Friday, September 19, 2008

1983 Fender Concert Amplifier

This was definitely one of my favorite amps I've ever owned. At one point I even bought a second one and ran them in stereo. How cool am I? This was a 1983 Fender Concert amp that was part of the series of amps that were designed by Paul Rivera. In 1982 Paul basically saved the Fender amp line that was floundering and getting off-track back in the early eighties...he also came up with the Champ II, the Super Champ (one of the most coveted modern era amps of all time), Princeton Reverb II, Deluxe II, and the Twin Reverb II. Maybe more. 

The specs I found on the 'net include: 1-12" speaker - 60 watts, all tube with 2 channel w/switching, point to point wiring - bright push-pull on clean channel, mid-boost push-pull on gain channel - gain channel has gain/vol/master for fine adjust of distortion level - effects loop has return send trim pots. 

The best part about this particular amp is that I found it over in the dirty, dusty corner of a pawn shop in San Clemente, CA that just had the word "GUNS" real big on it's sign out front. 

Lots of surf boards and other crap and one dirty, dusty Fender Concert amp. I talked him down to $200 and loaded it in the car. Got it home and took the better part of a Friday night cleaning the whole thing up. Getting the dirt out of the inside of a combo amp always seems like the biggest pain in the ass, but once you get it all looking nice you feel pretty good about taking the extra time to do it right. The older style blackface look to this amp is really nice and, once I got the tolex all ArmourAll'ed up and shiny, it was looking sweet. 

I plugged it in and, man, this thing sounded great. The sixty watts were more than enough and it really had a sweet spot that you rarely get to crank up to unless you are gigging in a large club. I remember it being fairly heavy for a 12" combo and, now that I think about it, right about the time that I was lugging this thing to gigs I ended up getting a hernia. Now I'm not blaming Paul Rivera or Fender for the fact that I eventually had to have surgery, but I'm pretty sure that pulling that thing in and out of the truck didn't help. 

Anyway, great amp and I would highly recommend grabbing one if it wanders too close to you and no one is watching. The only reason I let mine go was because I hit a point where I wasn't playing live and I finally talked myself into believing that the space it was taking up (c'mon, it's only a 12" combo amp...not a stack) could be better used by a plant or something. My bad.
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40 comments:

Keith said...

If you really wanted to put up a plant, you could have recessed the wall where the amp goes. Or put a plexiglass frame over it and put the plant on a high table. Or Gotten a cactus and put it on top of the amp. Or. ..

Jaimie Muehlhausen said...

Did I say it was ME that needed room for a plant? I meant MY WIFE.

Anonymous said...

i have this amp. I just love it.

dulleyesncunted said...

i have one and it rocks!quite powerful little thing!

leo8963 said...

I have an '83 Concert that I purchased from the original owner, who had replaced the capacitors, as well as the speaker, which had worn out (was a Fender Blue - his amp tech replaced it with an Avatar Hellatone 60, which is just a slightly modified Celestion Vintage 30 8 ohm). He said his tech preferred it to a regular Celestion or an ElectroVoice for this particular model. I recently had my tech replace all the tubes (9) with Mesa Boogie tubes and go over it with a fine tooth comb - what a difference! This amp is IDEAL for Classic Rock, but can deliver Metal w/pedals. If the sound of a Strat or Les Paul circa late'60s-1979 is your thing, get this amp - at the least, upgrade what you've got with a Hellatone speaker & Boogie tubes (my tech advised Groove Tubes on vintage Marshals & some vintage Vox models, Boogie tubes on all vintage Fender amps).

Anonymous said...

I got my amp this morning, I was looking for a twin, and found one online, but the amp was sold before I got to place, you know first come first served thing, so the guy sad -I have another amp it's concert, it's old and dusty, I can let you take it for 100 bucks, sorry about the twin-, sow we plug the thing in, I mean the thing it looked like a pice of shit, the guy sad it was from the 80's and that fender did not do anything good in that time, I was impressed, and made a poker face, the guy sow my no expression and sad take it for 80 I paid 50 in the end, got home with this ugly, heavy, dust collecting, loud pice of work, my wife was not happy, sow she got online, after reading reviews checking prices she comes in to the room and ask, (in an alarming piste of way) -how much did you spend on the amp- -50 bucks-- for real, you did not pay nothing over 500- -no, what f@#- . And know I'm writing this comment with a smile on my face... Best 50 bucks ever spend...

goose and bear said...

