Vintage Guitar - July 2018 - open - 96

The '61 Bassman was part of Fender's
Professional Series that also included
the Showman, Bandmaster, and Tremolux, and represented several significant
advances in design. Outwardly notable
were the rough-white Tolex covering
(usually referred to as "blond") paired
with oxblood grillecloth, the forwardfacing dark-brown control panel with
white knobs, and "piggyback" format
with heads and cabinets split into separate,
stackable units. The first version, the 6G6, is
odd in many ways; its Bass channel still used
a cathode-follower stage to drive the Bass
control, but placed this stage immediately
after the input with the Volume control after
the first tone stage and Treble following
only after another two gain stages provided
by another dual-triode 7025 preamp tube.
Otherwise, the Normal channel displayed
Fender's new preamp topology with an EQ
stage sandwiched between two gain stages.
This would be seen more prominently in the
brown, white, and black Tolex-covered amps
to come, and play a big part in defining the
"blackface sound" of amps made by Fender
and others. For the time being, the Bassman
retained its GZ34 tube rectifier.
Early Pro Series Bassmans were paired

L AT E ' 5

0s BASSMAN

with a cab carrying a single 12" speaker. This
might have seemed a step backward except
that Fender was putting a lot of thought
into cabs at the time, and the closed back
brought significantly increased efficiency.
Even so, Fender upped the ante to two 12"
speakers for the 6G6A and 6G6B models in
'62 and '63. Along with a few other minor
circuit changes, these saw the tube rectifier
replaced by solidstate diodes.
Though the tweed 5F6A Bassman combo
got kudos when guitarists later "rediscovered" the glories of vintage amps (to be fair,
many were aware all along), the early blond
Bassman with 2x12" speaker cab was pressed

VINTAGE GUITAR

96

July 2018

into service making a vast quantity of
classic rock and roll. Despite talk of their
use of Vox amps, one of The Beatles'
most-used amps was an early-'60s
Bassman, and it was the choice of Pete
Townshend for many early Who recordings and performances. Later, rockabilly
supremo Brian Setzer would fly the flag
for the prowess of the piggyback blond
Bassman, and it proved a favorite for
Tom Petty and Mike Campbell of the
Heartbreakers.
In later '63, Fender changed the formula
yet again as part of a segue to the new
"blackface" lineup. As with a few other
models, the Bassman made its way gradually to what we think of today as blackface.
Initially, white knobs remained on a black
control panel that retained the Presence
control and fronted the same circuit within
the chassis. Most amps were still covered
in white Tolex, but toward the end of the
transition, many were given the new black.
Midway through '64, Fender changed
the circuit considerably for the new AA864
and AB864 Bassman, successively. While
outward indications included skirted black
knobs with numbers around their edges and
elimination of the Presence control, internal
changes were even more dramatic. The Bass

'58 Bassman: Gary Dick.

King Bassman - the late-'50s
narrow-panel 4x10 5F6A combo is
the amp's legendary iteration.


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - July 2018 - open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - July 2018 - open - Cover
Vintage Guitar - July 2018 - open - IFC
Vintage Guitar - July 2018 - open - 3
Vintage Guitar - July 2018 - open - 4
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Vintage Guitar - July 2018 - open - Contents
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