prev. gear
Kitaran kuva

Fender "Blonde" Bassman 6G6-B, 1964

Fender Bandmaster 6G6-B head, 1964

I have to admit it - the acquisition of this amp was greatly inspired by the song "A Good Horse" by The Cardigans. In my book, it's got one of the best guitar tones created and captured in the history of rock music. It definitely won't hurt to know that also one Brian Setzer happens to favor these very same amps in his rig. Still, it was the aforementioned Cardigans song that forced me to find out what was the amp behind that great tone. After a little googling it was clear that I had to get one of those 6G6-B's. I had some luck and found a late one. Mine has a serial number of almost 11000 and reportedly there were at most 12000 of them ever made. It already has a black faceplate (hinting at the Blackface era which was only months away at the time), but it's still a genuine Blonde era Bassman with a 6G6-B circuit, presence pot etc.

The amp head came to me in almost fully original condition, save for the tubes. The transformers' model numbers and date codes seem correct. The tube chart's date code is in line with the date code stamps inside the chassis as well. I can't spot a single changed resistor and even the original Mallory and Astron Minimite electrolytic caps were all there upon arrival. The electrolytics, though, had big visible bubbles signifying that they were in need for immediate replacement. The amp also had some unwanted mains hum and the bass channel hardly produced any sound. All these issues were addressed in no time - big thanks to Jaska who did a marvellous job with bringing the amp back to life and making sure the amp is also safe to use by today's standards. My only minor gripe was that the preamp tube sockets lacked their tube shields. Two of the preamp tube sockets are black, the other two brown. I can't say for sure if two of them have been replaced - if some of you can judge from the detailed pictures, please let me know!

There's one tube socket hole in the chassis that has been covered with a metal plate. The reason is obvious: the first iteration of a Blonde Bassman (6G6) had a GZ34 tube rectifier and when they later on switched to solid state rectification, there were probably plenty (i.e. thousands) of perfectly usable Bassman chassis lying around - why throw them away? At least Leo Fender never did. The tube rectifier was phased out by 1962 and even this unit from mid-64 still has such a chassis.

The cabinet was sold to me by a well-known American blues and rock guitarist Jon Butcher who's been playing, composing and recording for decades as we speak. At first he was a bit hesitant about packing and shipping such a big box across the big lake, but eventually he was willing to do so. A real gentleman, I must say. Be sure to check out his website: jonbutcher.com. Thanks Jon, it really was a pleasure! There's a little patch on the backside of the front cloth as it has been torn at some point. I don't really care, it just adds character and mojo. The speakers are Jensen Concert Series Vibranto LMI 122 with gray frames and purple magnet covers. In the 60's, the Vibranto was an aftermarket speaker and used as a replacement for underpowered original Jensen speakers. It's not uncommon to see these especially in Bassman speaker cabinets. The LMI 122 is a 100-watt, 8-ohm speaker intended for bass guitar and string bass. It has a 60 Hz bass resonance, a 1,75 lb Syntox 6 magnet. The voice coil diameter is 1,5 inches. Mine have been professionally reconed already in the 90's with genuine Jensen parts.

Over the years the Blonde Bassman has been the secret weapon of countless players (The Beatles, Pete Townshend, Tom Petty...), but I have yet to find out if it really made its way into any famous bassist's gigging rig for an extended period of time. Call it "bad" luck, coincidence or whatever you wish, but almost every time Fender designed a bass amp in the 50's or 60's, it became more popular as a guitar amp. Definitely the way they break up at higher volumes is a very crunchy and musical one - blues and rock players would use the word "irresistible". The Brownface/Blonde era Fenders actually have heaps of gain and a healthy dose of midrange roar available - and the 6G6-B Bassman definitely isn't an exception. The low end holds together much better than in Tweed era amps and the middle frequencies cut through more easily in a band setting than with Blackface era amps. Some would argue this is a perfect recipe for a punchy rock'n'roll guitar tone - at least it's a pretty damn good starting point for one.

Some people have been wondering what's the main difference between a Blonde Bandmaster and a Blonde Bassman - aside from the most obvious thing, the unique and hypnotizing Harmonic vibrato circuit found in the Bandmaster. Now that I've amassed what I would call a decent collection of amps and happen to own both, at least I can say that the Bassman has a much larger output transformer - that's a hefty piece of iron there. I would be surprised if it didn't allow the amp to put out a little more low end and output power than its vibrato-equipped guitar counterpart. Remember, the Bassman is (or at least was designed to be) a bass amplifier. At least some more or less official documents also state that a Blonde Bandmaster is a 40-watt amplifier whereas the Bassman is a 50-watter. Both use a pair of 5881 output tubes, but the bigger iron in the Bassman's output stage could explain this difference.

This amplifier has been overhauled in October 2013 at Jaska's Music Garage. All electrolytic capacitors were replaced with Sprague Atoms. A bias trimmer was installed (the stock 27k bias resistor was replaced with a 10k resistor in series with a 22k trimpot), so now the amp has an adjustable power tube bias - which is a great thing for trying out different tubes. The AC line cord was upgraded to a 3-prong one for electrical safety. The "death cap" was removed and the ground switch got disconnected. Also all mechanical connections were checked just to be sure.


Tube configuration

Cabinet specifications

Serial numbers:

Chassis: BP10996
Stamps inside chassis: TC2364 (1964, week 23), several instances of "A.E."
Stamp inside cabinet bottom: TC2364
Tube chart: NF (June 1964), Production # 70
Mains transformer: 125P7D 606409
Output transformer: 125A13A 606407
Choke: 125C1A 606-4-19
Speaker 1: 220202 (week 02, 1962) / LMI 122 / C8503R / 12122-1 (cone)
Speaker 2: 220203 (week 03, 1962) / LMI 122 / C8503R / 12122-1 (cone)
Tilt-back legs: M19414

© 2003-2017 Jucciz - Valid XHTML 1.1!