Want to make first vintage amp purchase - AA964-SF Princeton

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by cottontails1959, Oct 6, 2019.

  1. cottontails1959

    cottontails1959 TDPRI Member

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    Hi All, I'm looking at making my first vintage amp purchase ... I had the good fortune of playing a 60's Fender blackface AA964 Princeton at Dreamland Recording Studios this summer; I really liked the sound, and it's in the output range I want. I've got a thing about the silverface look, so I'm considering a late 60's / early 70's AA964 Princeton ... There's a few non-reverb versions on Reverb.com for $1,000 - $1,300 (plus shipping) ... one is completely stock (w/2-prong cord, death cap), the other two have had some R&R/updating. These are priced on the high end of the "Reverb range", but at the low end of the AA964-SF population that is for sale. In the context of knowing that there are exceptions that prove the rule, I'd appreciate practical comments on what I should be looking for and what is realistic value on the AA964-SF amps ... that is, the value proposition ... Cheers, Peter
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019
  2. TwangerWannabe

    TwangerWannabe Tele-Meister

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    Find one that sounds good and be prepared to shell out to at least get the amp checked over and given a clean bill of health by a reputable amp tech, and if needed have whatever work done to it that it needs, otherwise just get a Reissue. Buying a vintage amp you should always budget funds for things like a cap job, updating the cord, replaceingany components that have fallen out of spec over the years or been changed during it's life by someone who modified the amp or replaced parts with incorrect ones, etc.

    Whenever I bought an old amp the first thing I did was take it to the tech I liked and trusted and had him go through it. If he gave it a clean bill of health great, and if it needed anything fixed or replaced to get it back to original spec I never hesitated, otherwise why buy an old amp and not have it performing at it's full potential?

    The non-reverb Princetons are a totally different sound compared to the Princeton Reverbs.

    Realistic value is whatever you're willing to pay to get the amp you want.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019
  3. rjtwangs

    rjtwangs Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    The way I like to do it is to first do the research, reverb, check vintage shops that aren't on Reverb, like Carters, Norms etc. Get an idea of the $$$ ballpark you want to play in, and make a realistic offer when you see one that ticks all the boxes. Good luck, remember, the hunt is half the fun!!!


    RJ
     
  4. milocj

    milocj Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    As far as pricing goes, the models up to about 1970 have a removable front baffle and fingerjointed pine cabinet, so those are worth more IMHO. Look for wood cleats inside the cabinet behind the speaker baffle along with two screw heads on each side. This will help identify them if a seller doesn't know the difference.
     
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  5. muscmp

    muscmp Tele-Afflicted

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    non-reverbs are more difficult to find but some people like them better than the reverb models. SF is pretty much the same but lower priced.

    play music!
     
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  6. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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    I think most any one that has no issues can be great. You should ask yourself if you really use Reverb, or just want it because "everyone else does". There are some really high priced ones out there. Search for a good price.

    Vintage amps can have troublesome issues, noise etc. Be prepared to spend some money with a Tech. I only warn this because it can be frustrating and expensive. I love vintage amps. I'm not sure other than playing in person how you can avoid that risk. I only work on my own amps, but I can tell you here are just some of the issues I have dealt with on various amps that had problems:
    -Volume pot bad
    -cold solder connections causing loud crackle or noise, sometimes only after 5-10 mins of heating up.
    -Bad jacks, input and output.
    -Bad switches
    -bad speaker wires (Mostly SF)
    -bad tube sockets
    -Plate load resistors causing noise.
    -Opti occillators for tremelo
    -Blown resistors on the tube socket location.

    These amps are 50-60 years old so it makes sense that these things do happen.

    If you just want to be a player, then a hand built new clone by a good builder can be great. Also, Allesandro takes Reissues and hand wires them in both the Deluxe Reverb and Princeton Reverb. Not inexpensive, but you get a new amp . $1600?

    For non reverb it appears you can get one from $650 to $1600 The low end being SF later models. There are examples for sale on Reverb too.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019
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  7. Jwalker99

    Jwalker99 TDPRI Member

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    I have a 66 blackface princeton reverb that is killer. But a few months after i bought it , i snagged a deal on a silverface 74 princeton (non reverb).

    For the record they’re both great amps, and add in a quality reverb pedal and hard to tell them apart.

    That said, non-reverb higher wattage amps from Fender, there is a difference not having the reverb stage, since the reverb tube adds some additional
    Saturation or grizzle.

    Depends On your needs.

    Stop listening to me babble and Just go play some music already.





    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  8. Jwalker99

    Jwalker99 TDPRI Member

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    Good advice . Not sure why we quest for tone down a blackface rabbit hole filled with tweed.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  9. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    Bottom end of Reverb pricing is still the upper end of real world.

    One just sold on eBay for $710 plus shipping, a real clean '68.

    That's about the right price.

    You may have to wait a while for another one.


    Next roached Vibro Champ that crosses my bench is going to become a non- reverb Princeton.
     
  10. Jwalker99

    Jwalker99 TDPRI Member

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    How do you make a vibrochamp into a princeton? Thats sounds interesting


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  11. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    First observe that since 1964 the Vibro Champ and the Princeton use the exact same power transformer.

    The Princeton OT is wimpy. I'd use something a bit more stout but that's just me.

    A non- reverb Princeton board will fit in a Vibro Champ chassis.