I bought one 2 years ago from a friend. After trying every amp on the planet for my Rickenbacker 360/12, this one had the perfect tone I was looking for. Paid $500 for it, which may be high, but it sure is worth it to me!

dick danger said...

i have been playing my 83 concert now for about 15 years, fabulous clean tone...trying to decide if i like the overdrive tone...prefer to set channel 2 to clean and run a ts9 pedal with the mid switch pulled... using a vintage 30 speaker...great retro classic tone, loud and dependable...best 300 beans i ever spent

Anonymous said...

I've sold/traded a lotta gear that I miss over the last 45 odd years of playing (Alembic, Gibson, Travis Bean, Fender, Rickenbacker, Vox, Marshall & even Danelectro stuff), but you picked one amp that I happened to have kept! Yeah, I love this heavy little amp, too, guys. One of the last real hand-wired production Fender amps, so I hear. Very versatile... both clean & over-driven, and LOUD for it's size. You know it's a great piece of gear when you can come back and find something new that you like about it. Thanks, all, for re-inforcing my feelings.

Simon Sen said...

I own one! I's got an Electro-voice speaker 12-inch with a paper cone. Man, it's the baddest! I almost sold it, but thank God I didn't. A Heritage Gold Top, the full volume, gain 5-7, full treble, full midrange, no bass, reverb on 4and I'm as happy as he proverbial pig in the proverbial substance. It sounds filthy, great, "modern" blues sound

Winston21 said...

I bought my 2x10 Concert in 1983. I had no idea that this amp was special. It is in perfect condition, except for beer stains on the tolex. I just replaced the stock speakers with Rajun Cajuns after reading all the info on the net about this amp. When I was a kid I was looking more for a heavy metal sound and never got the concert to sound heavy enough. I never sold it though. Bought a Mesa rectifier 5 years ago. Now I'm getting more and more back into vintage rock and am completely in awe of the clean channel now with the new speakers. The reverb kills. My strat + Concert combination just can't be beat.

Anonymous said...

I am looking at my beaut right now. I just found another for $600 obo...thinking bout it. I have just toured 15k plus miles with mine....running it clean and a/b/y'd with an Orange rocker 30 for the distortion. holy cow! chris
ReVoLtReVoLt

Jim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim said...

I too found my '83 Concert in a pawnshop . The exterior wasn't extremely dirty but the interior had rat turds or some kind of varmint excrement in it. All knobs were there and switches all seemed to function. They let me demo it in-store and I knew right away I had found a diamond-in-the-rough...rat turds and all. Paid $250 or 275. That was back in the late nineties or early 2000 sometime. I'll never make the mistake and sell it like I did my '81 Telecaster or my little Fender Champ II amp some years back. What was I thinking!?!?

rusty said...

I just wanted to mention I have two of these amps- one Concert head and one Concert combo (w/ one 12" celestion speaker. Besides the speaker, the combo amp is stone stock. The Concert head I modified per instructions found in one of Aspen Pittman's Tube Amplifier Handbooks (don't remember what revision). This mod entailed converting the amp to run EL34 power tubes- I must say that this mod really sweetened up the overall tone of the Concert amp, especially in the overdriven stage. NOTE: It is very important to use a good quality set of power tubes (mine are the Czechoslovakian-made EL34 Groove Tubes).
Both amps freakin' rock. The guitars I play through these babies are either a '93 Les Paul Standard, or a '97 Fender Roadhouse Stratocaster.
One other thing: were any of you aware that you can obtain extra gain by plugging in a patch cord between the "send" and "return" jacks of the amp's effects loop (in the back panel)? The gain level can then be adjusted (using the send/return knobs) according to the player's own taste- Don't worry, this is actually a recommended option per the Fender Concert owner's manual. IMO this makes a huge difference in the tone quality of the amp's distortion.
Anyway, keep on rockin'

