Further advice on Fender '59 re-issue Bassman

Discussion in 'Ampage Area' started by Gutstrungbass, Apr 21, 2009.

  1. Gutstrungbass

    Gutstrungbass Electromatic

    Mar 9, 2009
    Hi everyone,

    My son is still not convinced that his '59 Re-issue Fender Bassman is as clean as it should be for an authentic 50's Rockabilly sound. We disagree, as I think it's probably down to his settings. We know that all the valves are in good order, but we did a gig recently and he didn't have a clean sound, distortion was a definate problem.

    He is playing a Mexican Fender Telecaster. At the gig he used the "Bright" channel on the amp and mostly used the bridge pick-up on the Telecaster with the tone control full up. Could this have been the reason why he got the distortion problem when he turned the volume up?

    I've spoken to my friend who sold us the amp. He suggested that my son plugged into the "Normal" channel on the amp and avoided using the bridge pick-up on the Telecaster, using the middle pick-up selection instead. He suggested that the amp should be set Middle 9, Bass 4, Treble 9. The volume on the Bassman should be 3 1/2 to 4 with the sound reinforced by miking up through the PA. He also suggested putting the amp on a chair on stage.

    My lad thinks that maybe he should have bought a Fender Twin, which apparently is dead clean right up to levels that would make the ears bleed (!). I can't see this, surely the '59 reissue Fender bassman plus a Fender Telecaster should be a terrific combination for playing authentic 50's Rockabilly live on stage?

    As always, any advice is much appreciated.

  2. Cornelius Spunkwater

    Cornelius Spunkwater Electromatic

    Mar 12, 2009
    I've got a '59 Bassman re-issue, so I reckon I ought to chime in.

    Honestly, I think you ought to check the height of your son's bridge pickup. If it's fairly high, yes, it's going to make things break up a lot easier. Back it off a little and see if it makes any difference. Around the volume your son's playing at, the amp should sound pretty clean. It might depend on the PA too. The Bassman has considerable power, though not as much as a Twin. Depending on the size of the venue, you don't really need to mike a Bassman.

    If none of that fixes the problem, you might want to have the amp checked out by a tech. He might notice something wrong with the speakers or such.
  3. roadjunkie

    roadjunkie Country Gent

    Jul 4, 2008
    First off it's a tweed circuit. A completely different critter then the re-issue Blackface Twin he's comparing things to. There should be ample headroom but at 50 watts and it's tweed nature it's going to be different. Jim Marshall copied this amp for a reason. What tubes is he running? Stock?
  4. Scott

    Scott Country Gent

    Jun 27, 2008
    Winston-Salem, NC
    Shouldn't be distorting, especially with volume set at 3 or 4.

    And don't sacrifice the tone of the bridge pickup. That's a great tone in and of itself. IMO it's really the only useable Tele tone...for me anyway.

    I recommend the old jumpering trick, if that's the correct word for it. Plug the guitar into bright 1. Then jumper a short cable from normal 1 to bright 2. This makes both volumes work for you, adding or subtracting brightness as needed. I know that doesn't solve the distortion issue but that's a great tone recipe for all of these tweed amps that have the extra jacks.

    Again, it shouldn't be distorting at a low volume like that, and I imagine it's not sustaining very well either.
  5. Gutstrungbass

    Gutstrungbass Electromatic

    Mar 9, 2009
    Thanks for the replies guys, we're very grateful.

    I'm convinced that the problem was caused by overdoing the treble side of things. He'd only played through the amp in the house before the gig. I've spoken to our guitar and amp tech and he's positive that the amp is in superb order and really clean sounding.

    We're going to gig it a blast at higher volumes and experiment a little before our next big gig next month.

    Thanks again,

  6. MacPhisto

    MacPhisto Gretschie

    Apr 11, 2009
    different speakers might give him more of a clean tone. i'd test the hypothesis by plugging into a cabinet with the alternate speakers before going to the trouble and expense of swapping them out. it would seem from what little i've been able to Google up that the RI uses the Jensen P10R speakers, which aren't the cleanest speakers for a Fender amp. my experience with a P8R is that the Jensens break up at a fairly low volume, and have more of a brittle 50s tweed amp sound than the rich, round breakup of a Celestion. the C-series Jensens might be better, since they need to be pushed more than the P-series before they break up. i run two of the C12s in a cabinet, and they definitely give more headroom before breaking up.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2009
  7. JohnnyCrash

    JohnnyCrash Gretschie

    Nov 22, 2008
    Fullerton, CA
    Make sure a 12AY7 is in the first preamp tube slot.

    A 12AX7 in the first slot is NOT how the original was designed and many accidentally just put 12AX7's in that socket. Even repair guys sometimes put in 12AX7s instead of the proper 12AY7.

    V1 - 12AY7
    V2 - 12AX7
    V3 - 12AX7

    V2 and V3 you could experiment with lower gain 12A*7 type tubes, but it would likely kill the vibrancy and tone.

    You could also bias the power tubes slightly colder as well.
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