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Might be getting a 64' blackface vibro champ
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steelyfan
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18th September 2009
Old 18th September 2009
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Might be getting a 64' blackface vibro champ

A friend has a 64' Fender blackface vibrochamp for $500. He's says it's in great condition, maybe even mint.

I've always wanted one of these amps, and am going over to play it on sunday. I've seen the prices on Ebay for these, the price seems fair.

What's the deal with the silverface vs. blackface?
I know that the blackface versions came first, is there something that makes one better than the other? I'm pretty excited, this will be my first tubeamp. The few I've played just ooze with vintage mojo.

The amps I really want, and then I'm done.

1> Vibrochamp
2> Fender super reverb
3> Roland JC-120
4> maybe a marshall ?? ( frusciante / hendrix )

I've got a Fender Stage 112 that is EXTREMELY loud, but it's very very noisy, can't use it to record. My only other amp is an old Yamaha 80's looking amp, which has a tube.......but is solid state??? It sounds good though.

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18th September 2009
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Hey,

Actually I believe the blackface deal signifies Fender amps "pre CBS" as in made before CBS bought out Fender. I have read that though blackface pre CBS fenders are more desirable collectorwise there is little if no difference sonically between them and the early silverface ones. Vintage vibrochamp should be a great recording amp. I just bought the new Fender super champ that comes with their replications of early models into a tube amp. One of the best Fender sounds I've gotten was preamping a 59 vibrolux tweed with a Line 6 Pod. The tweed was classic "brown sound" and overdriving it with the Pod eq/overdrive was amazing sounding. I did eventually fry it though sad to say lol
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18th September 2009
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I have a silverface vibro champ and my friend has a blackface champ. We a/b ed them a while ago. They sounded very, very similar.

Mine was ever so slightly more aggressive while his was ever so slightly more mellow. The difference was very small and could be attributed to us having different tube sets / age of components and / different speakers.

Like I said, though, the difference in sound was small - that was until I kicked on the "vibro"

All those little champs are great amps and make a wonderful addition to any studio. Mine is loud enough to play out with (have done it many times) in small clubs and can obviously be miked in slightly larger venues.

The blackface is considered more collectible.
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18th September 2009
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You are doing the right thing. Plug in and play... if it melts your face, offer $400! Of course pay the $500 after he laughs at you.
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18th September 2009
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BTW I have heard some people mod their silverfaces to turn them blackface somehow...
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18th September 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kris View Post
You are doing the right thing. Plug in and play... if it melts your face, offer $400! Of course pay the $500 after he laughs at you.
LOL!.
Actually , that's already happened ......without the plug and play and the melting face part. The $400 offer DID provoke uncontrollable laughter.
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18th September 2009
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Yes, most late 60s/early 70s Fender amps can be converted to blackface specs without too much trouble. In fact, some of the first post-CBS silverfaces are already blackfaces internally. The big exception is the master volume models that came out in the 70s, those amps have different topologies and (where it matters) transformers (so conversion is a big project).

If your amp has never been serviced, you'll want a tech to go over it and replace dried up caps etc.
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18th September 2009
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If my memory serves correct the main issue with silverface era amps is that CBS began tweaking the original blackface circuits to make them more reliable by adding additional components and I would guess even cheaper components as well.

Seems like I had Bassman 100 silverface head that used a solid-state rectifier where as I believe all the blackface amps were Tube rectifiers which gives the amp the "sag"

Many of the earliest silverface amps are the same circuits as the blackface amps.

If it is a stock 64 though it's a good deal and will only increase in value. Only change I would suggest is to find a trust worthy tech and have him put a grounded AC cord on it. (keep the old-one)

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18th September 2009
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18th September 2009
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If memory serves, the Blackface VC, Silverface VC and Bronco Amps did not substantially change internally with the cosmetic and name changes.

I have a Silverface VC that I reconditioned with a new cap can, some nos tubes and a more substantial Weber Alnico loudspeaker. (Under the guidance of Jon at Tonecraft, may the tone be with him where ever he has gone.)

The only "official" change I remember is the addition in the Silverface VCs of a 330pf cap between pin 5 & 8 on the 6V6GT tube. Some folks say it robs the amp of some tone and clip it or remove it.

