Author Topic: Vintage *FAKE* Fender Amp  (Read 10437 times)

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vigilante397

Vintage *FAKE* Fender Amp
« on: January 19, 2016, 02:48:39 AM »
This is kind of an interesting find I acquired over the weekend. A guitarist I used to play in a band with wanted a distortion pedal for his current project (he sold his old gear when our band broke up) but didn't have any money, so he offered me this. It didn't work at first (one of the connections to ground had come unsoldered, piece of cake), but is a great sounding amp.

The story he was told and that he passed on to me was that in the early 50's the Japanese had been making fake (not clones, just straight up counterfeit) Fender guitars and amps, and some of the US soldiers that were stationed over there picked them up cheap and brought them home. He assured me that it was super rare, but I'm not really sure one way or the other.

What I am sure about is that the tubes that were in it looked very old and were Japanese, and many of the components say made in Japan. It looks like the circuit is relatively well-designed, the enclosure and hardware not so much. The circuit is point to point with a couple tag boards here and there for structural integrity and convenience. It uses a pair of 12AX7s in the preamp and a single EL84 for the power section. The controls are volume, bass, treble, and tremolo. The output is comparable to many 5 watt tube amps I have played so that's about what I assume it to be. The strangest thing to me so far is that the box is relatively large but they only put a single 8" speaker in it, which will break up right about the same point the amp does. Another odd point was that in place of an independent power switch the on/off was connected to a switch on the tremolo pot. Not volume, as is sometimes found, but for some reason on the tremolo.

I had to replace all of the pots as they were past the point of cleaning, and I took the chance to install a proper on/off switch. The faceplate is so worn it's unreadable, so I re-labelled it with sharpie until I am able to get a replacement on it. I replaced the speaker with another 8" I had lying around because it was pretty well shot and frankly it sounds very good. The clean is very rich and balanced and I can get a gentle breakup before the speaker starts to disagree. I tried disconnecting the speaker and running it through a 2x10 cab and a 1x12, and I liked the 12 better so I ordered a 12" Celestion for it. Through the larger speaker I can crank it to hear the full gain sound, and it is sweet! I don't think it will replace my main gigging amp, but it will definitely be one I keep around for a different flavor in recording.

Sorry to write so much before even posting pictures :P Here ya go (click for full-size):



Get a load of that super convincing logo!







The orange drops look a little out of place, so either this was repaired/modded or orange drops just last forever :P Also, the fuse holder was top-mounted, I moved it to the inside temporarily to accommodate the power switch. I plan to put it back on top when I re-do the chassis.




So anyway, I promise this will not be my only post on this because I will be doing A LOT of work on this thing. I plan on doing the following (and have already ordered parts):

- Replace tubes, Sovteks all around
- Replace speaker, Celestion Rocket 50 (it was the cheapest one I could find and I'm on a budget :P )
- Replace chassis; this is a big deal as the way it's currently mounted is already starting to fall apart. Mounting everything (especially transformers) to the back of a vertical thin sheet of metal was not the best idea!
- Replace super sketchy 2-prong power cord with a 3-prong cord (I'm a player, not a collector, so I view this as essential for vintage amps)
- Replace pilot light; it works, but the jewel is missing and I can't find one that matches the threading
- Replace logo with actual Fender logo; obviously not a big deal, but it makes me happy ;D
- Replace knobs with vintage style Fender knobs; same as above ;D
- Replace power switch with one that actually looks nice, not just whatever was in the parts bin :o

I thought briefly about stripping it completely down and re-doing the tolex, maybe with a nice tweed covering, and also replacing the grill cloth, but since I have never done either of these before and I hear they can be tricky I decided against it.

So the big question is does anybody out there *cough* *Paul* *cough* know anything about these other than what I was told?

Less important question, is there anyone out there that is comfortable working tolex and/or grill cloth that could help me out if I can get this to you? ;D
"I'm not sure what "serious design flaws" you see. Does it explode or poison your dog?" - PRR

"Tayda's Whipping Boy"

http://www.sushiboxfx.com

mth5044

Re: Vintage *FAKE* Fender Amp
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2016, 08:52:32 AM »
That's a cool find! Looking forward to see what you discover.

If your friend is to be believed, the Japanese would have had to be ahead of Fender by about a decade as far as looks. It wasn't until the mid 60's (63 I think) that fender started making amps with black tolex, the black face amps. Silverface, black tolex even later, mid to late 60's. From the late 40's to the end of the 50's it was all tweed. TV fronts at first, then the wide pannels. The turn of the decade (into the 60's) was when things started to blend, blondes and brown faces that bridged the gab between tweed and blackface.

