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FDP Forum / Fender Amps: Vintage (before 1985) / The difference between blackface and silverface amps?

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Hammond101
Contributing Member
**********

So. Cal. USA

Jun 12th, 2017 01:10 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

No worries, Now ya know my history!

keithb7

Canada

Jun 12th, 2017 07:10 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

There are still folks around who believe BF is better. So the myth carries on. For many of us who own both models, we know better. The SF amps are great amps and better built than any Fender amp since about 1983-on. It holds its own just fine against a BF amp.

Someday it will matter little. As generations change the myths will too fade. I'm sure Thomas Edison and Nikolai Tesla participated arguements over which was better. Edison's filament light bulb or Tessa's flourscent tube. It matters little today as generations change.

(This message was last edited by keithb7 at 09:11 PM, Jun 12th, 2017)

kart24
Contributing Member
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Vacaville CA

Runs with scissors !!
Jun 12th, 2017 08:35 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I sold the Pro Reverb that I got from you about 2 years ago. The guy I sold it to had an old '66 Pro Reverb just like it. His was well used and repaired many times. He was going throw a bunch of $$$ into it and still have what looked like a piece of crap. I told him about mine and he had to have it right then. I do miss it now.

kart24
Contributing Member
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Vacaville CA

Runs with scissors !!
Jun 12th, 2017 08:43 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I didn't play the Pro reverb very much. It was just part of my collection. I still have a B/F Vibroverb, a Deluxe Reverb, and a couple of complete Showmans.

Someday they will be on the market. I have multiple bass rigs for playing out that I rotate back and forth. I'm really a bass player. Dave

slider313

NC

Jun 12th, 2017 09:24 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

No myth here. I'll take the blackface every time. I've owned both and "blackfaced" more than a few silverface amps. There's a difference AFAIC. CBS cutting corners: cabinet construction, fixed baffle, velcro grill, cheap plastic wire that melts if your iron gets too close, sloppy lead dress, suppression caps, balance bias, power transformer spec changes going to a 5U4GB,etc., etc.

swampyankee
Contributing Member
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olde New England

If you can't play good, play loud
Jun 13th, 2017 06:52 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Problem is, blackface era amps are uber collectible, and expensive. Out if reach and impractiCal for this gigging musician.
I've used various 90's and newer Fender amps with good result, and I consider using a nice silverface amp a real vintage treat

pcalu

usa metro detroit

Jun 14th, 2017 05:36 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"No myth here. I'll take the blackface every time. I've owned both and "blackfaced" more than a few silverface amps."

bla bla bla....

Not to be a douche... But Yes it's a Myth... In many models, there were NO changes besides the faceplate or a resistor value here or there. The real change came much later. (and that means construction materials too.) Open a 1970 Deluxe, Vibrolux, Super etc not much difference in the layout from a BF era amp. 1968-69 are the only years that Fender really changed the schematics and then changed them back or close to the originals. You want to point to a component value change of say a slope resistor going from say 85k to a 100k and purpose a BF is $2k more in value and also sounds better... I'll think your nuts. Or when Fender went to the plastic insulated wire (Cheap wire... your words not mine) Why did they do that? Because they insulated better than cloth. They were trying to cut corners and not dress lead lines etc. So which wire insulates better, the BF cloth or the SF plastic? ) Or you want to point to leads not being neatly dressed... WHEN THERE IS NO AUDIO HUM (as in most SF era amps) and think a BF sounds better? Again I'll think your nuts ( If ya can't hear any interference ... then IMO "performance wise..." having the lines dressed or not is a moot point) Unless ya want to stare at the inside of the amp all day... then ya sure ya got a valid point...

Oh and a 5u4GB Ummm... That's a rectifier that sags and causes the amp to break up earlier than a BF' GZ34... it's kinda much more preferred in today's music don't ya think...?

