Search Results for: Blackface Vibroverb


Ordered a Black-face Pro Tone Clone Guitar Amp Transformer

Fender designed and built more than one transitional, non reverb blackface combo amp that would soon acquire reverb and a new name, including relatively small numbers of blackface Princetons, 4×10 Concerts, 1×12 Vibrolux and 1×15 Pros. We acquired a 1×15 blackface Pro, and while it ultimately proved to be an extraordinary exceptional amp, we were also reminded of the potential pitfalls that exist when buying old amps sight-unseen, as well as the potential rewards.

We found the ’64 Pro listed on eBay and bout it from a dealer after requesting a detailed photo of the chassis and circuit. Proudly described as “the best amp in the store, “the rare ’64 blackface Pro is essentially a blackface Vibroverb without the “verb.” Do we have your attention yet? Three caps had been replaced, the original baffleboard had been professionally converted to plywood with the original grill cloth remaining intact, and an on/off pot had been installed for the tremolo intensity control that bypassed the tremolo circuit when rolled to “1” with a click, adding gain that would otherwise be missing in the Vibrato channel. We pulled the JJ power tubes and assorted Russian pre-amp tubes and replaced them with lightly used,“test new” RCAs from our stash, rebiased the amp and fired up the Pro….

Sounded like shit. We had been here before with a dead-mint ’64 Vibroverb bought years ago that had passed through a certain amp guru’s hands in Pflugerville, Texas.How could a vintage Fender sound so bad we wondered? Turned out that the value of the bright cap on the Vibrato channel had been changed on the Vibroverb, rendering a thin, scalding tone that would have given Ed Jahns fits, as it did us. Changing the bright cap back to spec immediately restored the Vibroverb to its rightful pace in history, but the Pro had other problems….

The baffleboard swap and added switch on the tremolo intensity control were clues that someone had also spent time troubleshooting the amp, probably trying to detect the cause of the Pro’s weak output, thin tone and curiously harsh edgy distortion. The amp just didn’t sound right. We pulled the original, reconed Jensen C15N dating to 1964 and subbed in an Eminence Legend, but the Pro still sounded choked-off, linear and wrong, so it was off to Jeff at Bakos Amp works on the Friday afternoon before Memorial Day weekend in a frog-chokin’ Georgia thunderstorm. When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro…..Now, this is the difference between someone who really knows his craft and a hack….Jeff plugged his bench guitar into the Pro, hit a couple of chords, issued a single grunt of displeasure and caustically observed, “Something is definitely fucked up.” With the chassis on the bench, Jeff scowled at the choppy sine wave the amp produced on his scope as he checked voltages with his multimeter. “I think the output transformer is going down slow—it measures 11 volts and it should be reading 16….” He clipped in a substitute OT from a stout old Fisher hi-fi, plugged in and hit a chord… “That’s closer to what it’s supposed to sound lie….” And sure enough, the missing lows and mids were present, the raspy treble tones were subdued, and for the moment, the Pro showed promise. We called Paul at Mercury Magnetics and ordered a black-face Pro Tone Clone replacement trans-former, shut it down and wished each other a good holiday. A week later the Mercury Magnetics replacement output transformer had arrived. Jeff wired it up, and then turned his attention o three silver mica caps that had replaced the original ceramic caps in the phase inverter and tone circuits. Jeff: “Somebody probably read an article about how these would bring the high end up, but I prefer the ceramics—always have. Besides the effect of the voltage from the old output transformer being low, these silver mica caps were contributing to that brittle tone we were hearing. They are the wrong value, and they changed the entire sound of the amp.” Jeff pulled all three silver mica caps and replaced them with the correct ceramic disc caps, and since an on/off switch had already been installed for the tremolo, we mounted the 25K mid range pot in the back panel hole for the extension speaker jack. With the Pro now thoroughly put right and the midrange pot added, Jeff hit a few chords, moved the EQ and volume settings around a bit in both channels, smiled and said, “That sounds really good. Yeah, that’s it.”

Back in our music room, the final step was to re-bias the Proat 34mA with an AmperexGZ34 rectifier and our last pair of vintage RCA black plate 6L6s, which in unused, new old stock condition have soared to $400/pair. The re-labeled Tube NOS Phillips JAN 6L6 WGBs we had tried sounded good—but the smooth warmth, exceptional musicality and deep harmonic content of the RCAs just can’t be beat, and it is a difference you can definitely hear. Smoke ’em if you got ’em….

