Fender Amplifiers have a long history. Leo Fender began building guitar amps before he started manufacturing guitars. The first of these amps were the K&F models, which were produced between 1945 and 1946. The original Fender amps were tube powered, and the company also started producing solid-state models in the late 1960s.
The K&F amplifiers were the first "Fender" amps made. They were made by the K&F Manufacturing Corporation, which was run by Leo Fender and Doc Kauffman. Most of the amps were finished in a "grey crinkle" finish. The finishes were baked in the Kauffman family oven as were the guitars, such as the K&F in our TYS Collection. They are all very rare today, and few have survived.
The Woodie Fender amplifiers were made between 1946 and 1947. They were the first Fender amplifiers made.
The Tweed Fender amplifiers were instrument amplifiers made in tweed covering. The tweed was first used on Fender amps in 1948. The Fender company stopped using the tweed covering on all amplifiers, except the Champ, in 1960.
At the beginning of the tweed era, Fender constructed its cabinets in "wide panel", where the top and bottom panel is wider than the side. Fender later on constructed them with "narrow panel", in which all the panels have more or less the same width. Toward the end, despite keeping such construction, Fender utilised tolex to cover its amps.
The Blonde Fender amplifiers were produced between 1960 and 1964. The blonde amps included all of the piggyback Fender amps (the Tremolux, Bassman, Showman, and Bandmaster) and a few of the combo amps, including the Twin amp. Two different colours of grill-cloths were featured on the blondes, oxblood and wheat.
The following quote is featured in "The Soul Of Tone" by Tom Wheeler.
"We didn't really have a wrapping for the amplifier head, but I needed to use it that night and the only thing he (Leo Fender) had was that cream [tolex], and Leo says, "Oh my God, don't let anybody see it because they are going to want it 'cause you're playing on it, but it's gonna stain with coffee and cigarette butts." -Dick Dale
In this example of a blonde 1962 Bandmaster, you can see stains!
The Brownface Fender amplifiers were introduced in 1959 and discontinued in 1963. This period marked the beginning of Fender's use of tolex to cover amp cabinets. Most of the Brownface amps featured a "wheat" grille cloth. Some of them also came with a dark maroon or "oxblood" grill cloth.
The shift from the tweed design to tolex occurred in limited production in 1960. The tolex on the earliest versions in this era was pinkish brown and rough textured. There were only 6 amplifiers covered in tolex originally, and they were called the Professional Series: Bandmaster-Amp, Concert-Amp, Pro-Amp, Super-Amp, the Twin-Amp (production halted Feb-May 1960, resumed as the blonde Twin) and the Vibrasonic-Amp. Beginning in mid to late 1961, Fender introduced another color combination: a smoother but still light brown tolex with a dark maroon or "oxblood" grill cloth.
By mid 1961, after this short-lived look, Fender is using the darker brown tolex which was a mainstay for many of the mid 1961 to 1963 amps. Between 1961 and 1963, there were three different grille cloth colours: wheat, brown, and maroon and many tolex-grille color combinations are found suggesting that Leo Fender and Co. was not hesitant to use up whatever stocks of materials were on hand. This mode of operation would seem to extend to the electrical components as well given that it is not uncommon to find actual production amps that vary from the published schematics.
Another aspect of this period of Fender Amplifiers can be found in the new amplifiers which made their debuts at this time. The Concert-Amp came to fill the demand for a tolex 4x10" design so ably filled by its predecessor the Bassman. The Showman Amp was designed with Dick Dale in mind. Its interleaved output transformer and top of the line JBL speaker(s) made it a formidable presence at the time. Its blonde tolex and head and cabinet design made it a harbinger of changes on the horizon for Fender Amps.
Following its lead, the Bassman-Amp as well as the Bandmaster-Amp were covered in blonde and changed from combo amps (all in one) to the new head-and-cabinet design.
The Blackface Fender amplifiers were produced between 1964 and 1967. The first (1964) blackface amps had white knobs. After 1964 the amps had skirted black knobs. The blackface cosmetics were discontinued in late 1967; they returned for a brief period in 1981 before their discontinuation the following year.
Fender Silverface amplifiers were built between 1967 and 1981. They are often referred to as Silverface (or Chromeface) because of their brushed aluminum face plate.
The first Silverface amps manufactured between 1967 and 1969 had an aluminum frame (trim) around the grill cloth, mid-1960s "tailed" amp logos and the AB763 blackface circuit. All of the Silverface amps had blue labels on the face plate, with the exception on the Bronco, which had red. Some transitional models produced before the "tailless" period in 1973 featured the AC568 circuit, still retaining the tailed Fender amp decal introduced in 1964.
In 1973 CBS changed the "tailed" Fender amp logo to the modern-looking "tailless" style (which was first introduced in 1967 on the student Bronco amp) and added a "Made in the USA" script on the bottom side three years later.
All Silverface models usually came with a sparkling silver/blue grill cloth (some later models had a non-standard sparkling silver/ orange grill cloth). The Silverface control face plate was discontinued in 1981 and the 2nd series of the blackface amps designed by Paul Rivera were produced.
Fender continues to this day to produce excellent amps.
This is a vintage 1962 Brownface Fender Bandmaster 2x12” piggyback amp. These Brownface Bandmasters are widely regarded for their killer overdrive tone with way more low-mid chunk than the Blackface amps that followed a year later. Plus they have the coolest vibrato circuit ever to grace a Fender amp. This swirly harmonic vibrato can easily hold its own with a vintage Univibe.
The 40 Watts are delivered through two 6L6 and six 12AX7 tubes.
The speakers are Rola Celestion G12-30 replacement speaker. The G12-30 was Celestion’s standard catalog speaker in 15 ohms (exactly the same as 16 ohms today). It was issued on the 2nd of October 1979, and produced for a few years into the mid 80's until it was replaced by the newer G12S-50, which was almost identical but had a slightly larger magnet.
The G12-30 uses a 1,5" diameter coil with a Kapton bobbin, and a 24oz magnet. These combine to give quite a neutral tight, bright balance with nice bite and crunch in the mid, but reasonable warmth. The efficiency is around 96dB (1W@1m), and the feel should be quite responsive, and quite versatile.
The amp was owned by Gabrels Reeves and he remembers about the amp: "yes. i used it on tin machine 2 in australia. might have been in flight cases. the cab has celestion "rola" speakers in it."