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Post subject: Blackface vs. Silverface
Posted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 4:55 pm
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Can anyone tell me the difference between blackface and silverface amps? I used to have a Super Reverb and a Twin Reverb and both of them were silverface. Is one more desirable than the other? And if so, is it due to the sound or some other reason?


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Posted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 8:48 am
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Black face is older. Many people think older is better. The market tells us older is more valuable. I believe they changed some time in the late 60's but could be wrong about that. I'm sure someone here has a definitive answer.

I have a late 60's Twin. Literally thousands of gigs and it still works great for me every time I plug it in!!!!!!!!!!!!

Johnny

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Posted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 10:14 am
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The amp electronics had some changes when the silver face amps came out in 1968. Everyone I talk to seems to say they liked the sound of the black face a little better than the SF.
I have a SF '68 Super Reverb that was revised/rebuilt to BF electronics specs. It sounds great and I've never A/B'd it to a SF to know the difference.


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Posted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 10:21 am
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Here's a decent explanation. http://www.unclespot.com/SF2BF.html

I've owned both and I liked the BF a little better although nothing wrong with some SF amps. My Twin is a 76 SF with the master volume. I don't use the MV at all, it sounds horrible.


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Posted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 11:32 am
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I have no real experience, but I have heard and my understanding is that the silverface amp are every bit as good and sometimes better. My uncle has a 1974 SF Twin Reverb and its sounds great and has been rock solid and reliable. The blackface amps are more collectable due to age and the pre-CBS fender product. I have had someone tell me that the blackface amps were not as reliable and sometimes did not have as good of circuitry. I think its more of a collectability thing than anything. Apparantly the SF amps are great amps but just as not collectable, because they were made after Fender was sold to CBS

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Posted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 1:51 pm
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Blackface amps were made for two years after the CBS takeover, so not all BF Fender amps are all pre CBS. CBS started to "Fix" things that weren't broken, much like they do today. Some people hate SF amps. Go figure. Silverface amps were a little bit colder sounding than BF amps, but there are a lot of ways around that by changing tubes, speakers or whatever or just blackfacing the amp. It just all depends on your taste and ears. Personally, I like SF amps. I have a 74 SF Champ that's rock solid and sounds awesome.

You will always have tone snobs.


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Posted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 8:20 am
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Does anyone know how to date a Twin from the serial # or otherwise. I bought mine used around 1971, but never asked the seller when they bought it, so I don't know the exact date.

Johnny

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Post subject: Re: Blackface vs. Silverface
Posted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:00 am
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nryigns wrote:
Can anyone tell me the difference between blackface and silverface amps? I used to have a Super Reverb and a Twin Reverb and both of them were silverface. Is one more desirable than the other? And if so, is it due to the sound or some other reason?


If we're talking tube amps, the difference between a black face and a silver face is actually rather minimal as far as sound goes. The plain and simple truth is that there are a number of things that effect how a given "vintage" amp sounds, pre-BS or otherwise....tubes, speakers and even how well the amp has been taken care of. The problem is that the CBS era of Fender did make a lot of crap...the SS amps that CBS/Fender came out with in the 70's for example had a reputation for catching fire on the show room floor. It's also worth noting that the attitude back then was similar to that of auto makers of that day...let the dealer fix it and concepts such as "quality control" were pretty much non-existent in those days. Because of things like this, many people started to believe that -anything- from Fender in those days was simply garbage and especially a lot of older players still feel that way. However, the Fender tube amp line changed very little into the CBS era. Yes, CBS did tend to use what many consider to be "lesser quality" components...lower tolerance caps/resistors, etc., but the over-all impact on sound wasn't really that significant.

That said, a great deal of how many of those older amps sound is simply a mental perception. People see the black face cosmetics and in their mind they think the amp sounds better. Again here I would use the blind taste test situation...if you were to put a BF against a SF and the person playing the amp couldn't actually see which amp was which, with all other things being equal (i.e. same tubes, same speakers, etc) the greatest majority of people would not be able to tell any difference at all. To add to this, if you were to put something like some Groove Tubes into a properly biased SF and had some old mushy tubes (biased or otherwise) into the BF, most folks are going to think the SF actually sounds better (unless of course said person likes the sound of worn out tubes! LOL!). I also must add here that the sound of -ANY- amp of any given vintage is simply subject to the person who's playing through that amp. Why do some folks prefer a Marshall over a Fender? Why do some folks like tubes (valves) over solid state (or vice versa)? Personally I love the sound of an old Roland JC120...just isn't a tube amp in the world that sounds quite like that! So again here there is a mental perception that comes into play. A person who likes that sound of a vintage tube amp who -thinks- that a black face is a better amp is going to think the black face does indeed sound better.

