Vintage Amp Myths

There are many myths surrounding many vintage amplifiers

The very popular phrase “They don’t make ’em like they used to!” rears its ugly head every time someone seeks an answer as to why their modern reissue amplifier does not sound completely identical to an original example. My retort is always “They never did!” There are always a few questions I have for people who are looking to make their reissue amplifier sound like an original.

  • Do you have an original to compare your reissue to? Who told you it doesn’t sound like an original? 
  • Do you want the sound of a brand new 1959 Bassman (or any other vintage amplifier), or the sound of one broken in and fifty years old? 
  • Are you playing a fifty year old guitar through your reissue amplifier? How can you expect just one piece to reveal the whole puzzle? 

I think you get the idea. Too many people want to plug in their Mexican Stratocaster strung with .009’s and a Big Muff fuzz pedal, and they are really disappointed when their reissue Bassman (or any other vintage-styled amplifier) doesn’t sound ‘right’ to their ears. But if you are not old enough to have played through an original, who are you fooling with your critical review? Certainly not me. You are reading too many bullshit books and web sites. Guitar players can be very neurotic and gullible about their tone. This is why replacement parts are a multi-billion dollar industry. We keep thinking just a pickup change, or a certain chip put inside our Tube Screamer, will having us sounding like a guitar God. We need to take off any rose-colored glasses, and take a cold, hard realistic look at our gear, including the amplifier.

Without much further ado, let’s study some very popular and very prevalent amplifier myths. Click the links below, and go deeper into certain vintage amplifiers than you thought possible.


FENDER 4×10″ BASSMAN By looking over one of the original ‘vintage’ amplifiers, we can hopefully answer some real head scratchers. Or we may come away with even more questions. You’ll get links to my own Bassman head mods, and a biasing ‘Lesson’ that is sure to piss off a few gurus.


MARSHALL MYTHS Explores the many mysteries and legends surrounding this British ‘Bad Boy’. You’ll get links to my own JCM800 mods, and a special biasing ‘Lesson’ that is sure to piss off a few gurus.


p style=”text-align: center;”>VOX AC30

VOX AC30 I haven’t met too many people that own a ‘real’ Vox AC30, but I sure know a lot of people who complain that their reissue doesn’t sound like an original. And I haven’t met too many people who know why an AC30 has ‘that’ sound. Can you explain Class A? How about what makes an ‘open loop’ circuit? Do you know the difference between a 6V6 and a 6BQ5, besides the physical obvious? If you answered ‘No’ to these questions, then you need this primer. Go to it!


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