Fender Bassman Head (Model AB165)

Posted by on Mar 31, 2013 in Amps, Blog | 0 comments

Fender Bassman

Sure- I get that when you say ‘Fender Bassman’, you’re usually talking about the famous late 50’s 4×10 Bassman combo that is one of the most well-known holy grail guitar amps. However, most folks I know will never own one. There just weren’t that many of them made and if you can even find one in decently original shape then you’re gonna have to shell out a lotta g’s to own it. On that note, there’s one thing you should know about me and that’s that I refuse to pay a lot of money for gear. There’s ridiculous amounts of killer sounding gear that’s cheap so I leave the collectable stuff to the lawyers. Also- you know you’re unhappiest with the gear that you paid the most for. You know I’m right. It’s a mental thing. And I know that Fender has a reissue Bassman. I’ve used a bunch of them and it’s a pretty darned good amp but it doesn’t sound anything like an original and at it’s price range, I think there’s a lot of better gear out there.

Anyway, all that to say that when I’M talking about a Bassman, what I mean are the simple 3-knob, 2-channel heads that they made a slew of in the 60’s and 70’s (mine’s a ’68). They are some of my all time favorite amps and a regular go-to for me live and in the studio. I use the normal channel and set all three knobs to 5 and just play. It rules. Seriously. It does just about everything. It’s fairly tight so it can punch with the right guitar but it’s not overly scooped so if you don’t crank the treble or bass then there’s still plenty enough round midrange information to sound warm and fat. I’ve used mine for a very wide range of styles and it’s always worked well for me.

That said- there’s a little mystery and arguments about them that I think a lot of people I run into don’t understand. I realize I’m often full of shit but in MY experience here’s what I’ve seen and read: in the 3 years that there were blackface models, Fender was concurrently manufacturing 3 identical looking models. You’ve gotta check the tube chart for the model number of the one you’re using. Even then, there’s some classic Fender chicanery going on and sometimes the amp is mislabeled as to the actual circuit inside. I’ve played all 3 and I don’t feel like there a MASSIVE difference in them (obviously Fender didn’t either or I figure they would’ve felt they needed different model names on the front) but there IS a difference. Once the silverface models came around in ’68- I’ve only ever seen the AB165 model. Fortunately, that’s my favorite. Seems like it must’ve been a lot of people’s favorite too since that’s the one they kept around. So I feel like the different models is the reason so many people say that the blackface and silverface models sound different. They must’ve used a different circuit blackface model. In my opinion, if it’s an AB165 then it sounds much the same whatever the cosmetics. That’s my take, anyway. Check one out.