A brief history of Fender’s heavyweight champ amp—plus, how to make it float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.
“If an alien came to earth and wanted to hear an American guitar sound, I’d play him my Twin with a set of Jensens.”
I found this statement many years ago and it summarizes my feelings about the Twin Reverb, the flagship of Fender amps. So, let me share my insights about the biggest brother in the Fender family and discuss speakers, tube swaps, and how to unlock its secrets. My goal is to turn you all into educated fans of this legendary amp that has somewhat lost its place in the modern world. But first, a few facts.
Fender released the Twin Reverb as we know it today in 1963 as one of the first black-panel-era amps. It was a dual-channel combo with two 12" speakers, a diode rectifier, reverb, tremolo, and four 6L6GC tubes producing 85 watts. It was targeted at professionals and was the most powerful amp Fender had ever made. During the earlier tweed era, the Twin arrived as a 2x12" combo amp—first, a low-power 25-watt version with a single power tube pair; then, after 1958, a high power-version with four 6L6GC tubes and 80 watts.
“Speakers are like ice cream—everyone has their favorite.”
The blonde Tolex Twin came in 1960 and looked more like the black-panel classic that we know today, with separate normal and vibrato channels on the faceplate. Reverb and a diode rectifier were added to the black-panel Twin Reverb, which had all the features and the biggest iron that Fender could offer at the time. It was the first and only black-panel amp with a full tone stack on both channels, with bass, mid, treble, and a bright switch allowing you to dial in everything between a Dick Dale Strat surf tone and a mellow jazz sound for, say, a big box Gibson. The silver-panel Twin Reverb went through several changes from 1972 onwards, mostly in the power circuitry. There was a 100-watt and 135-watt silver-panel version with master volume. They aren’t very popular today but will work well as a cheap practice amp if you can find one in good condition.
The cons of the Twin Reverb are weight and loudness. Depending on the speakers, a Twin weighs 73 to 88 pounds. The 13-pound JBL D120F speakers that came in the original black-panel Twins were, in my opinion, too heavy for the amp, as were the four 10" JBLs in the Super Reverb. While these speakers are highly collectible, the weight of these ceramic JBLs will eventually tear the wooden cabinet apart. So, you cannot transport these amps around for regular touring.
My favorite vintage speakers for the Twin Reverb are the lighter Jensen C12N (7 pounds) or the Fender Oxford 12T6. The Oxfords sound surprisingly tight and good, and not as mushy as the Oxfords you find in other, low-powered Fender amps. The 1965 reissue black-panel Twin Reverb’s modern Jensen C12Ks sound unforgivingly stiff to my ears. Even if they improve after years of playing, I prefer to replace them with the lighter Jensen P12Q, which has a smaller voice coil and a vintage steel basket, or Warehouse Guitar Speakers’ brighter G12C/S. The G12C/S delivers a great authentic Fender tone at a reasonable weight (10 pounds) and price. But don’t solely trust my speaker advice. Speakers are like ice cream—everyone has their favorite. With the right speakers for your ears, a reissue Twin Reverb will deliver all the goods for you.
While other Fender amps typically break up at around 4 with a Strat, the Twin Reverb stays clean up to almost 6—and those clean notes are sharp as a knife’s edge and will hold up against heavy drummers and bass players. This is exactly what the amp is made for: being played un-miked in, say, a gospel band in a 300-seat church every Sunday, or on Friday nights in a cowboy bar in Bakersfield, circa ’63. It is designed to not break up. You therefore need to have your expectations set correctly—or be adept with pedals—to really appreciate the evil Twin.
A simple trick to lower the headroom is to disengage one of the speakers and pull the two inner or outer power tubes. You will, then, essentially, have a 1x12" 40-watt amp while still benefiting from the ambience of the large speaker cabinet. Other than that, there are no mods that I recommend with this amp. The Fender Twin Reverb is made for big occasions, and once you learn how to use it correctly, you’ll enjoy a very physical tone experience together with everyone else onstage—who will have no problem hearing this amp. I promise.
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Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Looking for a compact, “noiseless” way to plug in and play guitar? Check out the brand-new Gibson Digital Amp, available only in the Gibson App.
The new Gibson App simplifies the learning process and brings guitar playing to life for the current and next generation of guitarists in a modern, comprehensive, and intuitive way. The Gibson App is the place to take your guitar playing to the next level. New to the Gibson App is the Gibson Digital Amp, the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediate players and pros to get their sound anywhere. The Gibson Digital Amp is an accessible amplifier for both acoustic and electric guitars, and is currently available for Apple/iOS users--an Android version will debut next year.
Use the Gibson Digital Amp’s jamming guide to get started and transform your sound with built-in effects and pedals, jam to backing tracks, or use it in lessons and songs. The Gibson Digital Amp only requires your phone, and wired headphones for the best playing experience, no cables are needed. The amp features 3 acoustic mic presets, 4 electric amp presets, and 6 effects pedals.
