Other Amps

Fender Bassman 410

1

Wondering if I’ve overlooked a tonal goldmine in my many years of amp flogging.

I’d seen the Bassman reissues, the LTD version, and I’ve heard people play through them, but I only occasionally plugged into one to try it out, and usually dismissed it because, of all reasons, it didn’t have reverb. But this week, I played a gig where there was a backline provided, and the choices were a Hot Rod Deluxe, Twin Reverb Reissue, or a tweed Bassman 410 reissue.

The Bassman was on my side of the stage, so while waiting for the sound crew to finish moving the bass rig to where it needed to go, I looked at the Bassman and thought “wonder what it sounds like?” So I plugged into it and fired it up, and really liked the sound. I mean, REALLY liked it. Since I have a reverb pedal in the Rackabilly, I opted to give it a shot. And I got to play it pretty loud, so I got to hear it break up nicely, so much so that I wondered how much clean volume I could get out of it, and though I didn’t have much time to experiment, I just had to back off the volume on my SSL-NV and it cleaned right up.

After the show, my wife commented, unsolicited, mind you, which doesn’t happen often, that my guitar sounded really good, and in the videos I’ve watched of the show, I had to agree. Then I heard Buddy Dughi play his Duo Jet through the same amp at his show yesterday, and my concerns about clean volume were allayed, as he made it sound just plain great.

So it made me start to ponder, should I consider using one of these? Is there a significant difference between the standard Bassman reissues for sale everywhere or the LTDs? Is Victoria’s version (there’s one available nearby at a reasonable price) a comparable or better option? I have an open-back 4x10 cabinet (it’s even tweed!), could I get anywhere close to the same sound with that and an amp head I already have? Should I just take a deep breath and calm down? Advice appreciated.

2

Well, we who have the Gear Affliction should always take a deep breath and calm down, especially if we're too easily goaded into spending.

An amp won't change your life. It won't be the missing link that takes you from niggling frustration to utter and complete eternal satisfaction with your sound. Or, more precisely, it will do that for about three weeks. Then you'll either be wondering again, or you'll ooh-shiny in another direction and your amp will no longer be a concern.

Part of your joy was playing louder than usual. Another part was playing through multiple speakers in a larger cabinet rather than through your punchy but compact Quilters.

All that said, that particular 4-10 reissue - if it's the one introduced at NAMM several years ago - is a special amp. I don't have a lot of depth in Bassman experience (much more in Bandmasters), but that one had a character I don't always hear in Bassman rigs. Amp or speaker complement, I don' t know.

But remember that if you can't play it at the volume you did (and heard Buddy at), it's not going to have the same depth and bloom. So unless your usual gig changes, you could end up with a wonderful amp for a purpose you rarely have.

All easy talk for me, since I'm not currently all fevered up. If you have the fever, you know the cure. You can always sell yourself out from under buyer's remorse.

3

I have that exact amp. It is an amazing beast when tamed. I now use it as my bedroom amplifier thanks to a new pedal, sonicake Twiggy Blues. Also caddy cornered, the amps sound seems to be coming from everywhere. It is truly a special amp! You will not be sorry one bit! It is something you need badly! Just go get one!

4

I don’t own one but tried them a few times. You have great taste because they sound amazing.

5

Well, you know...there's a reason the late 50's narrow panel tweed bassman is a total classic. They're killer amps. I certainly wouldn't advise against getting one.

Is Victoria’s version (there’s one available nearby at a reasonable price) a comparable or better option?

The Victoria has tagboard construction like an old one, so it's more repair-friendly and sturdier. It generally also uses higher quality parts than a standard reissue Fender. If you can get a used one in good shape for a good price, grab it.

6

could I get anywhere close to the same sound with that and an amp head I already have?

Oh. Probably not. But it depends on what amps you have.

7

My question about the Bassman, is there a 20 watt version out there? What was it’s closest brother circuit wise?

8

My question about the Bassman, is there a 20 watt version out there? What was it’s closest brother circuit wise?

– Matt Vogt

No, not really.

