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 Post subject: Vintage Fender Solid State amps-where did they go?
PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2010 8:51 am 
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I've got a stack of old Guitar Player mags I've had for years, some going as far back as the late 60's. On the back cover of one from 1969, there'a an ad for the new Solid State line of amps from Fender. The Vibrolux, Twin Reverb, Showman, and Super Showman (at 400 watts).
In my 40+ years of playing, I have never seen one of these amps around. Not on a stage, in a store, or in a pawnshop. Where did they go? Who used them? Where they that bad that no one bought them?

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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2010 9:24 am 
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The majority of these amps died a mercifully-quick death once they were sold, the company's reputation for fielding quality gear took it in the shorts, and the entire line was unceremoniously retired after only a couple of years of production. Many of the components developed for these transistorized amps were recycled to become the equally-dismal "Zodiac" line, which also failed to draw any market share.

The only instance I can ever recall seeing one of these solid-state amps on stage with a "pro" act was at an R&B show back in '72 at which the Ike & Tina Turner Review headlined. Ike used a Super Showman stack (preamp + a pair of 4 x 12 powered speaker modules). It sounded like raw azz!

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PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 9:01 am 
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QC was a huge problem - both in assembly and field repair. CBS also showed how out of touch they were by introducing cleaner and cleaner amps - while in the late 60's Marshalls and Hiwatts ruled the stage.

From what I remember reading, the amps had a poor success rate on the line, and then a large failure rate in the field. Fender's dealer network was overwhelmed with these new technology amps - before this, fixing an amp meant that an amp shop/radio repair shop could fix it as the number of parts was limited.

I'm sure some have survived, but since they weren't a sound people cared for at the time and were of questionable design/production, I'm guessing most ended up in the dumpster.

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 Post subject: Re: Vintage Fender Solid State amps-where did they go?
PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 10:39 am 
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masterhacker wrote:
I've got a stack of old Guitar Player mags I've had for years, some going as far back as the late 60's. On the back cover of one from 1969, there'a an ad for the new Solid State line of amps from Fender. The Vibrolux, Twin Reverb, Showman, and Super Showman (at 400 watts).
In my 40+ years of playing, I have never seen one of these amps around. Not on a stage, in a store, or in a pawnshop. Where did they go? Who used them? Where they that bad that no one bought them?


I remember those ads too...here are a couple in this link :

http://www.vintageguitars.org.uk/fenderSSTwinReverb.php

As already stated, the demand wasn't too much for them.

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PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 5:14 pm 
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Most of them are landfill. :wink:

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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 8:25 am 
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The solid state amps rather famously led to Forrest White's resignation from the CBS-owned Fender. They were so much worse than the earlier tube amp that White refused to authorize shipping them to dealers. For those not aware of Fender history, he had been hired by Leo in 1954 and was the only plant manager during Leo's ownership. He was also a guitar player. CBS had plenty of non-musician candidates willing to take his job and overlook a few shortcomings to comply with the wishes of management. As noted, Fender took it in the shorts but, by god, management got their way.

I've never seen one, other than it pictures, and I don't know anyone who ever has, either. They were not successful, you might say.

Forrest went on to help form Music Man with Leo, Tom Walker and Dale Hyatt. That company, for all its soap-opera dramatics, built hybrid amps that were better than many of the contemporary Fender products (I owned one for a long time).

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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 9:48 am 
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I got to try a couple. They were sonic abortions. It was really hard for me to get anything really good from them. They had the Taurus, Scorpio, The had a SS Twin too as well as the Vibrolux Reverb, Deluxe Reverb, and Super/Reverb.

Even the JBL speakers couldn't help the Scorpio.
http://www.vintageguitars.org.uk/fender70p65.php
The Scorpio I tried kept tripping the overload reset button. :shock:

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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 9:51 am 
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I got one thing wrong in my earlier post: Dale Hyatt was not involved in Music Man -- he rejoined Leo when G&L started up.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 11:05 am 
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63supro wrote:
I got to try a couple. They were sonic abortions. It was really hard for me to get anything really good from them. They had the Taurus, Scorpio, The had $@! Twin too as well as the Vibrolux Reverb, Deluxe Reverb, and Super/Reverb.

Even the JBL speakers couldn't help the Scorpio.
http://www.vintageguitars.org.uk/fender70p65.php
The Scorpio I tried kept tripping the overload reset button. :shock:


Actually, the Taurus, Scorpio, Libra, and Gemini comprised the follow-on "Zodiac" line and were built with many of the leftover components developed for the first S/S debacle. Thus, they should be regarded as "Transistorized Fenders - Redux". And like the original disaster, the Zodiacs were also abysmal failures.

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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 11:13 am 
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Sometimes the suits just don't know when to pull the plug.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 25, 2010 7:31 am 
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I have an old photo of myself on stage in 1970. I always thought I was playing thru my silver faced Super Reverb until I counted the control knobs- there aren't enough. I think it must have been a borrowed SS
Fender amp used that day.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 27, 2010 10:50 pm 
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A complete failure, those Zodiac amps. They sounded horrible, looked worse and one would be lucky if they worked when you got them home. Fender ( CBS ) jumped on the transistor bandwagon after mixed success of VOX solid state amps, Rickenbacker and Kustom amps. Let's not forget the only decent early solid state amp line, Standel. But even those met with dubious success ( or failure, depending on who you listen to). None of the early solid state amps were reliable, which is kinda funny because today, that is what they attribute to solid state amplifiers, reliability. But the technology has come along way and there are now, some very good solid state amps. But I will always prefer a hand-wired, well built, all tube guitar amp.
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 27, 2010 11:02 pm 
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VRluxman wrote:
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Somehow I just cannot picture stacks and stacks of these at the Fillmore, Winterland, or Woodstock.

Give me real Twins or give me death!

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:mrgreen:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 27, 2010 11:59 pm 
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Nope, I never saw those solid state amps at Winterland or Filmore West. I did see the first Led Zeppelin tour (at Filmore West ), where they used the new Rickenbacker Transonic solid state amps, which they made sound quite good.

Image



Image

But THE MOST UNIQUE set-up I ever saw "back in the day", was John Cipollina's ( Quicksilver Messenger Service ) stack/rig. WOW, a Showman head driving six Baldwin horns, with a Twin Reverb below that, mounted on top of two Standel solid state amps with two 15" JBL's in each. I saw him live and dang, he was loud.

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PostPosted: Fri May 28, 2010 12:25 am 
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I saw Steppenwolf at the Avalon sometime in '68 and they also used those Ric Transonics. They sounded pretty good as I recollect. I think Spirit was the opening act.

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