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The Cost of Fender Tube Amplifiers: 1959 to 2017

Discussion in 'Glowing Bottle Tube Amp Forum' started by theprofessor, May 29, 2017.

  1. theprofessor

    theprofessor Friend of Leo's

    Aug 8, 2016
    Chattanooga, TN
    Right! I had forgotten about that. It's Greg Gagliano and Greg Huntington. @Wally has pointed me and others to these before as invaluable articles on dating Fender amps. I had forgotten about them in this context, though. Go to www.ggjaguar.com/biblio.htm. There you'll find a six-part essay by Gagliano from 1997 (x2), 1999, 2001, 2002, and 2010 on "Dating Fender Amps by Serial Number." They were all originally published in Vintage Guitar Magazine, and I think some of them include guesstimates at production numbers. I've read them all, but I don't recall all the details now.
     

  2. Old Tele man

    Old Tele man Tele-Afflicted

    May 10, 2017
    Tucson, AZ
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2017
    dr_tom likes this.

  3. theprofessor

    theprofessor Friend of Leo's

    Aug 8, 2016
    Chattanooga, TN
    Thanks for doing that, Old Tele man!
     

  4. theprofessor

    theprofessor Friend of Leo's

    Aug 8, 2016
    Chattanooga, TN
    More data on amps from The Soul of Tone. Some dates and costs are approximate (but should be very close), and I do not have prices on every amp in the list. All prices given are MSRP, as usual. Even though I don't have all the data on all these, I wanted to put these amps in chronological order of their release, for my own benefit.

    PCB-based amps
    '59 Tweed Bassman 1990: $1,129 --> $2,141.72 in 2017
    '63 Vibroverb 1990: $1,079 --> $2,046.87 in 2017
    '65 Twin Reverb 1991: $1,299 --> $2,349.38 in 2017
    '63 Reverb unit 1993
    '65 Deluxe Reverb 1993
    : $919 --> $1,560.54 in 2017
    '65 Super Reverb 2001
    '59 Bassman LTD (lacquered tweed) 2004
    : $1500 --> $1950.99 in 2017

    Handwired amps
    Vibro-King 1993: $2,549 --> $4,328.41 in 2017
    '57 (low power 5E8-A) Tweed Twin 1994: $3,000 --> $4,976.74 in 2017
    Dual Professional 1995: $3,000 --> $4,829.91 in 2017
    "Custom" Vibrolux Reverb 1995: $1,199 --> $1,930.11 in 2017
    "Custom" Vibrasonic 1995: $1,499 --> $2,413.04
    Prosonic 1995: $1,299 --> $2,091.09 in 2017

    If this CPI Inflation calculator I'm using is at all accurate, I'd say Fender has actually done a very good job keeping the MSRP down on a lot of their amps. For example, I don't think that the MSRP for a DRRI today is $1,500 (though I can't find that information to confirm). You can see that a lot of the energy around reissuing or (re-)designing all these amps was from the early to mid-1990's. This included vintage-type designs with amps like the Vibro-King. Not every one of these amps was a Bruce Zinky design, but many of them were. He came to work at Fender in marketing in about 1992, and the Vibro-King was his first Fender design.

    Of all these amps, it seems to me that the best deals/value are the two '59 Bassman models, the DRRI, and the "Custom" Vibrolux Reverb. But if we take into account that one could possibly find a SF Deluxe Reverb or a SF Vibrolux Reverb for about the same price (though, admittedly, the "Custom" Vibrolux Reverb is not exactly the same as the SF one), then the "best value" goes to the '59 Bassman LTD, hands-down. In addition to having a great-sounding circuit, it has a solid, finger-jointed pine cabinet.

    The best sounding one I've heard (and that's not much of a claim; I haven't heard many of these other than on CD samples) is the '57 low power Twin.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2017

  5. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Lubbock, TX
    The Pro Sonic's list price in 2002, the last year of production, was $1695.
     

  6. theprofessor

    theprofessor Friend of Leo's

    Aug 8, 2016
    Chattanooga, TN
    Thanks, Wally. That Prosonic sounds like an interesting amp, from what I've read. Not my cup of tea, I think, but interesting, nonetheless. These amps from the Bruce Zinky era (either started by Zinky or started and finished by Zinky) are really interesting to me. I'd like to hear them in person. I'm most fascinated by the Vibro-King, especially the (essentially) built-in 6G15 sound. But the other ones are fascinating, too. Nevertheless, the Tone-Master, Dual Professional, and Prosonic all saw their end in 2002, as far as I know. That's too bad. It seems like the Tone-Master would be a fantastic amp. Just darn loud!
     