I may have missed the part where you said the amp was refinished, but I'd guess the amp was made much later than what your friend reckons.

vigilante397

Re: Vintage *FAKE* Fender Amp
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2016, 10:44:52 AM »
If your friend is to be believed, the Japanese would have had to be ahead of Fender by about a decade as far as looks. It wasn't until the mid 60's (63 I think) that fender started making amps with black tolex, the black face amps. Silverface, black tolex even later, mid to late 60's. From the late 40's to the end of the 50's it was all tweed. TV fronts at first, then the wide pannels. The turn of the decade (into the 60's) was when things started to blend, blondes and brown faces that bridged the gab between tweed and blackface.

I may have missed the part where you said the amp was refinished, but I'd guess the amp was made much later than what your friend reckons.

Good to know :) It doesn't look like the amp has been refinished, so it seems safe to assume it's nowhere near as old as he said it is. I guess the main thing that made me want to think it was that old was the circuit; the oldest actual Fender amp I've worked on was a 1959 tweed deluxe, and even on a 1959 they were using eyelet board for the circuit. In my mind it just made sense that point-to-point was an older layout than turret or eyelet boards, but obviously there was nothing stopping people from doing it in the 60's or 70's or even today.

As a side note, one of the main reasons I want to refinish it is that the tolex doesn't look anything like the tolex found on Fender amps or frankly any others, more like a thin vinyl covering you might see on an ugly old couch :P
"I'm not sure what "serious design flaws" you see. Does it explode or poison your dog?" - PRR

"Tayda's Whipping Boy"

http://www.sushiboxfx.com

amptramp

Re: Vintage *FAKE* Fender Amp
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2016, 11:45:45 AM »
Some manufacturers used either a tremolo or tone control for the ON/OFF switch because the volume control was where small signal levels were found and AC hum could be picked up.  A tremolo is an oscillator with a relatively high signal level and tone controls usually came after an amplifier stage so they were relatively immune to AC pickup as well.  Of course a separate switch was even better.

bluebunny

Re: Vintage *FAKE* Fender Amp
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2016, 01:14:05 PM »
This is kind of an interesting find I acquired over the weekend.

Eek!   :icon_eek:

Quote
- Replace tubes, Sovteks all around
- Replace speaker, Celestion Rocket 50 (it was the cheapest one I could find and I'm on a budget :P )
- Replace chassis; this is a big deal as the way it's currently mounted is already starting to fall apart. Mounting everything (especially transformers) to the back of a vertical thin sheet of metal was not the best idea!
- Replace super sketchy 2-prong power cord with a 3-prong cord (I'm a player, not a collector, so I view this as essential for vintage amps)
- Replace pilot light; it works, but the jewel is missing and I can't find one that matches the threading
- Replace logo with actual Fender logo; obviously not a big deal, but it makes me happy ;D
- Replace knobs with vintage style Fender knobs; same as above ;D
- Replace power switch with one that actually looks nice, not just whatever was in the parts bin :o

Soooo... pretty much everything.   ;)

I guess you could keep the wood?   ;D
Ohm's Law - much like Coles Law, but with less cabbage...

mth5044

Re: Vintage *FAKE* Fender Amp
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2016, 01:27:39 PM »
This is kind of an interesting find I acquired over the weekend.

Eek!   :icon_eek:

Quote
- Replace tubes, Sovteks all around
- Replace speaker, Celestion Rocket 50 (it was the cheapest one I could find and I'm on a budget :P )
- Replace chassis; this is a big deal as the way it's currently mounted is already starting to fall apart. Mounting everything (especially transformers) to the back of a vertical thin sheet of metal was not the best idea!
- Replace super sketchy 2-prong power cord with a 3-prong cord (I'm a player, not a collector, so I view this as essential for vintage amps)
- Replace pilot light; it works, but the jewel is missing and I can't find one that matches the threading
- Replace logo with actual Fender logo; obviously not a big deal, but it makes me happy ;D
- Replace knobs with vintage style Fender knobs; same as above ;D
- Replace power switch with one that actually looks nice, not just whatever was in the parts bin :o

Soooo... pretty much everything.   ;)

I guess you could keep the wood?   ;D

And some transformers! ... hopefully

J0K3RX

Re: Vintage *FAKE* Fender Amp
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2016, 01:33:41 PM »
Doesn't matter what you did to get it... If it sounds good, then it is good!

vigilante397

Re: Vintage *FAKE* Fender Amp
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2016, 06:00:35 PM »
http://svvintageamps.com/dating.php

Does it smell old?

It doesn't have a serial number, and none of the pot or transformer codes match any of the ones on that site :P

I guess I would say it smells old, but my friend and his father are both chain smokers, so it smells more like stale smoke than anything ::)
"I'm not sure what "serious design flaws" you see. Does it explode or poison your dog?" - PRR

"Tayda's Whipping Boy"

http://www.sushiboxfx.com

bluebunny

Re: Vintage *FAKE* Fender Amp
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2016, 03:19:34 AM »
it smells more like stale smoke than anything ::)

Ah, "mojo".   8)   You can tell people it's been gigged in smoky blues clubs since the dawn of time...   ;)
Ohm's Law - much like Coles Law, but with less cabbage...

duck_arse

Re: Vintage *FAKE* Fender Amp
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2016, 09:24:22 AM »
so those two have found a way of getting the smoke in?
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vigilante397

Re: Vintage *FAKE* Fender Amp
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2016, 10:28:15 AM »
so those two have found a way of getting the smoke in?

