The literal ins and outs of getting the right amp at the right price.
Buying instruments on the internet has become easy, but it also has risks. Let me share what I’ve learned about buying vintage Fender amps and, hopefully, save you money, time, and aggravation by knowing what to look for and what questions to ask.
There are several aspects to consider with vintage amps relating to condition and sound. Collectors are looking for amps that are in mint or original condition. Players are more focused on the technical and physical condition, because they need the amp to work every week, hauling it back and forth between gigs and practice. Tone is a matter of personal taste and should affect your decisions about speakers and possible modifications made to an amp. Whatever your intentions, remember that replaced components or modifications always give you an argument for negotiating the price down.
You should ask about previous owners and their history of playing the amp. If an amp has been played regularly, someone was dependent on it and more likely cared about it. It usually has healthy pots and electrolytic capacitors. On the other hand, an amp that has been stacked away in a moist basement or in sun-heated garages or lofts for 40 years deserves a full servicing. For those poor neglected amps, plan for a full cap job, pot cleaning, tube socket cleaning, and fixing rust and connectivity issues in the circuitry.
If you have the opportunity to try the amp, play it loud for at least several minutes. Or ask for a demonstration video clip of various functions, like the channels, EQ knobs, reverb, tremolo, and switches. Replacing blown speakers is expensive. Snap or crackle can indicate failing tubes—a minor problem you can easily fix yourself—but could also indicate circuit issues, which will require an experienced tech to fix. Scratchy pots are no big deal—they can be cleaned and exercised back to a healthy condition. Pay attention to the upper corners of an amp where the top and side plates are finger-jointed. In large amps with heavy speakers, the joints are weak spots. Generally, the more issues the seller is open and honest about, the more you can trust him or her.
The age of an amp and its innards can be determined by the tube chart, chassis serial number, and manufacturer codes on transformers and speakers. Every part or component has a production date. Check if they match. For example, a 1965 amp should have components from ’64 or ’65. There are several sources on the internet explaining formats of date and manufacturer codes. For example the Schumacher manufacturer code on post-tweed amp transformers is in this format: 606-XYY (X=Year, YY=Week). Replaced speakers or transformers may be a deal-breaker for amp collectors, but may work and sound as good as the originals. It is also quite common to find replaced power transformers in 230V countries.
Speakers and reverb tanks are weak points in older amps. If the original speakers have been replaced, it was either because they were blown or the owner wanted different or louder speakers. Personally, I feel the original speakers, grille cloth, and faceplate are very important—essential parts of an amp’s identity. A replaced reverb tank is not a big deal for me. In older tanks, the springs and internal soldering connections are often damaged.
By inspecting the circuit, you can learn even more. Look out for burned resistors or the old brown Mallory electrolytic caps. These should have been replaced and, if not, what else has been overlooked? It is a common and healthy sign if all electrolytic caps and screen resistors across the power tubes have been replaced. Sometimes major parts of the circuit have had a makeover with replaced resistors, caps, tube sockets, and wiring. If done properly with high-quality components, you needn’t worry about tone. However, the unit should be priced as a player’s amp, not a stock vintage collectible.
Now that you know what to look for when buying vintage Fender amps, you also know how to look after them. Check for loose speaker screws, chassis screws, tubes, reverb cables and plugs, and speaker cables and connectors. To prevent oxidation and scratchy pots, regularly pull tubes in and out, pull reverb and tremolo phono plugs in and out, and rotate all the knobs. All amps should ideally be played loud and proud on a weekly basis. You should also move around the amps you gig with several times a month to become aware of any loose tubes, reverb cables, or components. Transportation is what wears out amps more than use.
For more information, visit my web site fenderguru.com. You’ll find an extensive buyer’s guide to vintage Fender amps with serial numbers, manufacturer codes, pictures of speakers, and more. Happy gear hunting!
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.
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.
Mystery Stocking is coming soon! Sign up for PG Perks below so you don't miss it.
Sign up for PG Perks on the form below to make sure you don't miss the launch announcement!
About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $44.95. ($39.95 + $5 Flat shipping)
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
- US only. (Sorry World.)
- Make sure your shipping address is correct.
- Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
- There will be NO REFUNDS given.
- There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?
Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.
Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.
Q. How much is it?
A. $39.95 Plus $5 shipping
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.
Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.
Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.
Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!
Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
Origin Effects introduce the new M-EQ DRIVER mid booster & drive pedal. Based on a vintage Pultec studio EQ, this unique pedal offers a range of mid-focused tones, from a subtle mid boost to thick, resonant overdrive. Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
A choice of three mid-range frequencies ensures that you can boost just the right part of your guitar signal and, when pushed harder, can elicit a range of saturation from a classic “mid-hump” overdrive to fierce “cocked wah” distortion. Thanks to the Adaptive Circuitry, the high-end roll-off of the Cut control is reduced as the pedal cleans up. This allows for a smooth transition from warm overdrive to bright clean tones in response to playing dynamics or guitar volume knob changes.
Introducing... M-EQ DRIVER || Mid Booster & Drive
Built-in the UK to the highest standards, the M-EQ DRIVER continues the Origin Effects tradition of vintage, studio-inspired tones in modern guitar pedals. The Origin Effects M-EQ DRIVER is available now from Origin Effects dealers worldwide.
RRP: 259 GBP (Inc VAT) / 319 USD (Ex TAX)
For more information, please visit origineffects.com.