silverface/ blackface

silverface/ blackface

Postby Poor Peter » Fri May 09, 2014 4:18 am

Howdy, trying to learn as I go. Can someone please tell me the difference between silverface and blackface. If I went out and bought a new Twin RI what would it be?
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Re: silverface/ blackface

Postby Searing75 » Fri May 09, 2014 5:21 am

The reissue is based on the blackface circuit. If you google your question, you will get your answer. I know there are some changes in the power section, around the rectifier region I think? Again, just google it. :-)
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Re: silverface/ blackface

Postby tcsned » Fri May 09, 2014 5:31 am

I believe the first couple of years of he SF were essentially the same - though I could be wrong (67-68-ish). Jerry was known for using a blackface though I believe his backup was a silverface.
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Re: silverface/ blackface

Postby schmidtz » Fri May 09, 2014 7:43 am

According to Waldo's site, the blackface was primary until 1981, when the non-master silverface took over.
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Re: silverface/ blackface

Postby JustinJohn » Fri May 09, 2014 11:57 am

Jerry's main amp through the 80s was a heavily modified 1971 (silverface) Twin Reverb... I'm pretty sure.
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Re: silverface/ blackface

Postby tatittle » Fri May 09, 2014 12:21 pm

-The Blackface Fenders all tend to have better components and are more carefully constructed/produced.

The small amps didn't change much into the silverface years, but the bigger amps changed more and sooner. Smaller amps got particle board cabinets though which affects tone. In general the changes were to both increase headroom and increase profits. This makes them a bit thinner sounding, and cleaner. The Blackface are more collectible too of course. Some of the changes can easily be returned to BF specs, others cannot.

General changes include switch from screwed baffle to a glued baffle with removeable grill; switch from GZ34 to 5U4GB rectifier tube (I am not sure but the transformers specs may have changed to accomodate the 5U4GB), addition of "master volume" to try and mimic Marshall's (didn't work out well lol); cloth covered wire to plastic covered wire; different component values to increase headroom/reduce noise; mostly Jensen speakers to mostly Oxfords (and the Oxfords also changed to make them less sensitive etc.); quicker production meant less quality control and more chaotic looking guts. The Twins in particular went to linear 135 watt designs in the very late 70's which is a significant change that cannot be easily returned to BF. There are just too many changes and too many amps to completely list, but most of the info can be found online.

The RI will have PCB boards that are difficult/impossible to modify, but they are designed after the BF circuits. If you can afford and find a good BF it is better to buy it than try and save a few bucks "BF" a SF model. The time, energy, and money involved in BF just isn't worth it IMO. But early SF can sound better than BF models occasionally too.

Since Garcia's amps were modified, it probably isn't accurate to call his Twin a "silverface"...in any event it is an early model which had fewer changes. His stage SF Twin looks like a 1969-70 model to me because of the faceplate saying Twin Reverb "Amp". The "Amp" notation was only on the Fenders in 69-70 I believe.
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Re: silverface/ blackface

Postby James-T » Fri May 09, 2014 5:04 pm

Generally Silver Face twins and even the early 70's ones are cheaper than the new "blackface reissues". The re-issues will not sound exactly like a Silverface from the early 70's and will not sound like vintage Blackface from the 60's. If you are in a big city and can wait, SF Twins, Pros and Vibrolux's do come up for sale from time to time on CL and in shops. Common things to trade in in fact.

A lot of pros can't deal with the aging issues of vintage amps. They break down easy (my 83 Twin went to the repair shop 2x in 4 years - but please don't call me a pro!). But many seasoned veteran's also call the re-issues disposable amps. The circuit boards are apparently a bear to deal with if something does go wrong. I asked my tech what was involved in putting in a better volume pot on my Blues Deluxe and he said don't bother - way to much work to justify it.

Here's a demo I did to satisfy my own curiosity about vintage versus re-issue. Fender claims the Blues Deluxe is a Blcakface circuit based on a BF Deluxe meets a Bassman. "Fender unveiled its Tweed series amps to great success and acclaim in 1993. The concept: What if a great old, collectable, 1950's Deluxe or Bassman was customized with channel switching and reverb?"

