Rolled the Dice - Blackface Twin Reverb

cooljuk

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I made a highly questionable amp purchase. Not highly risky, as it's from a known dealer and I can return it and I'm also protected 100% by my bank/credit card company. Just highly questionable because I bought the amp with very little to go on.

Here's just about all I know: it's a mid-1960's blackface Twin Reverb that's pretty clean, from the front. The seller only had two clear photos of the front posted. Nothing from the back or sides. No textual description. I couldn't reach the seller in time before the sale price expired, after several attempts over the weekend. I got through on the phone, but couldn't actually speak with anyone knowledgeable about this amp, as they were busy with in-person holiday sale customers. As the clock approached midnight tonight, and the price was about to expire, I opted (after much back-and-forth in my head) to roll the dice and I bought it online.

So - it could be amazingly awesome and fresh, or, it could have all the transformers replaced, holes drilled in the chassis, a dead cat where the reverb tank should be, aftermarket car stereo speakers, and some wanna-be-Tom-Scholz home-brew mods to reverse.

We're gonna find out, right here!

Here's a couple clues for those who want to play the guessing game. The tolex and grill are super clean, but the grill is a bit discolored, typical of all amps that age. The "snowman 8" knobs with screws on 10's are appropriate and present. The logo and pilot light show a perfectly appropriate amount of crust and crud for an old amp that's been cared for. The faceplate is legit. I'm very confident it's not a clone amp. The chassis HAS been out of the cabinet. It's got the tell-tale signs on the end of the faceplate, where they like to snag on the speaker grill and tolex at the edge. There's some "thumbnail wear" around the vibrato channel volume knob. The speakers are almost certainly not JBLs, as there's no aluminum dust caps shining through in the two photos. Someone liked it enough to regularly play it and also clean it. I hope they also liked it enough to service it (hence, the removed chassis) and it's not modded, beyond some acceptable ground/power stuff.

Foolish? I don't really have much to loose, other than a little time and gas returning it to a shop that's a couple hours away. I like driving in the desert so that's really a minor inconvenience of a half-day looking at beautiful scenery and listening to music or podcasts. I could probably even convince a local musician friend to accompany me on a trip to the city to hit some music shops and make it enjoyable. I think it was a worthwhile risk. I had been given a gift certificate I had to spend with this shop on something.

So, in a couple weeks (not a company known for promptness) I'll find out what shows up and share here! I'm confident it won't be a box of rocks or a fake amp but it could be a poorly packed destroyed amp (again) or a heavily modified mess. Fun fun!
 

cooljuk

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Another one?!?:eek2:

You're going to end up like Bonamassa's nerdville amp collection before long!!
Haha! I'm sure he has at least a dozen amps that are each worth more than all of mine combined.

Maybe one day I can collect enough to trade them all for a single original 100W SLP.
 

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I think he's gone mostly tweed now.
 

cooljuk

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I think he's gone mostly tweed now.
I've got a little 5F1 clone with a vintage speaker and parts in it and I'm considering a 5F6 build this winter, perhaps with vintage speakers and OT, if I can find them. I don't see myself spending the kind of money that original tweed amps go for, though. They are awesome but not really my passion. I'd much rather have two clean Plexis stuffed with original Blackburn Mullards for the nearly same cost of one half-replaced Tweed Bassman.
 

cooljuk

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Still not shipped and have not had emails/messages returned since days before the purchase, so I have no updates yet. Of course, that's not unexpected, to me.

It's so painful dealing with this big red company with a well-deserved terrible reputation, but I had been given a credit with them that had to be used. I'm sure they will make me suffer good and long for daring to spend money with them!
 

cooljuk

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It's here!

I'll try to get photos uploaded and posted.

There will be some adventure ahead! It wasn't a sack of potatoes in the box, but it also isn't perfect.
 

cooljuk

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The Good:

It's a real 60's Fender blackface. It's got original Oxfords in great shape. It's nearly all original components. It all works well and sounds great.













The Bad:

The chipboard baffle is damaged and needs to be replaced. There was a previous repair to the cabinet and baffle braces. The power transformer has had some leads clipped and spliced. The reverb driver transformer has been replaced. There's some cosmetic damage to the chassis and faceplate.













The Ugly:

The power transformer is pushed up, bending the chassis on all sides around it. The back panel of the chassis is pushed in. There's some cosmetic damage to the front panel.







 

Classicplayer

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Hummm, not bad appearing in the front shot, but could this amp at one time have fallen from a height to cause the metal bending like it appears? Have you plugged this in and tried it, as yet? looks like you have some testing measurement leads hitched up before hand?

I'm not a collector of old amps and Fender Twins ( based on the '72 -73 era one that I had) were not my cuppa' tea. Aside from electrical work it has had done, the speakers look original. Is this a keeper and can those obvious deficiencies be corrected enough to make this a keeper?

Edit: This amp may have also been in storage where some heavy equipment was enough to bend that thick gauge chassis and fracture the cab braces....store maybe by mistake on it's side with a load on top of it.

Classicplayer
 
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cooljuk

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Ya, it works. I tested some internals for basic continuity and shorts. The electrolytics had all been replaces with appropriate Rubys and modern caps. I brought it up slow with a dummy load on a current limiter, variac, and isolation transformer and checked the voltages stage by stage. It was properly biased (with a very strange compliment of totally random and mixed communist country tubes).