    They have exactly the same controls.

    There are a few minor challenges but they're just that, minor challenges.
     
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  12. BobbyZ

    BobbyZ Doctor of Teleocity

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    @muchxs. A roached Vibro Champ also makes a nice 6g2 Princeton. Was going to do that with one but traded to my brother, he did it.
    New OT, different board with the filter caps inside, put extra 6v6 where 5y3 was, put 5y3 where cap can was. Change pots as needed and do what you want with the extras. Think he just left um to fill the holes.
    The cabinet my ex-wife build wasn't great but worked, baffle, grill cloth and 4 ohm speaker all came out of an old radio. I slapped some cheap black vinyl on and it looked like hell. Told my brother NOT to take that cab in public. Of course he gigs with it all the time, has been for several years. Lol
    Oh yeah he put a 12in Weber in it C12N from a few years back.
     
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  13. King Fan

    King Fan Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    As implied by several posts, the "non-verb" Princeton is def not just a non-verb Princeton Reverb. Um, uh, what? :D Let fenderguru explain:

    The Princeton Amp is often misinterpreted as a Princeton Reverb without reverb. Just by looking at the front panel and the knob functions it might seem so. A closer study of the circuit design will reveal that the Princeton Reverb has an extra gain stage (one half of the 12AX7 V3 tube) just after the dry and the wet reverb signals are mixed. This means that there is one extra tube stage that can cause preamp gain and contribute to the tone with sustaining harmonics, compression and sag. Hence, the Princeton-Amp is cleaner than the Princeton-Reverb when the volume is pushed beyond 3-4. The volume knob is less sensitive on the Princeton Amp, and you can play them on volume 7-8 still sounding clean.

    So an AA964 gets you a famously clean BF sound but without the power of a Twin to kill houseplants or cook TV dinners...
     
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  14. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

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    Lesson that I learned the hard way was buying any vintage amp that hasn't been serviced / updated in decades is a costly plan. Even those that appear pristine often turn into money pits. The rule that I live by is that no equipment of any kind likes to just sit around unused...they fall apart. That goes for vehicles and it goes for amplifiers too. I see a death cap and non-grounded plug...I know that I am looking at expensive repairs right out of the gate. Maybe $300, maybe twice that amount, but it will happen.

    I look for vintage amps that are being played and have been serviced in recent years. You know exactly what you are getting that way and the tone will not change from what you hear. Buy an unserviced animal and after the caps are changed or worse, a transformer, it might sound a lot different than what you liked.

    I consider the Princeton and Twin to be my favorite amps out there, but don't rush it. Find the right one, it will come along when patient.
     
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  15. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    Part that bugs me is when someone piles $300 or more worth of "service" on an amp that sat for decades and then immediately sells it. Never intended to play it, just sell it.

    :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

    If you have some old money pit you're going to sell, keep me in mind. The less you do to it, the less you spend on it, the more I want it.
     
  16. BobbyZ

    BobbyZ Doctor of Teleocity

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    Prefer vintage amps as untouched as possible when I get um. Sure that means I gotta rip out all the electrolytics, do the cord upgrade and whatever. But I don't have to try and figure out the last guys mess.
    Plus often times clueless people replace all the tubes with new ones, on an amp with old age issues. I'd rather sort out the ones that are bad (if any) and just replace those.
    Same thing with speakers. Weak speakers sound a lot like weak filter caps. That's why you get the amp up to speed first, then judge the speakers.
     
  17. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

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    We differ on that point. Amps were designed to be kept serviced, not stored indefinately, and not played for years with components out of spec. If I am buying a used car, I want to see service records. I buy an antique firearm, I want to see that the workings have been kept clean and oiled. If I am looking at an amp, I want the one that has been serviced and is being used on a routine basis, not a museum display piece.

    Granted, there are a lot of people doing their own repairs and servicing these days and some of that can be very shoddy work (probably have many guilty people in this forum) but that is often obvious with a visual inspection. It just comes to what you want...play it or repair it. My buddy does the car show circuit and he loves to turn the wrenches for years doing the resto, but many at those hobbyists prefer to write the check and enjoy driving them already fixed up. I am in the latter group when it comes to amplifiers.

    If the OP wants to buy a project amp, bless him and good luck, I was just pointing out that it will likely result in costly repairs going that route and should be kept in mind when discussing price.
     
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  18. King Fan

    King Fan Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    Agree, and all this is why buying vintage amps on the net is an advanced art. Pristine Tolex and grillcloth, no gutshots or bad gutshots? Who knows. Even with pretty good gutshots it can be hard to know *when* an e-cap was replaced, or make sure a resistor value wasn't changed or a wire moved.
     
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  19. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    We differ on that point because we're coming from different points.

    I'm a technician. It's no benefit to me to pay for someone else's half- assed work.

    "I can pay someone to (screw) something up for me or I can (screw) it up myself for FREE!"

    I've seen some downright awful work done by people who have columns in the back of guitar magazines etc..

    I don't pay myself for my labor. Perhaps I should.


    Service records mean little or nothing to me. Some technicians charge for the same amateur (at best) work, over and over.
     
  20. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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    Well, a VC has only one power tube for one thing. It has a tiny shallow cab that is going to sound nasal no matter what you do, not to mention the 8" speaker.
     
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