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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Gear »

Permalink Building Surf Amp From Scratch

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Inspired by similar threads here, I have decided to build a Fender surf amp clone. I want to do it from parts rather than a kit. I built my all tube monoblock Hi-Fi amps, all tube preamp and speakers with point-to-point wiring, so I feel very comfortable taking on this challenge. I am probably going with cabinet and chassis from Mojotone, unless somebody has other advice.

I am going with either a brownface or tweed, looking for the classic early 60s sound (I know there is not just one). I will not need a lot of power or reverb as I have a reissue Fender reverb unit.

I have been researching Fender amps for a while and have a lot of schematics and information and am familiar with the different circuit designs. What I don't have is the experience of hearing a lot of different amps, and that is why I am looking for some advice here.

Any input would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Ray

Last edited: Nov 19, 2020 09:16:51

I should specify this will be primarily for studio use rather than gigging.

I don't really jive with the tweed stuff for surf. Tweed bassman and tweed twin are very nice, but for my surf needs, i tend toward brownface fenders or the ampeg v series amps. blackface fenders are a little too mid-scooped for me and I'm not crazy about blackface reverb and tremolo.

brown (blonde) bassman, brown bandmaster, vibrolux, brown showman are all great. the showman being the most challenging.

I also haven't played many of the sought after fenders, so I am building my own. I'm currently building a brownface super (35ish watts, 2x10 + 1x15), and considering a brownface 3x10 bandmaster (have an extra chassis). i'd build a showman, but I don't want to go the route of buying a twin chassis and having to patch it up for correct control placement.

using Mojo for chassis you'll be a little limited in your selection for the brownface stuff. but of course tons of blackface and tweed. there's an ebay seller zachmdhunter or something that I've bought 4 chassis from, including the brownface bandmaster chassis. his stuff seems to be tooled the same as mojo, for example my 6g2 princeton chassis is slightly different where the power cable and fuse go, but it's totally usable.

if you don't care if the holes are in the right place, then your options are greater.

cosmonaut wrote:

I don't really jive with the tweed stuff for surf. Tweed bassman and tweed twin are very nice, but for my surf needs, i tend toward brownface fenders or the ampeg v series amps. blackface fenders are a little too mid-scooped for me and I'm not crazy about blackface reverb and tremolo.

brown (blonde) bassman, brown bandmaster, vibrolux, brown showman are all great. the showman being the most challenging.

I also haven't played many of the sought after fenders, so I am building my own. I'm currently building a brownface super (35ish watts, 2x10 + 1x15), and considering a brownface 3x10 bandmaster (have an extra chassis). i'd build a showman, but I don't want to go the route of buying a twin chassis and having to patch it up for correct control placement.

using Mojo for chassis you'll be a little limited in your selection for the brownface stuff. but of course tons of blackface and tweed. there's an ebay seller zachmdhunter or something that I've bought 4 chassis from, including the brownface bandmaster chassis. his stuff seems to be tooled the same as mojo, for example my 6g2 princeton chassis is slightly different where the power cable and fuse go, but it's totally usable.

if you don't care if the holes are in the right place, then your options are greater.

Thanks for the response. I am more interested in the brownface amps, but have been challenged by the lack of available chassis and cabinets. I found the eBay source you mentioned, so that offers more possibilities. I found a web store Guitar Cabinets Direct that offer a Princeton and Deluxe brownface cabinets for less money than Mojotones, so may go in that direction.

I would suggest looking at the Tweed Vibrolux or Brown Princeton. They are very similar circuits and offer a tremolo to die for. I have one myself, in the form of a Winfield Tremor, and it’s great for a Surf sound. I mostly go between this and an early AC-15 based amp, either of which work for Surf, with the Vox-based amp having slightly less midrange.

The artist formerly known as: Synchro

When Surf Guitar is outlawed only outlaws will play Surf Guitar.
My Guitar WebSite
Dead Thread

synchro wrote:

I would suggest looking at the Tweed Vibrolux or Brown Princeton. They are very similar circuits and offer a tremolo to die for. I have one myself, in the form of a Winfield Tremor, and it’s great for a Surf sound. I mostly go between this and an early AC-15 based amp, either of which work for Surf, with the Vox-based amp having slightly less midrange.

I will take a serious look at those. I am not a purist in the sense that I need the amp to be cosmetically identical to the original amps (though it would be my preference). I care more about the sound. Since blackface cabinets and chassis exist for almost every Fender model, I am considering using those with the brownface or tweed circuit if I have to.

raylinds wrote:

synchro wrote:

I would suggest looking at the Tweed Vibrolux or Brown Princeton. They are very similar circuits and offer a tremolo to die for. I have one myself, in the form of a Winfield Tremor, and it’s great for a Surf sound. I mostly go between this and an early AC-15 based amp, either of which work for Surf, with the Vox-based amp having slightly less midrange.

I will take a serious look at those. I am not a purist in the sense that I need the amp to be cosmetically identical to the original amps (though it would be my preference). I care more about the sound. Since blackface cabinets and chassis exist for almost every Fender model, I am considering using those with the brownface or tweed circuit if I have to.

I use a Winfield Tremor, which is a modification of the Tweed Vibrolux. The Brownface Princeton is similar, although the signal path routes through the twin triodes differently. In my collection, I have quite an array of amps, from Blackface Fenders to Vox circuits to to this Tremor. All of these have their virtues and all are capable of delivering a serviceable Surf sound. The Vox circuits are surprising, but the sound is great.

But the Tremor is the real surprise. It captures the early Surf sound quite well. The Brownface amps were a step between the Tweed amps and the Blackface amps. They were the latest and greatest when Surf hit in the early sixties. It’s the sound many of us seek. It’s not the only valid sound, by any means, but it’s hard to improve upon. The Tremor has the virtue of sounding big, even at living room volumes. I couldn’t recommend an amp more highly.

The artist formerly known as: Synchro

When Surf Guitar is outlawed only outlaws will play Surf Guitar.
My Guitar WebSite
Dead Thread

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