Monday, July 14, 2008

Fender Libra Amp

So, what's your sign? I'm a Libra. Groovy. Back in 1970, when Fender went way off track, they introduced a line of solid state guitar amps based on the signs in the zodiac. There was the Capricorn, the Scorpio, the Taurus and the Libra. The Libra came with 4 12" JBL speakers, 105 watts (I wonder why not just a nice even 100?), two channels, with reverb and tremolo. The zodiac series was (mercifully) only offered for two years or less and are very rare now. But who really wants them? I guess maybe if you were trying to collect every single amp Fender made it would worth having, but, from all accounts, these things sounded brutal.

What makes the one I had interesting is that it was a head only. Now I'm relatively sure that these were not offered as a head, so that means someone took the time to nicely repackage this amp as a head. It was hard to tell that it used to be a combo amp and I probably would not have known if I hadn't researched it a little and discovered the specs. I found this one at the good ol' Oceanside Swap Meet that I frequently fact I think I need to get back out there soon. This was one of those things that you spot from about a row over and hope you get to it before some other guy walks up and manages to snake you. It was sitting on some Peavey cabinet (I think)...something crappy anyway. The guy REALLY wanted me to buy the cab too, but the Libra was all I was interested in. He only wanted $50 for it but it wouldn't be a swap meet unless you tried to bargain a little and I ended up getting it for $40. He had no idea if it worked and I figured for $40 any old '70s Fender item is worth it.

I got it home and plugged it in and it came on no problem. I can't remember what speaker cab I plugged it into because I really haven't owned many separate cabs...but I do remember testing it out. It worked great! Which is a nicer way of saying "it sucks." It's reputation was well deserved. I put it up for sale on eBay and had a fair amount of interest. In fact, I think that's actually how I first found out it had been cut down to a cab. A nice guy that eventually ended up winning the auction knew quite a bit about these and was out to collect 'em all. He was positive this shouldn't just be a head, but was interested in owning it just the same. I believe it sold for somewhere around $200

I really am a Libra and it might have been cool in a perfect financial world to have kept it just for fun. But I'm sure it helped fund some other purchase that I've probably written about by now.

Of course, in a perfect financial world I wouldn't be bailing out Fannie May and Bernie Mac (or whatever that other one is) with my tax dollars.

Since I didn't take one of those super tricky, underhanded loans that people didn't really qualify for when I probably could have, couldn't my tax dollars go towards music and art education in schools instead? Something besides old guard politics ruining yet another longstanding institution in the last eight years? Okay, that's the first and hopefully only time I've gone political and I'll try to restrain myself in the future. Rock on.


Musician's said...

id love to get one. ive been working i. a music store cor ten years and never came across one.

Anonymous said...


I have a Libra head and it's not bad at all.Really like the tremolo and reverb and the sound is very nice.It might be on sale.

Anonymous said...

I worked with a guy who bought up a lot of the zodiac stuff when Fender dumped it. I used one for years in a 6x10 for bass of all things. Recently plugged it into a Sunn 18" horn (think a scaled down ACC 301 bottom). Stellar sound - louder than you'd think for 105 watts. Dimed it's reminiscent of an ACC 370.
I believe Forrest White designed the 7 stage pre-amp with a MOS-FET in the first stage. Very wide range tone controls too. I wouldn't choose it for guitar, but pushing a bass though that configuration is recollections of Jaco!