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FDP Forum / Fender Product Reviews / Vibro-King

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KAL

USA

Addicted to Tones (& amps and guitars)
Feb 18th, 2002 06:03 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I haven't seen any other recent FDP reviews of this amp, so I thought I'd post a few thoughts on the Vibro-King I recently acquired used for a good price. (Now just need to sell some gear to pay for it!) BTW this is a newer VK with Jensen speakers and a 6v6 reverb tube.

Looks: This is a classy-looking amp with the blonde tolex and oxblood grille-cloth. It looks very retro in a good way (for those of us who like the looks of older Fenders).

Weight & Handling: The amp is around 70 lbs (about the same as a TRRI), but its a little harder to carry or put in a car because it's taller than a typical combo and it's transformer is quite heavy, making the amp a tad front-weighted. It would be nice to have a somewhat sturdier handle.

Control Panel: Very simple, except that you have the Fender reverb unit with 3 controls, which is a new thing for me. (See below). Nothing fancy here, just the reverb controls, treble, bass and mid EQs and the tremelo controls. Single channel of course (that's what volume knobs are for). There is also a "fat" switch (see below). I like the radio knobs - they are a bit easier to use (for me) than standard blackface - style knobs. I've read that the tone controls are quite interactive but I've found them not to be that effective (compared to my TRRI where the tone controls make very noticeable and useful tone changes).

Reverb Unit: This is a critical piece of this amp since your signal always first runs through the reverb unit. The "Dwell" is fairly similar to a typical single control reverb - it controls the amount or depth of reverb. The Mix control lets you decide how much of the signal is wet vs. dry, which matters since your signal is always hitting the reverb unit first. The "Tone" control is harder to describe, but it varies the tone by making the reverb more or less sharp or distinct. Hard to explain. These controls (esp. tone) affect your overall tone and provide a wide array of subtle tone variations. You need to experiment with them.

Amp Tone: Ah yes - tone. This amp sounds to my ears like a consummation of many classic Fender tones melded into one, but with vastly more detail, higher highs, meatier mids and tighter and deeper lows. At low volumes (say 1-2.5) the amp sounds like a Twin or Super at those volumes. Very pleasant and surprisingly clean, but with more definition and an intangible "extra" depth to the tone. Playing with the volume on about 3-3.5 you hit a great in-between sound. You aren't breaking up yet, but you start getting a much fuller and juicier tone with plenty of volume (since this is a 60 watt amp). Perfect tones for rockabilly, country, or blues. At 4-4.5 and up the amp really beefs up and even thinner single coil pups sound quite rich and full. Because the amp is a bit bright (in a nice way) it also makes humbuckers sound better (to my ears anyway). You can easily do an SRV - style sound without a pedal with volume up to 5+, esp. if you use the 'fat' switch.

The 'fat' switch can be thought of as a solo boost. It increase your volume with an emphasis on the higher mids and the foot pedal that comes with the amp let's you step on this as needed. At higher volumes you probably don't need this but when playing around a 2.5-3.5 volume level this switch seems most effective. It IS a little grainy sounding, but no one would hear that at a gig.

I don't use tremelo much but compared to a TRRI the VK's tremelo sounded superior. It should.

This amp has Jensen 10" speakers which sound great. Mine aren't that broken in yet but they seem to add definition and brightness.

This isn't a "do it all" amp, but what it does is awesome. For very clean rhythm parts at higher volumes I'd prefer a twin since it stays tighter and cleaner at high volumes, but this amp has great clean tones at useable volumes + smooth breakup at higher volumes.

--------
P.S. About a year into using this amp I had some additional thoughts:

1) It favors single coils (surprise). Humbuckers are OK but at least in mine single coils are MUCH better.

2) It is great at low or high volumes and sounds like a great blend of a super reverb and bassman, but a bit better than either.

(This message was last edited by KAL at 10:44 PM, May 3rd, 2003)

JimmySee

Santa Monica Bay

at the beach - sunny & warm!
Feb 19th, 2002 06:01 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I believe the VK differs from all other current Fender amps in that it is hand wired point to point.

Jimmy

KAL

USA

Addicted to Tones (& amps and guitars)
Feb 19th, 2002 09:18 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

True

ck10s1dach

USA! USA! USA!

NRC - Natural Relicing Club
Feb 19th, 2002 09:59 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

True except for the Dual Professional and the Tone Master. They are PTP custom shop amps like the VK.

ZZZezums

usa

without love day to day insanity's king
Feb 26th, 2002 03:08 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Nice review KAL.