Many folks replace all electrolytic caps due to age... and especially change the 6V6 grid stopper cap (rated at 25 V) with a cap rated at 50 V as the 6V6 cap there is operating too close to its rating. Also the resistor on the 6V6 grid is rated at 470-2 W on the schematic... and when the do the calculation... to correctly bias the amp, you need to put something in there closer to 1K. ( I put 820 in mine...)

I don't really think there is a blackface mod for these amps. The circuit didn't really change.

These amps love the studio, quiet as a mouse... love pedals... and the vibrato seems to warp time.

Put some new caps and tubes in yours, remove the death cap and install a three prong AC cable if needed, and rock on...!
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18th September 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steelyfan View Post
A friend has a 64' Fender blackface vibrochamp for $500. He's says it's in great condition, maybe even mint.

I've always wanted one of these amps, and am going over to play it on sunday. I've seen the prices on Ebay for these, the price seems fair.

What's the deal with the silverface vs. blackface?
I know that the blackface versions came first, is there something that makes one better than the other? I'm pretty excited, this will be my first tubeamp. The few I've played just ooze with vintage mojo.

The amps I really want, and then I'm done.

1> Vibrochamp
2> Fender super reverb
3> Roland JC-120
4> maybe a marshall ?? ( frusciante / hendrix )

I've got a Fender Stage 112 that is EXTREMELY loud, but it's very very noisy, can't use it to record. My only other amp is an old Yamaha 80's looking amp, which has a tube.......but is solid state??? It sounds good though.

Steelyfan
I have a mid seventies silver face Vibro Champ...and it is a versatile recording amp. I have heard the differences between the silver and black face models is minimal. From what I understand, black face may have a bit more "cache" because it is "Pre-CBS"...so it can command a higher price (sometimes). Either way...it is bulletproof and has a ton of mojo. Get out your checkbook, bro...
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18th September 2009
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Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by studiostuff View Post
These amps love the studio, quiet as a mouse... love pedals... and the vibrato seems to warp time.

Put some new caps and tubes in yours, remove the death cap and install a three prong AC cable if needed, and rock on...!
Sounds perfect. Hopefully, it will be quiet (I test it in person sunday).
My other amps have a hum/buzz....which is rather......INTOLERABLE.
It must be my cables, when unplugged the amp is quiet. Good news it likes pedals, it WILL SEE some pedal abuse!. LOl! Death cap?

Don't know anything about caps, I'm sure I can manage some tube replacement. I'll look into the cord too. Does changing to the 3 prong help with amp noise? This will turn into my main recording amp......just hope it sounds good for this purpose. The ones I have played have a joyous vintage sound to them, not really smooth but a little bright with alot of life and energy to the sound. Really cool souding. VERY Fender.
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18th September 2009
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Quote:
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Originally Posted by HeavyG View Post
Either way...it is bulletproof and has a ton of mojo. Get out your checkbook, bro...
........thumbsup !
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18th September 2009
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Get it, steelyfan. It's money in the bank...those early blackfaces will never lose their value. But it's also just one of THE best guitar tones you'll ever find, especially for recording. It's clean and full, and then after about 6 or so, the most gorgeous breakup, sweet sweet distortion with PUNCH. Clapton used a Champ exclusively on the Layla album, and his tone sounded mighty big.
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18th September 2009
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No joke: Death Cap!

Google: "Two prong to three prong conversion" and you'll get 100 diagrams about how to do this successfully.

Your Blackface VC will need the conversion to three prong if it is truly "stock". It's a safety issue and doesn't alter the mojo. It probably won't make the amp quieter. But if everything else is right on the amp, they are really quiet. When you add pedals and etc., you will get more noise... but still, these amps are studio monsters. Smaller sounds bigger to me on tape.

There are only three electrolytic caps in the VC and they are easy to get to... to change. The cap can requires a soldering iron with some muscle, but is otherwise easy enough to do. Parts are widely available.

CAUTION: There will be 450 Volts running around in the circuit, which will kill you dead if you disrespect it...!!

Take your time and do some reading... and you could do all the necessary fixing and bring it back to 100% without changing the value or mojo of the amp.

