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New to Brownfaces...

sikoniko

Active member
Joined
Aug 28, 2012
Messages
674
I hear you guys. I have not played this amp. It is at a guitar center. I'm not overly concerned about that though. My friend works at the local guitar center and always takes care of me. I know the general perception is that GC is taboo, but I have never had a problem with their return policy and their vintage inventory is one of the best. I would have the guitar shipped to the store and it would never leave if I didn't like it. Then I have two or three days to return it if I do take it home. I have gotten better deals price-wise from GC than I see at other dealers... As we saw in the thread on the tweed super recently, there are deals to be had there.

I would guess $700 +/- is what they probably have in the amp.

I want to make sure I understand the consensus, please allow me to repeat and correct where I deviate.

1. $1200 is the top end of the value of the amp. If I buy it and keep the amp, then its worth it. If I buy it and decide to re-sell it, I will most likely lose money.

2. Trust my ears.

3. I don't understand the replica/clone market. Many of the amps are very near in cost to the comparable vintage amp. Modern transformers are not the same as vintage ones, but for some reason, it doesn't seem to be an issue for many...why is that?

Thank you kindly. I have plenty of time to think this decision over and I appreciate everyone sharing their thoughts. I won't rush into this. I know what I want tone-wise, I just have to figure out how I'm going to get there. I don't really care what the name of it is, just the sound and if it inspires me. It would be cool if it was a '60 fender to go along w/ the theme I seem to have, but I won't limit myself to that.
 

Mark Kane

All Access/Backstage Pass
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Jul 18, 2001
Messages
5,736
Dan, if you decide not to get this please let me know where it is, thanks.
 

B Ingram

Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2016
Messages
730
... I have not played this amp. It is at a guitar center. ... I know the general perception is that GC is taboo ...

I don't have a problem with GC as a vendor (though I'm not sure you will get someone empowered to make a deal, as you would at other places). It is handy that you can get the amp sent to your local store. This is a plus so you can actually hear it before buying.

1. $1200 is the top end of the value of the amp. If I buy it and keep the amp, then its worth it. If I buy it and decide to re-sell it, I will most likely lose money.

Yes.

Any vintage piece is only worth whatever figure causes it to change hands from the seller to the buyer. The prices of original examples are relatively easy to pin down in prior transactions, but the price/value of non-original pieces is very hard to determine. Almost always, the seller thinks their vintage item is worth more than the buyer thinks it is worth.

2. Trust my ears.

Check. That's the most important thing.

3. I don't understand the replica/clone market. Many of the amps are very near in cost to the comparable vintage amp.

Clones that sell successfully are cheaper than the original vintage item. Which amps tend to become clones almost exactly tracks the pricing of vintage amps. No one cloned a blackface Princeton Reverb in the mid-90's because you could buy the real thing for $400-450, but now Fender reissues them because the typical price is over $2k.

I'm not saying any of the below are reasonable prices, but note the asking prices of these tweed models, which also happen to be some of the same amps which drove the emergence of the boutique/clone amp companies in the 90's:

1957 Bassman
1959 Bassman
1958 Bassman
1957 Bandmaster
1958 Tremolux
1960 Deluxe
1957 Pro

I understand, but won't try to justify the retail price of any clone amp. I build for myself, so "retail" is irrelevant. My present clone amps include tweed Deluxe & Super, and a Standel 25L15 (an original is almost impossible to find). I've built a number of other amps for different sounds & am working on a multi-channel 1/3-watt amp now. The Standel was the most expensive because I used a vintage speaker and there was nothing "off-the-shelf" for it, everything was custom-made, and it still cost me less than $1k. Granted, my situation is not typical.

... Modern transformers are not the same as vintage ones, but for some reason, it doesn't seem to be an issue for many...why is that? ...

