Monday, November 17, 2008

1973 Fender Twin Reverb

Story submitted by Alex

Ever had a "too good to be true" moment? The story of this amp is one of those. At some point I got the "vintage Fender amps are so cool" bug, and knew I wasn't going to afford anything but a silverface Fender, if that. I once played a silverface Twin and a Fernandes Tele at Gryphon Strings in Palo Alto, CA, and my recollection was that I couldn't hit a bad note. Fast forward ten or so years.

I found the pictured Twin in a small music store among a lot of new, cheapo stuff. It sure wasn't new, but it was kind of cheap at $450. I could tell that the tolex and grill cloth had been replaced, but I figured that was about it. Oh, maybe the speakers too.

It came with a nifty story about being the house amp at a bar in the Caribbean, where the sea air ruined the original tolex and so forth, necessitating a costume change into the Nudie suit of blonde all around. Still, it was a good deal.

It sounded pretty much what you'd want a Twin to sound like. It had the master volume, but not the pull boost on the knob. Being that I used it as a practice amp, it soon became clear that this massively heavy, loud amp was not the ideal choice for that. I decided to sell it and took it to a local vintage shop, where the guy started to poke around in it. I guess the transformers and the worn tubes were original, and I don't think the scratched and dented faceplate could be anything but original. Just about everything else wasn't, down to the masonite replacement back panels under the tolex. I thought they seemed awfully flexible when I bumped them.

The cabinet itself elicited the comment "well, somebody got an A in wood shop."

I guess the tube chart was missing for a reason. My ears burned, but I stuck around waiting to see if they'd buy it. No dice. Turned out it had a bad master volume pot to boot, which prevented the other store I took it to from buying it. A couple hundred bucks in repairs later, it was the perfect player's amp--running and sounding fine, but far from original and fairly homely, unless your tastes run to not-really-professionally-applied faux-early-60's blonde tolex on a very '70s-era amp. It also ended up with mismatched speakers after one of the magnets fell of—I still don't understand how that happened—one of its unmarked aftermarket speakers, and I replaced it with a newer Fender blue-label one. In the end, I sold it to a nice guy who didn't care about anything but the sound. That's really the way it should be, even though I know I can't ignore aesthetics myself.

I don't really miss that amp, but I'd like to have another silverface Fender one day.

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