Ge...e use a rectifier that as far as voltage output is as close to SS rectification as you can get, or use a rectifier that sags and causes early break up. Today,,, Most people not into SS rectification would go for the 5u4gb.


Myth indeed...

(This message was last edited by pcalu at 07:52 PM, Jun 14th, 2017)

jazzguy

Philly, B-3 Capital

don't dream it be it
Jun 15th, 2017 08:38 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"Oh and a 5u4GB Ummm... That's a rectifier that sags and causes the amp to break up earlier than a BF' GZ34... it's kinda much more preferred in today's music don't ya think...?"

not for me


slider313

NC

Jun 15th, 2017 11:37 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"Or you want to point to leads not being neatly dressed... WHEN THERE IS NO AUDIO HUM (as in most SF era amps) and think a BF sounds better?"

Not to be a douche, but you have your opinion and I have mine. There wasn't a problem with hum from the lead dress, there was a problem with parasitic oscillation. This is why they used the parasitic suppression caps.

(This message was last edited by slider313 at 03:38 PM, Jun 15th, 2017)

Hammond101
Contributing Member
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So. Cal. USA

Jun 15th, 2017 05:16 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"There wasn't a problem with hum from the lead dress, there was a problem with parasitic oscillation. This is why they used the parasitic suppression caps."

^^This^^

Yeah, a black face conversion is not complete until the wire has been swapped for solid push back cloth and the leads properly dressed. It stays where you put it.

Steve Dallman
Contributing Member
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Merrill, Wisconsin

Age is just a number...mine is big
Jun 16th, 2017 08:08 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Fender was trying to reduce distortion in their amps. The SF changes were in the works while Leo was still there.

The Phase Inverter was changed. Lowered resistance to reduce PI distortion...the biggest part of "power amp distortion" as the PI breaks up before the power tubes, and the power tubes amplify that distortion.

Due to increased difficulty in the supply of 5AR4/GZ34 rectifier tubes, Fender switched to the more available 5U4. Since the 5U4 has more voltage drop, Fender increased the power of the power transformer, although this increase is not noted on schematics. 5AR4 availibilty has gotten better due to current tube manufacturers. The change to 5U4's does not really affect tone, as the same voltages are maintained.

The switch from solid wire to stranded did introduce the chance of parasitic oscillation so suppression caps were added, and they cut highs around 6k and up, but affect lower trebles. I've removed them from many amps without problems.

Remove the caps and then monitor the output transformer temp when you play the amp. The oscillations are not really audible, but will cause the transformer to heat up if present.

The bias circuit was changed from bias adjust, to bias balance. Most who blackface SF amps change it back. Better to leave the balance (which is set by ear to the least hum) and simply add a bias adjust.

In most SF Fenders there is a 15k resistor soldered to the body of the bias control. Replace that with a 20k pot in series with a 5k resistor. I use a multiturn trimpot.

(Remove the ground wires from the power tube sockets and solder in 1 ohm metal film or oxide resistors to make an easy way to measure the bias. Measure the voltage from pin 8 to ground, across the new resistor, and it will equal the milliamps the tube is drawing.

One problem with the wiring is how much wire they used. One tech I know shortened the stranded wire, just taking out excess, and removed almost 2 feet. The owner wanted a quieter amp and was rather anal about it. I do like that some of the new wire is shielded.

(This tech ended up even moving the tone control components to the controls, as per the customer's orders.)

The SF changes tightened the amps up and removed some of the "sparkle" and complexity of the blackface amps. Blackfacing is not extreme, but is generally accepted as a positive thing. I have done a LOT of SF amps.

One positive thing is the SF reverb changes. I have not met anyone who changed the circuitry to BF specs. (SF is slightly stronger and fuller...slightly....)

Peegoo
Contributing Member
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I walk

between the raindrops
Jun 16th, 2017 03:05 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

The fact that Fender has "re-issued" a few silverface models says there must be a demand for 'em. Yeah--I know they're not built the same.