This is not strictly true, or perhaps it's more accurate to say it's only partly-true. There are many transformer variants out there, including modern-day transformers which are excellent clones of vintage transformers. But transformers are devices with a complex set of interactions which are hard for a layman to grasp, especially when the impact to an amp's sound (intended and unintended) requires digging in to some electronic design concepts. And there has been much hype surrounding at least some of them, to either justify the price of a vintage amp or to market a boutique clone. There's actually a lot of hype surrounding just about everything in guitars & amps.

Regardless, a knowledgable builder can use what's presently available to duplicate essentially any amp sound; the cost may be proportional to the degree of perfection of the replica, but a near-perfect replica doesn't necessarily require high cost. This last statement is, in my opinion, the closest you'll get to truth on the subject without a long series of detailed threads.
 

sikoniko

Active member
Joined
Aug 28, 2012
Messages
674


If I had the money, we would have a thread on this amp right now instead of the Concert... which is the real issue to the dilemma. to seize the amp I can afford and see if I like it, or hold out until I can afford the one I know I want. But then again, I also have my eye on a single cut jr, and that would be the first thing I would buy if I had that kind of money to spend.
 

sikoniko

Active member
Joined
Aug 28, 2012
Messages
674
can someone confirm if this is a 5g12 or a 6g12(-A)? I'm told that the tube chart isn't always right on this amp and you have to go by the circuit.

thanks,
Dan
 

sikoniko

Active member
Joined
Aug 28, 2012
Messages
674
some inspiration...


this ones sounds a little harsh.. don't know his recording chain...
 

CoyotesGator

Active member
Joined
Jul 9, 2012
Messages
710
Yep, you got it bad.

Happens to all of us.

Once the disease reaches to deepest, darkest, most animalistic root of the brain...

:salude
 

sonar

New member
Joined
Jan 10, 2003
Messages
3,589
Seems like you're trying to find an opinion that will support you buying this amp.

Good or bad vintage amps are an investment. Imo this amp is not a good investment, unless you want to restore the components, which isn't necessarily what players want to do right after a big ticket purchase. It has less to do with sonics and more to do about where you put your money.

If you really dig the sound of the amp and the price is really low, go for it. If it were me I wouldn't buy this amp, unless it was a deal too good to pass up. Clean Concerts can still be had for 2k if that's the amp you really want. Clean Super Reverbs (imo a better amp) often for less. "Big" amps aren't going for what they once were and this amp, in today's world, qualifies as a "Big" amp.

This won't be the last vintage amp you'll have access to buying, although it might feel differently now.

You mentioned an interest in a Tweed Deluxe. There are a lot of great 5E3 clones out there that can be had used for not a lot of money. I'd consider this approach until you save up for the amp you really want.
 

sikoniko

Active member
Joined
Aug 28, 2012
Messages
674
Seems like you're trying to find an opinion that will support you buying this amp.

Good or bad vintage amps are an investment. Imo this amp is not a good investment, unless you want to restore the components, which isn't necessarily what players want to do right after a big ticket purchase. It has less to do with sonics and more to do about where you put your money.

Other than the speakers, what is there to restore?

If you really dig the sound of the amp and the price is really low, go for it. If it were me I wouldn't buy this amp, unless it was a deal too good to pass up. Clean Concerts can still be had for 2k if that's the amp you really want. Clean Super Reverbs (imo a better amp) often for less. "Big" amps aren't going for what they once were and this amp, in today's world, qualifies as a "Big" amp.

This won't be the last vintage amp you'll have access to buying, although it might feel differently now.

I appreciate everyone's input, but I also have people I am talking to off the board giving me advice. I am taking into consideration all of the information and will go from there.

You mentioned an interest in a Tweed Deluxe. There are a lot of great 5E3 clones out there that can be had used for not a lot of money. I'd consider this approach until you save up for the amp you really want.

I don't really know what I want right now. I'm just educating myself. The amp is on lay-away, and I don't have to take it off tomorrow. There are a couple people saying if I don't buy it, they will...so the amp is going to sell at its current price, whether its to me or someone else.
 

sikoniko

Active member
Joined
Aug 28, 2012
Messages
674
Seems like you're trying to find an opinion that will support you buying this amp.

