Other Amps

Fender amps in The Modern World


Well I am not stuck in the 60s ... will give one a test drive.

– DCBirdMan

Well..... I am!


I must be the only person who liked the Bassbreakers! I forget which one I tried but I thought it sounded amazing for a mass-produced modern Fender.

I gigged with a Vibroking for a few years and at the time didn't find it so heavy - I might now! In the end I traded it for a SRRI and liked the Super much more.

I am looking forward to trying the new digital Deluxe Reverb - but I never really liked the tube ones so I'm not expecting to love it. The Super is pretty much the only BF Fender I have ever liked. I'm kind of ambivalent about digital amps - I like the idea of a lightweight amp capable of sounding good at ultra-low volumes but I have spent years learning how to build the best-sounding amp for me that it feels like I'm throwing all of that away. Plus I like getting in there and tweaking parts which is not really the digital way...

– JimmyR

Oh, no you’re not! I played through a Bassbreaker a few times and it’s the most touch-sensitive amp I’ve ever played. Sounded off-the-chain!


Those Bassbreakers are some impressive boxes! Maybe 40 years too late...but nice to see Fender trying to expand on their non-Blackface tones.

I'm with Jimmy though, I like tinkering and the smell of old electronics too much to spend a lot of time thinking about new amps.


I think for a long time, the Dual Showman was coveted by working guitar players who wanted to be Regarded as serious professional musicians. Not a budget model by any means. What today compares? Not sure anyone needs or wants that kind of headroom, or wattage, anymore. As for the Super Reverb, I still use mine at home when the mood strikes.

– RichB555

The Dual Showman,especially the ones with the big cab,along with the Super Six,Quad Reverb and the Bassman 100's and 135's(and their big 2-15" cabs) were all part of that let's-see-how-many-Kelvinator-size-amps-we-can-sell craze.They were all variations on the Twin-Reverb theme. That one's still in production,I suspect partly because steel players do need all that headroom. Fender did do bigger ones than the Showman,though.Read an ad once that said Ted Nugent used SIX Super Twins,each atop a tall Dual Showman cab,and Fender made a few PS-400s...465 watts RMS when used with the 3 reflex cabs it was optimized for.Cooler heads and backs have since prevailed.


Well...there was a legit reason for the evolution to big iron: in the prehistoric days before everything was mic'ed and run through the PA, every amp had to push the whole house.

That was one thing when you didn't mind some distortion, but most players during the development of those amps wanted to stay clean clean clean.

Ironic that as soon as amps got big enough to that, psychedelia and heavy rock hit and it became a thing to get previously undesired levels of grinderdrive out of the BIG amps that were designed to prevent it.

Ah, the era when giants strode the earth.


Getting there.

– Powdog

I gotta have one @ 10 watts


I appreciate the open-mindedness of my fellow members with the liberal attitudes toward solid state amps; I sincerely do, but I remember when transistorized amps started showing up on bandstands. The first ones that I heard were Kustoms, and my impression then, even as a no-nothing 15 year old was that they sounded 'nasally.' In recent years I learned that what I was perceiving was a certain pronounced upper mid-range character in the tonal spectrum that was not part of the instruments' sound.

Around 1974 I traded in my old Twin Reverb for a newfangled transistor amp because it was heavy and the guys in the band complained about the volume. (I couldn't help that it sounded best on about 8.) What I got was a lightweight single 12 combo made by, as you might guess, Kustom. From there I went through various solid state brands, including Polytone, Roland, and one brand that I can't remember. At some point, being unhappy with the sounds from any of them, I bought one of the Rivera era tube amps, a Fender Concert. It was very heavy, but it sounded right. Then I hurt my back and went back to solid state, including class D amps. Some might remember the Walter Woods amps. The early ones used toriodal transformers, but at some point he went to class D, switching transformers. Then a little class D amp head made by Acoustic Image. With some soupy reverb and decent boost in front of it, it was OK for live gigs, handy when travelling, but generally speaking, with all of these transistor amps, I was always trying to dial some aspect of the sound out, and while using them live was passable, I was never ever happy with the sound of anything I did that was recorded with them.

In 2008 I had one amp; a Blues Jr. that was OK, not too heavy, loud enough for most gigs...not bad but not great, but at least when I played through it I heard the sound of my guitar and not a gaggle of components producing some kind of unnatural upper mid-range frequencies. Then I was asked to do a live recording with a trio. The venue was a couple of hours away from home and the guy doing the recording had this boutique tube amp that he wanted me to use called a Turbo Pup. It sounded great, but just as we were about to start playing it broke. I was too far from home to get my own amp and all he had as a backup was an AER solid state amp, great for acoustic guitars, but terrible for electrics. All that went to tape was either mud or razor blades.

I asked myself why I had really nice guitars and no really good amps. So, I began buying (and selling) old Fender amps and have rarely met a silverface of blackface that I didn't like. Part of it could be the sounds that I grew up with, although that would include cranked Marshalls too, which I kind of attempt to emulate when using overdrive pedals.

I know there is a dichotomy here, because I love pedals, and they're solid state for the most part, (most fussy about overdrives) but while I do, as I said at the beginning of this long post, admire the open-mindedness expressed toward solid state, for me, it's not up for discussion. The mendacity has been around for decades, and now its even more brazen with the addition of class D power supplies. Maybe someone will engineer a combination of tubes with class D, but class D with transistors? Tomfoolery. The mind can be a terrible thing, but never the ear.


