More Great Amps for your 335

Never should have sold this 59 bandmaster. This was a great amp for 335s (and for LPs). I just bought another one but i don't think I'll be selling it. 26 glorious (and dirty) watts.

Never should have sold this 59 bandmaster. This was a great amp for 335s (and for LPs). I just bought another one but i don’t think I’ll be selling it. 26 glorious (and dirty) watts.

Since opening my actual brick and mortar shop, I’ve acquired a ton of amplifiers and I’ve learned a few things along the way. There are some spectacularly good amps out there and I’ve had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with a nice range of them. Of course, they are all vintage and all tube (and mostly Fenders). When I opened my shop I had four amps in my shop. Now I have around 25 of them. So what amps really get along well with a 335? The answer? Not all of them.

Humbucker equipped guitars like 335’s (and Les Pauls and SGs) seem to really like certain amps and there is not much rhyme or reason to it but I’ll try to make some order out of chaos. For 335’s, I’ve always been partial to Fender tweeds but as I’ve acquired a number of 60’s black face and silver face amps, I’m expanding my list of great matchups. One thing I’ve noticed is that amps with more than one speaker seem to be more 335 friendly. I love my little tweed Champ but it is a true one trick pony. With virtually no headroom, it is pretty limited. On the other end of the scale, I had a 65 Twin Reverb with JBL’s that sounded magnificent but was so clean that I had to rattle the windows to get any kind of grit out of it. I guess that’s why they invented pedals. Continuing with the Fenders, I was disappointed in the BF Deluxe Reverb I had but I’m finding the early Silver face Vibrolux to be an excellent match. Same goes for the tweed Super, the BF Tremolux and the tweed Bassman.

What’s the common thread here? Ten inch speakers, specifically Jensens (and not the reissues) and more than one of them. My favorite amp of all is the 3-10″ Bandmaster followed by the 2-10″ tweed Super. The 4-10″ Bassman is right behind it but only because it’s so damn loud. BF Tremolux and Vibrolux are right there too. The Gibson GA-79 with P10Q’s is a very 335 friendly amp as well and is the ultimate amp of choice for stereo 345 owners. But, to leave the tens behind for the moment, the BF Pro and the ’63 Vox AC 30 are pretty awesome too. There is another common thread here as well-tube rectifiers. The “sag” associated with this type of circuit seems to play nicely with 335’s as well.

I can’t quantify any of this for a couple of reasons. First, I’m not an engineer and can barely read a schematic. Second, tone is so subjective and with my tired old ears, who knows if I hear just what you hear.  I like enough headroom to cut through the mix with clean tones but I also like the breakup to come on pretty early so I don’t need pedals. And it’s not  just the purist in me. It’s also the fact that I couldn’t afford a big amp when i was a kid, so when it was time to solo, I had to crank the old 64 Princeton to 10 just to be heard. Pure tube distortion was a big part of my tone back in the day. When I finally played enough gigs to afford a big amp, I ended up with a 64 single Showman JBL 15″ (about as clean an amp as there is). Then, the old reliable Fuzztone did the job. Of course, I didn’t play a 335 back then. I could only afford a 330.

Vintage ten inch Jensens (P10R and P10Q) , 6L6 or 5881 tubes and a tube rectifier seem to be a great combination for hum bucker guitars and especially 335's.

Vintage ten inch Jensens (P10R and P10Q) , 6L6 or 5881 tubes and a tube rectifier seem to be a great combination for hum bucker guitars and especially 335’s.


24 Responses to “More Great Amps for your 335”

  1. RAB says:

    Charlie, a fun and important topic. After all, a beautiful, vintage Gibson (or Epiphone!) electric isn’t much good if it can’t be properly heard, eh? I agree on your amp choices. Additionally old piggyback Bassman amps can be a good tonal partner for your 3XX series guitar! I require a clean, loud rhythm sound chunking out fat chords all night long with my Soul band so I swap out the stock Oxford or Jensen speakers for Lansing or EV speakers. Finally, it is important to match the guitar output to the amp input. Early humbuckers generate a lot of output which can overload the input stage of older amps. I’ve found I can get a much better rhythm sound while still having plenty of oomph for solos by lowering the ‘buckers almost flush with the pickup rings. Happy tone searching!

