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The history and merits of "blackfacing"

Discussion in 'Glowing Bottle Tube Amp Forum' started by theprofessor, Jun 5, 2017.

  1. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Age:
    65
    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    Except 120 miles north, around L.A., in the 70's and early 80's brown BF & SF Fenders, several types of Marshalls & Vox AC30's & AC15's were very popular among gigging players. Many ended up modded before "vintage" and "collector's" item were even known words in the guitar world. There were tons of classic rockers and country rockers, most using this type of gear. A decent percentage of the owner/players also had enough background in electronics to understand what needed to be serviced and when.

    And many of us that used SF amps from the 70's modified them for adjustable bias, often making changes in the phase inverter that matched the BF amps. So were were "blackfacing": amps and just calling it "modifying".

    I first saw the term in early issues of Vintage Guitar Magazine, which began publication in '86. I don't remember who used it first, but as I recall Gerald Weber really popularized it in his articles, many of which later made up his first book - published in '94. I hate to give him too much credit ;) - but he seems to be the one that really made the term a common part of the guitar lexicon.
     

  2. J Hog

    J Hog Tele-Holic

    540
    Oct 18, 2009
    Norwood Ohio
    I know I started working in retail music in 1969 and the store I worked at in Cincinnati, Ohio had an amp tech. I knew of at least two other stores that also had amp techs. Maybe we were just lucky in Cincinnati.
     
    Indian Joe likes this.

  3. theprofessor

    theprofessor Friend of Leo's

    Aug 8, 2016
    Chattanooga, TN
    That counts as far as I'm concerned! And it converges nicely with Silverface's idea later in post #81 that Gerald Weber may have had something to do with this by promoting it in Vintage Guitar Magazine, where the term "blackfacing" may have first been attested as well.
     
    telemnemonics likes this.

  4. BryMelvin

    BryMelvin Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    65
    Jan 4, 2014
    Arivaca AZ
    Back when the silver faces came out we couldn't stand them. We thought they S***** big time and the few that bought them had them always breaking.

    They ended up back in the seventies with a reputation for being junk. There were some places that would mod them to be more like black faces, so that's when it probably started. Most of us went to other brands though, in my case Marshall and Peavey.


    My point is the silverfaces were junk due to lack of reliability. Any still around now have been fixed to be reliable, or they were scrapped
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2017

  5. theprofessor

    theprofessor Friend of Leo's

    Aug 8, 2016
    Chattanooga, TN
    Now I'm going to have to see about getting a hold of early issues of that magazine to scour the articles for the term. I looked "blackface" up in the Oxford English Dictionary when I was in the library the other day, just to see if perhaps they had picked up on this rather specific usage of "blackface." No luck as it relates to guitars. The entry for "blackface" was rather unsavory, as one can imagine.

    So far, I haven't been able to locate any catalogue of back-issues available online. So I'll get my research librarian after it, and we'll see what we can come up with. I'll start with Vintage Guitar Magazine. It would be most helpful if I could locate a bibliography of Gerald Weber, to follow silverface's hunch.
     
    Staypuft1652 likes this.

  6. theprofessor

    theprofessor Friend of Leo's

    Aug 8, 2016
    Chattanooga, TN
    Interesting, BryMelvin! Thanks for contributing to the discussion!
     

  7. Ringo

    Ringo Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    Memphis TN
    "are you sure that your SF Deluxe Reverb had the "bias balance?"


    Yes I'm absolutely positive, all three SF Deluxe Reverb amps I've owned, a 68 or 69 drop edge, a 74 and currently a 79, all had a bias balance not a bias adjustment pot, again every other SF Fender amp I've owned also was wired for bias balance.

    Before the internet ,for better or worse, I ( and a lot of other folks) got our amp info from articles in Vintage Guitar , Weber and Torres were regular contributors.

    I may still have that Vintage Guitar Magazine issue with the Gerald Weber article about Blackface mods, I used that on a 69 Twin Reverb that I owned years ago, was just a few changes really, bias balance to bias adjustment, some resistors and caps.

    That was a good sounding Twin, I should have kept it.

    "My point is the silverfaces were junk due to lack of reliability. Any still around now have been fixed to be reliable, or they were scrapped"


    I say BS to that, as far as SF amps always breaking, that was never my experience.
    I owned a bunch of them used over the years, and the ones I owned and that friends owned were all good sounding and reliable amps, of course we didn't have the internet to tell us otherwise :)
    Fender made a LOT more SF amps than the BF amps and there are plenty that have been road hard that still work and sound good.


    The SS Fender amps that came out in the CBS era had a lot of issues and didn't last too long but I remember seeing a lot of pro bands that used SF Fender amps, and Marshalls of course.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2017

  8. theprofessor

    theprofessor Friend of Leo's

    Aug 8, 2016
    Chattanooga, TN
    Cool. If you find it, let us know - especially if it uses "blackface" or "blackfacing." I'd like to get the publication info. on it.

    Thanks for this, Ringo, and for the remainder of your post as well. Cheers!
     