My SF VC is one of my favorite guitar amps.
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18th September 2009
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You can never go wrong with a blackface fender, unless it's been seriously abused. They are some of the best recording amps out there for clean and low gain dirt. Yay you!!!
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4th January 2010
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Somewhere in the early mid-70's, the Champs and Vibro Champs replaced the solid pine cabinets with particle board blends. Probably a major factor in the nice tone of those early models.
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4th January 2010
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I don't think they changed much in the Champs until the mid '70's when they went from 4 to 6 watts and started using cheaper tubes. I bought a new one and blew out the stock 6V6 after a couple weeks.

If you don't already have a bigger cabinet, I'd start looking for one--that boxy sounding 8" doesn't really do the amp justice, a 12 or 15 makes it sound like a much bigger amp.
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4th January 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Kaufman View Post
Get it, steelyfan. It's money in the bank...those early blackfaces will never lose their value. But it's also just one of THE best guitar tones you'll ever find, especially for recording. It's clean and full, and then after about 6 or so, the most gorgeous breakup, sweet sweet distortion with PUNCH. Clapton used a Champ exclusively on the Layla album, and his tone sounded mighty big.
Frampton also used a Champ on many of the tracks of his first 4 records, his tone was great!
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4th January 2010
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Blackface, Silverface, Champ, Bronco, whatever- they kill.

Not just for clean and slightly distorted tones- these little fellas are capable of some rage when you crank them. One of my favorite tones is the old trick of using a Fuzzface pedal, and cranking the output while keeping the fuzz turned down. It's an instantly recognizable sound- like when you plug into a JMI AC-30 for the first time, it's an "Aha- so that's how they got that sound!" moment.

Right now I use a 70's Bronco that I retubed with RCA Blackplates. I'll never part with it. Maybe I'm the only one that prefers the look of a Bronco to a Champ, but I do. Inside they are pretty much identical to a Champ of the same vintage as I understand. I've thought about modding it, but I like the tone so much as is that I am hesitant to mess with a good thing.



Last edited by robot gigante; 4th January 2010 at 06:56 AM.. Reason: Oops, didn't realize it was an older thread.
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4th January 2010
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I love my Champ!

It's a matter of debate whether the amps that Eric Clapton and Duane Allman played on Layla were '50s Tweed Champs or Blackface/Silverface Champs. The Tweed Champs differed from the later models primarily by the fact that they had no tone stack, which meant that they had more gain and could therefore get more distorted.

For what it's worth, I have a Blackface Champ and I can get pretty darn close to the Layla tone. Champs have a very distinctive voice that doesn't always sound great by itself, but fits very well in a mix. When you layer several different guitars like they do in the intro to Layla, the sound from that tiny amp can be huge.
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4th January 2010
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Incidentally i happen to have your top 2 amps, the Vibro Champ and the Super Reverb. Both 70s silverface versions. (And I had a fender stage 100 when i was a teenager, it was pretty bad).

It's true, the blackface models do sound a bit better (maybe a lot better, it really depends on your frame of reference). But I think the silverface models are the best value guitar amps on the market. They are still a better buy than Fender's vintage reissue models. The silverfaces are all point to point wired and have vintage value.

The vibrochamp was also my first tube amp (it's like you're copying my life or something!). You should get it. It will literally change the way you look at guitar amps.
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4th January 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Appel View Post
It's a matter of debate whether the amps that Eric Clapton and Duane Allman played on Layla were '50s Tweed Champs or Blackface/Silverface Champs. The Tweed Champs differed from the later models primarily by the fact that they had no tone stack, which meant that they had more gain and could therefore get more distorted.

For what it's worth, I have a Blackface Champ and I can get pretty darn close to the Layla tone. Champs have a very distinctive voice that doesn't always sound great by itself, but fits very well in a mix. When you layer several different guitars like they do in the intro to Layla, the sound from that tiny amp can be huge.
Just to add, . The "Tweed" circuitry is called 5F1, it has no tone stack and no vibrato. It's a 3 tubes configuration ( preamp, power amp and rectifier) Class A single ended topology.
It was used in the tweed Champ BUT ALSO in the '64 "Tolex" Champ. After this Fender released the Vibro Champi n late '64 or early '65. The silverface champ was introduced in '67/68.
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4th January 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Kaufman View Post
Somewhere in the early mid-70's, the Champs and Vibro Champs replaced the solid pine cabinets with particle board blends. Probably a major factor in the nice tone of those early models.
When I mentioned this, I was also aware of the circuitry changes that happened in the 70's...the early silverfaces were a cosmetic change but still had the blackface wiring. But as the 70's progressed, the wiring changed as well as introducing wood other than solid pine. I think that wood also made a difference.