  2. Michael Minnis says:

    Love the Bandmaster, Charlie. I’ve recently been rediscovering tweeds after years of playing blackface amps.

  3. Rod says:

    Totally agree about 10″ speakers for a 335. My favourite amp for the last 20+ years has been a Musicman RD50 110. I know they are not universally liked don’t have the same credibility as early Fender amps, but this amp (I have two of them) sounds better to me than the one I have with a 12″ speaker. Seems to have a sweeter mid range.

  4. RAB says:

    Agree, 10″ speakers can sound good for a humbucker Gibson including thin-line
    models. The powerful pickups can overload amp input stages resulting in a muddy sound. Try lowering the pickups to reduce input levels. Then 12″ and even 15″ speakers can make your ES sound great too!

  5. Dave K says:

    I use Gibson tweed era amps – not everyone’s choice, but my ’63 345 through a 14w 1960 GA18T with a 10″ Jensen is brilliant. And so is the 4w 1956 GA5 with the oval Jensen for practice, and a 25w 1960 GA77 with a 15″ if I need more noise! Gibson tweed amps usually need the odd component replacing and the wiring can be messy. But they are really well built and much cheaper than Fenders, although hard to find here in the UK.

  6. Doug Miers says:

    A lot of great points being made here. The right wattage, the right preamp, the right speaker- all needed to make the difference between great sounding and amazing sounding.The comment was made about matching the amps wattage outage with the size of venue. Absolutely true, and something that has to be learned. I loved my blackface Twin Reverb but a blackface Vibroverb would always out play it. I have almost always played amps with 12″ speakers but a 15″ (as in a ’64 Fender black face Vibroverb) is magical. One final thing, Alvin Lee used 4 speaker cabinets with 1 amp when he played live, and the way the amp loaded made a huge difference.

  7. Richard says:

    Great article. I use the same 1964 Fender Deluxe Rever that I’ve had since I was 14 (1973!) I find it versatile enough for my ES guitars and solid bodies. But yes, I also have come to use my 1966 Bassman and 1966 Vibrolux. Those mid 60s black panel Fenders with the dual 10″ speakers are unbelievable with the ES guitars. The 65-66 black panel Princeton Reverbs are also incredible.
    My new go to weapon- the brown Panel Fender Deluxe amp. Wow! Like the best of Fender in a compact box that can produce even Marshall plexi tones at volume. I think the secret is, like you guys, to keep an open mind and be willing to try new (old :-)) rigs….

  8. Steve Newman says:

    Great to hear personal amp choices from all the above posters. Got a few more lesser known gems to add: brown tolex (between tweed and early BF timeline) Fender Deluxe (not Deluxe Reverb) with upgraded 12 inch speaker of choice, much more pleasing with humbuckers without the reverb circuit. Also early sixties Ampeg Gemini combo with 15″ guitar (not bass) speaker. RAB, this is pretty magical with the early mini-humbuckers installed in the Epiphone thinlines. Also, extra good with ES 345’s. Last, but not least, very early silverface Fender Super Reverb….I actually prefer it to the BF version.

  9. RAB says:

    Steve, I agree re the early 70s silver face Fender amps. The best Vibrolux Reverb I ever had was a 1970 model. It sounded magical. But ya know, I just HAD to have a Blackface so I sold it and laid out big bucks for a ’64 BFVR. It didn’t sound nearly as good as the ’70! Other unsung Fender tone gems are the non-reverb Blackface Princetons and Deluxes…don’t tell anyone, I (and many others) prefer the sound to the reverb models and I’ve owned plenty of both…RAB

