June 3, 2013 in Blog

A Quick History of Fender Amps

oldfenderampWhile Fender is highly regarded in the music world when it comes to their legendary guitars, they don’t often get the respect they deserve when it comes to their high quality amps. Let’s take a historical walk through some of the legendary amps Fender has put out over the years.

The K&F Woodie

Produced in 1946 when the Fender Electric Instrument Company was still K&F Manufacturing, which was run by Leo Fender and Doc Kauffman. These amp’s finishes were baked in a family oven. Created with a “gray crinkle” finish, few of these have survived today and they are considered rare collectables.

Tweed

These amps are appropriately named after their cloth covering, which is composed of varnished cotton twill (whose feel and appearance is like that of tweed). This series of amps was produced between 1948 and 1960. It was widely acclaimed for its sound quality. In 1960, Fender halted the use of the twill covering on its amps, although the Fender Champ was still covered in it until 1964.

Fender Champ

Sporting only one power tube, the Champ possessed the lowest power output and the simplest circuit of all of the Fender tube amps. Because of its five-watt power output and simple circuit, it is user-friendly and is often used in recording studios. Originally introduced in 1948 and then discontinued in 1982, the Champ was resurrected in 2006 as part of Fender’s Vintage Modified series.

Blonde

Introduced in 1960, the Blonde was the power head to all of the piggyback Fender amps like the Tremolux, Bassman, Showman, and Bandmaster. Showcasing two different colors of grill clothes (oxblood and wheat), it was produced from 1960 until 1964.

Brownface

Produced between 1959 and 1963, the Brownface was the first amplifier to use the flexible vinyl material, Tolex, as its cover. Its sound was usually described as “in between Tweeds and Blackface,” having more clarity and sparkle than the Tweed but with more midrange than the Blackface.

Blackface

Introduced in 1964 and made until 1967, these piggyback amps originally had white knobs, but this cosmetic design was discontinued in 1967. During the CBS takeover in 1965 (where Fender sold the company to CBS), some changes were made to its design, including altering the front panel name from “Fender Electric Instrument Co. to “Fender Musical Instrument.”

Silverface

The successor of the Blackface, Silverface was produced from 1967 until 1981 and sported a brushed silver aluminum face plate. It has also been referred to as Chromeface. During 1973, CBS added a master volume knob and a pull-out “boost” pot on its models. They also raised the power to between 70 and 135 watts.

Blackface Series Two

The mid-1970s gave the Blackface series a return. This time, it featured active tone controls as well as a build-in distortion circuit that blends between clean and distorted sounds. This was more in-line with the market, which consisted of guitar players who were less interested in “clean” country amps and opted more for increased versatility in tone control and grater amounts of distortion.

fenderampII Series

From 1982 to 1986, the II Series front lined Fender’s amplifiers. Designed by Paul Rivera, it is part of what is known as the Rivera Era Amplifiers. These amps sported a new switchable mid-voiced gain channel. The series retained the normal clean sound Fender is known for. Due to its unique design and robust quality, the II Series has become a rare collectable item these days.

Red Knob

Known for their bright red control knobs, thus the name, Red Knob has a build somewhat similar to the older Blackface units. They have black control panels with white lettering. They also possess high-gain channels and have their own very unique sound. These tube amps were known to be difficult to service.

Mustang

The Mustang Series is today’s leading Fender Amp. It boast of five new effects, XLR stereo outputs and intelligent pitch shifting. Not to mention, it features USB connectivity. This is the amp for the new millennium!

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