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Monday, October 27, 2008

Early 1963 Fender Bassman


This is a blonde tolex 50 watter, white knobs brown face et all. But it wasn't all so elegant from the beginning. This is a strange story.

My drummer works house to house local service job. One day he called me explaining how he'd met a gentleman with an amp for sale. It was an old "Fender Bassman" I was told, so I acted immediately.

When I arrived I negotiated what I thought was a fair price for such and took the amp home on the spot. The next day I had it at the shop and a customer and friend Bill came in and saw it. When he said that was "his old amp" I thought he meant he owned one back in the day. But after reiterating intimate details of the inner and outer changes I realized that was "HIS AMP"! It was something that was sort of "lost" over the years, not exactly stolen but maybe sold without permission after an extended period. Having lost my '59 Strat to theft the year prior I did not hesitate to return him his amp for what I had paid. Seemed fair enough & good karma.

Bill had informed me that in his yearly quest to regain his amp he had taken watch on a few others, and had a lead on a '63 black tolex. I was moderately interested, as I was much more enamoured by the blonde/brown version, but the price was right so I acted accordingly.

When I got the thing I realized it was actually a brownface unprofessionally recovered in black tolex, with a weird potatoe-sack grille cloth. What the hell, I need a project "of my own" once in a while (like a hole in my head lol). Alas, it was on. Let's get into the electronics.

Year: 1963 RA 0763 FEB14
Model: 6G6-A
Power Transformer-125P5B 006215
Output Transformer-125A5A 606-146
Choke-125C1A 606113
Serial Number BP01677

Tubes: 6L6 duet, 50 watts at 4 ohms. 2x12 speaker cabinet with Jensen speakers. Solid State rectifier.

The original circuitry gets extremely swampy and compressed on the bass channel. Almost effect like at levels above 4. I've read it's been labeled a "flaw", clearly "corrected" with the blackface circuit. I changed a few key components to adjust this accordingly and to maximize the extra tube stage within the bass channel.

I wanted to keep the circuit and appearance as stock Fendery as possible. Since the rectifier tube-socket-hole is prepunched and covered it only makes sense to add the tube. As some occasions desire a solid state punch I put both rectifiers on a dpdt switch (replacing the polarity switch, replaced by a three prong polarized AC cable), best of both worlds. Dual bias trimpots are crucial as well.

Filter Caps are always leaky, dried and oozing on these old amps, gotta replace them for full B+ potential/minimum 60 cycle hummmm. It's a pain but sometimes I'll carefully pull the paper covers off of the original filters and restuff them with brand new Spragues. It's a super nice vintage touch, looks the look and sounds like new. Btw, I didn't invent this idea, but I certainly can execute to perfection.

restuffed Looks stock to me! Electronics sounding great.

On to the outer aesthetic. Should look like my other brown amp:

pull the chassis

From 1962 Bassman
pulled the black tolex and tan grill, voila, some original covering remained, preserved 46 years.

pile 'o black tolex and original parts.

I was peeling and peeling and couldn't believe my eyes

more original cloth (oxblood)


I did have to retolex say 35% of the amp, turned out great. and to top it off 1960's Jensen Speakers, sound fab and can handle what 'cha throw at them.

The end product just like it's supposed to be..

From 1962 Bassman


1961/62 rare Gibson Les Paul SG

This was a fun project. I had a customer restoring an extremely rare 1961 Gibson Les Paul (SG). The owner is a vintage guitar fanatic, knowing the specs and details to the finest degree.
Exact pictures of others from this year were provided to follow.
As well as set up and playability, one concern was getting the electronics to a vintage spec and look. Black decal PAF pickups were matched and added & metal covers waxed in, as were original coded pots etc.

Even the rare pickguard and plastics were produced.

One thing we had to peg was the color of the wiring and the manner it is layed out. Sometimes you have to "find" period correct stuff.

The classic vibrato had to be dealt with.
Even the case was meticulously sought out and added.
In the end, plays like butter, is super lightweight, and sounds like a million bucks. What a fine vintage guitar!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Traynor YBA-1 Tube Amp/Plexi Mods

I recently was asked to "plexize" an early '70s Traynor YBA-1 Bass Master, 6CA7 50 watt head for local guitar riffmaster Corey Weber.
This amp is optimized for bass, which isn't a bad thing considering the original tweed Bassman was as well. I always start with a detailed comparison and contrast of schematics, both fairly typical for 50 watt tube amps.
I like to thicken up my plexi circuits, go for an earlier mid-60's direction (vs. late '60s-'70's, too bright and gainy).
Larger coupling caps help achieve this, as do .1's in the latter stage. Some cathode tweaks here and there, change the pots, phase inverter adjustments, cater to plate voltages and you're about there.
I like to add a rotary "Era Switch" mod, adjusting on the fly from 27k-47k-100k etc. negative feedback loops.
While at it a good cermet bias control pot is a must, got this amp juiced up REAL hot. Very resonant and harmonic, certain notes on the fingerboard hop right up an octave for instant feedback.
From drocks092208