I bumped this old thread because I'm about to buy a mid-70's silverface Vibro Champ with a non-functioning vibrato for less than $200...I don't really care as that will probably be fixable, and even if not, then I have a Champ for cheap. But I'm playing the usual buyer/seller slowness game...
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4th January 2010
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Hey hey.

I started a new thread some time ago with my purchases.



On the left is the Tweed Fender Blues Jr. It's a new amp but sounds really nice. I bought it because the sound is very open and has more juice than the vibro, it takes pedals well and does have a different flavor than the vibro. It gets loud and I thought if I was gong to jam with someone it would make a cool travel amp. 15 watts.

The vibro is a 74'. MAN.....does it sound beautiful! I mean spanking vintage mojo, it really does give me the chills when I play it. THAT sound really turns me on, it sounds like older records I grew up listening to and has this certain quality to the tone.......magic maybe??
I'm using a MXR super compressor (great product) with it to tighten the sound.......the clean sound is just so dreamy. 6 watts.

Funny enough though, I just LOVE this purple Boss flanger I've had for years with it. I use the flanger for the chorus and it sounds like an 80's Cocteau Twins or similar sound, but with the vibrochamp it takes on a whole new sound...... quite pretty really.

Anyhow, not bad purchases. Two cool guitar amps for this drummer!
(been playing lots of guitar lately, lovely instrument).

steelyfan

p.s.

Hey Kaufman, the vibro on the champ DOES sound alot different than a vibro pedal, just for the record. I've been told it's because of how the vibro is wired to the amp, so it behaves differently. It's got iron in the sound and sounds less like an effect and more like a throbing warble.
Very pretty sound. Just wanted you to know since you looking at that amp.
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4th January 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steelyfan View Post
A friend has a 64' Fender blackface vibrochamp for $500. He's says it's in great condition, maybe even mint.
Get it. Fast! Especially if it's in good and original condition.

If you really get down to it, I think the tweed 50ies Champs are the best ones, one volume knob and that's it! These regularily fetch up to $1500 though.....

I think it's a matter whether that particular amp is really doing somethigng for you or not. If it does, then it's surely worth $500 and you will not loose money with it should you ever want to sell it again.
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4th January 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steelyfan View Post
Hey Kaufman, the vibro on the champ DOES sound alot different than a vibro pedal, just for the record. I've been told it's because of how the vibro is wired to the amp, so it behaves differently. It's got iron in the sound and sounds less like an effect and more like a throbing warble.
Very pretty sound. Just wanted you to know since you looking at that amp.
Agreed. A few years ago I had the exact same amp you have, a circa 1974 Vibro Champ, and I've regretted selling it ever since. But the one I'm hoping to buy is a great deal either way...it's that tone I miss...pure Fender smack.

I guess you didn't go for the '64 Blackface...but once you have any kind of old Champ sound, the idea of "even better" doesn't matter so much.
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4th January 2010
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[QUOTE]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Kaufman View Post
I guess you didn't go for the '64 Blackface...
No, I did go for it! I made a recording with it to check it out and make sure it had the flava i was looking for......and it did. Then the seller came over to help me look for a loose screw or something that was making a subtle ratlling sound. While he was there, I shared the recording with him praising "MY" new vibrochamp. He took the amp home to find the rattling problem, and then would return it to me afterwards to make the sale after it was fixed. He promised.

He then called later and said he decided to hold onto afterwards, stating that he really does like it and agreed that it sounded choice..............!!!!!

I sold it back to him!!

argghhhhhhhh.

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4th January 2010
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sounds like a variation of craigslist hell.

I'm going through some right now. Great initial communication...until I say OK I'll buy it...then deafening silence.

Depending on craigslist sellers/buyers sort of reminds me of the old days trusting in dope dealers...never on time, never quite truthful, never giving a rodent's derriere.
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