Fender '68 Bassman 50 Amp Head Reviews 4

It's not terribly hefty...maybe in the 20-30lb range, black with a silverface and the old blue Bassman 50 logo. Guitar and bass inputs with two inputs on each so you can jump channels. 4 preamp tubes, two power tubes, with two speaker outputs, ground lift switch and a jack that says 'Hum Balance' that I've never understood the use for... Anyway, I'm a longtime bassist, pianist, composer, and writer with credits in classical, jazz, pop, and rock as well as several theatrical roles, from musicals to improvisational comedy. I have 16+ years of continuous experience on me at only 22 years old, and I continue to make music my sole living wage.

I got it from a friend a long time ago, who had heard I was in need of an amp head. He wasn't using it, so it's sort of been on 'long-term loan' for perhaps 10 years now. I'm pretty sure he at least got a case of beer in return. At the time, though...I had a cabinet, but no amp head.

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I like the tube warmth and the VERY subtle grit I can get from cranking the gain knobs. Take note, this amp does not distort much at ALL by itself. It's meant for a clean to gritty range. I also enjoy the ability to jump channels or even plug in two different instruments on separate channels and mute on or the other (from the instrument, of course). It's also simple. Tweakers beware, each channel only involves gain, treble, and bass, with a master volume control ruling over both channels. It's naturally warm and tubey with a very pronounced upper midrange.

That pronounced upper midrange can really turn into a harsh sound on some instruments, especially keyboard/piano sounds. For basses, it's a nice way to add some presence and bring your sound forward in very bass-heavy situations like funk, jazz, or heavy metal, but when it comes to pianos or guitars, often some tweaking is necessary to get it to sound smooth. That is, unless you really like that punchy tone, in which case, have a ball. It's not my thing.

Well, it's lasted 48 years now, and I'm still taking good care of it. I see it lasting another 20 at least at this rate. Even the Power light hasn't gone out yet. For a tube amp, it's weathered the years surprisingly well with very little need for repairs. I've never had to do anything to it in all the years I've had it. Might get it retubed in the next decade or so, though...maybe.

It's a long-lasting head with a classic sound, and they can be found pretty darn cheaply on eBay or from somebody who just doesn't use his anymore. Check them out. They make a fantastic first amp. And they can go pretty loud too. That 50 watts of tube power translates to a lot more than that in a solid state comparison. I've had a great many gigs with it, and I'm planning on using it for a very long time.

ShackMan rated this unit 4 on 2010-11-02.

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