Vintage Fender Bassman - USA 1959
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For any lovers of vintage Fender amplifiers, the 1959 Fender Bassman needs absolutely no introduction. The iconic Fender Bassman circuit was copied verbatim by Jim Marshall in the early 1960s to create the legendary Marshall JTM 45 – the highly popular first amplifier from Marshall, which helped define the sound of rock and roll. This alone should go some ways to highlight the breakthrough design of the Fender Bassman 5F6-A Circuit. Many experts agree that the Fender Bassman is the most important guitar amplifier of all time.
When we think of the Fender Bassman, our imagination typically conjures up the tweed 4 x 10” combo amp design of 1958-59. In 1955 Fender mentioned in their catalogue that “The Fender Bassman is an excellent amplifier for bass but also an excellent amplifier for other musical instruments. It is truly a flexible unit.” The high power, punch and clarity was soon adopted by guitarists as a superior over the much smaller, lower watt alternatives available at the time. By 1958 Fender had achieved what is argued by many as the perfect circuit for electric guitar. Clear, loud with pleasing compression and tube saturation at high volumes. The 59 Bassman was also found to work tremendously well with effects pedals. The amp was so good that it remains one of the most popular Fender amps to this day.
This amp has been meticulously maintained and kept as a highly accurate, original example while being perfectly functional. Repair of one of the original speakers was necessary. A new old stock Jensen speaker cone, identical to the original was sourced. The grill cloth was also replaced some time ago with the correct material. The original transformer has been rewound to operate at the Australian 240v standard.
Upon plugging into this amplifier, the first thing that may strike the listener is the clarity of tone coming out of the 4 Jensen speakers. Preconceptions of old valve amps being overly ‘warm’ or even ‘muddy’ are instantly shattered by the bell like chime and fidelity that comes from this amp. 45 Watts seems to be the magic number in most band settings, with just enough drive and compression kicking in right at the level the band tends to sit at. Earlier Bassmans with 15-inch speakers were somewhat prone to ‘flub’ in the low end, when the excursion of the speaker at low frequencies caused physical limitations to generate this undesirable effect. 10-inch speakers solved this problem, as 4 speakers working together lightened the load in the bottom end. As a result, the bass response is tight and controlled.
The versatility of this amplifier is showcased by how well it handles all kinds of guitars. From a Tele to a Les Paul, to a Gretsch 6120 – all electrics have a well-represented, unadulterated tone through this amp.
The amp has its original tweed covering, which has plenty of scuffs and marks, indicating many decades of hard labor on stages far and wide. Interestingly, on a sticker inside the cabinet there is a handwritten label of “Kim Wilson’s Settings”. This amp was supposedly used on tour by Legendary American blues band - the Fabulous Thunderbirds when they toured Australia. All the knobs and switches are original. There is minor pitting on the chrome chassis and on the Jensen speakers. All of which is very acceptable for an amp that has worked as hard as this one over the last 64 years! The best efforts have been made to keep this amp honest and original, while ensuring perfect functionality.
All in all, this is an original, well-functioning and amazing sounding example of the amp that made rock and roll what it is. A truly significant piece of history.
Model: Fender Bassman
Power Output: 45 Watts
Speakers: 4 Jensen
Tubes: 3 x 12AX7, 2 x G6L6 1 x 5AR4
Production code: 5F6-A
Dimensions: Height: 57cm, Width: 60cm, Depth: 27cm