Ran some sine sweeps from a function generator through the speakers, separately from the amp. The speakers are, amazingly, good with no rub. I think that because about half or more of the speaker mounting nuts are missing it allowed the baffle to flex and break without warping the speaker frames.

I put the speakers and amp together, plugged in a 60's Tele and gave it a whirl. Everything functions and it sounds extremely nice.

The only thing I'm found to sound a bit strange is the reverb is a bit "slapback-ish" or "stuttery" compared to all my other 60's Fenders. It sounds like the springs are really tight or something (probably a poor assessment, just the first thing that it reminded me of). I checked the tank and it is original. I can't imagine that what I'm hearing is a result of the replacement transformer, but maybe? I'm not going to worry about that part now. It's not "bad" sounding, just different. Spankier. If I keep the amp and give it a component by component going over and restoration and it still sounds that way after, I'll assume it's just normal and part of this one's character.

I reached out to the selling company's corporate office (the actual store location in Hollywood it came from is seemingly impossible to reach) with some photos and a video of the damage, to see if they will do a partial refund for the undisclosed damage and unoriginality. I can ship it back for a refund on their dime at any point for the next several months, but I'm inclined to keep it if they will be reasonably accommodating.
 

jwinger

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Ya, it works. I tested some internals for basic continuity and shorts. The electrolytics had all been replaces with appropriate Rubys and modern caps. I brought it up slow with a dummy load on a current limiter, variac, and isolation transformer and checked the voltages stage by stage. It was properly biased (with a very strange compliment of totally random and mixed communist country tubes).

Ran some sine sweeps from a function generator through the speakers, separately from the amp. The speakers are, amazingly, good with no rub. I think that because about half or more of the speaker mounting nuts are missing it allowed the baffle to flex and break without warping the speaker frames.

I put the speakers and amp together, plugged in a 60's Tele and gave it a whirl. Everything functions and it sounds extremely nice.

The only thing I'm found to sound a bit strange is the reverb is a bit "slapback-ish" or "stuttery" compared to all my other 60's Fenders. It sounds like the springs are really tight or something (probably a poor assessment, just the first thing that it reminded me of). I checked the tank and it is original. I can't imagine that what I'm hearing is a result of the replacement transformer, but maybe? I'm not going to worry about that part now. It's not "bad" sounding, just different. Spankier. If I keep the amp and give it a component by component going over and restoration and it still sounds that way after, I'll assume it's just normal and part of this one's character.

I reached out to the selling company's corporate office (the actual store location in Hollywood it came from is seemingly impossible to reach) with some photos and a video of the damage, to see if they will do a partial refund for the undisclosed damage and unoriginality. I can ship it back for a refund on their dime at any point for the next several months, but I'm inclined to keep it if they will be reasonably accommodating.
I had something similar on my 72 deluxe reverb with the strange reverb. Took out the tank, checked the code and it was a tank designed for vertical mounting that fender had mounted sideways. Replaced with horizontal version of same tank and now sounds great
 

cooljuk

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I had something similar on my 72 deluxe reverb with the strange reverb. Took out the tank, checked the code and it was a tank designed for vertical mounting that fender had mounted sideways. Replaced with horizontal version of same tank and now sounds great
Great call! I looked up the code on mine (in the photos above) but didn't find anything.

I figured I'd look inside for clues, or another code. One spring was disconnected and flopping around. That's got to be it. If not, I'll try flipping the tank upside down to see if that helps.

I suspect someone messed with it, at some point, because the RCA plug with the red paint is on the tank end and not the amp end. On the other hand, the weather stripping on top of the tank is original and was very well fused to the original tank bag. Love these gear mysteries!
 

cooljuk

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Settled up with the company who sold it about the damage and such.

:thumb: It's a keeper.

Now, to get my hands and iron dirty and restore this baby!
 
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cooljuk

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One great thing is that this guy's got all the original blue molded sausages.





It's even got that spare one that Fender tucked in behind the output tubes to keep it warm.




If anyone can enlighten me as to why Fender wired up the death caps by drilling a hole in the chassis and running one cap leg through that hole to the outside, and soldering it on the exterior, you'll eliminate one or the world's unsolved mysteries that keeps me up at night from my mind and allow me to sleep better. That rusty hole in the photo down below, is what I mean.

Note also that there is one wrong bear trap (too wide) and one missing bear trap in the photo above. Strange, but I have spares. :)
 

cooljuk

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I've managed to score a few original tube shields (one was missing) and an original pair of kick stands.

@RAG7890 will be pleased to know I ordered an aged replacement baffle from Peter at Mather.

I'm still on the hunt for an original reverb driver transformer, if anyone has leads.


After that, just some small electrical parts, which I likely have all of already, and a selection of tubes. I've got a few pairs of RCA and GE 6L6GCs, but nothing that makes up a reasonable set of four, so I'm putting those in the Super Reverbs. I've got two of these Twins now, and the plate voltages are high and SS diode rectified, so I'll be on the lookout for something better than the current offerings of communist glass being produced today. Keep me in mind, if you're reading this and have some / know of some. Particularly if you like trading for pickups, etc.
 

cooljuk

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Here's a video showing the baffle damage with a previous attempted repair.



I was hopping that blue tape said "Danny Gatton" on it!
 


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