Anonymous said...

i just tried that tip from rusty, patching the send & return effects loop and HOLY BROWN SOUND BATMAN, I sound like Hendrix!!! No shit! I bought this amp from a friend back in the 80's. i don't even remember how much I paid but it wasn't much. He was down on his luck. i didn't really want it, I was totally happy with my Marshall 100 watt half stack and a '65 Super Reverb in a Vibroverb cab, so the amp has mostly sat around for 20+ years. I spent all morning playing around with that thing and man let me tell you the harmonics and overtones and spank and sqounk going I'm getting out of it is insane! Playing an American Standard Deluxe Strat and my 71 LP. I'm going to change the speaker though - too brassy. what do y'all think? I was thinking Ragin' Cajun or maybe just a Jensen? Thx y'all!

peter bailey said...

i have a fender concert amp bought in 1983. Should I keep it (I am moving). I don't play much anymore if at all (but the dream is still there). How much is it worth? How much would a similar replacement cost? Are new amps (I assume they don't use tube tech.) better?

Pappa Jimmy said...

I bought a 1983 Fender concert amp back in 1983, I put a 200 watt EVMS12 and Groove tubes in it, sits on top of a Marshall cab with 4x12 celestions, played through with a 1976 Les Paul Standard, toss in a Boss DS1, MXR PHASE, MXR Dyna Comp and a Boss EQ, HOLLY S#*%!! What a sound, the ultimate crunch. If you get a chance to get your hands on one of theese GEMS, grab it!!

Mrplatypus said...

I have had one of these since the 80's when I was still learning how to play, great amp! Clean or slightly dirty the sound is just great, too much amp distortion sounds like a can of bees! I Still have the first good guitar I owned as well; a 1982 Les Paul Custom (paid 550 used!). That guitar with my Boss Super Overdrive pedal I got at the same time through this amp is still the best tone I ever got.

Francis59 said...

I have a 4x10 '83 Concert. I bought it in '86 and it is still without any mod. Why(?)...it sounds great especially with my Strats and Teles and it is soooo versatile and very reliable on tour. I get almost every sound I need out of it, and if not, my parametric EQ pedal helps me further. I took it together with my '86 Hiwatt halfstack ( for the British sounds :-) on tour through Europe and I did not miss a thing. I won't sell it, never!

Reverend John said...

Guys, I just picked this combo up. It sounds great BUT for some reason it has a 15" Weber speaker in it. I want CLEAN and WARM so I was thinking of putting a couple Jensen 10" speakers in it. Any thoughts?
John in Ohio

Pappa Jimmy said...

I have a 1983 concert I bought back in 83 and I put a 200 watt EV 12 in it and groove tubes! Sits on top of Marshall cabinet with 4 12 inch Celestions !!!! WOW!! What a warm sound with my 76 Les Paul Standard!!!

Anonymous said...

@Reverend John: I think a couple of 10" would sound fantastic. Always been a fan of 10's.

Anonymous said...

I bought this amp when it first came out still use it everyday and the sound is awesome

pinemonkey said...

Came upon this blog late, but I have had my '81 Concert for going on 27 years now (ouch, it hurt to say that). This amp traveled with me across the country a couple times, once on tour with a reasonably (at the time) popular Sub Pop band. The French band that toured with us had a guitarist who was the only member of the four piece who was not a brother of the other, and he used the Concert as well! Two distinctly different sounds, performed every night without a hiccup.

The amp came to me with a stock 12" EV and is bomb-proof. I only recently (5 yrs ago) replaced the tubes with Sovtek, and that literally doubled the power of this already extremely loud amplifier. I have an '84 Marshall JCM 800 50 watt that has a hard time keeping up with the Concert. I cannot say enough good things about my beloved Fender amp. In my youth, I had a '67 Bassman 10 that I used as a guitar amp, and that is the only amp that I loved more, but the Concert does not require me to apply fingernail polish to the speaker cones every time I play a gig!

