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  1. #1

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    About 18 months ago we got some new neighbors. They are a very nice couple who have involvement in music through karaoke—people in their club told me that she’s their “Queen.” In the past they both played guitar, but quit for a long time. They love my big band and have attended several concerts. They also like to throw house parties and invite us to each one. At their latest one the wife dragged me into their garage to show me the guitar she bought. It was a low-end import solid of no interest to me, but what caught my eye was the attached amp—a Fender silverface Vibrolux Reverb from the early ’70’s.

    The wife said she’s the original owner and they don’t think it’s ever been serviced or even had a tube changed. I went through a list of what it might need to bring it up to date and it’s nothing they want to deal with. There was a time in my life I’d do it for them, but that time is long gone—I not only don’t have the time nor inclination, but don’t even have a suitable work space anymore. They’d like me to sell it for them, preferably as is. Outside of my first view of it, I have not looked it over in depth, so I have no idea what operational condition it’s in. Before I offer it for sale I’ll check it out as fully as I can.

    There are a number of these listed on reverb.com for a range of prices. I suspect it could sit there awhile, so I’d hope to sell it through a guitar forum. Is this is an amp that appeals to jazz guitar players?

    Danny W.

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  3. #2

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    Could be a great find. Especially with original tubes! You'd need a 3 prong ac cord and probably new filter caps (the electrolytics) . The smaller Fender amps were the last to be messed with circuit wise, that one may be an older circuit. You can't go wrong really at a good price, it would be flippable I'd think if you wanted to sell it.

    There are guys here up on this stuff. I've done some minor mods and repairs. Worked a bit on my Silverface Twin Reverb. If it hasn't been turned on in a long time you may want to turn it on slow with a .. arghh forget the name of the device but it applies power little by little.. I made one back in the day using a lamp fixture, a variac maybe..distant memory.

    Or just bring it to a good amp tech.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by 73Fender; 01-09-2019 at 08:28 AM.

  4. #3

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    It appeals to all sorts of players. One of Fender's greatest amps IMO. A just right sized OT for the power, makes for one of the warmer blackface/silverface models.

  5. #4

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    Back in the day VR's were kind of the black sheep of Fender combo amps, you could get them for a song.
    About 20 yrs ago that changed and they've been the most popular along w/ Deluxe and Princeton reverbs.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by 73Fender
    If it hasn't been turned on in a long time you may want to turn it on slow with a .. arghh forget the name of the device but it applies power little by little.. I made one back in the day using a lamp fixture, a variac maybe..distant memory.
    Yes—variac. A light bulb current limiter can work in a pinch:

  7. #6
    Thanks for the comments. I'm hoping to get the amp to my house and check it out next week. The owners have been using it, so no need for a variac or series lightbulb!

    Danny W.

  8. #7
    As I said in my OP, I told the owner what would probably need to be done, and now that I've gone over the amp a bit, I was mostly right. It had a medium level persistent hum, so new filter caps, and howls at certain settings, so new tubes. What gave me pause was the three-wire line cord. The owner told me she had never had work done on it, but I hadn't asked her if she had bought it new. She hadn't, which means I don't know what else had been done to it. She thinks she bought it forty or more years ago, so it probably wasn't heavily modded. It has a broken Intensity pot, but the other controls worked, as does the reverb, the trem, and the footswitch. At settings where it's not howling it really sounds pretty good, assuming you ignore the hum. Looks to be '72-'73.

    Fender Silverface Vibrolux Reverb-amp (Early 70s)-fender-vr-gracie_01-jpgFender Silverface Vibrolux Reverb-amp (Early 70s)-fender-vr-gracie_01_01-jpgFender Silverface Vibrolux Reverb-amp (Early 70s)-fender-vr-gracie_01_03-jpgFender Silverface Vibrolux Reverb-amp (Early 70s)-fender-vr-gracie_01_02-jpg

  9. #8

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    Looks to be in great shape.

    What are they looking to get for it...after applying the JGF discount, of course.

  10. #9

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    The 3 conductor power cord could easily be stock. My '71-2 Twin R. had one.

