The Amp That Didn't Exist,
But Should Have!

A tour around a Fender Blackface Bassman from 1966 fitted inside a 1×12 cabinet! 

Looks at home in there, what do you say?

Hauling The Gear

Now, the bassman comes in the head / cabinet configuration with a mounting bracket so the head is placed on the cabinet with the so called piggyback setup.

As magnificent as that setup looks, it’s not always convenient of course and these days you’d be carrying 2 flightcases around to protect the goods from road-wear and -tear.

The Idea

At some point I’ve struck upon a picture of a blonde 1×12 cabinet with a blackface amp in it and I fell for it! After doing some research I’ve found out about a company called JD newell, who makes these cabinets to exactly retrofit a fender chassis in them.

Check out their site:


My Amp - The AB-165

So, this amp is a 1966 Fender Bassman amp. The circuitry is an AB-165 though the tubechart states AA165. The difference is minimal and for guitar the AB-165 is slightly more favorable due to the use of an extra gainstage in the pre-amp section. 

In the AA-165, one half of the 12ax7 involved is simply un-used! The transition happened in 65′, where unfortunately the first post-CBS changes occured in these.


On the website fenderguru there’s a great article about this amp and how to optimize it, so you can get the best out of it. The normal channel is very aggressive and bright AF. When set to ‘bright’ on the switch it cuts through glass. The ‘Bass Instrument’ channel sounds a bit underwhelming as it isn’t voiced for guitar and comes across as dull and a bit stiff. 

I didn’t work on that just yet, but I did change the bias system to a 5e3 cathode bias system. The difference, though I’ve found it less apparent then expected, is to soften the response a bit. These are still 50w heavy handed raw amps and the spank is just scary, however it’s also very drivy from 4-5 it breaks up like a Marshall would. It was also like that with the standard bias so maybe something’s off there…

Anyway, it’s sound is raw, dry, pure and perfect especially in recording! If you jumper the 2 channels you get a very user friendly mix-able best of both worlds idea. In another blog-post, I’ll continue on the tech and sound-side of things.

Does the Combo config Work?

Yes, of course it works! It’s only slightly more heavy then a Princeton perhaps, but it’s still just a midsized combo. This one houses a nice Greyback speaker, and though that’s 8 Ohm’s, it’s a nice match for the Bassman amp. 

Ideally though you’d get a single 4 ohm ceramic speaker but the choices are quite limited in the realm of the 12 inch. 

Anyway, when you need to, with the 4 top screws in and out, you’ll get the amp chassis back into the head and you can run it like an original head amp again.   


Do you want to know more about this? Feel free to comment and ask! 

Up untill then, cheers and have a great weekend!

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