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New to Brownfaces...

sikoniko

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Joined
Aug 28, 2012
Messages
674
A buddy of mine has several vintage amps. Among them are a tweed deluxe and a brownface deluxe. I compared them both a couple weeks ago and they are both great in their own way. of the two, I would prefer the brownface for what I am playing right now.

I don't see a lot of love for these amps. I've always sort of ignored them in the past when I see them. I've done some research over the last couple days and it seems there is a cult following for them...and a hope that it stays a cult following to keep the prices down. heheh. hope this isn't counter-intuitive to that.

So I started looking at the usual sites to see whats out there, learn about the different models, and what they cost. I really have an affinity towards a '60, since I have a '60 strat and a '60 tele. Once I have the '60, then I can venture into other years.... probably not logical, but fun theme to the collection (next I will need a stackpole '60 jazz bass ).

In looking at the different models, I found a '60 concert amp for $1200. It has all new caps and changed speakers, but the circuit is a 5G12 and still has the original output transformer.

So I was looking to find a deluxe and I found a good price on a concert (you might find it looking, but I've already put it on lay-a-way) and I'm wondering a couple things... This is more amp than I was looking for, but the opportunity seems too good to pass on.

First, can you help educate me? 4x10 @ 40w will be loud... Is this a great amp? I have read that the circuit is borrowed from the tweed bassman.

Second, I've read that replaced caps can be a good thing, but what would you guys do about the speakers? supposedly it has 1970 CVS speakers in it. Are good speakers that are appropriate for this amp available?

Thanks,
Dan
 
Last edited:

B Ingram

Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2016
Messages
730
... a tweed deluxe and a brownface deluxe. ...

I don't see a lot of love for these amps. ... hope that it stays a cult following to keep the prices down. ...

I wouldn't consider either of those amps "unloved" or "inexpensive". I saw a vintage tube amp on Craigslist today for $60, in decent cosmetic condition. Yeah, it wasn't working, but it's only $60. However, it's a series-heater deathtrap made by Harmony. Now that's an unloved amp with at best a cult-following.

But I guess it's all relative.

... 5x10 @ 40w will be loud... Is this a great amp? I have read that the circuit is borrowed from the tweed bassman.

Second, I've read that replaced caps can be a good thing, but what would you guys do about the speakers? supposedly it has 1970 CVS speakers in it. Are good speakers that are appropriate for this amp available?

Four 10" speakers, but yes it will be loud in the way Super Reverbs are loud.

You could superficially compare the Concert to the Bassman: two 6L6 output tubes and 4x10" speakers, with similar output power. The Concert also has a long-tail phase inverter like the Bassman (and the brownface Deluxe), rather than a split-load inverter of the tweed Deluxe.

But the Concert has a different tone circuit than the late tweed Bassman amps, and it is located in a different place in the preamp. Circuit-wise, it's an interested mid-point in development towards the preamp found in blackface Fender amps. Plus it has the wild Fender harmonic vibrato; if you like that effect, it is the amp to have.

[I say "vibrato" because that's how Fender termed it; it's really more of a complex tremolo effect, rather than being identical to Magnatone's pitch-bending vibrato.]

I'm pretty sure you meant the speakers were replaced with "CTS" speakers, which will probably sound quite decent in this amp. You could try tracking down original Oxford speakers (for looks if nothing else), though quite a few companies make excellent Fender-style 10" speakers.
 

sikoniko

Active member
Joined
Aug 28, 2012
Messages
674
thanks for the info!

here are some pics. see anything of concern?

concert%201_zpsfbzdrbk6.jpg


concert%203_zpsskjfo2lv.jpg


concert%202_zpsu16frzr2.jpg


concert4_zpsmqkyfg5u.jpg


Concert%206_zpsibf0nx5o.jpg


Concert%204_zpsfkltok5t.jpg
 

fcsnut

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Sep 15, 2015
Messages
248
It won't sound like that deluxe. Those are some of the best recording amps ever made. Not loud enough for me for live use so I've passed on a couple now.
 

