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Vintage Vault: 1957 Fender Pro

Vintage Vault: 1957 Fender Pro
A truly classic combination for vintage tone fiends: a 1957 Fender Pro amp with a Stratocaster from the same year.

A close-up look at the original version of a just-reissued Fender amp.

The Fender Professional (shortened to Pro after 1947) debuted in 1946 and was aimed at players who needed more power than the original 1x10 Deluxe amp provided. The 1x15 Professional started out with the same style “woodie” cabinet as the Deluxe and the Princeton, with three long metal protectors mounted across the grill cloth. By 1947, the Pro and the rest of the amp line obtained a tweed covering and a TV-style front. This look lasted until 1953, when a wide-panel cabinet took over and remained standard until 1955. The ’55 Pro got the same narrow-panel look as the rest of Fender’s amps, but retained only one tone control for the rest of the year. It wasn’t until 1956 that the Pro was upgraded with bass, treble, and presence controls—as reflected in Fender’s recent reissue of the amp as the ’57 Custom Pro. The original Pro remained unchanged for the rest of the decade.

The Fender Pro’s face sported several variations, including the company’s original “woodie” look and a TV-style front, before adopting a wide-panel cabinet.

The 1957 Pro pictured has the specifications typical for the model that year, as listed in the ’57 Fender Catalog: “The Pro Amp features the solid-wood lock-jointed cabinet, covered in brown-and-white-striped airplane luggage linen. It features the top-mounted chrome-plated chassis with the following controls: bass, treble, and presence tone controls, two volume controls, four input jacks, ground switch, on-and-off switch, and stand-by switch. It employs a heavy duty 15” Jensen speaker and is capable of producing considerable power without distortion.”

In 1956, the four-input Pro’s control panel was upgraded from a single tone control to bass, treble, and
presence chicken-head dials.

Two 6L6G tubes provide about 26 watts of power. Interestingly, the tube chart inside the amp is marked with the earlier 5E5 designation (with one tone control), whereas the amp is clearly a 5E5-A model (with bass, treble, and presence). The 1957 list price was $264.50. The current value for one in excellent all-original condition is $4,500.

Here’s a quirk: Although this amp, with its expanded tone control array, is clearly of 5E5-A construction, the tube circuit diagram inside is for an earlier 5E5 build.

The 1957 Fender Stratocaster posed with the amp has the standard features for that year, which include an alder body with a two-tone sunburst finish and a V-shaped, one-piece maple neck. The plastic of the pickup covers and knobs tended to yellow, in contrast to the stark white of the pickguards of this period. The Strat’s original price was $274.50. The current value is $25,000.

Sources for this article include: Fender Amps: The First Fifty Years by John Teagle and John Sprung, The Soul of Tone: Celebrating 60 Years of Fender Amps by Tom Wheeler, Fender: The Inside Story by Forrest White, and The Fender Stratocaster by A.R. Duchossoir.