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Amazed by a '74 Vibrolux

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by thunderbyrd, Apr 24, 2017.

  1. thunderbyrd

    thunderbyrd Friend of Leo's

    Dec 21, 2004
    central ky
    my gear obsessed buddy just got a 74 vibrolux. i went over to check it out - man, was i impressed. gushing, chiming, 3 dimensional and awesome. BEAUTIFUL sounding amplifier. i talked to the tech who recapped it, and it has not been "blackfaced", this is what a 74 vibrolux is supposed to sound like.

    i thought that silverface fenders were supposed to be duds! that one sure isn't. which makes me want to know, from you more experienced folks, is there such a thing as a "silverface sound"?

    my bud with this amp has the habit of trading gear all the time, so he will be ready to part with it before long. i'm thinking very seriously about scraping the cash together to bring this one to my house. we played his 335 and his tele through it and it was great, but boy, did it love strats.

  2. ukepicker

    ukepicker Tele-Meister

    Oct 15, 2013
    East Texas
    My gear-trading buddy has one too. He won't let go of his.

    Easily, hands down, the best sounding amp I've ever heard. I'll probably be chasing that tone the rest of my life.
    thunderbyrd likes this.

  3. thegeezer

    thegeezer Tele-Meister

    Jul 5, 2010
    West Michigan
    No, those silverfaces are duds! Toss 'em out. Just tell me where you toss 'em.
    jamieorc, moosie, Round Bale and 8 others like this.

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  5. nocastermike

    nocastermike Tele-Meister

    Apr 25, 2015
    Early seventies vibrolux reverbs are fabulous amps. When you find one of buy it. They do have a different sound than the blackface models, but they are terrific.the ones before the push pull circuit are the best. I have an original 1965 and a 1972. My desert island amps.
    thunderbyrd likes this.

  6. Middleman

    Middleman Friend of Leo's

    Aug 29, 2007
    MV, CA
    In a nutshell....Silverface amps have many sounds and little consistency from one to the other due to the age factor and history of each amp. In general...only the high powered amps were affected by the CBS modifications inherent to most but not all Silverface amps. Lines that had little to no modifications were the Princeton, Deluxe Reverb and Vibrolux. Lines that saw the undesirable modifications were Super Reverbs, Twins, Super Six, Bandmaster et al.

    The undesirable modifications of the high power amps by CBS are not so undesirable sonically but as a collectible the blackface amp owners will strongly disagree. To confuse matters Fender changed the look of many unmodified blackface era amps to Silverface cosmetics. So the good and bad got lumped in together under a common 70s era look.

    There were minor resistor and cap value changes in the Princeton, Deluxe Reverb and Vibrolux lines but essentially they are very close to blackface in circuit design. I always smile when I hear someone has blackfaced one of these amps because it means some repairman has duped them.

    Is there a Silverface sound? The answer is, it varies. Are Silverface amps duds? Yeah, many are but, many are not as it varies by line and which amps CBS modified the most.

    Any vibrolux is a highly desirable amp but I have heard many of them that sound like duds due to age and use. Tuned up, they are one of the best amps Fender made. I need it add "in my opinion" to reduce the blowback from others who may differ.

  7. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    Not most of them. There are a few that are both weirdly-designed and generally don't sound great, but most are fine with normal service, a few tweaks and often a speaker change. One of the so called "features" of a blackface conversion is converting the amp to adjustable bias - which I do on most of the ones I work on (by request) because it makes setting the bias for good tone far easier.

    There are a few other items, and sometimes cap types are upgrade - but most of the SF circuit is identical to the BF.

    Nope. Not remotely.

  8. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Telefied Ad Free Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    Austin, Tx
    Great amps!
    I had two SF Vibroluxes.
    The first was a dead stock 72.
    I got it in 78, when I was 21.
    It sounded great up loud with a 68 gold top with P90s.
    The second was later, a 78, and someone put Gauss 10s in it.
    The thing sounded great, but was as heavy as a Twin.
    Those speakers were rated at 200 W RMS each.
    Kinda overkill, no?
    I left it in Canada.

  9. keithb7

    keithb7 Friend of Leo's

    Jan 9, 2010
    Western Canada
    I think the Silverface duds things came from the whole drop of Fender quality though the 70's CBS damn near bankrupt Fender. If you can believe it, there was a time after CBS sold out, that only 8 guitars a day were being made by Fender. Well, what was left of Fender.

    I have owned some really great SF Fender Amps. The quality of Fender in the 1970's was thought of as garbage for a lot of years. Maybe so, compared to earlier Fender products. Then many amp makers of the 1990's and on, showed us all a whole new level of garbage amps. If you look back today, compared to many new modern amps, the CBS era SF amps are great. Much better than much of the garbage built today.

