Vintage Fender Bassman restoration, part VI

Continued from part I, part II, part III, part IV and part V.

My Mojotone Bassman cabinet arrived last week, and it is beautiful!  When it arrived, I took a few moments to look it over and admire it in all its perfection.  Mojotone did a really great job with the upholstery.
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Above: front.  Below: back.
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I put it on my bench and got my ruler out.  Because the dimensions of the mounting holes on the original chassis and Mojotone’s replica chassis are slightly different, the cabinets are shipped undrilled.  Luckily, the math wasn’t too difficult, because all I had to do was measure the holes in the original cabinet.
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Once I got the measurements from the original cabinet and my chassis and double checked them, I measured them out and marked them in pencil on my new cabinet.  I triple checked the chassis dimensions, then the original cabinet, then again measured the marks on the new cabinet.  Once I was satisfied that I wasn’t drilling into the wrong places, I marked the drill points with a center punch and put the holes in.  The chassis straps fit like a glove.  I set the amp inside and tightened the mounting bolts.
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You are looking at my finished restoration of a 1968 Silverface Fender Bassman.  Even though there are elements of it that are not exactly period, I’m still quite proud of the work that I did here.  For example, the circuit is closer to 1964 specifications, and the grill cloth is not quite period, etc., but I know one thing, this thing sounds GREAT.  Take a listen below:

The video was recorded on my iPhone camera, which did a surprisingly good job with the audio (although it does clip a couple times).  The dry guitar signal is split to the normal channel of the amp, and to a tube reverb unit which is returning a 100% wet signal to the input of the bass channel.

I found this project incredibly rewarding.  I am happy to have successfully taken apart and rebuilt a tool of my trade, and to have learned so much about what goes into what is an essential part of an electric guitarist’s tone.

The experience has proved, however, to be bittersweet.  I had not mentioned in the earlier posts that James Williams, who originally gifted the non-working Bassman to me, did so because he was diagnosed with cancer last year.  I was saddened to learn last week of his passing.

I will fondly remember him and all that he taught me every time I play through this amp.  Although I did not get to share the finished project with him, I would like to believe that Jim would be proud of the work I have done on this path that he set me on.

Some photos of the restored amp:

 

And again, where it all started:
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6 thoughts on “Vintage Fender Bassman restoration, part VI

  1. I am starting a project like this one, but I had to write because I do a jazz arrangement of Johnsburg Illinois as well, and I never heard anybody else do it. I love that my old bassman head after years in the basement led me to your version. It sounds great.

    1. Hi Ethan!

      I feel the need to apologize for being late to replying to your message. The amount of spam comments on this blog is so overwhelming, that at one point I stopped checking because the number of actual humans was so drastically outweighed by the bots.

      Johnsburg is such a beautiful tune! I’m glad that my performance resonated with you. It sounds like we have a lot in common!

      Please let me know if I can support you in taking on your amp project. I am no expert, but I can at least share what I learned in this process.

      Wishing you the best,
      -Bill

  2. William!
    I must say I was quite impressed with your overhaul of the old Bassman amp. Amazing work, and to think you hadn’t done this before. Meticulous, to say the least. I’ve got an old Bassman AB165, that I’d inherited. It was fried at the standoffs where the original connections from the power tubes were. I stumbled upon your website because besides having the same amp, we’ve got the same last name. I was trying to find visual confirmation as to where the blue and yellow wires from the doghouse terminate on the board, and I think I figured it out. I ended up getting a new board also, but it was glass epoxy because there wasn’t any of the original style boards available. It grew on me and I like it a lot now. Those old amps and boards were subject to moisture and humidity. It was my brother in law’s and he live up in Solebury Township in Newhope, PA. Had a very wet basement. He passed also. Sad, we’re here for a very short time.
    I’d best get crackin’ and finish mine up! I also replaced all the tube sockets and I must say you really got the heater wires twisted up better than I have ever seen. And I could hear no hum and it sounded very nice and warm.
    I might be interested in coaching in the future once I get my back fixed.
    Best Regards,
    Peter

    1. Hi Peter!

      I want to express my gratitude for reaching out and sharing with me your endeavor. It was a truly rewarding project for me, to get this amp running again. It’s here in my studio, over the years I’ve toured and recorded with it, and it still sounds fantastic.

      Thanks for sharing the story about how you got the amp from your late brother-in-law. As you know, that is a familiar story to me. I’m happy that the amp has a shot at having a new life!

      Please let me know if I can support you in putting your amp back together. I believe I still have the PDF’s of the wiring diagrams around on my computer somewhere.

      Best of luck, and thanks again for sharing!

      From one Marsh to another,

      -Bill

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