Good or bad vintage amps are an investment. Imo this amp is not a good investment, unless you want to restore the components, which isn't necessarily what players want to do right after a big ticket purchase. It has less to do with sonics and more to do about where you put your money.

I don't understand why the conversation dropped... is there some sort of agenda to talk me out of this amp? If that is the case, there is no point in that, I've already promised it to someone else if I decide to pass. However, I am really interested in continuing to educate myself.

I asked what can be restored other than buying old speakers and potentially having them re-coned or buying new re-issue speakers? I've read in other threads that MikeSlub will typically remove old speakers, put them in a closet and put new speakers in the amps for day-to-day use, while keeping the old ones only for re-sale...

It appears to me that over time, caps get replaced. On occasion I see where people have sourced NOS caps, but most just use quality new ones.
 

B Ingram

Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2016
Messages
730
I don't understand why the conversation dropped...

It seemed to be at a natural end, until you actually play the amp & make a decision.

... It appears to me that over time, caps get replaced. On occasion I see where people have sourced NOS caps, but most just use quality new ones.

There is function and type differences between the capacitors in the power supply & bias circuits, the capacitors used on the main circuit board which Sonar pointed out.

The ones in the power supply/bias are electrolytic caps which have a limited life span. Additionally, these caps keep hum out of the power supply and keep bias voltages stable. Their replacement is usually seen as a matter of maintenance, which collectors (who once paid a premium for amps which were truly "all-original" including electrolytic caps) have generally come to understand as a good thing. Few would argue a power supply or bias electrolytic shapes the tone of an amp, except by removing hum.
  • In the worst-case scenario, power/bias caps which have failed as a short-circuit may burn up a power or output transformer (new filter caps are then some assurance against this scenario).

The caps on the main circuit board (all those yellow ones in your pics) are coupling- or d.c. blocking-caps. Because of their lower µF values, they almost always use a paper or plastic dielectric. While some types can fail over time (by leaking a small amount of direct current), they're not often "bad" or require replacement. Many folks feel the specific type of coupling caps used contribute to the sonic character of an amp; my experience is the degree to which the type of coupling cap is audible depends on the particular amp circuit.
  • Any sonic advantage, real or perceived, then lies with having the original coupling caps.
  • Failed coupling caps usually don't cause damage; the possible exception are those which feed the output tubes, as a leaky or shorted coupling cap here can upset the output tube bias and burn up an output tube and/or stress the output transformer.

There are electrolytic caps on the main circuit board (cathode bypass caps), and these influence the gain and bass response of preamp stages. Some techs will automatically replace those to get "factory original" sound from the amp. I've changed my stance on changing those, and usually keep the original bypass caps in place unless they're definitely shown to negatively impact the amp's tone. That's because they tend to drop in µF-value as they age, and even when they're 1/20th their original value the result is usually a slight trimming (~ a couple of dB) of bass response. Some will view that as a good change, and some clone builders will purposely use smaller-than-stock caps here to sound more like a 30-50 year old amp rather than like a newly-built amp.
  • Replaced cathode bypass caps give "factory original" performance.
  • Aged (reduced µF-value) bypass caps generally sound similar-to "factory original" or may sound like "clearer bass".
  • Outright failed bypass caps (leaking direct current, up to a dead-short) rarely do more than make a preamp stage "sound wrong" or lack clean amplification. The worst-case is a preamp tube plate load resistor burns up, but even that rarely happens (the plate load resistor limits current draw and simply gets "toasty" but usually doesn't burn up).

So an uninformed collector might want everything original on the main board just to have everything original. A tech or an informed collector may want everything original on the main board because its the best chance of preserving the "vintage-correct" sound of the amp, or they may see replacement as unnecessary change away from "all-original".

The above is just info; what you hear/think when you play that Concert is obviously the deciding factor.
 

sikoniko

Active member
Joined
Aug 28, 2012
Messages
674
thanks for taking the time to explain and dumb it down for me.