  10. Vincent Moser says:

    Great words and picture ( as ever from Charles Gelber , who also wrote one the best ever obituarys about B. B. KING on this page, May 2015) . I agree with the comments. Maybe this is all common knowledge to you all , but I thought I´ll share my thoughts . The last thirty years I played at many small and a few bigger places, using a lot of different amps, mostly ( nearly ) all kinds of Fenders. I never use overdrive or distortion pedals. I play Blues only. No Blues-Rock ( although I liked and still like some of Alvin Lee´s early work a lot. I love early B.B., Freddy, Anson Funderburgh, Michael Bloomfield, Jimmie Vaughan, Kid Ramos and many more. In my humble opinion – and my own experience – the sound of an amp often depends a lot on the position of the amp. It can sound extremly different depending on how it is placed. On the floor of the stage can be good for a bigger venue but it can be bad in a small club for people who sit at tables and get all the piercing highs . So it can be better to tilt it back or put it up on a chair . Sometimes I turn on full treble and no bass and the next time all bass and no treble. And I use the volume-controls a lot. The tone-controls of the guitar can also be very usefull. Not many people seem to use them today. B. B. King used them during his solos a lot not only in the fifties and early sixties and also later. Saw him first time live in 1980 , so I can tell. I played a few times at the famous Hamburg venue called ” FABRIK ” , a big place where B.B King and many others performed . I am a semi-professionel Blues-Guitar-player and played a lot of gigs in different locations Hamburg, Germany, mostly weekends. Currently I play in three bands, one under my own name. And I love a lot of diffenent sounds. From the very bright and cutting tone B.B. King had mostly in the fifties to the often very smooth and fat sounds on LIFE AT THE REGAL. In SWEET LITTLE ANGEL he switched from the bright sound in the intro ( sounds like bridge-pickup to me ) to a fat sustained tone in the one-chorus solo ( sound like neck-pickup with the treble rolled off and full volume to me).
    My current no. 1 amp is ´65 Tremolux ( with the V1 tube pulled out and the PI-tube changed to a 12X7 – thanks to people at the “Fenderguru”-webpage. Seems to give more preamp-gain and less clean headroom ). Because I could not find an orig. cab, I bought an solid-wood, handbuilt and very light cab from a German mail-order-company called TubeTown with a PQ12 AlNiCo Vintage Jensen ( 4 ohms ) Reissue. Sounds good to me. If you want a small reverb-unit, the EH Nano Holy Grail Reverb can sound good – if you can´t find or afford a ´63 Fender Reverb unit or just don´t want to carry one around.

  11. Vincent Moser says:

    Urrgh.. I made a horrible mistake ! I wanted to write that my thoughts about amps might be all common knowledge, not my life as Blues-player ! Sorry !

  12. James says:

    Anyone like a VOX AC30? Seems like a swiss army knife of amps.

  13. Kenny Leiby says:

    My 2016 ’58 335 plugged into my 2-10 tweed Super IS a great matchup.

  14. Vincent Moser says:

    Hell James ! Yes, in my opinion Kid Ramos sounds great with his ´68 AC 30 and the Fender Reverb both with his ´59 Esquire and the glorious ´52 blonde ES 5 . I had a rare early sixties AC 30 head with the original separate 2×12 cab for a while in the 1980s. Sometimes I used it with a tiny yellow Mesa/Boogie-look-a-like Yamaha GA-5 , not as a preamp for overdrive, but for its real build-in accutronics-spring-reverb. Swapped it for a SF Super Reverb. Later somebody told me that the Vox had caught fire during a gig and burned down. The guy I swapped the amp with never complained.

  15. James says:

    Would have been really funny if it happened during a fast solo.

  16. James says:

    Would have been really funny if it happened during a fast solo.

  17. James says:

    Would have been really funny if it happened during a fast solo.

  18. Steve Newman says:

    Vincent is quite right about physical placement of the amplifier, regardless of brand or type. Acoustic frequencies are attenuated in both good AND bad ways by the material, the surface finish, and the coupling of the amp or cabinet on which it is in contact. Hard surfaces are more reflective, while softer surfaces absorb more frequencies; also the surrounding acoustic environment (other objects, open or cluttered stage, size of the stage, if it is very solid or flexible (hollow), drapes, windows (glass), etc. I tend to favor smaller, open back combos or cabinets for their more “singing” qualities. The sound of the speaker is also coming out of the back of the open cabinet. In my trial and error experience over many decades of playing, I have found getting the amp off the floor in a chair , amp stand ,or low table and tilting it back with enough angle so that it is aimed at the middle of my back, at minimum six to eight feet behind me, gives the most open and neutral sound. It seems to give the amp more tonal versatility, too (the tone controls on the amp seem to have a broader range to my ears because they are being less influenced by the environment and you can hear the amp more accurately). Basically, you are setting the amp up to act as a stage monitor such as a vocalist would use. Try it and see if you like it. YMMV.

