School me on the tweed Bassman

Discussion in 'Glowing Bottle Tube Amp Forum' started by charlie chitlin, Nov 14, 2016.

  1. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    One of the Holy Grails, right?
    What are the different models?
    How do they rate in sound and collectibility.
    Are the ones that fetch top dough really worth the extra?
     
  2. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    Simply put,

    "Fender built the first Marshall. Marshall built the first reissue Fender."

    The ones that are worth chasing are the late 1950s 5F6 and 5F6A. They're essentially the same circuit except for the rectifier. The 5F6 used a mercury vapor type 83 rectifier while the 5F6A use the then new British made GZ34 / 5AR4 tube.

    They were the logical evolution of the "Everything louder than everything else" era that continued through the mid- 1970s.

    Type 83 rectifiers are rare. They were used in automotive battery chargers and Hickok tube testers.


    By the early 1960s Leo had already moved on. The early '60s brought us blonde Bassman amps.


    Jim Marshall thought what the world really needed was more tweed Bassman type amps. He copied the 5F6A to the best of his team's ability using parts sourced locally in the U.K..

    The underlying architecture of most large Marshalls was based on the old 5F6 and 5F6A right through the 1980s JCM800 series.


    More Fender factoids:

    Medium- large tweed Fenders such as the Pro, Super and Bandmaster use architecture significantly different from the Bassman. To be specific the tone controls and the phase invertor are different. Same tubes but a different circuit and a different amp.

    Tweed amps similar to tweed Bassman circuits include the 5E8A Twin, the 5F8 Twin and the 5F8A Twin.

    The 5E8A used two 5U4G rectifiers, an attempt to stiffen the power supply much like the type 83 mercury vapor rectifier was used to stiffen the power supply in the 5F6 Bassman.

    The 5E8A has a cathode follower like the late tweed Bassman. it's otherwise similar to medium- large tweed like the Pro, super etc. There is no midrange control and it has a cathodyne P.I..

    The 5F8 Twin: Ah, here's the Bassman's Brother From Another Mother. It's virtually a 5F6 circuit right down to the type 83 mercury vapor rectifier. The difference is the Twin got four 5881 tubes instead of the Bassman's two tubes. Still, it was a work in progress. Four 5881s were more than the power supply was really able to handle. For perspective, Marshall had similar difficulties when they built their first "100 watt" amp. Marshall used a solid state rectifier in their hundred watter and most Marshalls I can think of after that.

    Last but not least would be the 5F8A Twin. It's virtually a 5F6A Bassman with a couple additional 5881 tubes. It got a GZ34 rectifier like the "A" version Bassman. Again, it's asking a lot to expect a single 5AR4 rectifier to support four 5881 tubes.

    That wasn't lost on Leo. The subsequent 6G8 Twin got a solid state rectifier.

    The initial 6G6 Bassman got the GZ34 tube type rectifier adequate for a pair of 5881 tubes. The subsequent 6G6A version got a solid state rectifier.


    It's noteworthy that Fender's medium power combos got tube rectifiers right through the 1970s while the high powered amps did not.


    I'm not terribly concerned with Fender amps pre- 1955 or so. They're archaic circuits with archaic parts. It's difficult to maintain "collector value" and still retain their worn out original parts. Besides, the late '50s amps are where it's at. Those can be considered to be the voice of every genre of music for the past 60 years and counting.
     
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  3. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I'm going through one of those phases where I'm thinking, what if I sold 4 or 5 cool things and bought 1 REALLY cool thing?
     
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  4. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    I don't know but I been told...

    You already have a few of the coolest amps out there starting with your "Punk Rock Jeans" worn original 5E3. I hear there's a tweed Pro in there and a minty Supro Thunderbolt.

    .
    Punk jeans.jpg

    .
    What you propose is akin to selling a '51 Chief, a '37 Knuckle and maybe a muscle car of your choice to fund a Vincent purchase. You may find yourself sippin' tea or maybe gin while wishin' you were still hangin' wif yer beer drinkin' buddies. :D
     
  5. King Fan

    King Fan Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    There's no way I can add much to what Much said! Great info. I did find a circuit analysis.

    https://www.ampbooks.com/mobile/classic-circuits/bassman-summary/

    These amps do have an aura of glory. Do I recall Hendrix did famous work on a 1960 Bassman? There've been a lot of good builds here over the years. Heck, just assembling 4 good tweed-era speakers would be a labor of love.

    Here's the (TMB) tone stack discussion from the material above:

    The passive tone stack manipulates response through frequency-selective attenuation. In the extreme with all of the tone controls set to zero, for example, it induces a whopping 15dB loss at midrange and even more at bass and treble frequencies. The attenuation is mitigated by the combined gain of the Bassman's voltage preamps and twin-triode phase inverter.
    If I understand (heh) maybe it's a transition between early tweed simplicity and FMV sophistication-at-the-cost-of-signal-loss?

    Have I read that a 5G9 is 'sort of a baby Bassman?' Hmm, LTP phase inverter? Selenium bias rectifier? Biggish box? Tweed covering? :D
     
  6. jmp81sc

    jmp81sc Tele-Meister

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    I think one thing to keep in mind is that they are very loud. Leo was trying to get clean volume for country players. If you want tweed breakup you will most likely be too loud for smaller venues or practice. I saw one demo where the player had on construction style hearing protection.

