I promise the tables will still be there after you finish reading. We also received a report of a tweed 5G12 Concert. The 5G12 Concert is the earliest version from very late and early so the existence of a tweed example, while extremely rare, is certainly plausible since Fender was making lots of tweed amps during the same time period.
Working at FMI — I was able to interview a fellow who wishes to remain anonymous who worked at Fender in in the amp department. Although his job was somewhat limited, his recollections provided some really fascinating insights to how the amps were built. For instance, he confirmed our assumption that the amp chassis were put into stock after being stamped with serial numbers and that the chassis were pulled from the stock bins randomly just as with Fender guitar neck plates.
The boss came around and said what we'd be building. The chassis weren't used chronologically. Probably the same as the pots and transformers that we just dug out of the boxes. I think in the corners of the boxes were older pots remaining from earlier dates I think the better, older hands did 35 a day.
Like I said, there were 5 or 6 of us at the benches every day. But it wasn't always 'cool guitar' amps, sometimes I was making Fender Rhodes Satellite amps on bent aluminum, sometimes only Champs.
I remember two 'suits' from upstairs standing behind me occasionally doing time studies. They actually held clipboards and stopwatches to measure how long it took for me to attach various parts. Of course I tended to hurry more when they were there, and I would fumble more, too.
Same with the little rectifier boards. When we had filled our cart we'd wheel it over to the Chicano chicks. They were something to behold, all chatting away while soldering so quickly, it didn't hardly seem like they were looking at the amps.
After that the foreman would add the tubes, turn 'em on and set the bias. One has to wonder where all those factory original export back panels are! Another interesting tidbit is that a lot of Fenders were imported into Australia in the late s and early s that were stock volt domestic US units.
The Australian Fender Distributor then installed V - V stepdown transformers in the bottom of the cabinets. Note the removal of the voltage selector switch and hard-wiring. Also note the vertical black lines on the control panel found on earliest silverface amps and the large ceramic power resistors coming off the power tube sockets which indicates the AB circuit.
I just discovered that the silverface Bandmaster speaker cabinet the big, tall one without tilt-back legs is ported see photo. I thought they were completely sealed units. One thing we know for sure is that production codes can help date an amp to a particular month within a given model run. Greg and I also disagree about determining production from serial numbers. I will present my hypothesis here and let Greg present his side of the story in a future article. Unlike serial numbers used for most Fender guitars and basses, we know that serial number sequences are unique to a particular model or a family of models of amplifiers.
Because the serial numbers are for a particular model and that chassis were stamped sequentially, is reasonable to assume that the serial number infers the Nth unit manufactured. Some caution is advised since it is likely that not all chassis were used due to defects or that duplicate serial numbers may have been stamped. There is no way to separate out production for these models, but with enough data, we might be able to do some frequency distribution and such to determine a rough estimate.
For the uniquely serialized models, the production estimates using my hypothesis, can be determined from the serial number tables. For example, the serial numbers for 5F6 and 5F6-A Bassman amps run from BM to BM therefore we can conclude that there were about 4, units made. How about those rarebird Vibroverbs? The brown Deluxe is less common at about 4, units made serial numbers run from D to D Anyway, you get the idea.
For instance, the serial numbers for tweed Bandmaster 3x10 run from S to S Remember, this model shares a chassis with the narrow panel tweed Pro and Super.
Therefore, the only thing we can infer is that there were 3, tweed Bandmasters, Pros, and Supers made in total. DATING The tables are pretty much self-explanatory, but here are some guidelines to keep in mind when using the tables to date your amp.
First, the tables should be used as a guide only. Large overlaps in years may be due to lack of sufficient data late s to mid s or simply that the stamped chassis were used way out sequence mid s to early s. Thankfully, these aberrations are pretty rare.
Some serial numbers have a letter prefix plus 4-digits instead of the usual 5- or 6-digits. Likewise there are some serial numbers with an extra digit usually a zero after the letter prefix. Again, these are rare and exceptions to the norm.
Same goes for Princetons made after Case in point; we have documented two factory-original non-reverb blackface Deluxe Amps from January The model was supposedly discontinued in