Value is a totally different issue in my book. Certainly the bf's are worth more in the collectors market. I believe that this too is, in part at least based on perception. Again there are people who think that a bf sounds better and thus will pay more for one. Beyond that, it also must be added that people will also pay more for "antiques". Some of those really early Fender (and Marshall and other) amps from the late 50's and early 60's are worth -A LOT- of money simply because they are old. Wouldn't matter that a given amp may sound like complete crap (and many of them do from a musician's point of view), they are just old and there's not many of them left around so the right person will fork out big bucks for that little piece of music history. I on the other hand am a guitar player first. I don't buy or play an amp because of how much I feel that amp is worth money-wise, I play it because it sounds good to my ears. My main amps are a '73 Bandmaster (thru a home made 2x12 cab) and a Lab L5. The Bandmaster is a -great- sounding amp, but then so is the L5 and to be honest, I use the L5 -WAY- more than the Bandmaster...it's just a lot more versatile (not to mention, no tubes to fuss with). Then again my little Peavey Backstage has probably seen more playing time than both of those amps put together just because it's so portable and convenient. If I'm going to a jam somewhere, I just toss a multi-effects pedal in the back of it along with a couple of cables, grab a guitar and go! Not to mention as I'm getting older, that little Backstage is soooooo much easier to haul up and down 3 flights of stairs than either my Lab or my Bandmaster and 2x12 cab! LOL!!!

As far as the Twin vs. the Super, in my opinion I think that the Twin is probably the more desirable between the two for many musicians but the Super is probably a bit more collectible as there's not quite as many of them around. The Twin has always had a reputation as the "working musicians amp"...great sound, good for most stuff from country to blues and very reliable. Not that the Super is bad for any of that stuff either, but it doesn't seem to have as much of a reputation as the Twin. It's been my experience that given the same speakers, they sound -very- similar (give or take) so again it really comes down to perception and/or personal preference.

Alrighty...as always this is just -my- opinion and should only be taken as such!

Peace,
Jim


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Posted: Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:23 pm
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The early Silver face amps were great amps. Same circuit as the blackface ones. ( Late 60's very early 70's) In the early 70's, one of the circuit changes they did was to get rid of the rectifier tubes, eliminating the soft sag from the AC to DC change that is a rectifier's job. These were replaced with solid state rectifiers, and the rest of the amp still maintained it's tube output and input section integrity. The amps then (silverfaced models) had a bit more headroom, and were OK, but never again as spongy and warm sounding as their tube rectified predecssors. Through time, THAT is what has set Blackfaced amps apart from Silverface. The warmth and depth of tone, the huge tremelo throb, and the chimey reverb were smaller casualties, but still affected as well.

This in turn has made the original BF amps hugely desirable, and the rarity also has driven prices up. But to me, a good SF amp from 1968 to 1970 or so, is a bargain as it applies to tone.

Cheers, Pete


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Post subject: Re: Blackface vs. Silverface
Posted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 8:35 am
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GREAT overview, Jim (lomitus), I agree entirely.
Especially on people's perceptions/pre-conceptions before actually hearing a given amp. I play through several setups, depending on band configuration, musical genre, venue size, load-in logistics, etc.
When I choose to leave the old Bassman home, (54lbs!) and bring my Mustang III, (a startlingly kick-ass Fender SS Modeling amp if you know what you're doing), I often get 'the look,' from players with rigid mindsets and diehard tube 'bias' (see what I did there?). Funny thing though: IF they DON'T happen to notice the LED panel to the right of the knobs, all they say is, "Whoa, great tone!"
And folks who just come to hear some good music on a Friday night are refreshingly unconcerned with surface cosmetics.


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Post subject: Re: Blackface vs. Silverface
Posted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 9:11 am
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Pete55 wrote:
The early Silver face amps were great amps. Same circuit as the blackface ones. ( Late 60's very early 70's) In the early 70's, one of the circuit changes they did was to get rid of the rectifier tubes, eliminating the soft sag from the AC to DC change that is a rectifier's job. These were replaced with solid state rectifiers, and the rest of the amp still maintained it's tube output and input section integrity.


Cheers, Pete



Actually, I can't think of a Fender BF model specific amp which had a tube rectifier going to solid-state rectification --- when the style went from BF to SF. Some GZ34/5AR4 rectified amps may have gone to 5U4GB rectification. Several amp lines switched from tube rectification to solid-state --- when the units went from tweed to BF.

To better follow the development of each amp line, through the years --- try this site:


http://ampwares.com/brand/fender/

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Last edited by BMW2002Tii on Fri Jan 02, 2015 9:21 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post subject: Re: Blackface vs. Silverface
Posted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 9:19 am
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nryigns wrote:
Can anyone tell me the difference between blackface and silverface amps? I used to have a Super Reverb and a Twin Reverb and both of them were silverface. Is one more desirable than the other? And if so, is it due to the sound or some other reason?