We lit up the Pro with the ’63Fender Reverb unit and reverently smiled at the jaw-dropping tones pouring from the big Eminence Legend 15. Imagine the sound of a slightly kinder, warmer sounding 40 watt Super Reverb void of the sharp, penetrating treble presence that has sooften left our ears ringing for hours after a tumble with a blackface Super. The sound of the ’64 Pro is all Fender, with solid bass that doesn’t fall apart at high volume as the smaller blackface combos can,sweet, singing treble tones, and now… a mid range control that can gradually push the amp beyond its original, clear and liquid “scooped” mid range voice to an exceptionally thick, “mid-Atlantic” roar that unleashes heavy sustain and rich, musical distortion as only a Fender can. The Pro brilliantly complements every guitar we own, producing the essence of classic Stratocaster, Tele, P90 and humbucker tones with clarity, depth and lush fidelity that literally fills the room. Yes, there are different and equally worthy tones to be had from the British classics,but we have never heard a more beautiful sounding or versatile Fender amp—one that can range from crystalline, blackface clarity to the full burn of an early blonde Fender Bassman at much friendlier volume levels. The Pro can get plenty loud, but it’s a loud that doesn’t kill you in the style of a Showman, Twin or a Super Reverb.

The irony in this unexpected discovery has not escaped us,and perhaps the weight of it is now becoming clear to you, too. This project did not begin well, and we confess to experiencing some remorse when the Pro arrived with a few bad mods, weak and thin from the original output transformer going down, and generally just sounding very wrong. Our dismay was soon displaced by genuine enthusiasm; however, as we were reminded that this is indeed what the quest for tone is all about it. We’ve acquired absolutely bone stock amps in perfect working condition that just couldn’t tote the note, so why should we expect to buy a 44 year old amp that’s been played without it needing a little repair and restoration work? The end entirely justifies the means.

Having finally experienced the Pro’s singular, exceptional sound, we wondered what had caused it to be relegated to such obscurity among all the Fender black face amps. Like the Vibrasonic and Vibroverb, perhaps it was doomed by the presence of the single 15” speaker. Like the Pro, the blackface Vibroverb 1×15 was produced for less than a year, and with the introduction of the 2x12Pro Reverb in 1965, Fender would no longer produce a 1×15 combo until the introduction of the silver face Vibrosonic in 1972. Yet, the earlier 1×16 Pros had been Fender’s flagship amps during much of the tweed era, and in 1960 the 1×15 brown Pro ranked second only to the1x16 Vibrasonic in the Fender catalog. Somewhere along the way, the 1×15 combo had clearly fallen out of favor with Fender, guitarists, or both, and given the short life span of the Vibroverb, even the addition of reverb couldn’t save it.

Twenty years later, Stevie Ray Vaughan elevated the Vibroverb to hall of fame status, otherwise, the 1×15 com-bos seem to have been perceived as “uncool” for anything bug jazz and blues, as if wearing a jacket and tie were required to play them. The Pro is a great blues amp, but it’s also a great rocker, and equally well-suited for jazz, pop and country. With far more clean head room and power than any tweed Pro and much stronger distortion, sustain and dynamic character than a brown Pro, the blackface Pro reflects Fender’s ongoing pursuit of more powerful, cleaner sounding amps, but unlike the black face Bandmaster, Tremolux and Showman, and Pro can really rock the house cranked. We suspect it’s a single 15 and missing ’verb that throws people off today, yet in’64 Pro shares its DNA with the ’64 Bassman and all the highly prized blackface combo amps, including the Deluxe Reverb, Vibrolux Reverb, Super Reverb and the heavily prized and hyped Vibroverb.

The contrast between the Vibroverb’s Holy Grail status versus the lowly blackface Pro simply underscores how easily we can be blown off course by what isn’t hyped on the Internet or in print, and by the powerful logic that suggests if anything 44 years old is truly noteworthy, “we” would already know about it. Well, apparently “they” don’t. But you do. Blackface Pros can be found for $1 500–$2,000,with originality and overall condition driving prices accordingly. Like the Deluxe, we wouldn’t buy one that has had all the blue molded capacitors or Allen-Bradley resistors replaced, but the transformers available today from Mercury will sound every bit as good or better than the originals, and as we have said so many times in the past,the Eminence Legend 15 is spectacular. Add some good,current production or NOS tubes and you will have been delivered to a place well beyond the common man’s limp and shriveled imagination. Now Quest forth….

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Fender Amplifiers

Founded in the mid-1940s in Fullerton, California by Leo Fender, the legendary amps produced by this company have been heard on countless recordings and are influential on countless other amp makers. In the beginning Fender paired small combo amps with lap steels and electric guitars aimed at student players, but word of the superior tone and build quality quickly spread among professional musicians. In over seventy years of existence, Fender has consistently evolved and innovated its sound from the Tweed era through the Brown and Blackface eras and beyond.

