Fender amplifiers

  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/nicosoni/www/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 879.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/nicosoni/www/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/nicosoni/www/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_style_default::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/nicosoni/www/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_style_default.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/nicosoni/www/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/nicosoni/www/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 0.

Here are some of the Fender amplifiers that came through the workshop

Custom Virbolux Reverb

Coming to us thanks to the SRV phenomenon, this Custom Vibrolux is in fact a mix up of newish designs and of several models from various eras. The preamps are of the Fender "Blonde" type, the reverb is common to both channels and its mixing circuit modifies the gain of both channels and the effects level, the "Vibrato" is also from the "Blond" period and the output stage has no negative feedback. Apart from its controls topology and speaker complement, it doesn't have much to do with Black or Silverface Vibroluxes anymore. In fact, it has a lot more gain (and more hiss), a more controlable reverb (some might say "smaller") and a pretty sweet tremolo.

The owner of this amp was unfortunately looking for the 60's tone of the Vibro's so he asked me to modify the amp to get closer to it without resorting to rebuilding the amp. One of the main issues of this model is the amount of hiss coming from the preamp: it is due to the increased gain and the somewhat inadequate quality of its plate resistors.

Nevertheless, this combo is pretty nice with great clean to slightly gritty tones that work a treat for its owner's surf band. He uses it with a Fender 6G15 to get that unmistakable over the top wash of reverb.

Bassman Ten

Bassman Ten. I repaired this one and bought it almost straight after that. It has been Blackfaced and after trying quite a few mods created by my twisted mind to get more crunch from it, I settled on a unique mod that I now called "Ponch" mod because it actually defines my sound in my band "Poncharello".

The mod is based on a relocated master-volume that allows more drive from the amp while retaining all of its character. In all honesty, it sounds extremely good. I have testimonies of convinced listeners...!

Bassman 100

This Bassman 100 belonged to Geoffrey from the northern french band El Gato. It had had a pretty hard life and I took care of it on several occasions, beginning with a Blackface specs conversion.

The Fender Vibro Champ behind it was given to me by Tim Slater, contributor to Guitar Buyer, and Peavey demonnstrator at the time. I had repaired his vintage Deluxe Memory Man that a tech had declared dead (it has to be said that reissues of this pedal didn't exist at the time). The Vibro Champ was unusable due to a shot speaker and crapping out valves. It now screams in my basement!

Bassman 100

What a nice pair... of Bassman 100. The one on top is mine while the bottom one is Geoffrey's. Connoissor's will have spotted mine's blue striped grillecloth indicating that it is older than the orange striped one. It came to me in a pretty poor state and I spent quite a few ours to have it up and running reliably.

I implemented the Ponch mod on it. I also did it on Geoffrey's amp after he heard mine!! This Bassman is now one of my main gigging amps. It simply roars: guitarists and sound engineers actually love its sound. And I love it too.

Bassman 100

Here's yet another Bassman 100 belonging to Nico from Costa Gravos. A great bass player and a great band. This poor sounding amp was up-and-running after a filter capacitors replacement, new valves and a properly done bias.

Twin Reverb

This big old Fender Twin Reverb came straight down from Gent in Belgium. The previous owner had replaced one of the tremolo knob by a switch activating the original boost. The mp had fallen head first on that knob and broken the pot. Obviously, I had to bring that amp back into shape and, along the way, I gave it a few mods.

It is not a known fact but 135W watts versions like this one can be made to sound great, not like a balckface Twin at all, but great none the less. After all, some reknowned brands (like Dr Z) use ultra-linear ouptu stages. When implemented correctly, they can sound as good as any other design. So that's what I did with this amp!

Champ 12

A Champ 12 it is. Designed by Paul Rivera for Fender, it includes many more feature than its silverfaced predecessor with a 12" speaker, 2 channels, tube-driven reverb and tape-deck input. One of my colleagues from Peavey used to use one through the PA in the pubs. I have to say that the sound was a lot better in my memory than it was in reality.

After a complete repair (it had been sitting in a damp cellar for years), I modified it to get a bit more usable range from the gain knob: it now goes from a light crunch to a thick Santana sound (it really does sound like Santana!). And the clean sound now has a bass end to talk about. I have sold it to my friend Hassen (also from EL Gato).

Bandmaster Reverb

The Fender Bandmaster Reverb iis the Dual Showman's little brother, which is the head version of the famous Twin reverb. It only existed in a Silverface version and employs a GZ34 rectifier valve in its power supply. Consequently, its rated power is limited to 40W wich is plenty enough for most of today's applications. It could be said that the Bandmaster Reverb is the silverface Vibrolux in head version with an added mid control.

The bandmaster Reverb came with its stupidly oversized 2 by 12 cab. It could have easily contained four twelve inch speakers but I guess Fender was at the time more interested in selling cheaper cabs that looked big than space saving amps... But after all, it does look good.

This Bandmaster Reverb didn't need too much attention but it was suffering from a very common Silverface and Blackface problem. Humidity had poluted the waxed fibre component board which had become conductive. The result were nasty hissing and crackling noises that are sometimes due to failing anode resistors.

Once dried off, all the amp needed was a new rectifier valve to sing loudly through its massive Utah equiped cab. You can see it in action in a short demo here. The BR is in fact more adapted to today's needs than a Twin Reverb thanks to its lower output as it is possible to make it crunch at less than excruciatingly loud volumes. Its reverb is a surf-rocker's wet dream and the vibrato is as hypnotic as it should when played loud. All in all, this is a great amp for surf, blues and good old rock'n roll.


The Vibroking is part of the upper range of Fender's current line of amplifiers. Its construction, although up to modern standards, is made to look like that of a blackface or silverface amplifier. Similar looking but sturdier boards are used, with plenty of flying leads and chassis-mounted valve bases. The cab houses three 10 inch speakers like a tweed bandmaster.

It features a circuit very similar to a Fender stand-alone reverb at the front end, and it is actually possible to bypass it by plugging the guitar directly into the return of the effects loop. The reverb pan is here driven by an EL84 valve, but some versions use a 6V6. The rest of the circuit is very much contemporary and bares few resemblance to traditional Fender designs (ie. designs from the 50's, 60's or 70's). The reverb tone is very pleasing and has all the qualities of the stand-alone version. Its three controls (Dwell, Mix and Tone) allow for great variations that catter for all styles: from subtle to surf, from mellow to splashy. On the other hand, the Vibroking's tone is good but in my opinion not very inspiring at less than high volume settings. It has to be noted that the amp doesn't have a lot of clean headroom and crunches very quickly.

This particular amplifier would not let the footswitch activate the "Fat" function. This was easily remedied with a new jack socket.