  19. RAB says:

    Good points Steve. Our band (6 pieces with horns) frequently plays at a coal Italian restaurant. The stage is small and not very deep. As a result my amp (usually my ’64 Fender Princeton) is only a couple feet behind me. I use a small amp stand that angles the amp back around 30 degrees. Seems to work pretty well but it’d sound better if it could be 5-6 feet back. And the bartenders and waiters still complain they can’t hear customer drink and food orders…gimme a break, the amp is only 12 watts and not dimed either! :>{

  20. chuckNC says:

    Roger I envy you, getting to play with a horn band. I only got to play *guitar* once with one. I played bass in my high school’s Jazz Lab. We did a chart called “Super Blues” and our band director let anyone take a solo who wanted to. I brought my strat to practice and had a ball taking a couple choruses but my guitar solo was nixed. He said the band didn’t sound right without my bass underneath so I returned to my designated instrument (and a bass solo instead)… But I’ll never forget being Terry Kath for a couple minutes!

    As for amps, I never know how my guitars are going to like a particular amp till I pair them up. Sometimes I’m surprised. If it sounds good, it IS good. I tend to like ceramic speakers with bucker guitars. Fender amps seem to like the bass down and the treble up, I’ve noticed. Small stages are tough for amp placement. You have to make sure the audience hears the right thing, even if you can’t. But I hate not hearing the right stuff myself. Aarrgghh!

  21. RAB says:

    Chuck, I agree. If you aren’t hearing correctly it is hard to play your best and give your best performance to your audience! RAB

  22. Steve Newman says:

    RAB, since you are so confined in your stage space, try raising the amp higher off the floor and aiming it at your shoulders/head… will find you can actually play at a bit lower amp volume and hear yourself better at the same time….helps with the volume complaints from those snarky waiters! Also the amp will sound clearer (slightly less bottom) with no loss of mids, which I assume you want with comping chords behind a horn section. When you do get to let ‘er rip for a solo, having the amp elevated will let your sound cover more of the stage, too, without loud volume levels. This technique has been used by many. many players over the years…….I saw the Doobie Brothers in concert many years ago using their stage amps up at the front of the stage, tilted back up at the band, exactly like stage vocal monitors. Hope this helps; try it on your next gig!

  23. Vincent Moser says:

    @ James: I was lucky : in more than 30 years that never happend to me.

  24. Vincent Moser says:

    @ Steve Norman: thank you, Norman. You explained it all much better than I did. And like you, I prefer open-back amps/cabinets. I´ve seen many full-professionel players live in my hometown Hamburg, Germnay who often played through amps that were rented for touring. And they all sounded greatt no matter what the brand and the model. I´ve seen B.B. King with silverface twin reverbs and with other amps. One time he used a Crate in a big hall called the “SAS Congress Center” and he sounded great as ever. I saw Fab.-T-Birds with Jimmie Vaughan in 1980 using a BF Super Reverb and in 1986 he had two SR-Twin Reverbs with Celestions and he sounded like he did before.
    I was often invited as a special guest to sit in with befriended groups and musicians at the “Downtown Blues -Club” , Hamburg , and other places and usually I didn´t had an own amp with me and so I played with what was there. I learned a lot at these sessions . Sometimes I feel I play better when I don´t have my own amp and somebody elses´ guitar.
    Here is video with me from a small and really nice club where I used a DRR and a 1995 Dot-Neck.Reissue; bridge-pu with full treble and maybe half volume , then neck-pu with full volume and the treble rolled completly off. I switched between the settings

    I´d like to add that although I usually play only Blues ( B.B./ Freddy – styles and Chicago-style – Muddy and Jimmy Rodgers). I also love the early swing-jazz-players like Charlie Christian , Barney Kessel and so on. And I also like Chuck Berry.

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