KAL

USA

Addicted to Tones (& amps and guitars)
Feb 26th, 2002 02:02 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Yet another thought.

This amp seems to combine deeper tone with Fender highs. An interesting feat for an open-back combo. You get some of the deeper, low-end tone of a larger closed-back cabinet when you play at higher volumes, while retaining all the sparkle and definition that keeps us playing Fender amps.

ZZZezums

usa

without love day to day insanity's king
Feb 26th, 2002 08:18 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I have an older EL 84 model, which by the way, still has the original , 6 year old EL84! I swapped one of the Eminence Blue Frames for a Weber P10N. It's worked out very well for me. I find the Blue Frames nice, but a little trebly. The Weber adds very full, tight low end and mids, so the combo of speakers sounds really beautiful, and balanced.

KAL

USA

Addicted to Tones (& amps and guitars)
Feb 26th, 2002 08:46 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

ZZZezums: that sound nice. It's a great toned amp, ain't it!

ZZZezums

usa

without love day to day insanity's king
Feb 27th, 2002 08:01 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Absolutely. It's the best I've played. KAL, haven't we dialogued about Dead stuff before on this site? I was just listening to a remastered Workingman's Dead today at work, an album I haven't heard in a while. Wow, what great tunes and playing!

KAL

USA

Addicted to Tones (& amps and guitars)
Feb 27th, 2002 10:38 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

You are probably right. I'm a big Dead fan. I recently got to meet Bob Weir (though just for a minute). That was cool.

My playing has evolved to different places but I still love playing soulful Jerry-like solos with taste and melody.

Haven't hear Workingman's dead in awhile. I love the underrated song "Easy Wind" on that - good old Pigpen! take care.

Mark Jacobs

FDPGF: Connecticut

A 1999 "Moe's Poster of the Week"
Mar 2nd, 2002 06:55 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Nice reveiw. Wish the amp was in my price range.

KAL

USA

Addicted to Tones (& amps and guitars)
Mar 8th, 2002 04:36 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Mark - it ain't cheap. I got mine new for a very good price - used ones are between $1000-$1300. Not cheap but about the price of a new TRRI and at the low end only about $200-$300 more than a new DRRI. And its a MUCH more substantial amp than either.

Zane

Heartache & Pain

call you by name,& follow you around
Jul 1st, 2003 04:04 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

10/4 on the Vibro King.I got one off ebay for $1175.00.I found out it was made in July of '98.It has the 6V6 tube ,& the "blue" alnicos.It sound great!!! It really brings out the tone of my '56 TM Closet Classic & 56' Relic Strats . Just a little tweekin' of the knobs will give you so many different sounds. I can't get over it. It is so responsive,it KILLS every other amp I've ever played through.I dig every thing about this amp.Now if I could just find a Blonde ext. cabinet ....
P.S.
I got a ext. cab. from someone on the Forum. I thought the amp sounded great before ,now I'm in tone heaven.

(This message was last edited by Zane at 05:54 AM, Jul 21st, 2003)

Florida Mike
Contributing Member
***

United States

I can only Sing my Heart
Dec 24th, 2006 11:43 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I have a very cool Custom Shop VK in RED Tolex, Black speaker grill, and alternating Red and Black knobs. It is called CHECKERS.

telefreak
Contributing Member
*

USA

GAS almost satisfied?
Feb 18th, 2007 10:54 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

57 Twin is point to point also


Davebud
Contributing Member

Central CA

how do I fix this tagline thingy?
Feb 27th, 2007 06:34 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Townsend is using these on the current Who tour. I'm sure they've been tweaked but they looked pretty new.

Florida Mike
Contributing Member
****

United States

I can only Sing my Heart
Dec 13th, 2007 04:28 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I have a RED TOLEX Custom Shop Vibro King, it is awesome

tgbluesky

Mokena, IL

Dec 31st, 2007 05:56 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I've worked on a friends VK a few times. He tours constantly with it so it is subjected to a lot of road abuse. Holds up pretty nicely overall, and still sounds great. Breaks up a bit early with the blue frame Emis so we replaced one with a ceramic 10". BTW, this is a hand wired circuit board amp, but not point to point. Not a difference in how the amps sounds, just terminology.

Raider

United States

Dec 3rd, 2009 09:13 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Just bought a used VK with the extension cab. Both blondes!

Very nice with my 63 Strat. Very nice tones!

jimijamfan

u.s.a.

guitar rules!
Sep 23rd, 2010 08:23 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Man! I would love to have one, but 60 watts is wayyyy too much for my street, let along my little crib lol! If only fender would put a 1/2 power switch. Even better, switch it down to 10-15 watts.

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