9

All wise words, Tim, and thank you for that. I did indeed have time to think it over and take the deep breath. And funny what you said about its possibly needing to be that loud to sound that glorious. Mrs. giffenf said words to the same effect when I started gushing a little about the amp, as if she (correctly) sensed my procurative curiosity.

The Victoria has tagboard construction like an old one

Exactly, Walter, hence the appeal. Trying to work out a day/time to go look at it as I'm writing this.

Oh. Probably not. But it depends on what amps you have.

Agreed, it's a longshot, but I've learned to never underestimate Pat Quilter's capabilities. I've got an Overdrive 200 head which I was thinking of trying first into that tweed 4x10 tweed cab to see if it gets anywhere in the ballbark, and the Mach II MicroPro head has plenty of voices to experiment with. Or a Pro Block. It's likely none will match what I remember hearing, but it's worth a shot.

Going to go look at the Victoria on Wednesday, we'll see. It's one of the early ones with the MojoTone speakers.

And I may just take a couple more deep breaths and forget the whole thing. I'll let ya know.

10

See my post on Evil Twins. Just picked up a Fender version (‘59 Bassman LTD) and I’m blown away by the sound. I own a Victoria amp as well. It has the Deluxe Reverb type circuit in it. Quality of the Victoria is top notch, although I have to say that the Victoria has a slightly higher noise floor than my ‘59 Bassman LTD or my Fender Deluxe Reverb Reissue, especially when I dial in some reverb. The Victoria seems to be a little more sensitive to electrical interference as well. Again, not a Bassman type circuit. No reverb on the Bassman, so that aspect shouldn’t be a worry for you. As an aside, I’m impressed with the quality of the Fender ‘59. The tube sockets are chassis mounted and not PCB mounted, which is a really good thing.

11

My Bassman is my desert island amp. I, too, would choose the Victoria over the reissue for the reasons stated, although...it's hard to believe they're comparably priced. Reissue Bassmans go 6-700 all day long around here. If I didn't have the Bassman, I would be very glad to use a Super Reverb, and they are DIRT CHEAP right now. Playing without a mic, the 4x10 has the least beam of any configuration and it fills the room with fat sound; and YOU get to hear what your amp sounds like even if you're only a few feet in front of it. If you mic...mics love small speakers. It's pretty big money, but if you want a great Bassman clone with some added tonal variety AND reverb, there's the Kendrick BadAssMan. Goofy name...killer amp.

12

My question about the Bassman, is there a 20 watt version out there? What was it’s closest brother circuit wise?

– Matt Vogt

The Plexi Marshall was originally a near clone of the 4 x 10 bassman in head form. This is a two EL84 version with a couple tweaks, and 2 x 10s:

https://www.winfieldamps.co...

13

I gigged with a Bassman RI for a few years - good amps, sound tightest with a SS rectifier and make a good pedal platform that way too. A GZ34 will help it break up sooner but with a Gretsch I prefer the plug-in SS rectifier.

Victorias are pretty good reproductions and potentially a better long-term proposition because of the sturdier construction. The stock Fender RI is all PCB and I had a few issues with mine with fuse holders coming loose on the PCB - which causes the amp to cut out completely! A little concerning at a gig... Speakers are really important in these amps too. The wrong speakers will kill the sound.

FWIW the 5F6-A 4x10 Bassman was the amp that Marshall copied to make the JTM45. Most classic Marshalls have the same basic circuit but of course they sound quite different. Fender also made a Hi-power tweed Twin - a 2x12 much loved by Keith Richards - and it is pretty much exactly the same circuit but with four 6L6s rather than two for 80W.

All the other tweed circuits are quite different from the 5F6-A Bassman or hi-power Twin. The 5F6-A has a clearer, less mid-biased tone than most tweeds and breaks up in a different way. It has a different phase inverter set up which makes it break up differently from earlier tweeds and I personally prefer the break-up of the earlier tweeds.

