Blackface Fender amps

In an effort to constantly improve and make products that musicians of the day would love to own, Fender went from the Woodies to Tweed to Blonde/Brown to Blackface in a little more than a decade. While the Fender guitar range was growing, Leo Fender incorporated the latest tubes and circuits in order to provide the most features and power at all price ranges and for all needs.
Blackface amps are a mainstay of many guitar rigs. Favored by club players who typically use a Princeton, Deluxe or Vibrolux, they are known for their clean sounds and slightly driven bluesy tones. They are also a fantastic platform for pedals. The larger ones have been used by many famous guitarists. Stevie Ray Vaughn used a Super Reverb and a Vibroverb in his multi amp rig. Eric Johnson typically uses two Twin reverbs (lately two Deluxe Reverbs) for his clean sounds.
The Blackface amps had their run from 1963 to 1967. Most blackface amps came in black cabinets with silver-ish grill cloth. However in transition from the Blonde/Brown amps, you will find blonde Bassman, Bandmaster and Showman heads with blackface panels and circuits. And in transition to the silverface amps which came after the blackface amps, the first silverface amps (typically the ones with “drip edge” around the grill) have the same circuits, even down to the specific resistors and capacitors used in the blackface versions.
Lots of things were standardized in the BF amps whereas in the Tweed and Brown/Blonde eras there was a lot of circuit variance between the models. For example, most BF amps use the same type of tone circuit. There are some small variations. The standard midrange cap was 0.047. But some of the early amps use a 0.033 mid cap. The amps with four 10” speakers (Concert and Super Reverb) use a 0.022 mid cap which adds low mids to fatten the sound.
The BF range is very logical and comprehensive. The combos start with the Champ with its single channel, one 6V6 power tube (the only BF single ended, Class A amp) and 8” Speaker. The Princeton has two 6V6s for about 12 watts and a 10” speaker. Add reverb and you have the Princeton Reverb, one of the most highly sought after amps for today’s player. It’s a great bedroom amp and perfect for a small club. The Deluxe has two channels, two 6V6s and bigger transformers for about 20 watts and a 12” speaker. Add reverb for the Deluxe Reverb. The Vibrolux has two 6L6 tubes for 35 watts, bright switches and a single 12” speaker. Add reverb, change the 12” to two 10” and you have the Vibrolux Reverb. The Pro has a bigger output transformer for 40 watts and a 15” speaker. Add reverb and you have a Vibroverb! The Pro Reverb has two 12” speakers. Go figure…… The Concert has four 10” speakers. Add reverb and a mid control on the Vibrato channel and you have the Super Reverb. The Twin reverb has mid controls on both channels, four 6L6s for 85 watts and two 12” speakers. By the way, on amp models available with and without reverb, the non-reverb amps are much rarer than the reverb models. The Princetons and Deluxes are not as collectible as the Reverb versions. The single 12” Vibrolux is very rare and a desirable format so the prices are relatively high when you can find one. The Pro is a “poor man’s” Vibroverb.
The “piggyback” range includes four models. The Tremolux is essentially a non-reverb Vibrolux with two 10” speakers in a closed back cab. The Bandmaster is essentially a Concert with two 12” speakers and a closed back cab. The Showman and Dual Showman are essentially non-reverb Twins with either one or two 15” JBL speakers in a closed back cab. The Bassman has one guitar channel and a bass channel that is unlike all typical BF circuit and includes a bass switch instead of the bright.
There was a short time where Leo was experimenting with 7355 output tubes. Amps with those tubes show up in some very early BF catalogs including the catalogs printed in a 1964 Downbeat magazine. I have seen two Blonde Showman BF panel heads with 7355s but none of the other models.
Leo Fender sold his company to CBS in 1965. Until 1967 BF amps continued to come out of the factory. Silverface amps followed with the same BF circuits but then the new engineering team “improved” the amp designs and (in my opinion) lost much of what made the Blackface Fender amps the works of art in tone they were. Such a shame……