Mercury Magnetics has built a massive collection of ToneClone® Transformers and Chokes for Fender Amps available from all eras of production. Answering the needs of players and amp-builders alike, our extensive catalog of audio transformers is the ultimate resource whether you’re looking to replace a worn-out transformer in a vintage Fender amp or looking to nail a vintage tone in a new amp or amp build. The engineers at Mercury have painstakingly documented every detail and nuance of the best-of-breed vintage transformers and can faithfully produce perfect clones using the same materials and methods used on the originals.

The ToneClone+ Series from Mercury Magnetics adds more utility and options without altering the original tone. Love your amp but want to change your speaker configuration? Mercury’s ToneClone+ Output Transformers give players more impedance options like alternate and multi-tapped secondaries. Power Transformers can benefit from the “Plus” treatment as well with alternate primary voltage, Higher or Lower B+ Voltages, added current capability, and more.

Fender Woodie Amp Transformers: The earliest production amps to come out of Fullerton, Fender ‘Woodie’ amps can be identified by their hardwood cabinets and fixed handles. We are proud to offer ToneClone® transformers from this short-lived and rare Woodie era including the Woodie Deluxe (aka Model 26) and Woodie Pro.

Fender Tweed Amp Transformers: The Fender Tweed era lasted from the late forties to early sixties and a vast amount of artists from all generations have crafted their distinct tone using these amps through all genres. Notable artists include: Scotty Moore (Elvis Presley), Neil Young, Larry Carlton, Eric Clapton and Keith Richards. Mercury Magnetics has the largest catalog of vintage-correct Fender ToneClone® replacements transformers for the following models: Tweed Bandmaster, Tweed Bassman, Tweed Champ, Tweed Harvard, Tweed Princeton, Tweed Pro/Dual Professional, Tweed Super, Tweed Tremolux, Tweed Deluxe, Tweed Twin, and Tweed Vibrolux.

Fender Blonde and Brown (Brownface) Amp Transformers: Sitting on the timeline between the Tweed and Blackface Fender amps, the Blonde/Brown amps of the early sixties were most noticeably embraced by surf groups like the Beach Boys and Dick Dale. Our catalog of ToneClone® amp transformers for this era includes Brown/Blonde Bandmaster, Blonde Bassman, Blonde Showman, Blonde Tremolux, Blonde Twin, Brown Concert, Brown Deluxe, Brown Princeton, Brown Pro, Brown Super, Brown Vibrasonic, Brown Vibrolux, and Brown Vibroverb. Also see our transformers and choke for the 6G15 Reverb Unit.

Fender Blackface Amp Transformers: Easily distinguishable by their black control plates and white lettering, Fender Blackface amps began showing up on stages and recordings in the early-mid 1960s. Extremely popular among musicians then, the impressive build quality and versatile tones have kept these classic amps popular even 50 years later. Mercury Magnetics has hundreds of ToneClone® and ToneClone+ transformers and chokes for Fender Blackface Amps including: Blackface Bandmaster/Bandmaster Reverb, Blackface Bassman, Blackface Champ, Blackface Concert, Blackface Deluxe/Deluxe Reverb, Blackface Princeton/Princeton Reverb, Blackface Pro/Pro Reverb, Blackface Showman, Blackface Tremolux, Blackface Twin Reverb, Blackface Vibrochamp, Blackface Vibrolux, and Blackface Vibroverb. Also see our transformers and choke for the 6G15 Reverb Unit.

 

FBFVIBROV-O

Blackface Vibroverb Custom — single 8 Ohm tap — the SRV-style over-sized OT — Upgrade!

FBFVIBROV-P

Blackface Vibroverb Custom — single 120V primary — Drop-In Upgrade!

FBFVIBROV-P-U

Blackface Vibroverb Custom — Universal Voltage Primary — Drop-In Upgrade!

FBFVIBROV-OM

Blackface Vibroverb Custom — 4, 8 & 16 Ohm taps — the SRV-style over-sized OT — Drop-In Upgrade!

VVT Amps Lindy Fralin Model

It only stands to reason that a guy whose day gig involves running his own successful and renowned pickup company knows killer tone when he hears it. So when the Jones hit to seek out a custom made map that combined the best of his favorite Blackface Vibroverb and Vibrolux, Lindy Franlin called upon Tony Albany and the guys at Vintage Vacuum Tube Amps to see if they might be up to the task. And that they were.

The holy grail would be to produce a 6L6 based 30 watt tone machine capable of a beautiful clean sound as well as a smooth, crunchy overdrive and be put captive into the smallest and lightest workable cabinet.

