Reverb. Notice that there is no chrome Fender logo on the grill. I've read this is common on the earliest blackface Princeton and Deluxe amps. This amplifier boasts both reverb and tremolo and is a modest 12 watts thru one 10" speaker. Perfect for serious twanging and righteous surf music. Crank this amp and it breaks up nicely. This one sports a Mojo replacement speaker that sounds great and a newer footswitch.
Fender Hot Rod Deluxe
Two favorites that are interchangeable depending on the size of the venue are the Fender Hot Rod Deluxe and the Hot Rod Deville. The deluxe is a 40 watt amp that comes stock with one 12" inch speaker. After a year or so of playing with this amp I suspected that this cabinet was better suited for two 10" speakers. I made a new baffle board and purchased some Fender grill cloth (from Dennis Kager at Central Jersey Music Services) and installed two Celestion Vintage 10's. This really tightened up the sound and gave the amp a lot of punch. These are all very admittedly cliché' sounding descriptions so maybe a better way to describe it is this. I always thought the 12" speaker sounded kind of flubby. Now with the two 10's there is no more flub. Tight, punchy and it will kick your ass. Ok that was also kind of cliché. Below to the left you can see the Deluxe with added tilt-back legs. Pictured below to the right are the two Celestion Vintage 10's I crammed inside.
Fender Hot Rod Deville
The Hot Rod Deville is available with two 12"s or 4 x10"s. I opted for the 4x10" version and I love it. 60 watts of clean tone with the slightest break up when cranked. This time Fender really got it right. No flub right outta the box so I left this one alone.
Ampeg Jet II Model J-12T
Here is another small easy to carry great sounding amplifier. I bought this Ampeg Jet II reissue at the Philadelphia guitar show. It is 15 watts through a 12" speaker and is nicely equipped with reverb and tremolo. This is a portable little powerhouse and yes it has tremolo and reverb. My first guitar amp was an Ampeg Rocket I took out of a neighbor's trash. It looked similar to this though was far worse for the wear. I later traded it towards a new Peavey Deuce circa 1979. As mentioned above in the Fender Blues Junior paragraph this amp now sports an original Jensen C12N Speaker that I pilfered from a 212 cabinet I've had since high-school. Little did I know of it's great contents until recently. The Jet pictured left before the Jensen transplant and the old cabinet pictured right with one speaker already pulled for the Blues Junior.
While not an Amp per se this Fender Vibratone is one of Fender's cooler and useful effects. CBS (owning Fender at the time) owned the patents for the Leslie rotating speaker and applied it in simplified form to a 10" speaker in a guitar cabinet with openings on the front, top and sides. A rotating Styrofoam baffle spins in front of the speaker (via a motor and belt) and creates a rather spatial and large guitar sound via the Doppler effect. This is an effect you have no doubt heard on many late 60's and early 70's records including the Beatles 'Let it Be' and more recently as a part of the definitive tone of the late great Stevie Ray Vaughn. He used one of these cabinets in his live performances and on recording. I bought his particular one at a flea market for $150. It was a bear to carry and at the time all I knew was that is said Fender on it. It proved to by a nice catch as I have seen these selling at guitar shows for close to $500 easy. This one is likely from 1967 or 68 as indicated by the Fender logo with the tail under it. Later versions lost the logo but had an Aluminum bar that said "Fender" with "Vibratone" written in red print to match the new solid state line of amps. The footswitch actually lets you bypass the cabinet (which is looped through the speaker output of the guitar amp of your choice) or start and stop the vibrato by starting and stopping the motor. Very heavy sound, very heavy cabinet.