The Gibson Digital Amp is the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediates and pros.
The Gibson App uses a unique two-way, interactive platform to teach guitar students how to do everything from playing their first note to shredding loads of songs. The Gibson App features interactive lessons with thousands of lessons and songs. Learn the songs step-by-step with video tutorials from superstar artists and pro guitarists in the “Gibson App Guide.” The Gibson App also includes the new Digital Amp, a built-in tuner, a metronome, Gibson TV, and new songs are added every week. New Gibson App Guides are added regularly and include Tommy “Spaceman” Thayer’s favorite iconic KISS guitar solos, Richie Faulkner’s (Judas Priest) “Guide to Metal,” Jared James Nichols’ “Guide to Blues,” CELISSE’s “Guide to Songwriting,” and more.
The Gibson App uses “audio augmented reality” to provide dynamic feedback to students as they learn and play. As you pluck a note or strum a chord, the Gibson App listens to your guitar and gives you real-time feedback on your playing. It also gives students a more contextual learning experience: Instead of learning chords and scales in a vacuum, you’re able to practice on a scrolling tablature that lets you hear how you sound with the backing of a virtual band. That means you can load up “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, “American Girl" by Tom Petty, “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, “Where is My Mind" by Pixies, “Country Roads” by John Denver, “I Hate Myself For Loving You" by Joan Jett, “Heaven” by Kane Brown, “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran, “Killer Queen” by Queen,“ Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns ‘N Roses, “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden, “Roxanne” by The Police, and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “The Man Who Sold the World” by Nirvana, “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz, and “Don't Look Back In Anger” by Oasis and hundreds more songs in a wide range of genres, to see how your play matches up with such seminal tracks.
As you’re playing, the Gibson App gives you feedback on timing and tone, ensuring that students are getting active input on how their play is developing. The Gibson App appeals to players of all levels, it’s not just for beginners looking to learn a few chords; the app can assist seasoned guitarists who are working their way through difficult riffs, want to learn their favorite songs, or polish their advanced techniques.
Players can also challenge themselves by speeding up or slowing the tabs. Like having a full-time guitar teacher, the Gibson App keeps track of all your progress and adjusts lesson plans accordingly. The Gibson App released a “backing track mode” which supports both lesson and song playback without headphones, so users can self-select what works best for their current environment. And that’s not all: the Gibson App also packs in a fully-featured digital tuner for guitar first-timers, there’s even a detailed lesson on how to tune your instrument, a multi-function metronome, players can connect to free one-on-one consultations with Gibson’s Virtual Guitar Tech team, and to direct links to the Gibson, Epiphone, and Kramer online stores for easy shopping for guitars, gear, apparel, and accessories.
Learn Guitar With The Gibson App
The Gibson App is more than a pocket-sized guitar teacher, it’s loaded with an archive of exclusive content and original programming from its premium and accessible award-winning online network, Gibson TV, featuring music icons telling their best guitar stories, with more episodes and installments added regularly. Users can watch Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi share insights and tales from his decades-long career on the series “Icons,” dive into Joe Bonamassa’s assortment of legendary Les Paul guitars on “The Collection,” or see how Gibson’s iconic instruments are made in their Nashville factory from body to binding on “The Process.” There’s even a series called “The Scene” that focuses on backstage stories from hallowed music venues from coast to coast like The Troubadour and Grand Ole Opry.
The Gibson App free version features a few lessons a day; the premium version of the Gibson App offers full access and a 14-day free trial, then costs $19.99/£16.49 monthly or $119.99/£98.99 yearly.
For more information, please visit gibson.com.
This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
Belltone Guitars, as part of their Custom-Select System curated offering of pickups, has partnered McNelly pickups to create a one-of-a-kind retro-vibe P-90 pickup in the standard Filtertron size format. This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl, and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
The McNelly P-90 Foil-Coil comes housed in a ‘raw’ nickel outer casing with a dull nickel foil face with metal mount screw gromets to complete the ‘new-vintage’ aesthetic, making it a perfect choice for your signature Belltone custom build. Available exclusively through Belltone Guitars.
Check out the Custom-Select System belltoneguitars.com to preview the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons and all our standard and selectable components available to create your own signature Belltone. Then visit the Dream Lab on our website and select either model B-Classic ONE with its top binding or B-Classic TWO with its arm and body contours select your body color from our wide range of offerings, select your neck profile of either standard ‘C’ or thicker ’59 Round Back and either Maple or Rosewood fingerboard followed by your tuners, pickguard, and strings. Finally, review our curated custom-designed, and unique pickup selection to locate the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons to complete your signature build.
Builds start at just over $2,300.00 with a custom case and shipping included.
For more information, please visit belltoneguitars.com.
McNelly P 90 Foil Tron video Sep27
Belltone P-90 Foil-Tron Pickup
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.