Silverface Amps - 1967-1981

Posted by Mike Pascale on

In mid 1967, CBS started to deplete the stocks of components they had been using since they bought the company from Leo.  They decided to give the amp a makeover.  The very first silverface amps were only different on the outside, with shiny new silver face plates, some new grill cloth & fancy aluminum trim around the baffle.  Soon after this, CBS decided to alter most of the circuits, making them cheaper to produce, cleaner (and thus “louder”).  Unfortunately, these circuit changes were not for the better.

The good news is that these are still very high quality, hand wired amps made in the USA!  You have heard stock silverface amps on countless recordings (they were a favorite of the Beatles in their later years). These amps can be purchased at a fraction of the price of their blackface counterparts, and can be easily restored, revived & converted to blackface specs!

Given the current prices and quality of these silverface amps, there is no greater bargain available today for the musician seeking only the highest quality of pure tube tone.  For a relatively low cost and with just a little know-how & TLC, these amps can be made to rival their blackface predecessors.

The Tone Quest Report said this of silverface Fenders in their Jan/Feb 2011 issue:
“Silverface Fenders are among the most classically toneful, versatile and affordable amps in the vintage market as long as you’re willing to deal with replacing tubes and speakers, and perhaps a little maintenence…  We respect the living shit outta players that play silverfaces.  In nearly every instance, you’ll be hearing some seriously good music when you see a vintage silverface on stage.”

*Take note*

In late 1977 CBS again altered several circuits in an attempt to make the amps  louder and cleaner.  These are the 70W and 135W model silverface amps.  They have “ultralinear” transformers & more drastic circuit changes.  While they can be made a little softer, they cannot be properly converted to full blackface specs.

These “ultralinear” amps are ideal if you want big & clean; pedal steel guitar for example.

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