The tweed Bassman is not too heavy if it has alnico speakers. If it has the original style solid pine cab it will fill a stage nicely like most tweeds do but if it has the ply cab it's not as big a sound. I have built a few 5F6-As as a 1x12 solid pine combo and they have a really sweet sound. Fuller than a BF but sweeter than other tweeds. It has a classic complex chimey kinda tone which works well with Gretsches and makes Teles sound chunky.

14

All wise words, Tim, and thank you for that. I did indeed have time to think it over and take the deep breath. And funny what you said about its possibly needing to be that loud to sound that glorious. Mrs. giffenf said words to the same effect when I started gushing a little about the amp, as if she (correctly) sensed my procurative curiosity.

The Victoria has tagboard construction like an old one

Exactly, Walter, hence the appeal. Trying to work out a day/time to go look at it as I'm writing this.

Oh. Probably not. But it depends on what amps you have.

Agreed, it's a longshot, but I've learned to never underestimate Pat Quilter's capabilities. I've got an Overdrive 200 head which I was thinking of trying first into that tweed 4x10 tweed cab to see if it gets anywhere in the ballbark, and the Mach II MicroPro head has plenty of voices to experiment with. Or a Pro Block. It's likely none will match what I remember hearing, but it's worth a shot.

Going to go look at the Victoria on Wednesday, we'll see. It's one of the early ones with the MojoTone speakers.

And I may just take a couple more deep breaths and forget the whole thing. I'll let ya know.

– giffenf

Frank, I have a Victoria ‘59 Bandmaster clone. It is an early one and came with Mojotone speakers. Sounded better when I replaced them with Jensen Alnicos. They are rock solid amps. You can probably get a great deal on it too. What with everyone buying Quilters now!

15

My bassman is not a Fender. Handwired, high quality from Sterling amps in MA. Victoria/Clark level quality. Interestly enough, I have a Quilter OD200 here too, though never ran it through the 4x10.

IMO, the tweed bassman is one of the best sounding amps ever made. It does not have to be loud to sound good. Mine is just as sweet down low, thanks in part to NOS glass, also 4 of the Weber 10A125 alnicos. Also IMO, that 4x10 format is essential to the tweed bassman sound. Just like the later SR, it's an amp that doesn't sound like much else.

And just like the SR, they're going cheap. I consigned mine cause I so rarely got to play it. Not much interest. The big amps sit.

16

Several years back, I had the Fender RI "Low Power Tweed Twin." 40 watts into a pair of 12's.

This circuit had a pair of rectifier tubes, and could run with one or both tubes. This feature allowed more or less "sag", depending on what feel/sound that you wanted.

Like the tweed Bassman, it did sound good at lower volumes, but became just heavenly sounding when the volume was raised.

Unfortunately, its best sound was way too loud for regular home use, and I eventually sold it.

Just my opinion, but these big tweeds are at home on a stage, and not really at home, at home.

17

Having learned the hard way with Rivera amps, large, heavy tube amps can become an albatross necklace when you don't want them anymore. They're tough to sell. So the amp is going to have to really bowl me over to get me to buy it. It's going to be a long day tomorrow as I learned I need to come in foolishly early to set something up, so we'll see how it goes.

Tom, interesting comment about the Mojotones. I don't have any experience with them, just positive reviews from others.

18

large, heavy tube amps

A 4X10 bassman with the solid pine cab and four lower wattage tens that typically don't have heavy magnets really isn't all that heavy.

19

Well that’s comforting, Walter, thanks.

I had time to experiment with the Quilter OD200 and the 4x10 cab a little today. It sounded best when I fed the Interblock’s effects send to the OD200’s effects return, then out to the cab. Not as magical as the Bassman, but quite nice at low or high volume. Part of the good tone came from the Atomic Brain, though. Direct into either amp was less sparkly and clear.

Still gonna try the Victoria 45410, though.

20

Y'know...now that I've had more time to think of it, I'm inclined to spekkilate that the four 10s make a more significant contribution to that tone than one might think, and you might get closer than I originally thought even with the Quilter. I can't imagine it will be exactly the same - but when I think of my experience with 3 or more 10s, it occurs to me that in every case, I attributed a sense of complexity and dimensionality to the amps.