I am struggling with the tweed and brownface line of amps, because I don't understand the reason for each of them? What gap they are trying to fill, because there seems to be some overlap.

Is there a good website that breaks down each of the amps in these two series and state's when each is the better choice for a particular application?

This is part of my struggle with the decision. I can't buy one of each and figure out which best meets my needs... I tend to see a lot of love for Deluxe's (vibroluxe is same amp I understand), super, tweed twin (high power), and bassman. I know they are all different circuits, but I guess I don't understand if the goal is to create the same characteristic sound at a different volume level (push more air for larger rooms), or are they tuned to have different characteristics?
 

CBRmatt600

New member
Joined
Oct 27, 2015
Messages
280
thanks for taking the time to explain and dumb it down for me.

I am struggling with the tweed and brownface line of amps, because I don't understand the reason for each of them? What gap they are trying to fill, because there seems to be some overlap.

Is there a good website that breaks down each of the amps in these two series and state's when each is the better choice for a particular application?

This is part of my struggle with the decision. I can't buy one of each and figure out which best meets my needs... I tend to see a lot of love for Deluxe's (vibroluxe is same amp I understand), super, tweed twin (high power), and bassman. I know they are all different circuits, but I guess I don't understand if the goal is to create the same characteristic sound at a different volume level (push more air for larger rooms), or are they tuned to have different characteristics?


Think of the Tweeds as the Ford Model T. They were basically the first generation of production guitar amplifier. Awesome in pretty much every way, especially for their time, but not quite perfect from a design standpoint.

Think of the Browns as the Model A. Customers had a few years to get along with the tweeds and decide what they loved about them, and what could be improved. Fender took this into account and upgraded their line of amplifiers, incorporating design changes such as a front control panel layout rather than top mounted controls. It was a continuation of innovation, small changes in sound and dynamics that some liked and others did not.

Try to play as many as you can and see what you like. That is literally the only way you are going to be able to make a decision that you will be happy with.
 

sikoniko

Active member
Joined
Aug 28, 2012
Messages
674
Think of the Tweeds as the Ford Model T. They were basically the first generation of production guitar amplifier. Awesome in pretty much every way, especially for their time, but not quite perfect from a design standpoint.

Think of the Browns as the Model A. Customers had a few years to get along with the tweeds and decide what they loved about them, and what could be improved. Fender took this into account and upgraded their line of amplifiers, incorporating design changes such as a front control panel layout rather than top mounted controls. It was a continuation of innovation, small changes in sound and dynamics that some liked and others did not.

Try to play as many as you can and see what you like. That is literally the only way you are going to be able to make a decision that you will be happy with.

I have read some reviews on the concert amp, and many owners have said the clean channel is identical sounding to a tweed bassman and the tremolo is a very nice representation of the brownface amp, and it has a very unique and amazing tremolo (either you love it or hate it).

I guess what I don't understand is, if that is the case, why aren't more people buying these amps, as popular as the tweed bassman is? It doesn't appear to be a secret and the prices are a fraction of the cost of a tweed bassman in some cases...
 

B Ingram

Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2016
Messages
730
... I guess what I don't understand is, if that is the case, why aren't more people buying these amps, as popular as the tweed bassman is? It doesn't appear to be a secret and the prices are a fraction of the cost of a tweed bassman in some cases...

They're not $400 like the last near-mint vintage 60's Fender amp I bought, so someone has been buying them (resulting in price increases).

I don't know if the Concert sounds just like a tweed Bassman (I'll leave that up to folks who've played them side-by-side). I can tell you the circuits of each amp are quite different, even if we're only considering the non-trem channel. The Concert looks a lot like an evolutionary step from the tweed Bassman towards the blackface Fender circuit with 2x 6L6's. The Concert's tone circuit is a little bit different, uses essentially a fixed-midrange setting, and is moved to a different place within the preamp which is driven by a higher source impedance (which changes its net impact on the overall preamp sound).