    I built a clone and play it clean through two Eminence Copperheads (97db) speakers, and this works great for my style which is 90% cleanish tone at moderate volume.

    Dave Hunter considers the 5G9 to be bassman like except with a single 12" and a simple tone knob and 6V6 vs 6L6 power tubes.
     
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  7. keithb7

    keithb7 Friend of Leo's

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    1959 5F8-A Twin owner here. Crazy "jet aircraft taking off" volumes at break up. I can't imagine the Bassman sibling being much quieter. As mentioned, same circuit pretty much. 2 6L6's vs 4 6L6's. 2x12 vs 4x10. 4x10 has more realestate I think. As we know, 80W is not 2x louder than 40W.
     
  8. mad dog

    mad dog Friend of Leo's

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    Mine is not an old one ... it's a replica by a guy in MA named Sterling. One of the best sounding amps I've encountered. Has NOS Tung Sol 5881s, preamp tubes, fine weber alnico speaker. Yes, it is loud. But what a pretty clean!
    MD
     
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  9. Axis29

    Axis29 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    I have a reissue... and I absolutely love it. Just got finished running my Les Paul through it for about an hour.

    The interesting thing I find is that it hangs on that edge of breakup through a large majority of the volume knob sweep. I spend a lot of time at home running through input #2 of the bright channel... I ride the guitar's volume knob a lot and get a beautiful creamy clean with a bit of early compression all the way up to outright Marshally distortion (or is it really Fender distortion? Hmmmmm). But, that just kinda hairy clean can found at so many volume levels.

    It just puts a smile on my face every time I play it.

    The Reissues and LTDs have just a few small component differences (that I have read up on... and when it's time to re-cap, I'll be making those few small changes as well to bring it to 5f6-a specs)... It'll e interesting to see the difference afterwards.

    As much as I love my Reissue, I can only imagine that a real one would be close to orgasmic... I'd love any of the 58-60 5f6-a amps. But, doubt I'll ever have the dough to do so. I'll be more than willing to live vicariously through you though! Although, Like @muchxs, I'd hate to see you give up on some of those other jewels.
     
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  10. Mike Eskimo

    Mike Eskimo Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I had the very first reissue - with the leather handle.

    Guy that bought it from me broke it carrying out to his car from my house (I warned him...)



    I always wanted to see the following test done :

    a vintage '59/'60 5F6A through either the earlier RI Eminence blue frames or the current RI speakers

    compared to

    A New RI Bassman through some vintage 56 or 57 yr old Jensen P10-whatevers.

    Bet the water would be plenty muddied...
     
  11. pete-strych

    pete-strych Tele-Holic

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    Premier guitar just released a video comparison of 58, 59, & 60 Tweed Bassman Amps. Mojo up the wazoo!!
    I love the big glassy valve tone with loads of headroom, followed by the chest punching thunderous growl when opened up. Luscious like the throaty roar of a muscle car's engine. The 4x10 Tweed Bassman is iconic! Excuse me....I have a little GAS now. When paired alongside a strat, Wah-Wah, & Uni-Vibe....Hendrix grooves are demanding to sing out of this classic tweed beast. If I were to buy a modern version, my only considerations would be a Kendrick Amp. Gerald Weber's design is stellar & much more reliable....with arguably the best Bassman circuit ever produced, period. I would also consider the Chicago BluesBox Buddy Guy Signature 4x10 Amp. Buddy is "The Blues," & so is that amp model. I'm grinning ear to ear just thinking about it.
     
  12. robrob

    robrob Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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  13. deech54

    deech54 Tele-Meister

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    MuchXS what's your opinion of the 5E6?
     
  14. refin

    refin Friend of Leo's

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    I have a '59 5F6-A,fell into it back around '82.
    All I can say is,wow.When properly tuned up it is hard to find words to describe the sound--plus it takes pedals very well.
     
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  15. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Of course, bassman dough would buy quite the tele....
    I'm just musing and intetested in these amps...
    Mainly I just want to learn about them.
    What are the differences in how the diffetent circuits sound?
    Its not like I will have the chance to compare them myself.
    Also, right or wrong, if I'm going to have what money I have tied up in gear, it seems like the really iconic stuff is a good bet, and the bassman seems to me to be like the '60 'burst of amps.
     
  16. RubyRae

    RubyRae Friend of Leo's

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    Nice analogy. I'd certainly rather hold on to those great MC's and get the nice Vincent clone.
     
  17. Teleguy61

    Teleguy61 Friend of Leo's

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    I'm with rob.
    The greatest amp, ever. I have a 5F6A, nowhere near stock-speakers, tweed, etc-that I have owned for 47 years. It is the greatest amp ever.
    There is nothing, nothing, that can compare with a 5F6A turned up loud. It is an amazing piece of equipment.
     
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  18. jmiles

    jmiles Friend of Leo's

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    I believe the first Twin Amp was introduced in 1952. Totally different animal than the late 50's Twins!
    I got a '58 from Don Dixon, the inventor of the Echoplex. It was very clean and loud. I used it for pedal steel sometines.
     
  19. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    How does Bassman volume compare to Super Reverb?
     
  20. robrob

    robrob Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    They're very close. Higher speaker efficiency in the SR original speakers is probably the biggest difference.
     
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