  11. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Gitfiddler
    Looks to be in great shape.

    What are they looking to get for it...after applying the JGF discount, of course.
    I'm working on that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy Mack
    The 3 conductor power cord could easily be stock. My '71-2 Twin R. had one.
    I took another look and think you are right. It's got a red plug, which is what Fender used back then, and it's got a grounded utility outlet, which I doubt anyone would have updated. The ground switch threw me, but I remember they kept that for awhile since lots of venues still had two-wire outlets, and it's got a center off position.

    Thank you!

    Danny W.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Danny W.
    I'm working on that.



    I took another look and think you are right. It's got a red plug, which is what Fender used back then, and it's got a grounded utility outlet, which I doubt anyone would have updated. The ground switch threw me, but I remember they kept that for awhile since lots of venues still had two-wire outlets, and it's got a center off position.

    Thank you!

    Danny W.
    My ‘73 Vibrolux Reverb also came with the red grounded plug, but it it has the earlier “tail” logo (see picture). I believe the change to the non-tail logo, like the one on your neighbor’s amp, took place sometime during ‘73 or ‘74 (amp experts, please chime in). I have owned three Vibroluxes since the 1960’s and they are really nice amps, right in the middle of the lineup. Reasonable power but not too heavy.
    Keith
    Fender Silverface Vibrolux Reverb-amp (Early 70s)-9fa66dbe-a89b-4e22-bf0a-e123dd9b1eb3-jpg

  13. #12

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    My '80s VR has a ground switch. I don't think I've ever bothered to move the toggle, in 30+ years. It has a replacement plug, but the cord is original. I don't remember if I replaced the plug or if it came that way, but it's certainly a replacement.

  14. #13
    After I started this thread I received several offers on the amp. One asked me to dissect it, which I had no interest in doing, and another tried to convince me it was close to worthless. Since it wasn't my amp and not my money I sold it to the guy who seemed the nicest and offered a reasonable amount to give my neighbor.

    Having no interest in packing this myself I had Fedex do it. They didn't stock a box of the right size, but they have a machine to cut a larger box and fold new flaps automatically. Very cool. The buyer said it was well packed and uninjured when he received it.

    Neither my neighbor's husband nor I have a working back and 50 pounds is too heavy for either of us to lift into an SUV. I sent the buyer the following story about shipping it:

    "My wife & I go out for a walk most mornings after our daily fitness center workout. As we walked past the house of the erstwhile owner of the amp we noticed that the neighbor across the street (Rob) had his garage door open while he’s building garage cabinets. I mentioned to my wife that he could probably help us with the amp. After the walk I called the owner so we could figure out how to get it loaded and he said it was no problem. We walked over to his house and he went across the street to get Rob, who is a burly kind of guy. While the two of us were planning a strategy, Rob picked it up by the handle and put it in the car. My wife was really laughing at this.

    We then drove to Fedex, sans Rob. I went inside and asked the nice young woman at the counter if they had anyone who could help us with something heavy. She said that she could do that. At the car we offered her the two-wheeler we had with us, but she just lifted the amp in both arms and carried it the 100 feet or so back to the store and placed it on the scale. We were all laughing at that. BTW it weighed 47.5 pounds."

    After the buyer had the amp for awhile he sent me the following:

    "I got the amp back from the shop and it works and sounds really good! I could not be happier.
    They recapped it, re tubed it, biased it, and replaced a few components that had drifted far from spec. I greatly appreciate all the help that made this happen. Please give my most sincere thanks to your neighbor."

    Note that my neighbor was thrilled at the outcome, both because the amp had gotten a new lease on life and because she got more money out of it then she had ever expected before she spoke with me about it, and that's after I paid Fedex a chunk for packing & shipping. I was happy to help both sides and enjoyed having a cool old amp in my house for awhile; plus, we get guaranteed invites to all her parties forever.

    Danny W.

  15. #14

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    Danny!I haven't been on the forum in quite a while and was happy to see your post on the vibrolux. I can't thank you enough for all of the work you put in. This is hands down my favorite Fender amp of all time. I play it daily.