In the earliest days, Fender only had a small handful of models spanning the student-to-professional range; all amps were tweed. Circuits & features in the different models were quite different. Fender evolved the tweed lineup to have different models, a variety of power outputs from very low to very high, amps that included a tone control (some even had treble & bass controls!), and a variety of speaker sizes & quantities. Some of these amps wound up being essentially the-same electrically, but varied only in the # and size of speakers (though this was the exception rather than the rule). As a result, different amps in the lineup had their own unique voices (but we're also talking over more than a decade of evolutionary development, so earlier variants of a single model might sound a bit different than later variants).

The brownface lineup still included a few amps with relatively unique features to a given amp model, but the lineup was beginning to converge on a "Fender sound". There are some models in this lineup with elements held-over from the tweed amps, and some which venture off into relatively wild territory compared the the blackface amps which followed.

By the introduction of the blackface amps (only ~4 years after brownface amps appeared), the consolidation of "the Fender sound" was complete. Except for the smallest of the amps, all blackface amps have essentially the same preamp/driver circuitry. So the models are differentiated by power output (2x 6V6, 2x 6L6 or 4x 6L6), # of channels, presence of onboard effects (more expensive models generally got reverb and tremolo), and completeness of the tone controls (some models have a midrange control, others don't). Some models still had a little bit different voice from others, but I put a bit of this down to how the nearly-same supply voltage was divvied up inside the amp. So a bunch of models, but most sound like each other (or at least a family-resemblence, as 6V6's don't sound the same distorted as 6L6's).
 

sikoniko

Active member
Joined
Aug 28, 2012
Messages
674
btw, I don't know how to read pot codes... can you tell what month is on these pots?

thanks,
 

sonar

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Jan 10, 2003
Messages
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FullSizeRender4_zpsattgxukp.jpg

137 = manufacturer.
6010 = 10th week of 1960
 

sonar

New member
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Jan 10, 2003
Messages
3,589
I don't understand why the conversation dropped... is there some sort of agenda to talk me out of this amp? If that is the case, there is no point in that, I've already promised it to someone else if I decide to pass. However, I am really interested in continuing to educate myself.

I asked what can be restored other than buying old speakers and potentially having them re-coned or buying new re-issue speakers? I've read in other threads that MikeSlub will typically remove old speakers, put them in a closet and put new speakers in the amps for day-to-day use, while keeping the old ones only for re-sale...

It appears to me that over time, caps get replaced. On occasion I see where people have sourced NOS caps, but most just use quality new ones.

Didn't mean to drop the conversation.

All I can do is give you my opinion and what I would do in your position.

Imo too many parts have been replaced and my internet opinion is, unless it's a bargain price, to walk away from this amp. The tag board/circuit board is the red flag for me to walk away. Electrolytic capacitors usually need to be replaced and shouldn't effect value, but almost everything else on that tag board should be original, or at least have the most important components. This amp has neither. Now I'm thinking about who was in this amp and why were they so overzealous? Is there something else going on that I can't see from the pictures? it's enough for me to have doubt and move on, waiting for the next amp that piques my interest.

And this isn't even taking into account 4 replaced speakers.

Vintage amps are a financial investment that appreciate or depreciate in value based on condition, what is original and what has been replaced in an amp. It's my belief that this amp is worth little more than a bargain priced item. If it was me buying this amp I would want to restore it as much as reasonably possible, which takes time & money. Considering all of that it's probably easier and likely cheaper to just find a Brownie Concert in better condition. If you like the amp, fine. Just remember this is also a financial investment that you should at least consider.

As a player that is less bothered by financial consideration - I would prefer to own a vintage amp that is close to how it was assembled when new. To own an amp that sonically represents what a given model should sound like. The best chance of getting a good sonic representation of any vintage amp is to get one with as many original parts as possible. This amp isn't a good candidate for what I would want as a player.

Again, this is my internet opinion. Take it or leave it.
 
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