Model dependent. At one end, you have all the Bassman perturbations. The other end --- the Deluxe Reverb, Princeton (and PR), and the Champ (and VC) had little circuit change through much of the BF and SF era.


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Post subject: Re: Blackface vs. Silverface
Posted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 10:10 am
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jefgat wrote:
GREAT overview, Jim (lomitus), I agree entirely.
Especially on people's perceptions/pre-conceptions before actually hearing a given amp. I play through several setups, depending on band configuration, musical genre, venue size, load-in logistics, etc.
When I choose to leave the old Bassman home, (54lbs!) and bring my Mustang III, (a startlingly kick-ass Fender SS Modeling amp if you know what you're doing), I often get 'the look,' from players with rigid mindsets and diehard tube 'bias' (see what I did there?). Funny thing though: IF they DON'T happen to notice the LED panel to the right of the knobs, all they say is, "Whoa, great tone!"
And folks who just come to hear some good music on a Friday night are refreshingly unconcerned with surface cosmetics.


jefgat...
Even though my comment there is actually 6 years old now, I thank you for the kind words! After having read what I wrote there, it's kind of interesting that after 6 years, my opinion on that hasn't really changed at all. Yea, I still drag my little Peavey around to practices/jams (although I have a Fender Princeton now that gets a bit of use) and yea, my L5 is still my main gigging amp (although the Bandmaster is mostly retired to just studio work now). In fact over the past year I've gotten pretty heavily into guitar synth and I rely on that L5 more than ever because of it's versatility...not only a great sounding guitar amp, but does a wonderful job with all the keyboard/piano/horn sounds I use now. As much as I love a fiesty old Twin, I just wouldn't be able to get the kind of versatility out of one...black face, silver face or otherwise.

I've worked with a couple of those "purists" over the years (both regarding amps and guitars) and, yea...I know "the look". Personally I find folks like that to be quite annoying (although I do rather enjoy embarrassing them, LOL). I guess it's simply that when you get sooooooo hung up on "a piece of gear", then you're really missing the point of playing. As you say, when you're doing a weekend gig, most people really couldn't care less about what kind of gear you use...99.9% of people at a given show really wouldn't know the difference between a Marshall and a Fender or between a Strat and a Les Paul, let alone any difference between a silver face and a black face. To the greatest majority of your crowd, it's "a guitar". The majority of the crowd simply knows whether you played well and whether or not they liked it. What's more is that in any given average venue, between "the house" itself, the inconsistencies of the crowd, whether or not you're running thru a PA system, etc., etc., it doesn't really even matter anyways, as any nuances between given pieces of gear become completely obscured by the ambient noise. Same goes for recording really...by the time the engineer gets thru pushing and pulling and shaping that sound to fit into the "sonic spectrum", there's very little of the original signal/sound left anyways. I've used my old Bandmaster for recording and I've used my little Roland Microcube...6 of one, half dozen the other. I recently recorded a cover of an old Link Wray tune for a video animation project of mine (a 50's style diner, ala American Graffiti)...the drum track was just a stock Reason/ReDrum beat, the bass was done on a Strat thru the guitar synth and the guitar part was done on a MIM Fender "Squier Series" (with GF pickups) thru the Microcube. So far not one single person has even asked about the gear...most are just amazed that I know who Link Wray was :-)

Each to their own I guess but when it comes to gear, I think A LOT of people would be better musicians if they focused less on issues such as tube vs ss, new vs. vintage, where their guitar was made, etc., and just spent more time -playing-. At the end of the day, you can have the most expensive vintage or boutique/custom gear but if your playing sucks, the rest really doesn't matter at all because no one's gonna listen.

Anyways, again thank you for the kind words and it's good to see someone out there still has some common sense :-)


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Post subject: Re: Blackface vs. Silverface
Posted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 11:16 am
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" Not that the Super is bad for any of that stuff either, but it doesn't seem to have as much of a reputation as the Twin. It's been my experience that given the same speakers, they sound -very- similar (give or take) so again it really comes down to perception and/or personal preference. "



To my ears, the SR and TR may sound somewhat similar to about "2-3." Above that the two tones are much different. Even, when you plug the SR into the TR's cab (with the two 12-inchers) & the TR into the SR's cab (with four 10-inchers).

The TR stays clean until the windows blow out of the house. The SR compresses and has more overtones, at high volumes. Anyhow, that's my take on the two amps. Very different beasts.


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Post subject: Re: Blackface vs. Silverface
Posted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 6:48 pm
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Quote:
To my ears, the SR and TR may sound somewhat similar to about "2-3." Above that the two tones are much different. Even, when you plug the SR into the TR's cab (with the two 12-inchers) & the TR into the SR's cab (with four 10-inchers).

The TR stays clean until the windows blow out of the house. The SR compresses and has more overtones, at high volumes. Anyhow, that's my take on the two amps. Very different beasts.


I concur with the above in my experiences as well.

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