  9. slider313

    slider313 Tele-Holic

    Age:
    60
    936
    Jan 6, 2011
    NC
    I'd like to see pics of the Deluxe Reverbs with the balance bias scheme.......Got any?
     

  10. Ringo

    Ringo Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    Memphis TN
    74 DR chassis 8.jpg



    I found some pictures I took of the chassis on the 74 DR I owned, this was when it still had the old filter caps, so I assume these were taken before I had it serviced and the pot rewired.

    Also here are some diagrams from Hoffman amps showing typical SF Bias balance pot wiring

    http://el34world.com/charts/bias_conversions.htm


    and here is an article in Premier Guitar talking about converting bias balance to the older bias adjustment pot wiring , w pics

    https://www.premierguitar.com/articles/20025-ask-amp-man-better-biasing-for-silverface-twin-reverbs
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2017

  11. Ringo

    Ringo Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    Memphis TN
    IMG_0647.JPG


    74 Super Reverb w bias balance
     
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  12. jman72

    jman72 Tele-Holic

    686
    Aug 31, 2013
    Central Florida
    Wow, I've never heard that they were junk. I've heard a lot about them not sounding as good, but what about them was so unreliable that most were scrapped? I've got two- a '76 Twin Reverb and a '77 Pro Reverb and they both sound amazing. Maybe they were the exception and didn't break down.
     

  13. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Age:
    65
    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    The Deluxe reverb is not wired the same as a Super Reverb pictured. I want to see pics of the "bias balance Deluxe Reverb" as well. If yours had bias balance they were not stock - the DR NEVER had bias balance. Check the schematics. Respectfully, you are wrong.
     
    slider313 likes this.

  14. BryMelvin

    BryMelvin Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    65
    Jan 4, 2014
    Arivaca AZ
    Just to clarify.
    The silverface amps I categorized as junk and breakdown prone were early ones. (67-69) .
    Later ones I never tried as by then I was still using a 64 black PR a 64 guild thunderbird amp (I still have) and Marshals (One I still have) and a Sunn Solarus and Sentura. Back then I was not really into Fender products (FWIW I never owned a solid body guitar until the mid 90s). Back then (late 60s)a lot of us were doing outdoor venues with larger Marshall and Sunn Amps.
    I was outside of Boston then in my teens and didn't do country at all!
     

  15. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Age:
    65
    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA

    That's your opinion - many, many players and techs disagree. I don't know a single player active during the 70's that thought they were "junk". Peavey very small and not even a factor when SF's were introduced - they were founded in '65 and amps weren't common for years.

    They were no less reliable than earlier models. That's ludicrous. I assume you are not a tech or there'sno way you would make such a misguided statement.

    As far as sound goes:

    1. The subject has to be taken on a model-by model basis, as some SF's had no significant changes, ever.
    2. It also needs to be looked at on a version-by version basis, as some early SF's are identical to the BF models; some were odd; and later ones went back to many BF design conventions.
    3. It depends on the style of music being played - Every SF model/version is good for some style of music in stock configuration.
     

  16. BryMelvin

    BryMelvin Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    65
    Jan 4, 2014
    Arivaca AZ
    OK I posted a clarification. I (and others) had bad experiences when they were new CBS (i believe)designs 67-69. Not later. I have never owned a later one.

    In my case the power transformer cooked (one week old amp). On a Bandmaster In the middle of an outdoor gig. Replaced it with a Sunn amp courtesy of the local music store. I wet to Sunn and Later Marshall and Peavey for my big amps.
     

  17. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Age:
    65
    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    That's neither a SF problem nor a Fender problem. They never made transformers. That was an isolated occurrence. Sorry it happened, but it's not a valid reason to term "SF amps" unreliable. YOUR Bandmaster had a failure. I've encountered those problems on just about every popular amp brand. Your isolated problem does not indicate in any way that SF amps are "always breaking" (your words).

    You have an opinion, fine. Don't state it as fact.
     

  18. Indian Joe

    Indian Joe Tele-Meister

    Age:
    69
    139
    May 21, 2017
    Ramona, California, U$A
    During that time I lived in New Brunswick, Canada, we did have electricity and a few paved roads. Halifax was a 2-day drive ( in summer, in winter you might not get there), and there may have been an amp tech there. Due to import duties, Fender was pricey in Canada. That's why Traynor started, like Jim Marshall started. There was a real music store in the capitol, a Fender dealer, and they sold some amps. More $$ there.
     

  19. Indian Joe

    Indian Joe Tele-Meister

    Age:
    69
    139
    May 21, 2017
    Ramona, California, U$A
    Humourous anecdote, I was playing a surf instrumental on my BF PR that probably had a million miles on the odometer, when the amp started sounding odd and I smelled something burning. I looked back to see white smoke rolling out of #2 input!!! I rapidly turned it off, stabbed my cord into my back-up PR, and continued on with the tune. Nobody noticed me miss a few bars, not even the other players!!??? The OT fried, a tech pal had a used replacement, and it only cost me the night's pay.
    That happened about 1991, and has been the only real problem I ever had playing those old Fender amps.
     

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