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Vintage Blackface Fenders (what you don't want to see replaced and what you do want to see replaced)

Discussion in 'Amp Input - Normal or Bright' started by StratoTelecaster, Aug 5, 2017.

  1. StratoTelecaster

    StratoTelecaster Strat-Talk Member

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    hey fellow Strat cats. I've recently been looking at old blackface fender amps as I am starting to play live more than I normally do. Online I've found that many amps for sale say that the transformers, caps, speakers, tubes, etc have been replaced. I want as original and organic a sound I can get if I'm dropping a bunch of cash on one. I'm new when it comes to amps so I don't know what I should be looking out for. What can be replaced in an old amp and still retain it's sound and what shouldn't be replaced?
     
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  2. vid1900

    vid1900 Most Honored Senior Member

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    Transformer and speaker you probably want original.

    The larger electrolytic caps are probably long past due to be replaced (look for bulging or bubbling end seals).

    Tubes have probably been replaced several times.

    Look for smooth pots that turn without crackling noise.

    Look for clean solder work on items that have been replaced.

    For something as common as a Fender Blackface, buy it locally where you can hear it in person.
     
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  3. candyapple1964

    candyapple1964 Senior Stratmaster

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    Bf amps are legendary and most of them sound great. But they are slightly hit/miss.

    An untouched all original that sounds as good as it _should_ is very hard to find. And the untouched end up sitting on a shelf.

    A working musician's bf amp gets what needs doing done along the way.

    For me its less about total originally and more about the right things being done to keep it rocking and the sound it makes.

    Transformers need replacement ocasionaly. And the quality today is great. No negative affect on sound. And it knocks the price down after someone spent money on it. So don'tlet unoriginal scare you
    If it sounds great it is the real deal
     
  4. gibsonsmu

    gibsonsmu Senior Stratmaster

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    Electrolytic caps no problem
    I like original transformers
    I don't care about original speakers
    I don't like all replaced coupling caps - couple ok but more than that and not really interested- particularly black face as the blue molded hold up well

    But if the price is right and it sounds good all bets are off
     
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  5. Stevem

    Stevem Senior Stratmaster

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    You need to have someone play the amp who knows what a BF in good condition sounds like!
    Worn/ fitigued speakers can make the amp sound like it numerous other issues that are not present!
    Just top notch sounding output tubes (JJ brand) as compared to most Russian or China made tubes can make poor sounding amp terrific!
     
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  6. d801hme

    d801hme Strat-Talker

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    If you want a player, orig trannys are a big pricing point, as original speakers are (though I don't run original speakers in my old amps), but I've heard plenty that have new trannys and sound great. I'd prefer to see most the original blue caps in the chassis, but they do go bad sometimes. A sea of orange drops can sometimes mean a previous tech had tried to "improve" the amp, not really what I want in a vintage amp. Electrolytic recap is almost always a must, long as quality components and work was done I welcome that.

    It all boils down to price and how the amp sounds though for me. There are plenty of great sounding player grade vintage amps out there, as long as they are priced accordingly and you like how it sounds, nothing wrong with those amps.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2017
    abnormaltoy and JustABluesGuy like this.
  7. BryMelvin

    BryMelvin Strat-O-Master Silver Member

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    I feel sorry for whoever ended up with my 64 PR! The speaker and tubes, and output transformer had been changed by 68. The boards were replaced the end of 69 as they got soggy and moldy sitting in my car fro several days while at the Woodstock Festival. If it's still alive (I gave it away in 71) The only thing original is probably the chassis and wood.
     
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  8. sumran

    sumran Fan of Leo

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    If you are looking for one that sounds good the design is what matters. Any of the parts can be replaced, if the right stuff is used, and the amp will still sound great. If something is not original you should find out what was used as a replacement. Never assume a repair was made with the right components. I have found some crazy stuff in amps that were supposedly fixed by a professional. For some parts, like filter caps, original is not a good option.

    Value as a vintage amp is an entirely different question. Collectors like everything original.
     
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  9. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Over the last 51 years mine has had whatever it needed to keep working replaced, by me or it's original owner. It's value really never came into it, it had none if it didn't work. I think the grandkids will get more than the £50 I paid for it, when my time comes.
     
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  10. Ed Storer

    Ed Storer Strat-Talker

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    The only part of a vintage fender that I would say needs to be original is the circuit. No mods on a blackface. Any replacement components should be of the same value as the original.

    If you're buying blackface, it doesn't matter, but for a Silverface, I like them better when they are modified to blackface. Such is the case with my '69 Super Reverb. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why the bias adjustment was changed to bias balance by CBS/Fender.

    Sometimes the original speakers add value, sometimes they don't. My SR came with all four original CTS alnicos, making it worth at least $100 more than an amp with modern speakers. Let your ears be the guide, the speakers may be original but some just never sounded very good.

    As stated before, original transformers will add value. Mostly, it's an old "rule", but usually a vintage transformer doesn't fail by itself - its failure originates elsewhere, so there's a possibility that there are other components that got cooked, but not destroyed, in the failure. Does it change the playability of the amp or the quality of the sound? - unlikely - but replacement transformers should suggest careful scrutiny by a tech before you complete the purchase of a vintage amp with replacement transformers.
     
  11. Tone Guru

    Tone Guru Senior Stratmaster

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    IMO - the most important components in BlackFaces are the blue moldeds.
    They rarely go bad, but I've seen cases where an entire amp was "shotgunned" with all the blue moldeds harvested, a shame.

    I only replace what is confirmed to be bad in a Blackface.
    The only exception being all the high voltage electrolytics under the 'doghouse' (cap cover).
    The low voltage cathode bypass electrolytic caps also don't routinely go bad and can be tested in-circuit for short and with one leg lifted for capacitance, although it's quite common to see these shotgunned as well.

    Output tubes (and rectifiers where present) can be expected to be weak or have been replaced depending on hours of use so to find a pair of useable original blackplates is worth a premium.
    Fenders run the reverb driver hard and the PI (both 12AT7s) can also be expected to wear faster than the other preamp tubes.
    It's not uncommon for original 12AX7 preamp tubes to last quite a long time because they're not run very hot in Fender amps, although again, it's not unusual to see amps that were shotgunned (complete set replaced) simply to sell (and harvest) tubes.

    It's a real treat to find a '50s-'60s amp with original tubes.
    If you are looking at vintage blackface amps definitely open up and take a peek at the guts to look for mods and parts replaced.
     
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  12. Uncle Jimmy

    Uncle Jimmy Senior Stratmaster

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    Caps and three prong power cord.
     
  13. pierce

    pierce Strat-Talker

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    all caps on the board tested for DC leakage... it's more about WHO services than what is done/replaced.
    [​IMG] Every one is a pro on the internet!
     
  14. RPKennedy

    RPKennedy Senior Stratmaster

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  15. carver

    carver The East Coast Strangler Strat-Talk Supporter

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    this is what you want original.
    hqdefault.jpg
     
  16. fezz parka

    fezz parka Making a record.... Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Filter caps, cathode bypass caps, and bias cap.
    Power cord upgraded to three prong .
    Death cap removed.
    Plate load resistors. In fact any carbon comp resistors in the B+ rail.
    This is what needs to be looked at on a 50 year old amp.
     
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  17. candyapple1964

    candyapple1964 Senior Stratmaster

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    In all my time dicking around with vintage fender amps the one that ended up being the best I ever had is one I have not opened up or replaced anything on it.

    1972 super reverb. I ain't laid a finger on it since it came to me except the dials or plugging it in.

    Sometimes you get lucky. Took me a long while :)
     
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