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Old 05-20-2016, 04:10 PM
John Cubbage John Cubbage is offline
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Default Bass Amp History

Maybe it will be interesting for start a thread that will discuss and record information about various developments in bass amplifiers.

I got started wit bass guitar and bass amps in 1959 and later worked in a large music store in Red Bank School of Music which later became Red Bank Music. It was owned and operated by Seymour (Sy) Lowy and his wife Carolyn. They were located in Red Bank, New Jersey (U.S.A.).

My first experience with bass amps was when I began playing the bass guitar in 1959. I was taking lessons at the above music school / store. My first bass guitar was a Magnatone - solid body, sunburst, white pick guard, maple neck, which had round wrapped steel strings. I tried out two different bass amps which were the following:

1959 Fender Bassman - It was a one piece with a tube amp, had four 12" Jensen heavy duty bass speakers, two channels, and was covered in a tan and brown tweed fabric with a dark brown woven grill. This is the amp that I ended up purchasing and used until 1986, when I sold it in Fayetteville, NC. It was a fine and dependable piece of equipment and I used it in combos, in recording studios in NYC, and sometimes in pops concerts with the North Carolina Symphony.

The other bass amp I experienced in 1959 was a Magnatone Bass Amp. It was a tube amp, one piece, I think it had one huge speaker, and was covered with dark brown fabric. It was about as long and tall as a teacher's desk in school but was not as deep. I just couldn't see moving it around, so I chose the Fender Bassman.

Maybe we can record other historical facts about bass amp development. Feel free to pile on!

- Dr. C.

Last edited by John Cubbage; 05-21-2016 at 12:15 PM. Reason: Small addition of information
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  #2  
Old 05-20-2016, 04:47 PM
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Cool well..

In my buying and selling phase in NY, I picked up a Kay with an old Ampeg bass amp c.1948 or so. Made by the Ampeg Bass Amp Co, NY, NY. !

It had white pant mixed with sawdust (so it seemed) as the color. One 15" speaker and maybe about 10 watts. I used it in my NYC Apt. for lessons and it had that old Juke box sound. Deep and smooth tone and enough volume for anything I would do there. A student of mine flipped over it and I sold it to him.

In and around 1968, I had ordered the new Ampeg B25 from the catalog at Manny's in NY. It never came in and maybe never made it into production. They had in stock, the Last B18 portaflex bass amp left, 18" Goodman? speaker. So, I bought that instead. Either before or after, can't recall, I bought a B12 amp as well. I played B15s all over NYC in studios and Shows but never owned one of my own.
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Old 05-20-2016, 05:36 PM
Eric Hochberg Eric Hochberg is offline
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My first bass amp was late 60's when I started playing in high school. It was a Baldwin with a 15" and 12" speaker. I remember it as being a good, solid amp. I bought a Dual Showman cabinet when I got to college, but for the life of me, I can't remember what I powered it with... The guitar player in my college rock band was using the Baldwin and dug it. I also started using a borrowed Kustom amp with three 15" speakers for our big gigs.

My first amp as a pro player in Chicago (1974) was a Sunn Concert head paired with a Sunn folded cab design with an 18" speaker. Killer bass guitar rig that I had heard Paul Jackson using with the Headhunters band. Not so great for double bass though and a ***** to carry up to my second floor apartment.

Next, and through the end of the 70's, I used the Concert head with a custom 15" plus six Bose speaker cabinet from a local builder.

Looking back, some crazy stuff...
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Old 05-21-2016, 10:48 AM
John Cubbage John Cubbage is offline
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Default More on Ampeg Bass Amps

We're collecting some good information on the history of bass amps. Maybe it will help somebody if they try to restore an amp.

I remember the Ambeg Bass Amp in the early to mid 1960s. I saw two models, a B-18 and I think there was a B-15 (I'll stand corrected on that). They were made of thick plywood with a dark blue vinyl covering that had a parquet pattern embossed in about 3/8" squares. Corners were capped in nickle plated metal. The top lifted off which contained the tube amp. You flipped it over and sat it back on the top of the speaker box. There was a translucent piece of plastic (Lucite?) that lit up and said "Ampeg" when the amp was turned on. It had 4 wheels on the bottom and boy it needed them. These units were heavy!

Ampeg was a good brand. My brother had an Ampeg guitar. It was solid body, good pick-ups, and had a red finish. Real quality. They made bass guitars, too.

Ampeg also made a pick-up system for acoustic double basses. It had a mike on the top of a long end pin. A wire connected to the end pin above the rubber tip. The other end of the wire plugged into the bass amp. In addition, the microphone system also had a heavy chrome plated contact mike that had a volume knob and sat under the arch of the bridge. A screw held this mike in place with pressure against the top of the bridge's arch. It was a sound killer in that it acted like a mute when playing without the amp. A wire connected this contact mike to the mike inside the bass. I cut the contact mike off and just used the inside mike on the end pin.

Ampeg also made the "Baby Bass." It was an electric upright with a small fiberglass body and a long end pin. It was probably the original electric UB. I still have the original demo record distributed to dealers that Sy Lowy at Red Bank Music (NJ) gave me. Guess who demonstrated the instrument? That's right, Gary Karr! He played some impressive stuff and spoke the sales pitch for the instrument.

I digress, but you were speaking of Manny's Music Store. I bought my first double bass there in 1963. Manny's was recommended to me by a big band arranger and teacher of mine at Red Bank School of Music, by the name of Parker Lee. The bass was a used John Juzek (sp) 3/4, viol shaped, carved, factory bass. $250 and it's yours, kid. This bass had a neck almost as thick as a baseball bat. Later, I got the courage to trim the neck down.

