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That Super Reverb Sound

12/21/1998 3:06 PM
That Super Reverb Sound
I have an all-original '68 Super Reverb, and I need a back-up amp for gigs. I can't afford the $$$ for another old super. I need some suggestions to help me find a newer amp that sounds like the old fender. Thanks  
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12/21/1998 10:10 PM
Michael S.

To be honest, I haven't heard any other 4 X 10 amp, either a combo or separate components, that can match the sound of a Super Reverb. It's become a classic sound, and very desirable.  
It's become SO desirable, in fact, that silver face SRs from the mid-to-late 70s, which will never approach the sound of a BF or early SF SR without some major modification, are commanding what I think are ridiculous prices, at least here in Texas.  
While the prices are high, they probably aren't going to get any lower. Why not consider buying a master-volume-equipped SR and converting it to the AB763 circuit you have in the '68? 'Round here, M/V SRs can be had for $500-600, and while that's not cheap, it sure beats the hell out of the $1000 and up that BF SRs command. And if, by some miracle, the M/V SRs become as collectible as the BFs, you can return it to original specs with minimal hassles.  
Have you checked out any of the dealers on the Vintage Guitar links page ( Sometimes the regional prices can cary to a fairly high degree -- what's popular here (BF and SF SRs and Deluxe Reverbs) may not be that popular in the far Northwest. Check VG magazine, too, though the chances of finding one at a reasonable price in the magazine that hasn't been snapped up quickly are slim.  
If you can find one at an affordable price, all you have to do is convert it to BF specs. Personally, I remove the whole M/V-pull-distort switch and install a presence control in the hole which remained when the M/V went away.  
Hey, it may be worth a shot....
12/22/1998 9:41 AM

I really appreciate your input. I've played many amps, but never have come across an amp, other than another SR, that sounds soo good. I was told by a shop tech that my SR is a rare SF '68 with crome trim around the grill (one year only). Honestly, I haven't seen enough SR to know if the "crome trim" comment is for real. Anyway, your suggestion sounds like the best I've heard, and I like it's simplistic approach to solving my problem. It amazes me that even newer SF SR's, like you say, sound SO different than the original. Thanks for your help!  
12/22/1998 10:38 AM
Michael S.

I think that if you research the schematics, you'll find that the SRs used the AB763 circuit for five or six years, until replaced by the AA1069. Between CBS turning their engineers loose to clean up that "terrible distortion," and the later inclusion of the master volume/pull-distortion circuit, the SRs went from about the sweetest rhythm amp on the planet to something that was not pretty to listen to.  
Modifying a M/V SR to AB763 takes a couple hours and decent technique with a soldering iron, but I think the effort is well worth the time and what small expense is involved (maybe $20 in parts, if you use a 50-watt zener diode to lower the B+ on the outputs.)  
From the 40s until well into the 70s, CBS' record division was considered the absolute cream of the crop as far as recording studios were concerned. Listen to the early-60s Dylan and Simon and Bullwinkle albums to hear just how clean those recording are. Even now there is very little remastering needed to print CDs of those artists 1960-era recording.  
When you turn people whose whole purpose in life is to make perfectly clean recordings loose in a guitar amplifier ocmpany, something has to suffer, ESPECIALLY when the accountants who actually run the company were trying to cut a nickel here or three cents there on the parts cost. Cheaper pots, capacitors, and resistors all resulted in slightly-diminished tonality, with the end result being the harsh beast that the late-70s Super Reverb became.  
Whilst I'm on my rant about the accountants, I'd like to point out that the bean-counters were one of the prime reasons that pickups became worse-sounding as time passed from the time of CBS' takeover and the eventual sale to Bill Schultz. Pickups were eventually farmed out to external suppliers, rather than being built in-house as had been the case since the late 40s. That's the prime reason the "staggered-pole" pickups stopped being produced -- it was cheaper to make all the magnets the same length, and to make them out of a different formula.  
To me, it's a source of absolute confusion that the three-bolt 70s-era Strats are now going for $1000 or more.....
12/23/1998 10:55 AM
IMHO your tech is right about the "rare" chrome trim. I have a DR from '68 that has it, and as far as I know that was the only year that did. (I've never seen a '69 with it, or a 67..) It's the aluminum trim and unique grill cloth that set it apart. The circuit is still "BF" AB763, the wiring is still cloth braid, but a different kind. The caps and resistors are still BF style.  
2 cents: don't worry so much. Just play with your BF Super. Mine never went down at a gig, or in the studio. (Still hasn't after 8 years, knock wood!)  
Another 2 cents, buy a used Bassman RI and tweak it up with some decent tubes. You don't need to totally rebuild the thing.. I have heard some very nice sounding ones that just had good tubes (incl tube rectifier) installed and a good biasing. I haven't priced them lately, but you used to be able to pick them up for $300-400 or so. If you have to tweak it, put the $ into a really top-notch output tranny and killer tubes, not into a new circuit board.  
There's also a nice old Gibson 4x10 amp whose name I can't think of right now.. probably also a good bargain backup.  
A good deal on a SF Super is also a good idea, and depending on how you use it (and set it up) you can get very servicable sounds out of them.
12/24/1998 9:28 AM

Thanks Speedracer for your comments about the SR. The bassman idea has merit. I'm going to look into the local scene for a Bassman and invest in the tweaking. As you know, it's a numbers game. On a different note, have you played a Mesa Trem-0-Verb? They're are way too costly right now, but using the tube recto and set the amp to "spongy" and clean with the gain way down, it sure sounds Fendery. Back to reality, I think I'll go play a used Bassman first (shame on me..I never have). Thanks for you help.  
12/26/1998 8:54 PM
Old Dr. Fuzz
The old Gibson 4x10 is a Ranger, Epiphone made a similar amp- these amps are more suited to jazz, HOWEVER they are great for rebuilding into a Fender-style. The power supply is beefier and there is room for upgraded filter caps but the tone circuits don't have that "Super Sparkle". Remove all parts from the circuit board, clean it with solvent and start over. The output transformer is for an 8 ohm load so the speaker setup still won't match a Super's, but a presence control should help.  
This is a BIG project but I've picked these amps up for less that 200 bucks (as low as 80 bucks w/o speakers.

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