Fender Bassman Head All Tube Reviews 4

Guitar Center, Colonie, NY USA $400 in exceptional condition for a 35yr old head. I wanted to back up a Bassman 50 that I'm very pleased with.

For a tube head, it's fairly compact and light: under 2ft wide x 10" high, about 30lb. Controls are simple, and it has 2 channels [not switched, simultaneous], 1 for "normal instrument" and 1 for bass. Compared to many other vintage tube amps I tried, it's nearly immune to the buzz of passive pickups and fluorecents/neons. At moderate [small ensemble or duo] sound levels, the bass side is very atmospheric, and [via an external 1/4" to 1/4" jumper] the "normal" side can blend in whatever dose of "dirt" rocks your boat. If you push it [small rock/blues band level] the unavoidable distortion is of the vintage type, easy on the ear, non-shredding. It can handle a guitar and bass together without making a muddy mess of it.

The handle shouldn't be top-center because all the weight is at on end [transformer]. It's very primitive in features: no loop or line out, no midrange dials, single "volume" dial per channel [not gain plus master], and no master output dial for the combined channels. Compared to my Bassman 50 head, it's near identical but minor internal differences allow the "50" to produce less distortion as the gain rises, although this is not a huge difference. It appears the bias is NOT adjustable.

Much is covered above. Each channel has 3 knobs: volume, bass & treble, plus 2 input jacks per channel for differing impedence. There are switches for "Bright" & "Deep". The rear has "main" and "extension" jacks for speakers [4ohm combined minimum], plus switches for power, standby, and ground. It's a handwired chassis, wired point to point [no PC boards] with 4 preamp and 2 power amp tubes. Wooden cabinet and tolex covering seem more than adequate judged at 35yr old. As far as I can tell, the whole package is very reliable [for a tube amp].

For fretless bass guitar with flatwounds [and I use several very different FL-FW setups] it kicks the booty over the moon. With frets, a touch of tube dirt adds a cool transformation to the metal-on-metal attack of the strings on the frets. IMHO this amp prefers nickel strings rather than stainless. YMMV. This is the Blackface, a bit dirtier tone than the "50" [AKA Silverface] which is itself dirtier than the "70" [all of which share near identical cabinets and chassis. For low to middle sound levels, as a bass head, it offers a unique package of tube tone and portability.

Golem rated this unit 4 on 2004-10-27.

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