  16. #15

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    Great story & outcome for all involved. Thanks, guys!

  17. #16

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    I played though a blackface Vibrolux MANY years ago for a BB concert. It was not mine, it was provided for the event. Being a young lad just beginning to perform, I had never heard of the model. Everyone else was using Twins. It was an AWESOME amp. But I didn't have to move or lift it, so I am surprised to learn that they are that heavy. I would LOVE to see a Tone Master Vibrolux weighing in at around 25 lbs.

  18. #17

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    Another JGO success story! You're a good man, Danny W!

  19. #18

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    This why you're my hero Danny W! You are not only a Cool Guy, but are a fair person who has a good moral compass. Come to think about it that's why I always admired characters played by Steve McQueen and Paul Newman.

  20. #19

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    Here's a good article, by one of the amp experts of recent times Dave Hunter, about why the vintage blackface Vibrolux is so heralded... (apparently, one of the "secrets" is the use of big bottles- 6L6s- with a SMALLER output transformer, to keep the wattage down... louder than a Deluxe, not as loud and breaks up sooner than a Super/Twin... "best of both worlds")

    And yes- if Fender makes a ToneMaster version, I'm in!

    Blackface Fender Vibrolux Reverb Combo - GuitarPlayer.com

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by ruger9
    Here's a good article, by one of the amp experts of recent times Dave Hunter, about why the vintage blackface Vibrolux is so heralded... (apparently, one of the "secrets" is the use of big bottles- 6L6s- with a SMALLER output transformer, to keep the wattage down... louder than a Deluxe, not as loud and breaks up sooner than a Super/Twin... "best of both worlds")

    And yes- if Fender makes a ToneMaster version, I'm in!

    Blackface Fender Vibrolux Reverb Combo - GuitarPlayer.com
    Unless of course one does not like early break-up. Clean head room is important to a lot of us.

  22. #21

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    a VR is gonna break up later than a Princeton or Deluxe, higher wattage, 6L6GC power tubes as opposed to 6V6 tubes in the other amps.
    you'd need to be in a live music setting before a VR starts to crunch
    agree w Hunter they're the most versatile combo Fender.

  23. #22

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    I think they sound great with actual Fender type single coil guitars. But I Actually prefer the Deluxe,Twin and even Pro Reverbs with Gibsons.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    Unless of course one does not like early break-up. Clean head room is important to a lot of us.
    well of course personal taste and application come into play. But this is a jazz forum. Perhaps I should have said "for most players who play blackface Fenders"

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by ruger9
    well of course personal taste and application come into play. But this is a jazz forum. Perhaps I should have said "for most players who play blackface Fenders"
    That was my concern-jazz players normally like a lot of clean headroom, not a lot of break up. Maybe I just didn't understand your point. I also have a Princeton Reverb, a Tone Master Twin, and like the blackface sound.

  26. #25

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    Paul Newman did not portray characters with good moral compasses. He had several roles which were far from that, perhaps most notably in "Hud". And there were others. He was an accomplished actor, and could play many different roles convincingly. John Wayne, OTOH, only made one movie. But he did it many times, with different titles.

  27. #26

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    Congrats on a cool amp!
    I recently picked up a '76 (my birth year) Vibrolux. I love it!

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    Paul Newman did not portray characters with good moral compasses. He had several roles which were far from that, perhaps most notably in "Hud". And there were others. He was an accomplished actor, and could play many different roles convincingly. John Wayne, OTOH, only made one movie. But he did it many times, with different titles.
    And didn't Steve McQueen play a wealthy/selfish thief in "The Thomas Crown Affair?"

  29. #28

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    He played a matricide in "Baby The Rain Must Fall", IIRC. Murdered his mother, I think, but I'm not sure if she was his birth mother. Haven't seen that movie in years.

  30. #29

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    Steve was the Coolest Thief ever,LOL! Paul Newman mostly played the reluctant hero type Cool Hand Luke, Hombre, etc.. Billy the Kidd?