RDR
Contributing Member
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I tried to think

but nothing happened!
Jun 16th, 2017 03:08 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I wonder if the "65 Reissue" amps have the circuitry of the BF amps. I haven't checked the schematics. Anyone know?

I have a limited edition (cream tolex w/alnico speaker) 65 Reissue Deluxe Reverb that is mighty fine.

Hammond101
Contributing Member
**********

So. Cal. USA

Jun 16th, 2017 03:47 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

For the most part yes, the '65 RI amps follow the BF circuit. There are a few "updates" for UL approval etc. They are however built on PC boards not hand wired as the originals. Close enough for horse shoes and hand grenades for most folk.

The Custom '68 amps follow the BF circuit on the vib/trem channel and have more of a tweed tone stack in the normal (custom) channel. They have reverb and trem on both channels (DR and TR). The PR being a single channel amp sounds more tweed/brown face to me. I don't own one but have heard it in a band setting mic'd up and it was quite nice actually. Maybe a bit bright but that may have been the guitarist's choice of tone settings.

I think the look of the drip edge '68 amps is just perfect. The molding sparkles, the faceplate sparkles and so does the grill. Short of blonde tolex with an oxblood grill these may be the best looking amps Fender ever built, vintage or current.

keithb7

Canada

Aug 2nd, 2017 06:18 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Blackface amps let's say they rate at 9 out of 10. Vintage Fender Tweed amps I'd say a 10. SF amps I'd say 8.5 out 10. I'm comparing these to modern built crapola amps. 80's Fenders rate 5. Modern RI Fenders I'd rate similar at 5-6. Modern SS modelling amps I'd rate 1.5 to 2.

So as you can see SF amps rate pretty well relatively speaking. In my books anyway.

Silverface

Redondo Beach CA

No Chops but Great Tone
Aug 29th, 2017 03:50 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Actually, it depends entirely on which model - and which SF circuit(s) you compare.

Some are very different depending on the model/circuit. Others nearly identical.

There simply is NO answer to "What's the difference between BF and SF amps?" The question has to be far more focused.

pcalu

usa metro detroit

Aug 30th, 2017 06:23 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Totally agree Silverface.

Not to Troll, but I have had BF and SF amps and it depends on the model and it depends on the actual amp. (all amps are different especially vintage amps)

Right now I have a mint (came with the owners manual anyone ever see a 70's Twin Reverb owners manual? Not me before.. lol ) 75 Twin Reverb and I had it Black Faced (not just the bias) and that amp is one of the best sounding Twin Reverbs I've ever heard (BF or SF) and the inside is clean as clean can be.... and yes Factory dressed lead lines..

So many misconceptions about Silverfaces.. Black Face amps are great... but Silverfaces are right up there too.

j!mi
Contributing Member
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NNJ

and meanwhile, I'm still thinkin' . . .
Sep 2nd, 2017 07:50 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

An easy way to tell if the circuit is blackface is to look at the knobs, allen wrench setscrews are blackface, the slotted setscrews are not. They will also have the black line.

willie
Contributing Member
********

Too Near Atlanta GA

Amp Tech Emeritus
Sep 8th, 2017 04:27 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Interesting that you would say that...my experience is that Blackface knob screws, especially early model ones, are slotted. I just finished repairing a 1964 Super Reverb for an old customer of mine, all original, and it has slotted screws. Not sure I'd bank on using the knobs as a sure fire way to ID an amp as BF vs SF.

w

(This message was last edited by willie at 09:57 AM, Sep 9th, 2017)

j!mi
Contributing Member
***

NNJ

and meanwhile, I'm still thinkin' . . .
Sep 8th, 2017 05:09 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Yes, the Blackfaces are slotted. The early transition to silverfaces went in stages. Blacklines and drip edges and allen setscrews.

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FDP Forum / Fender Amps: Vintage (before 1985) / The difference between blackface and silverface amps?




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