  10. buddyboy

    buddyboy Tele-Meister

    I'm not a tech, so I can't talk the technical points up, but I've owned a ton of BF and SF Fenders over the years and have heard tons of others. The biggest differences I've always heard between BF and SF amps involved things like a greater bass emphasis in the SF, a certain sponginess in the SF and a lot less harmonic overtones. They can be decent sounding amps, but I've always preferred a well-tuned up BF amp over a well-tuned up SF amp. I'm mostly referring to the amps larger than a DR (although my '74 Princeton Reverb has so much bass response it's almost unusable onstage). The cabs were cheaper in the 70's, I don't the speakers they used were all that great and the components and wiring of the amps were usually not as good as the BF era.
    thunderbyrd likes this.

  11. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Spring City, Pa
    I brought my 74 DR to a gig awhile ago.
    I had sounds so killer.
    My tone-junkie commemted on it and I said, " I still sorta have the idea that a SFDR is kinda ham-and-cheese."
    He shot back, "They"re not!"
    Now I regret selling my Vibrolux a few weeks ago.
    I needed to recoup some dough!
    thunderbyrd likes this.

  12. John Owen

    John Owen Tele-Afflicted Ad Free + Supporter

    Jan 29, 2010
    Seattle, WA
    I never met a Vibrolux Reverb I didn't love. SF or BF - they are a great sounding amp.

  13. snottyboy

    snottyboy Tele-Meister

    Nov 5, 2010
    SCS, MI
    Yeah, I lucked into an early '68 VR back when I didn't even know what I had. Nearly 40 years and many, many other amps that have stood beside it later, it still stands as my tonal reference. Responds to most guitars really well, as was mentioned earlier. But it is not only the tones you can get out of it, but how it responds and feels to the player. If you were that impressed, OP, find a way to bring it home when your buddy gets bored with it. You will likely save yourself further money in your quest. And report back here when you get it!
    t guitar floyd, J Hog and thunderbyrd like this.

  14. jazzguitar

    jazzguitar Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 17, 2003
    How come I am not surprised?

    See what happens when you believe what you read on the internet!

    Don't let that one get away! And once you have it you can rescue it from folks who think this mod or that is mandatory because they read on the internet ... (oops I repeat)

    I have quite a few instruments/amps I thought I was crazy to lay down that amount of money for at the time I bought them, eg my Princeton Reverb (@ $650).

    Now years later I could not care less about how much money it cost back when, but still amazed at how great these things sound!

    Go for it!
    Henry and thunderbyrd like this.

  15. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Lubbock, TX
    The VR is my favorite BF/SF reverb amp.
    Bob Arbogast and thunderbyrd like this.

  16. thunderbyrd

    thunderbyrd Friend of Leo's

    Dec 21, 2004
    central ky
    i talked to the guy with the vibrolux and told him to give me 1st shot at it, whenever he gets tired of stumbling over it or whatever. he said, "oh, no, this one is not going anywhere" but i've heard that one many times!

    it's a pretty stout (for me) amount of money, but if i can scrape it together, it will be worth it. and he usually gives me a break on stuff he sells me. he will consider that if i buy it, i will most likely keep it, so it will still be in the family, so to speak. 3 of the 5 guitars i own right now, all excellent instruments, came from his never ending flow of gear.
    t guitar floyd and snottyboy like this.

  17. Paul G.

    Paul G. Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2003
    Rhode Island
    The only thing wrong with some of those SF amps, especially the VR is that some of them came with crappy, farty, Oxford speakers.

    With any other speakers in there, it is one of the magical amps. Exactly big enough.

    thunderbyrd likes this.

  18. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Lubbock, TX
    Different strokes for different folks. The original Oxfords in the VR's are good to go, imho. The 10" Oxfords did NOT receive the dreaded 'wide gap' voice coil treatment that the big 12" Oxfords got. I had a mint '76 VR with the original Oxfords...great sounding amp...needed for nothing. OF course, it was recapped and serviced....that makes a big difference.

  19. Paul G.

    Paul G. Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2003
    Rhode Island
    Maybe I got a pair that was reconed badly? My PR was louder than my VR until I put different speakers in.
    thunderbyrd likes this.

  20. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Lubbock, TX
    Could be, Paul. I have heard bad recones of quite a few speakers. I have a pair of reconed JBL D110F's here that are unusable. Had I paid for the reconing, they would have gone right back to the reconer for a redo.
    A member here did a tear down on some post-1966 10" Oxfords and a pre-1966 10" Oxfords. There were no differences in the voice coils/gaps. Oxfords were on a par with the much-venerated Jensens, which were in fact just run of the mill speakers. Generally, Leo didn't go overboard with spending money on speakers, ime.
    IF I wanted to put some speakers in a VR, I have a pair of Emi Legend ALK 1028's here that will do that job more than adequately.
    ??? Princeton Reverb or Pro Reverb?
    Paul G. and thunderbyrd like this.

  21. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Spring City, Pa
    I've hear those Oxfords sound in a SR as good as the legendary CTS Alnicos.
    thunderbyrd likes this.

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