  7. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Lubbock, TX
    Prof, a few minutes with a Pro Sonic with an understanding of what goes on there might change your mind.....but maybe not.
    And...
    Ime....almost any amp is loud. Lol......especially if you turn them up. A Pro Sonic is right at twice as loud as a Champ through the same speakers. The difference is that IF one wants, one can get as much gain as wanted at any volume level one desires in the Pro Sonic. Whisper level screaming, right???
     

  8. theprofessor

    theprofessor Friend of Leo's

    Aug 8, 2016
    Chattanooga, TN
    That's a good point, Wally. I'd really need to spend some time with one before I judge whether I'd like it or not. And you're right about any amp being loud! I've yet to find one that isn't too loud for playing at home. I just play when my family's away, mostly. :)
     

  9. theprofessor

    theprofessor Friend of Leo's

    Aug 8, 2016
    Chattanooga, TN
    savofenno likes this.

  10. David Barnett

    David Barnett Poster Extraordinaire

    Why would a Super cost more than a Twin?
     

  11. jimash

    jimash Friend of Leo's

    Nov 5, 2013
    NJ
    It just did. I think it was because they made so very many Twins.
     
    Bill Moore likes this.

  12. 1968 list price for a Twin was $499, Super Reverb was $429
     

  13. Old Tele man

    Old Tele man Tele-Afflicted

    May 10, 2017
    Tucson, AZ
    My 1969 Super Reverb Amp with factory JBL/D110F's listed for $680, but cost me $550 out the door, with California taxes included, with amp cover thrown in free.
     
    savofenno and bparnell57 like this.

  14. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Age:
    60
    Jul 18, 2010
    Western Connecticut
    More speakers, more wood in the cab...


    ?
     

  15. Bendyha

    Bendyha Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Mar 26, 2014
    Northern Germany
    LTP phase inverters have been around since 1939, 20 years ealier. See Wireless-World-1939/Phase-Splitting Amplifiers.pdf
     
    Wally likes this.

  16. David Barnett

    David Barnett Poster Extraordinaire

    The MSRP of a Super was always lower than a Twin.
     

  17. jimash

    jimash Friend of Leo's

    Nov 5, 2013
    NJ
    Seriously I think it was a combination of things. Like warehouse space. shipping. And that they made more Twins than Supers.
    Heck, Previous to buying the Twin, I had dragged my father to a local music store I had been in where they had a Super on the floor.
    We were out the door and lifting it into the station wagon, when the salesman came running out, and told my father that he just couldn't sell it for $250,
    and he'd need ,again, $280 for the Super. But Dad had budgeted $250 and not a penny more for my amp, so back it went. You can bet I remember this.
    And that's why I remember the other place too. I still wanted a Super.But it was not to be.
     

  18. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Lubbock, TX
    jimash said:
    "My 1968 Twin Reverb NIB cost $250, because my teacher told us the place to go. It was like an auto parts counter in lower manhattan.No showroom.
    The Super Reverbs were $280."

    NIB....and perhaps 'diverted' from their original destination? OR...perhaps they originated from the Philipines? That just seems to be TOO low of a price....essentially that would have been dealer's cost. How does one afford to do business in Manhattan by selling at cost? It seems to me that one can do that only by avoiding the dealer's cost of purchase or avoid the price of the legitimate source...Fender. Or....maybe this was the 'back door'---non-showroom cost---- for a big dealer who was getting a massive dealer's discount for quantity???
     

  19. using the 1968 cost vs today this is what I came up with

    MSRP for a Twin in 1968 was $499, so it would be $3553 today
    A Twin for $250 in 1968 would be $1780
    That's a $1773 discount in today's value

    I'll take two!
     
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  20. jimash

    jimash Friend of Leo's

    Nov 5, 2013
    NJ

    It was absolutely a distributing warehouse, with large quantities. They had way more Twins than Supers, and could sell it cheaper.
    It was one of these semi-secret things that my teacher knew about. Backdoor, and you had to know where it was. I remember these things vividly.
    The Twin was absolutely USA real. When a speaker blew, Fender replaced it. It was a fantastic amp.
     

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