Good information, people. Maybe a book can come out of this.

- Dr. C.

Last edited by John Cubbage; 05-21-2016 at 12:04 PM. Reason: Added Information and corrections
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Old 05-21-2016, 12:14 PM
John Cubbage John Cubbage is offline
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Default Sunn and Kustom

[quote=Eric Hochberg;27786]My first bass amp was late 60's when I started playing in high school. It was a Baldwin with a 15" and 12" speaker. I remember it as being a good, solid amp. I bought a Dual Showman cabinet when I got to college, but for the life of me, I can't remember what I powered it with... The guitar player in my college rock band was using the Baldwin and dug it. I also started using a borrowed Kustom amp with three 15" speakers for our big gigs.

My first amp as a pro player in Chicago (1974) was a Sunn Concert head paired with a Sunn folded cab design with an 18" speaker. Killer bass guitar rig that I had heard Paul Jackson using with the Headhunters band. Not so great for double bass though and a ***** to carry up to my second floor apartment.


I remember the Fender Dual Showman two piece amps, and I recall that the Kustom amps were big but had no experience with them. I was not familiar with the Baldwin or Sunn amps. I was out of the bass amp market news by the early 1970s, so you'll be among the experts with information about them.

- Dr. C.
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Old 05-22-2016, 02:28 PM
Shawn Charniga Shawn Charniga is offline
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The 1959 model year Fender Bassman had four 10" speakers, not 12", and the original Ampeg Bass Amp was not at all the same as the later Portaflex amps. It was a one-piece combo with an open back and the circuitry mounted to the bottom panel of the cabinet. A friend has one from 1958 and says the low-end extension is extraordinary even by modern standards.

My first amplifier was a tube-powered reel to reel tape player.

{shudders}
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Old 05-22-2016, 03:21 PM
Michael Cahill Michael Cahill is offline
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I owned a couple of those Ampeg Portoflex amps and they were great. My first one was lost in a fire along with a Fender Precision and a plywood upright. The second one had "The Royals" etched into that plastic piece. A piano player using a Roland keyboard introduced the band as Roland and The Royals on a GB gig. That amp was brought to Japan by a sax player who had a bass player eagerly waiting there. I use a Polytone now and years ago, had one of their pickups.
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Old 05-23-2016, 10:30 AM
John Cubbage John Cubbage is offline
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Default Ampeg Portaflex Amps

Yes. I think the Ampeg bass amps in the 1960s that had the flip top were called "Portaflex." Thanks for that detail.

- Dr. C.
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Old 05-28-2016, 12:54 PM
John Cubbage John Cubbage is offline
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Default Fender amps sold to CBS

Fender amps had an excellent reputation up until the mid to late 1960s. At that time, Fender sold the amp division to CBS. When that happened, the Red Bank Music store began to get a lot of returns from the CBS factory productions with amp problems and blown speakers. The new company stopped using Jensen (blue/green) speakers and began installing their own (painted black) without a label. At the time, many players longed for the older Fender amps. Soon after that I went to college and stopped keeping up with the bass amp news.

Many popular groups used the two piece Fender Bassman and Dual Showman amps. A lot of groups performed at the Asbury Park Convention Center on the Boardwalk. The Beach Boys appeared there a number of times with their Fender amps. On at least one occasion the Beach Boys rented Fender amps from Red Bank Music for their performance.

- Dr. C.
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Old 06-01-2016, 03:31 PM
John Cubbage John Cubbage is offline
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Fender bass amp circa 1959 was one piece plywood covered in a tan material with a darker brown small hound's tooth print on it. The speaker grill was a dark brown color (woven) material.

Later in the early 1960s the covering material went to a light tan solid color (no print) with a kind of hide grain or pebble impressed on it. The Fender bass amp went to two pieces: the large speaker box and the smaller amp box that went on top of the speaker box. The speaker grill remained a woven dark brown color.

In the mid 1960s the covering material went to a a solid black color with a pebble finish. The speaker grill material went to a silver grey woven material.

-Dr. C.
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Old 03-02-2017, 01:04 PM
Gerry Grable Gerry Grable is offline
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Default Lost post!

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Cubbage View Post
Yes. I think the Ampeg bass amps in the 1960s that had the flip top were called "Portaflex." Thanks for that detail.

- Dr. C.
I just spent an hour writing a story of my first Ampeg B-15 and Fender Jazz bass which I bought in 1969 and still use.
Unfortunately, when I clicked "send" it told me I was no longer logged in, and poof the post was gone.
What a system!
Gerry Grable
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Old 03-03-2017, 09:13 AM
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Ken Smith Ken Smith is offline
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Exclamation oops

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerry Grable View Post
I just spent an hour writing a story of my first Ampeg B-15 and Fender Jazz bass which I bought in 1969 and still use.
Unfortunately, when I clicked "send" it told me I was no longer logged in, and poof the post was gone.
What a system!
Gerry Grable
Sorry about that but many systems to log you out if you wait a real long time. What I have done in the past if it's going on and on and taking breaks is, copy the text written in case that happens.

Ever do banking on line? You take a phone call, come back and.. you are logged out!

Stuff happens.
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Old 03-07-2017, 12:26 PM
Gerry Grable Gerry Grable is offline
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Default Logged out

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Smith View Post
Sorry about that but many systems to log you out if you wait a real long time. What I have done in the past if it's going on and on and taking breaks is, copy the text written in case that happens.

Ever do banking on line? You take a phone call, come back and.. you are logged out!

Stuff happens.
Yes. Sorry for getting annoyed. Maybe In the future I'll try to write it, I don't know where? and try to cut and paste or copy and paste?
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