Buyer’s guide to vintage Fender amps

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Within a few days we will email the pdf guide to your paypal email address.

We’ve extracted the table of contents and introduction for you:

  • Introduction. 3
  • The Pride and Joy. 3
    • Vintage guitar tone. 3
    • Vintage vs. modern amps. 4
    • Robustness and simplicity. 5
  • The risks. 5
    • Power supply. 6
      • Replacement power transformer. 6
      • Step-down transformer. 7
    • Purchasing amps on internet. 7
    • Shipping. 8
  • How to recognize a good amp. 9
    • Player’s vs. collector’s amp. 9
    • What to look for. 10
      • Serial number. 11
      • Tube chart and circuit number. 11
      • Transformers. 11
      • Speakers. 12
      • Cabinet and tolex. 13
      • Fender logo and grill cloth. 13
      • Faceplate and knobs. 14
      • Circuit components. 14
      • Reverb tank. 15
      • Baffle and cabinet. 15
      • Cables, plugs, footswitch, pilot light crown. 16
      • Hardware, chassis straps, tilt back legs, handle. 16
      • Power cord, Ground switch and Death cap. 16
  • How to safely fire up a vintage Fender amp. 17
    • Dual power switches. 17
    • Inspect fuse and pilot light. 18
    • Inspect tubes. 18
    • Inspect reverb tank cables and plugs. 18
    • Inspect speaker cables, jack and terminals. 18
    • Tighten baffle board and speaker screws. 19
    • Inspect speaker and baffle screws. 19
    • Tighten strap, chassis screws and nuts, tilt back legs and foots. 19
    • Execute initial test without tubes. 19
    • Verify rectifier and power tubes. 20
    • Verify normal channel. 21
    • Verify vibrato channel. 22
    • Verify Reverb. 23
    • Verify Tremolo. 24
  • Appendix. 25
    • Speakers. 25
      • CTS. 25
      • Eminence. 31
      • JBL. 32
      • Jensen. 35
      • Oxford. 40
      • Rola. 46
      • Utah. 46
    • Grill cloths. 47


If you came here looking for good tone you’ve come to the right place. The “Buyer’s guide to vintage Fender amps” from will help you navigate in an over-hyped vintage gear market and explains the risks and common issues with buying vintage Fender amps. The purpose of this guide is to help you recognize a good Fender amp by reading about it and looking at pictures. It will allow you to make safer purchases on a global market without having to physically play an amp before acquiring one.

There are many facts to consider when determining the condition and originality of a vintage amp. While the collectors are primarily interested in originality, the musicians see the amp as an instrument. This will affect the priorities and decision making in a purchase. If your plan is to play and gig with your amp you should focus on tone and robustness. That can be painfully hard to combine with originality, but don’t worry – We’ll share our strategy how to compromise tone and originality. To pay our respect to Leo Fender we must all try to conserve the vintage Fender amps on this planet. We should all strive to keep these amps as original as possible.

At the end of this guide you’ll find a step-by-step procedure how to inspect and safely fire up a vintage Fender amp. This will come in handy if you have bought an amp and had it packaged and shipped. You might not know if an amp worked before it was packaged or if the tubes or reverb tank was damaged during transportation. After following the step-by-step procedure a couple of times, you will master the basic principles with vintage fender tube amps.

The “Buyer’s guide to vintage Fender amps” is targeted for beginners with some or little experience with tube amps. It focuses on the early decision phases when looking at amps, for example on internet auctions. It is not a comprehensive catalogue containing all eras of Fender amps that will guide you to a specific model.