B Ingram

Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2016
Messages
730
Pass. There's almost nothing original on the tag board. Another overzealous amp tech strikes again.


Tolex is extremely dirty (by itself no big deal), and the faceplate looks like it suffered impact around the pilot light & Intensity pots; otherwise it's quite beat & rippled. Original speakers gone, but you do have the speakers that would be found in a silverface Super Reverb (not bad speakers).

You do appear to have original transformers & choke, so that's nice. Echoing what Sonar said (no pun intended), there is not a single original part on the main circuit board or bias board. Pots may/may not be original; the disk caps at the pots are probably original. I don't know enough about the dogbone handles to determine if the one on the amp is original or a replacement, but it does look awfully nice & new. I also can't tell if that flat Fender logo on the cabinet is new or old; however, the front faceplate is so battered I'm shocked to see untouched grillcloth and a logo which doesn't look beat as well. On that basis, I'm almost certain the grillcloth is new, possibly the logo as well.

So you have in all an original chassis, nice looking brown back plate, rough looking brown faceplate, original transformers & choke, probably original tube sockets & chassis-mounted hardware, possibly original pots, and a beat original cabinet with a uncertain handle & logo, with replaced grillcloth. How much would you pay for just that? $400, maybe $500 (maybe less)?

The small parts on the board (we'll assume the filter caps, not shown, are new as well) only cost ~$150-200 (not counting any labor to do the build). I don't know what four 10" CTS speakers are going for, but I wouldn't expect they're much.

If I were buying this, I'd offer the owner (Guitar Center?) ~$700. I'm guessing they'll balk at that price. But it looks like you're buying someone's "hobby restoration" of a super-beat Concert; they were trying to turn it into something which would make money on resale. If you really love the amp & don't think you'd sell it, the price may be okay, but it's "all the money" (and maybe then some)...
 

CoyotesGator

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Jul 9, 2012
Messages
710
I hate to beat a dead horse but...

Unless you have played this particular amp and wouldn't forgive yourself if it got away, pass.

If you have to have it, $1200 is too much.

You can get into a new high quality clone for around that price.

I have never played a Brown Concert so I do not know if it will make those delicious Brown Deluxe sounds.
 

sonar

New member
Joined
Jan 10, 2003
Messages
3,589
I have never played a Brown Concert so I do not know if it will make those delicious Brown Deluxe sounds.

Concerts are fantastic amps. With a nice 3 pu LP or SG Custom... happy dance!

They can occasionally be had for semi-realistic prices. Personally I'd wait for one in better shape.
 

CBRmatt600

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Oct 27, 2015
Messages
280
Never played a brown concert but I will say that my 62 Brown Deluxe is my favorite amp of all time.
 

66SuperTremMKIV

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Oct 4, 2015
Messages
405
" see anything of concern " .................. the entire circuit boards been shot gunned. Forget it.
 

sikoniko

Active member
Joined
Aug 28, 2012
Messages
674
hey guys, thanks for looking at this and giving your opinion. I'm a neo-phite when it comes to understanding all of this.

I thought having caps replaced was just a part of maintenance, and it could actually be a good thing? I also understood that the transformers were the critical part of the sound? Based on what you see here, would this amp no-longer sound like a brownface concert should? has it been modified in some way?

I understand you are saying that everything on the board looks new, but is that where the vintage magic really is? would this amp need to be some-how restored?
 

B Ingram

Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2016
Messages
730
... I thought having caps replaced was just a part of maintenance, and it could actually be a good thing? I also understood that the transformers were the critical part of the sound? ... has it been modified in some way? ...

You have to answer some of the value-questions for yourself. Hopefully you have played the amp in question, and are not just buying online.

To me it looks like the pots are original CTS pots; date codes check out for a 1960 amplifier (though I defer to others who have more knowledge of brownface Fenders). Throughout, the disk ceramic caps appear to have been kept. However, every other resistor & cap appears replaced. Which makes me ask why?

