bassman 100

The Journey for a Bass-Worthy Bassman Amp

The silverface Fender Bassman amp from the 1970s has a great reputation as an affordable, vintage tube rig for guitarists, delivering plenty of volume, great tone, and an excellent chassis, offering easy preamp and tone stack modification. But for bass, it’s always been a big thumbs down.

Most bass players say the Bassman farts out too easily, that it’s weak and thin sounding, and that it can’t be used for a gig of any size. I used to think that, too. A decade ago, a friend brought a Bassman Ten to our small basement rehearsal space. The amp was terrible, meeting all of the stereotypes I’d heard about it: thin tone, easy break-up, and weak volume. It couldn’t even cut a quiet blues practice. Clearly, the Bassman wouldn’t do for gigging.

A Second Chance

Since then, I’ve had a chance to try out a few different Bassman models under the expert guidance of a friend who builds, mods and repairs amps as a hobby. I have a whole different take on the amp now, and think, for the right situations – especially studio work and small gigs – it’s a fine amp for bass and fairly affordable given its vintage status.

1974 Bassman 135, mid-70''s Ampeg V-6B cab, 1981 G&L L-1000 bass

Read MoreShow less