  31. #30

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    FWIW, I left out a word in my post about Paul Newman. I meant to say that he didn't always play characters with good moral compasses, not that he never did. He played a wide range of characters during his long career, across the entire spectrum of good and bad.

  32. #31

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    I guess there are some newer movie stars who try and embody this same Cool trait. But maybe because I was a kid when both Steve McQueen and Paul Newman were in their prime it made feel more believable.
    Great Escape, Magnificent 7, Bullitt, Papillion, etc same for Paul Newman.

  33. #32

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    I liked McQueen from the time he had a western TV series. Both he and Newman were fine actors, and played a broad range of characters.

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by floatingpickup
    My ‘73 Vibrolux Reverb also came with the red grounded plug, but it it has the earlier “tail” logo (see picture). I believe the change to the non-tail logo, like the one on your neighbor’s amp, took place sometime during ‘73 or ‘74 (amp experts, please chime in). I have owned three Vibroluxes since the 1960’s and they are really nice amps, right in the middle of the lineup. Reasonable power but not too heavy.
    Keith
    Fender Silverface Vibrolux Reverb-amp (Early 70s)-9fa66dbe-a89b-4e22-bf0a-e123dd9b1eb3-jpg
    Correct, they changed in '73. I have a '71 with the tail logo and agree with jads57 that it best suits single-coil Fenders. For my Gibson 165, I prefer to plug into the '63 Vibroverb Reissue (with replacement speakers).

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by PMB
    Correct, they changed in '73. I have a '71 with the tail logo and agree with jads57 that it best suits single-coil Fenders. For my Gibson 165, I prefer to plug into the '63 Vibroverb Reissue (with replacement speakers).
    I'm curious... what is it about the Vibroverb that makes you prefer it to the Vibrolux with the Gibson? More headroom, or...?

  36. #35

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    My 76/77 blackfaced VR. My favorite work horse. Portable too. Clean all the way even unmiked in medium venues. It's getting harder and harder to find these here in Europe.
    Attached Images Attached Images Fender Silverface Vibrolux Reverb-amp (Early 70s)-img_2703-jpg 

  37. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by guitarcarver
    Danny!I haven't been on the forum in quite a while and was happy to see your post on the vibrolux. I can't thank you enough for all of the work you put in. This is hands down my favorite Fender amp of all time. I play it daily.
    As I said, it was fun and I was able to help nice people. Note that except for doing some writing and photography I managed to avoid any actual work. I have an amp dolly that I built in the '60's--it's a 1" sheet of particle board sized to hold a Twin Reverb, with 1" high particle board guard rails attached to the top four sides, spray-painted flat black, with four heavy-duty swivel ball casters attache to the bottom. My neighbor's husband wheeled the amp over on a two-wheeler, we both lowered it onto my dolly, then reversed the process to get it back to his house. On our tile floors the dolly takes no effort to wheel around. Rob and the young woman at Fedex did the work part.

    I'm glad you like it so much, as is my neighbor. Ever since that amp was here the Vibrolux models on my Axe-FX III have become among my favorites.


    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    I played though a blackface Vibrolux MANY years ago for a BB concert. It was not mine, it was provided for the event. Being a young lad just beginning to perform, I had never heard of the model. Everyone else was using Twins. It was an AWESOME amp. But I didn't have to move or lift it, so I am surprised to learn that they are that heavy. I would LOVE to see a Tone Master Vibrolux weighing in at around 25 lbs.
    That would be very nice. Note that the JBL-equipped TR that I bought in '64 weighed around 85 pounds.

    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74
    Another JGO success story! You're a good man, Danny W!
    Thank you--I think so too!

    Quote Originally Posted by jads57
    This why you're my hero Danny W! You are not only a Cool Guy, but are a fair person who has a good moral compass. Come to think about it that's why I always admired characters played by Steve McQueen and Paul Newman.
    Thanks too, although no one has ever confused me with either of those two stars. During much of the '70's and '80's people used to think I was Paul Simon and ask for autographs. I would tell them I was taller and a better player, but that he was the better singer and writer.

    Danny W.
    Last edited by Danny W.; 02-17-2020 at 01:39 AM.