WEDNESDAY, JULY 23, 2014
Thursday, 25 August, 2011 22:59

1970 Fender Dual Showman Reverb Review

All tube, dual channel 80w amplifier head. This one was a TFL5000x ('X' denoting export market, UK in this case) early silver face, non master volume model. Effects included on-board valve driven Vibrato  & reverb (wonderful according to my amp tech).

It is effectively a head only version of Fender Twin Reverb, accompanied in its day by a towering 2 x 15 Fender speaker cab. Sadly, it didnt come with the 2 x 15 cab, and I had experimented with different set-ups over the years with open back 2 x 12 cabs to replicate the twin reverb sound, but eventually settling on a compact 4x12 Marshall cab.

fender-dual-showman-reverbConsidering the lack of speakers, its a heavy amp, which partly explains why Twin Reverbs are so heavy. Very loud and clean all the way up. When these amps were designed in mid-60's, manufacturers were still seeking clean, undistorted power.

Build quality is excellent, which is to be expected as these amps weren't cheap. The  non-master volume early silver face ones such as this example, although CBS era, were spared many of the unpopular 'improvements' made.

I had owned this amp for 20 years, and in that time, played everything from super clean in a soul band with nothing but a dash of reverb, to 90's era digitally processed rock and most styles in between. It is a loud amp and needs to breath to sound good, meaning that unless using it for rehearsals or gigging, its not really suited as a bedroom amp. I cant ever remember running out of headroom, even when playing outdoors.

Once dialed in, I received numerous comments from other guitarists over the years, particularly following each other on the bills of festivals, that it was one of the best guitar tones they had ever heard, and always get asked about it when I did. It is a little known fact that Hendrix used Dual Showmans in the Studio. This will nail that Hendrix sound with drive pedal & a strat.

This amp never let me down and it was gigged a lot back then. The only time it failed was after driving down a bumpy track to a remote farmhouse for an audition, one of the transformers bolted underneath the chassis worked loose.

Good Points

One of the cleanest, richest tones you'll ever hear. A genuine slice of 60's tone at less cost than some of the reissues on the market.

Bad Points

Too loud for small venues. Maybe get a combo as well. And heavy. Very heavy.

Would I Buy Another One?

Hell yes. I regret to this day selling it. There's nothing like a beautiful piece of history clearing its lungs in a live music venue.  I personally hate to see vintage instruments stored away. You could argue that tube amp design was at its pinnacle & hasn't improved since these were produced. More versatile maybe. Better sounding or more reliable ? no. They tried to improve these in the 70's and look what happened.

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