All transformers do look original; they are the right part numbers for that amp. Earlier, I failed to notice the big scrape on the back panel by the external speaker jack.

I have not attempted to trace the circuit from the photos to look for modifications, but the overall look matches the Fender layout. There is a welcome change to the bias board which enables easier bias adjustments.

... Based on what you see here, would this amp no-longer sound like a brownface concert should? ...

Since the transformers are original and the speakers aren't crap, the amp probably sounds okay. I can't offer anything beyond that, because I haven't heard it.

I build amps and know better than to guess how an amp sounds based on how it looks.

... I understand you are saying that everything on the board looks new, but is that where the vintage magic really is? ...

I'm also the wrong guy to ask about "vintage magic" because to me this is mostly about how many $$$ the seller can extract from the buyer.

I can say the use of many carbon film resistors will probably make this amp less noisy than an all-stock Concert. I can also say CoyotesGator is right about the $1200 price of a new high-quality clone, but I would take that as an all-in cost for someone like me to build it from scratch (for my own use, using my own free labor for the build). The caps used on the main board are mylar-dielectric, which would be comparable to the sound of the original caps (because they're the same dielectric material), but I can't know if they'd sound identical. I can estimate the amp would sound similar to a high quality clone which used either original transformers or some top-shelf clone transformers. If I wasn't building a cosmetically-accurate amp, but just building a circuit/sonic clone, the cost would be much lower. If I was building the Concert circuit into an existing amp, the cost would be lower still.

I won't speak for anyone contributing to this thread but me. I used to buy/own vintage amps but eventually got to a point where I prefer to save money by building my own amps. I stopped collecting vintage around 2000, so my brain is stuck at prices that were typical then for vintage pieces (which I thought were too high then, and partially contributed to me getting into amp building). Reverb.com shows recent sales spanning from a high of $2500 to a low of $1050, but we don't have insight on the true originality or condition of those amps.

So now we get to the personal-philosophy part: For me, there's no reason to pay anything over the price of a used run-of-the-mill reissue amp, because I can always rework an amp to sound any way I want. So I'd never dream of paying remotely close to vintage prices unless I've got something that's 100% straight & stock (except for electrolytic filter caps) so that upon resale I'd get the money back out of it without quibbling from a finicky buyer. To my eye, this amp will be very problematic to resell later, because overall it has more replaced parts than original parts. So I don't see a reason for me to pay more than what it would cost me to buy a trashed Concert, which I could restore to proper function pretty easily.

And I could only say I wouldn't buy it remotely/online. I'd want to hear it first. But then again I'd want to hear any amp before buying... Part of what moved me from buying vintage amps to building my own was the let down between the hype around certain models and the reality of what they sound like. It was/is my opinion that a lot of things get hyped beyond what they are, because the high prices need justification (though I acknowledge much of the price increase for vintage pieces is simply demand outstripping supply, and the impact of "collectibility").

So where is your personal philosophy on these things? Why are you wanting to buy? Did you play it & find it's the magic sound you've always wanted? Did you compare this one amp to playing experience through other bone-stock Concerts and find you could get the exact same tone at a non-collectible price? How likely are you to sell later? Is the output power the right match for the environment you're likely to play? Are you likely to want only clean sounds from the amp, or do you want output tube distortion, requiring you to use the amp's full output volume? How do you feel about collectible vs. "sounds awesome"? How much is "factory original" worth to you?

Obviously, you don't need to answer to me for any of those questions. But if you answer them for yourself you're probably more likely to be happy later with how you did/didn't spend your money.
 

The Shifter

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Aug 31, 2004
Messages
3,397
Does anyone even make a clone of a Brown Concert that has the proper "phasey" trem circuit? I'd say that's one of the strongest reasons to go for that particular amp.
 

sikoniko

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Aug 28, 2012
Messages
674
thank you kindly for your replies. I am learning a lot, but I'm struggling at a couple things...

It is being recommended to spend equal or more money on a re-issue over this vintage piece?

Is it fair to compare what it would cost a builder to build a replica to a vintage/hybrid piece that has all new caps?