Beginning with a 2×10 Mojotone Tweed Super amp kit for the basic prototype, VVT and Fralin tweaked their hearts out for six months until they got it right.

Residing in a rather compact 20×20 cabinet, the VVT Lindy Fralin Model strikes a vintage pose in its white Tolex with oxblood-like grill cloth.

Beginning with a 2×10 Mojo tone Tweed Super amp kit for the basic prototype, VVT and Fralin tweaked their hearts out for six months until they got it right. Residing in a rather compact 20×20 cabinet, the VVT Lindy Fralin Model strikes a vintage pose in its white Tolex with oxblood-like grill cloth.

The VVT Lindy Fralin Model is a cathode biased straight forward, no bells and whistles affair. The “Plexi”top panel is simple and clean with its Input, bright switch, volume, treble and bass controls followed by the reverb control, standby and on/off switch. Chicken-headknobs let you know where you’re at. Two TAD matched 6L6 tubes supply the power with two 12AX7s for the preamp. A pair of 12AT7s are for the reverb driver and phase inverter. Rectifyin’ is courtesy of an Electro Harmonix 5U4GE. The cool thing is that the Lindy Fralin Model can also accept a deuce of 6V6s in place of the big bottles in the power section for a whole different vibe. Because of the higher plate voltages, VVT Amps stresses that only modern tubes (like the supplied JJ Electronics) should be used. You don’t want to blow the thing up, do ya?

If you think a 15 inch speaker might get as loose and floppy as your Auntie Mabel’s arse, you might be in fora pleasant surprise. With an obviously wider bass frequency range than a 12 inch, the Weber’sbottom remains tight and punchy with a nice lower mid section as well.Single coil and humbucker equipped instruments alike snuggled up quite admirably to the Weber Classic.

First impressions? The Lindy Fralin Model with my Strat spoke with gorgeous single coil chime and harmon-ic complexity, unabashedly magnified with a full trans-parent tone and organic beefy sustain. Very articulate and touch sensitive, the amp displays a more than impressive amount of projection. Both Lindy and Tony attribute this to the cross shaped members (called an integral diffuser) placed across the speaker opening in the baffle board which help disperse the sound and tame some of the“beamy” high end.

All tone controls are unobtrusive and very musical. While the treble is subtle up to around 6 on the dial, the bass is more evident from the get go but remains trans-parent throughout its range with no muddiness. The bright switch surrounds the notes and chards alike with an airiness without compromising the inherent full tone of the amp.

In addition to the Strat, the Lindy Fralin Model warmed up nicely to my other 6 string friends. The Carvin California Carved Top sounded sweet and detailed while my Ibanez AS200spoke with a very articulate, full and warm bodied tone.

Arch tops? This little box makes a nice jazz amp as well with clear, well defined chord structures and beefy single notes. With the fat axes pushing the volume past 3-1/2 caused a little mush in the low end which could probably be remedied by changing the first preamp tube to something with a bit less gain.

The reverb fills out the sound with a pleasant mix behind the dry signal. Throughout its range, the effect is very complimentary and doesn’t send your playing out to see even when dimed. For the dirty stuff, cranking the chicken head to the red(!) produced a bubbly, organic and throaty overdrive with real honest to goodness preamp/amp interaction. Very sweet with gobs of sustain. Doing a quick swap to the matched pair of 6V6s morphed the amp into a kind of Blackface Deluxe vibe with breakup noticeable at lower levels. The bottom felt a little less tight with a bit more perceived glassiness in the top end.

Whereas the 6L6 bottles speak “tux and bow tie” the6V6s are more “t-shirt and jeans”—not quite as complex but with a grittier and nice fat tone.

Also VVT Amps’ attention to detail gets a big thumbs up for the extra long line cord and groovy little spare fuse holder inside the back of the amp.

The collaboration between VVT Amps and Lindy Fralin has turned out to be a winning combination. The VVT Lindy Fralin Model’s beautiful, three-dimensional tones are equaled only by its straight-forward and no-nonsense design.

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FBFRT

Brown, Blackface & Silverface Spring Reverb Transformer — #022921

FC-VIBROV

Brown, Blackface

FBFVO-40X

Blackface — 2, 4, 8 & 16Ω taps — extra iron OT

FBFVV-P

Blackface

FBFVV-P-240

Blackface — Universal Voltage Primary

FBFVO-40-M

Blackface — 4, 8 & 16Ω taps

FBFVV-OM

Blackface — 4 & 8Ω taps

FBFVO-40

Blackface — 8Ω tap — #125A7A

FBFVIBV-O

Blackface — 4 & 8 Ohm taps — the SRV-style over-sized OT — Upgrade!

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