Alien John said...

I have one of these, and indeed it's a great vintage amp. Mine is in almost unused condition. I'm thinking of selling it. What should I ask? Mine has 2x12" Jensens in it.
John - in Ohio

Anonymous said...

Just adding to the thread for history's sake. I have been using an '82 Concert Amp for rehearsals and live shows for over a year now, and it is amazing. 60w 1x12. I have installed a "jumper cable" in the effects loop (THANKS Rusty!), and I run the loop volumes at 5-send and 10-return. Mainly I use the gain channel but the clean channel is perfectly good. Having the jumper means I don't need to crank any of the front knobs too much. Still I set the VOL on about 9 most of the time, because I like the dirt it gives. Gain at 2-4 and Master at 3-4 is blasting loud. Plenty for rehearsals AND gigs. I share the stage with different guitarists every week and it always equals or beats whatever they bring. This amp compares well next to ANYTHING. Seems impossible, considering I paid $425 for it "used" at GC. Still has orig tubes etc - fully functioning and just plain downright badass. One of the best Fender amps ever (thank you Mr Rivera). Slide guitar, classic rock, delta blues, outlaw country ... this amp handles it all with style and a bee-sting tone that makes other guitarists ask, "WHAT IS THAT AMP?". It's a point-to-point, hand-wired, boutique-amp-eating-monster you can't deny. That's what.

Anonymous said...

....and don't forget the early 90's Concert that is part of the Pro Tube series. For many years, I have used a Concert(of this era) for many a gig. The signal chain was my 1998 '58 reissue Les Paul, a guitar cord, and the Concert with a pinch of reverb. The 60 watts was/is more than enough power and tone to fill a club. Tha combination of a Les Paul and the Concert were truly perfect. Wonderful clean and dirty completely accessed through the amp's footswitch.

Anonymous said...

I'm not bragging I'm just a guy who fell in love with these amps when nobody realized what they were. Currently own 2-super champs, a concert II combo and concert II head with 4-10 encl, 68ish pro reverb, 56 ampeg G-12 gemini. Gave my twin II to my son for graduation present, how much do you think he luv's me now?? LOL Gave a very good friend a 78 bullet neck strat with a princeton reverb II for helping me build my house, he since sold it cheap for booze, still haven't forgiven him. I luv these amps and 2 super champs set to different sounds off a stereo effect will blow your mind. Just sayin. I did this at rehearsal one time and they made me shut one off because I was dominating the room..hehehe

Fatz Treeboy said...

inwoo hoo. i am in canoa ecuador for 6 months and was gonna shipo an amp from home. but an 83 concert 12" combo cama available on MercadLibre, ( south american craigslist) for 950. clean channel only wprking. dude WOULD NOT go lower then 900. but i got it. and am getting it fixed by the local ham radio dude. i got so lucky. in San Fran these r starting get 600to800 at RealGuitars. The dude who said he a/b`d it with a 30 watt orange amp is onto something. i do that with a 5 watt crate 508. it`s non reverb dirt fills in the clean empty spaces of the fender`s clean channel so well. pretty soon i`ll get the other channel working as well. cheers
(anyone know of an amp tech in ecuador)

Steve B said...

You can get more gain by inserting a short patch cord between the send/return jacks of the effects loop. Could somedy try putting a volume pedal in this loop (I don't have one) and tell us how it sounds when you call up the required amount of gain using the pedal?

Anonymous said...

Don't believe anyone saying this amps not good. If you are into classic rock and blues tones, it's hard to beat.

The gain channel is really versatile and the reverb is great.

Running the external speaker output into a (marshall) cabinet sounds really good too!

Anonymous said...

I've owned my 1x12 Concert since the 80's I think, bought it secondhand and since then it's been used on and off depending on my current style etc. It's been around the world (literally). I managed to trash the original speaker - which was crap anyway - and a tech replaced it with a nondescript Eminence which I'll replace. Since the amp wasn't used for ages I had to get it re-capped and replaced the output valves with some small bottle blackgrid 6L6's from TAD, smoother. Oh yes, the power switch was replaced and power supply rebuilt but otherwise it's stock.