I have to say, in this comparison the SF wins out over the Re-issue BF. With that said, many pros use re-issues. The Blues Deluxe and a re-issue Twin is a fixture on many stages around the country. Its no slouch!

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Re: silverface/ blackface

Postby JamminJommy » Sat May 10, 2014 2:54 am

JustinJohn wrote:Jerry's main amp through the 80s was a heavily modified 1971 (silverface) Twin Reverb... I'm pretty sure.


"Heavily Modified" can be a bit ambiguous. I had the pleasure of playing through an authentic "Alembicized" '69 SF twin that sounded a little more than just "in the ballpark." When I asked its caretaker about mods, he informed me that all the values were stock, just the parts were upgraded where an upgrade was available.

What makes the pre master volume Twins special is the occasional oversized hunk of iron in there (a little bigger than a BF transformer). I wanna say late '69 through early '70 Fender was doing that so with all of that in mind (and the above mentioned faceplate) I believe it was actually a 69-70. The Dead simply wanted the highest fidelity, longest lasting, toughest equipment available, and Mil-Spec'ing (Alembicizing) an amp would accomplish that.

My two cents!

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Re: silverface/ blackface

Postby waldo041 » Sat May 10, 2014 12:01 pm

JamminJommy wrote:
JustinJohn wrote:Jerry's main amp through the 80s was a heavily modified 1971 (silverface) Twin Reverb... I'm pretty sure.


"Heavily Modified" can be a bit ambiguous. I had the pleasure of playing through an authentic "Alembicized" '69 SF twin that sounded a little more than just "in the ballpark." When I asked its caretaker about mods, he informed me that all the values were stock, just the parts were upgraded where an upgrade was available.

What makes the pre master volume Twins special is the occasional oversized hunk of iron in there (a little bigger than a BF transformer). I wanna say late '69 through early '70 Fender was doing that so with all of that in mind (and the above mentioned faceplate) I believe it was actually a 69-70. The Dead simply wanted the highest fidelity, longest lasting, toughest equipment available, and Mil-Spec'ing (Alembicizing) an amp would accomplish that.

My two cents!

-Jommy


Healy dropped Alembic early and specifically asks not to be associated with them. However, Owlsey and Healy are the sources for the actual "Alembicization" modifications. That said, there is more done to a Jerry Healy twin amp then a standard Alembic amp. Jerry's silverface also is believed to be a 69 - AA270 and would NOT have had neither a blackface or silverface stock Power Transformer, his Twins had the Export Power Transformer.

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Re: silverface/ blackface

Postby JamminJommy » Sat May 10, 2014 12:23 pm

Ah, thanks for the corrections/specifics!

Yeah, no one I've talked to who's "in the know" refers to the amps as "Alembicized." That was my own add- they all refer to them as "Mil Spec'd" or "Hopped Up" or "Upgraded the [expletive] out of." I've actually been asked not to say too much about the amp I played but it was in fact a '69 - AA270 model.

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Re: silverface/ blackface

Postby JustinJohn » Sat May 10, 2014 3:38 pm

waldo041 wrote:Healy dropped Alembic early and specifically asks not to be associated with them. However, Owlsey and Healy are the sources for the actual "Alembicization" modifications. That said, there is more done to a Jerry Healy twin amp then a standard Alembic amp. Jerry's silverface also is believed to be a 69 - AA270 and would NOT have had neither a blackface or silverface stock Power Transformer, his Twins had the Export Power Transformer.

~waldo


Waldo, I only use my twin's preamp section... Would modding it with an export power transformer (similar to Jerry's alleged 69' silverface twin) change tone, or is it a power-section mod?
(pardon my ignorance... I dont know a lot about the specifics of this stuff... :hail: :hail: :hail: )
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Re: silverface/ blackface

Postby waldo041 » Sun May 11, 2014 7:08 am

JustinJohn wrote:
waldo041 wrote:Waldo, I only use my twin's preamp section... Would modding it with an export power transformer (similar to Jerry's alleged 69' silverface twin) change tone, or is it a power-section mod?
(pardon my ignorance... I dont know a lot about the specifics of this stuff... :hail: :hail: :hail: )



If you would like, hit me up in an email and i can discuss some of the specifics with you. 8)

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