Yep yep. In the days when I was just happy to have an amp, and no one I knew distinguished between tube and solid state, I went from a Silvertone Twin Twelve to a Kustom 100 (2 years in college) to an Acoustic 360 w/6-10 AND a Silvertone 1-12 which blew up (one year). Then as my ear and taste evolved, a 60s Bandmaster 2x12 JBL (several years) ... which got too big and heavy ... and thus to a Peavey Pacer, then the first gen Peavey Bandit (maybe a year altogether).

Then, still without discriminating between types of power, just following my ear: a Peavey 130 watt tube combo with a Black Widow (small, heavy, hot, LOUD)...then a MusicMan RD50 110 (which I still have) and since I could then afford to have more than one amp, the Rivera Fender Concert (sold last year), my first Ampeg Reverberocket (and I'd still like to know what happened to it when I moved), a Seymour Duncan Convertible...and that history gets me to the early 90s.

Out of all that, the Kustom, Acoustic, and the first two Peaveys were solid state. I get what you're saying about a solid state tonal signature...but note that my Bandmaster and the Peavey 130 had aluminum-dome speakers, so I must have liked bright and clangy, since I even sought it out when I had tubes.

I think after the sponginess and relatively early, not particularly textured, breakup of the Silvertones, clarity, headroom, and punch were what I wanted to hear - whether that came from transistors or tubes. (But the Roland Jazz Chorus never tickled any of my fancies...maybe that crystal-shattering tone finally stripped the scales from my ears.)

One way or another, my ears must've got the news, because from the 90s through to maybe 8-10 years ago, I didn't buy another solid state amp. No prejudice against them, and I'd plug into amps in stores without even knowing what was inside - but I always picked tubes.

Until the Tech21 Trademark 60. Its tone controls are nothing like any tube amp I've ever tried to ride, and it takes a while to get the hang of dialing it in - but to my ear it does not have any characteristic solid statitude. You can't really get too much bottom end out of it, like you can from most Fender tube amps (for good or ill), but easily more than the likes of the Blues Jr, which I've just never understood. Other than that, it just behaves like an amp - only lighter.

I find the same thing with the Quilter lineup. (And, for that matter, the tiny Hotone Legacy Series heads, but that's a digression.) I've heard the Fender DR Tonemaster live twice, and all the demos, and to my ear it doesn't sound like not-tubes.

I'm not trying to force some SS attitude on you; I'm agnostic about it but still have way more tube amps than not. If you're happy with your amps and their carry, excellent. Not trying to talk you into anything.

I'm just suggesting that if, without going out of your way, you happen to run across some of those solid state amps that don't sound solid-statey to me - the Tech21, the Quilters, the Fender Tone Masters, the Blues Cube - you might at least listen to them. They're definitely lighter (and arguably less finicky) than tube iron, and solid state hasn't categorically sucked for some years.


I had a few of those Rivera era Fenders and at the time I really liked them, especially considering my first two amps were a Roland Cube 60 and a Roland Bolt 60! The big revelation to me was the Peavey Classic 50 of the 90s. It sounded bigger than my Rivera Twin Reverb II. From there I got into early JCM800 Marshalls (Amazingly good amps if you know how to get rid of the bright caps!) and Badcats...

I'm waiting for Fender to build a Tonemaster Tweed Twin. If they could build on I could tweak like a tube amps I'd be happy.


Well here's another thing (I did mention it in my previous post), and I'm wondering if anyone else has experienced this. There were times when I was OK with the live sound from SS, aided by some decent reverb, etc., but it never seemed to sound right when recorded. Why that is I have no idea, but to my ears, the only time I was reasonably happy with my recorded guitar sound was when I used tube amps, invariably Fenders. What is it about SS that doesn't sound right, to my ears, when recorded, even when the live sound is passable?

Now I know that some folks prefer SS, even some great players (John Abercrombie, R.I.P), so I'm not crapping on anyone else's taste, but for me, well, you know. There are those who won't even plug into a new Fender tube amp because it has circuit boards and less than top line components. Since were talking about "Fender in the modern world", I must say, the new Princetons and Deluxe Reverbs sound just fine to me, and this is just a thing of beauty, and sooooo tempting:


I love small amps!!

I have a couple of Pro Jrs and just love their boxey charm. They can benefit from a speaker swap but one of mine is a stock 90s one and just sounds great. They're hard to beat for the price second hand...light enough to gig...just stick a mic in front of them and off you go. Fun Fun Fun.


Always been a big fan of non-reverb Princetons, brown and black. I’ve started building these hybrids, with a brownface tone control, blackface voltages, a Deluxe Reverb output transformer and a 12” speaker. Lots of big Fender cleans with some growl and hair when you push it and still light enough for an old turd like me to haul around.


Always been a big fan of non-reverb Princetons, brown and black. I’ve started building these hybrids, with a brownface tone control, blackface voltages, a Deluxe Reverb output transformer and a 12” speaker. Lots of big Fender cleans with some growl and hair when you push it and still light enough for an old turd like me to haul around.

– Powdog

Way cool! So, how would you describe the tonal differences between the typical blackface sound and the brown?

Register Sign in to join the conversation