Reverb is excellent, clean channel not at all bad, maybe a bit lacking in 'roundness' but fairly chimey and nice. The overdrive channel is a different beast though, much more love or hate... The tone controls are before the distortion so don't give much control over the tone. The bass can get very farty very quickly and the amount of gain is a bit limited. That said, if you experiment and you turn it up, you can get very usable sounds.

On the whole, a nice amp. It could be more versatile and there are no doubt better sounding amps, but for the sort of price you can get these, well worth a listen.

Anonymous said...

I have owned an all-original 1x12 combo for 10 years. Until recently it has been under-appreciated and under-priced. But the word is out now and they are hard to find and getting pricey. It is unquestionably a boutique build quality and sounding amp. Most people who hear it and use it are blown away by the versatility and power. A factory Eminence blue label speaker was standard with a factory optional Electro-Voice 12L which has recently been re-introduced by EV. A factory channel switching/reverb pedal was included and has been faithfully reproduced by a third-party builder(see EBAY) and is available on-line. There is a mod available from Steve Jackson who worked with Paul Rivera at Fender (see EBAY)but as I say the original is a wildcat on its own. Try one out if you can and you'll never let it go!

ted "gypsydrummer" said...

just ran across this site. i had one i bought at the old "thoroughbred music"in tampa florida.(now "sam ash". at the time i had a home studio,and that amp was the best and most versatile i've ever owned.

james said...

i just got one these amps. paid 750, put new celestion speaker in new tubes. HOLY COW! in heaven, if you can find one buy it. becoming classicn hard to find. james

Anonymous said...

I picked up one of these at Atomic Music, Beltsville, Maryland. They had just recently got it in early Spring 2012, had it listed at $550, and we made a deal at $500. The amp is in near-perfect condition, with just one minor scratch on the tolex. Original speaker and footswitch. Only fix was a burnt out reverb tube. Love, love, love it!

Anonymous said...

Wow - I have one since 1987 (or so:-)). Never really used it. Thought the seller (private) made a good deal with me (was around 15).
I used it in a school concert - and wham it was broke after 5 minutes! Instead of a fuse there was a piece of aluminium foil.... I got it fixed for another 120 bucks or so. I did not play between age of 15-20 years. Only work and getting wild....:-) with 20 I started to study Jazzguitar and I was feeling that my Concerto would not be good for my Guild XP500.So I never used it again.
However - now 25 years later I still have it! was always with me but never used.
I joined a Countryband right now and so I am searching my right sound. During this process I reanimated my good ol' Concerto.
I love the sound!!!! Using a Fender Strat now. But I was scared about the power and I am happy to passed this Blog! Espacially this one is great. It is part of a blog from Aug 18 2010:

"One other thing: were any of you aware that you can obtain extra gain by plugging in a patch cord between the "send" and "return" jacks of the amp's effects loop (in the back panel)? The gain level can then be adjusted (using the send/return knobs) according to the player's own taste- Don't worry, this is actually a recommended option per the Fender Concert owner's manual. IMO this makes a huge difference in the tone quality of the amp's distortion. "

I just tried it - and guess what;

I am happy as happy one can be - it blows me away. I have sooo much more power - unreal. And finally I was right to keep this amp all the 25 years! Cause now I will use it. And I'll keep until I die! Just felt in love:-)
best Markus

rockitflash said...

I have the 1-12 version,with a custom made matching 1-12 closed cabinet.Best Amp Ever..last year's hot Texas July 4,that amp was outside part of a backline of amps and that amp outperformed every amp onstage for 8hrs straight without a break,and we are talking a relic from 1983...

Anonymous said...

I have one a couple of months now. One Celestion G12 100 watt speaker. Only the original footswitch is missing instead theres some kind of generic footswitch. Like others I notice the gain channel sounds way better when you activate it by hand, that is dont hook up the footswitch.

Not sure if this is a one or two series. How can you tell them apart?