And now I go "DUHH", because of course with the same sound emanating from several speakers, necessarily at a physical remove from each other, there will be a natural none-dare-call-it-chorusing effect as the soundwaves meet and intermingle in complicated and kinky ways. No doubt some slight out-of-phasitude (but never 90° hideousness, of course) in how the sound hits your ear from those multiple locations. And, I suppose technically - if one were a committed acoustic physicist and psycho-acoustic analyst - one might observe that wherever you move in juxtaposition to the speaker array, the image will be slightly different, making for a sense of sparkle. As the ever-astute JimmyR put it,

Fuller than a BF but sweeter than other tweeds. It has a classic complex chimey kinda tone.

I suspect a multi-10 cabinet exhibits this property to a greater degree than any 2-speaker cab, and more than a 4-12, because each of the speakers is smaller and that much "point-sourcier." So I'm thinking "no wonder I loved that 6-10 cab." And of course it matters what speakers are in it - but the principle would apply to any speakers. Getting the rightest speakers would only enhance the dance.

So naturally, as someone who doesn't need a thing in the world and spends too much time looking for something to want, I'm wondering gosh what if I could get Powdog to build me a light 4-10 cab with Neos, and mightn't that be a thing?

21

I think you should give Jer DeLisle a shot, he is the long time resident vintage circuit builder here w the best handmade amps on the planet plus willing to customize to needs.

22

The reissue Bassman will have new speakers in it which in my opinion is better and more efficient than old ones in a vintage amp. Other than that, an old one is probably better built with true PTP wiring...no PC board etc. But at the end of the day what you are hearing is the tweed circuit which really sounds great because it does that verge-of-breaking-up sound really well compared to modern amps which can be a pursuit of a more modern sound (more "blackface")

23

Used the original Bassman RI for a while when introduced in the 90's. Really nice sounding, but I eventually went to a Vibro King, and then just gave up on large form factor amps. The original RI has a plywood cab and doesn't weigh all that much, and the LTD version is even lighter due to the pine cab Walter mentioned, and it has an adjustable bias circuit to boot. It's also about half the price of the Victoria on the used market.

24

Y'know...now that I've had more time to think of it, I'm inclined to spekkilate that the four 10s make a more significant contribution to that tone than one might think, and you might get closer than I originally thought even with the Quilter. I can't imagine it will be exactly the same - but when I think of my experience with 3 or more 10s, it occurs to me that in every case, I attributed a sense of complexity and dimensionality to the amps.

And now I go "DUHH", because of course with the same sound emanating from several speakers, necessarily at a physical remove from each other, there will be a natural none-dare-call-it-chorusing effect as the soundwaves meet and intermingle in complicated and kinky ways. No doubt some slight out-of-phasitude (but never 90° hideousness, of course) in how the sound hits your ear from those multiple locations. And, I suppose technically - if one were a committed acoustic physicist and psycho-acoustic analyst - one might observe that wherever you move in juxtaposition to the speaker array, the image will be slightly different, making for a sense of sparkle. As the ever-astute JimmyR put it,

Fuller than a BF but sweeter than other tweeds. It has a classic complex chimey kinda tone.

I suspect a multi-10 cabinet exhibits this property to a greater degree than any 2-speaker cab, and more than a 4-12, because each of the speakers is smaller and that much "point-sourcier." So I'm thinking "no wonder I loved that 6-10 cab." And of course it matters what speakers are in it - but the principle would apply to any speakers. Getting the rightest speakers would only enhance the dance.

So naturally, as someone who doesn't need a thing in the world and spends too much time looking for something to want, I'm wondering gosh what if I could get Powdog to build me a light 4-10 cab with Neos, and mightn't that be a thing?

– Proteus

If you can’t find satisfaction anywhere else, I can send you this 4x10 cab. 3/4” dovetailed pine, it weighs about 26 lbs. With four 10” Jensen neos it’s right about 40 lbs.

It currently squats in an upstairs hallway. My wife would love to have it gone.

25

Looks like Protean destiny to me. Ask and ye shall receive, Tim.


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