I'm not a builder, so a replica would cost me more, and get me closer to tweed deluxe prices...

thank you kindly. I understand where we are looking right now is whether the amp is worth the asking price, but I'm seeing mixed information, a comparison that I don't understand enough, but on the surface seems like it is apples (vintage) to oranges (replica) and its confusing me... I don't know enough about electrical engineering and the science behind amp building... and I really don't have any interest in it. I just want to play it and either I like it or I don't.

I hope I'm not coming across argumentative, I really want to have a little bit more knowledge.
 

B Ingram

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Joined
Jan 3, 2016
Messages
730
Does anyone even make a clone of a Brown Concert that has the proper "phasey" trem circuit? I'd say that's one of the strongest reasons to go for that particular amp.

Weber ReVibe is just the Concert's vibrato circuit, plus the Fender 6G15 standalone reverb tank circuit. Weber has had kits for those for at least a decade, maybe longer.

I know folks who've built both versions of the Concert's trem (one is two 12A_7 tubes, the other is two-and-a-half 12A_7 tubes), several versions of Magnatone's varistor vibrato circuit, repurposed Hammond's saturable reactor vibrato unit for guitar use, and many variants of tremolo/vibrato (in amps as well as in standalone units).

I can't tell you if someone mass-produces a clone with any of those circuits, as I don't pay attention to what's on the market. But other than space/parts count, it's easy to duplicate the Concert's vibrato/trem circuit.

Is it fair to compare what it would cost a builder to build a replica to a vintage/hybrid piece that has all new caps?

... seems like it is apples (vintage) to oranges (replica) and its confusing me...

The difficulty is you have an apple turning into an orange.

Not just new caps, and not just filter caps. You might have 2 original parts left inside the entire chassis. Every resistor is new, speakers are replaced, plus the grill cloth and possibly the logo & handle. Call these "replica parts".

The transformers and pots are original, and they're in good shape. The cabinet and faceplates are original but beat up. The knobs may be original, but the faceplate damage has me wondering. Those are your "vintage parts".

I agree the transformers are the most important pieces in the amp to be vintage, but original speakers are a close second. So is this more-Apple, or is it more-Orange. It's too bad we're not comparing "limes to oranges" because this is 100% Blood Lime (a cross-pollination between a lime & a Mandarin orange). If the cabinet (including tolex but less the grill cloth, logo & handle) is called "one item" then on a per-item basis you're closer to replica than vintage. This was the basis of my "offer them $700" suggestion from before.

So it's your call. Again, I'd always recommend listening to any amp/guitar before buying.
 

CoyotesGator

Active member
Joined
Jul 9, 2012
Messages
710
thank you kindly for your replies. I am learning a lot, but I'm struggling at a couple things...

It is being recommended to spend equal or more money on a re-issue over this vintage piece?

Is it fair to compare what it would cost a builder to build a replica to a vintage/hybrid piece that has all new caps?


I'm not a builder, so a replica would cost me more, and get me closer to tweed deluxe prices...

thank you kindly. I understand where we are looking right now is whether the amp is worth the asking price, but I'm seeing mixed information, a comparison that I don't understand enough, but on the surface seems like it is apples (vintage) to oranges (replica) and its confusing me... I don't know enough about electrical engineering and the science behind amp building... and I really don't have any interest in it. I just want to play it and either I like it or I don't.

I hope I'm not coming across argumentative, I really want to have a little bit more knowledge.

I believe what a few of us are trying to say is that so much of this vintage amp has been changed that little of it is vintage.

Electrolytic (filter/power) cap replacement is good with an amp of this age.

Removal of all the original capacitors and resistors on the main board, was probably unnecessary.

At best, even if it is the heart getting what it wants, $1200 is probably above fair market value.

I wish you the best of luck in your quest.

In full disclosure, I mostly play my 6G3 Brown Deluxe clone.

My biggest problem is I can not decide if I like it better with an old Alnico or a G1265 or ET65!
 
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