You know a design is special when it attains “classic” status not just in its most iconic iteration but in several revamped versions. Such is the Fender Bassman. First introduced in 1952 as a 1x15 combo, the tweed Bassman hit its stride in the late ’50s as the narrow-panel 4x10 5F6A combo, which achieved major crossover success with six-stringers and became known as one of the greatest guitar amps of all time. By 1961, however, the Bassman had evolved beyond all recognition into an amplifier that was very different both inside and out. It was bigger, bolder and more accurately bass-intended. And it proved yet again to be another classic design for electric guitar.
At the turn of that decade, Fender’s tweed combos evolved into two new lineups, both very different from anything that had come before and boldly signaling the way forward for modern guitar-amp production. Aside from the top-mounted Champ, all models had forward-facing control panels enameled with a dark-brown background. The combos were covered in light-brown Tolex, at the time a new, durable vinyl product (the Vibrasonic and Concert in this range actually debuted in 1959), while the head-and-cab models received flashier blonde Tolex cosmetics. The latter comprised what Fender called its Professional Series, a range of “piggyback” sets that helped establish the standard for bigger amps intended for larger venues. It included the powerful Showman, Dual Showman, Bandmaster, Tremolux and Bassman models.
The 1962 Bassman, shown here, is the 6G6B, the third of three rapid iterations of the model following its introduction as the 6G6 a year earlier, and it’s nearly as different inside from its predecessor, the tweed 5F6A Bassman, as it clearly appears outside. Some people like to call the brownface Fenders of the early ’60s a cross between tweed and blackface amps, but as we’ll see, they’re really a lot closer to the latter.
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