Mind you this is just regular smoke, not magic smoke. Once the magic smoke has been released it's impossible to get back in ;D
"I'm not sure what "serious design flaws" you see. Does it explode or poison your dog?" - PRR

"Tayda's Whipping Boy"

http://www.sushiboxfx.com

ElectricDruid

Re: Vintage *FAKE* Fender Amp
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2016, 10:40:20 AM »
so those two have found a way of getting the smoke in?

Mind you this is just regular smoke, not magic smoke. Once the magic smoke has been released it's impossible to get back in ;D

Hey, don't knock magic smoke till you've smoked it! ;)

Nice amp. Quirky, in the best possible way. I have a old Carlsbro amp from the early seventies (the last valve amps they made) with a similarly chequered past!

T.

Hatredman

Re: Vintage *FAKE* Fender Amp
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2016, 04:33:18 PM »
I plan on doing the following (and have already ordered parts):

- Replace tubes, Sovteks all around
- Replace speaker, Celestion Rocket 50 (it was the cheapest one I could find and I'm on a budget :P )
- Replace chassis; this is a big deal as the way it's currently mounted is already starting to fall apart. Mounting everything (especially transformers) to the back of a vertical thin sheet of metal was not the best idea!
- Replace super sketchy 2-prong power cord with a 3-prong cord (I'm a player, not a collector, so I view this as essential for vintage amps)
- Replace pilot light; it works, but the jewel is missing and I can't find one that matches the threading
- Replace logo with actual Fender logo; obviously not a big deal, but it makes me happy ;D
- Replace knobs with vintage style Fender knobs; same as above ;D
- Replace power switch with one that actually looks nice, not just whatever was in the parts bin :o

I thought briefly about stripping it completely down and re-doing the tolex, maybe with a nice tweed covering, and also replacing the grill cloth...

BUT BUT BUT BUT BUT BUT BUT....

You are changing EVERYTHING. What's the point? Maybe it's better to keep it this way and spend the SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY in parts to build another one.

Look at the fun side of things. You bring this old, beat-up, obviously fake amp with a fake Fender logo to a gig, and knock everyone out with the American Soldiers in Japan story. If you say it sounds sweet, why remake it? It's not a collector's point of view, it's just that you're not just changing one of two things, you will actually build something else without recycling anything and throwing almost every part in the trash can. So build something else and keep the Japanese alive. You'll have two amps for the price of one :)
Kirk Hammet invented the Burst Box.

vigilante397

Re: Vintage *FAKE* Fender Amp
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2016, 05:09:44 PM »

BUT BUT BUT BUT BUT BUT BUT....

You are changing EVERYTHING. What's the point? Maybe it's better to keep it this way and spend the SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY in parts to build another one.

Look at the fun side of things. You bring this old, beat-up, obviously fake amp with a fake Fender logo to a gig, and knock everyone out with the American Soldiers in Japan story. If you say it sounds sweet, why remake it? It's not a collector's point of view, it's just that you're not just changing one of two things, you will actually build something else without recycling anything and throwing almost every part in the trash can. So build something else and keep the Japanese alive. You'll have two amps for the price of one :)

I'm not changing everything :P I'm leaving the circuit untouched, just moving it to a more sturdy chassis. I'm still keeping the original transformers as I see nothing wrong with them. The only tone-affecting changes will be tubes and speaker. As I mentioned the existing speaker was pretty shot, and I don't think an 8" was an appropriate choice. The tubes are more of a testing thing. I stil believe "if it's not broke don't fix it," and the existing tubes sound good I just want to see if the Sovteks sound better.

So to clarify, I'm really just changing tubes, speaker (which I do to almost every amp :P ), and switch, and everything else is purely cosmetic, except of course for the chassis which I view as essential because this one is hanging by two screws and is only a matter of time before it falls altogether.

Also as a brief update, speaker showed up today, chassis should be here tomorrow, and tubes Friday.  ;D

And as for the building, the total spent on parts was less than $100, which is way less than any amp I've ever built :)
« Last Edit: January 20, 2016, 05:14:02 PM by vigilante397 »
"I'm not sure what "serious design flaws" you see. Does it explode or poison your dog?" - PRR

"Tayda's Whipping Boy"

http://www.sushiboxfx.com

Hatredman

Re: Vintage *FAKE* Fender Amp
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2016, 05:41:59 PM »
Anyway, leave the old fake tolex, grill cloth and fake Fender plate. For Frodo. I mean, for Mojo.
Kirk Hammet invented the Burst Box.

vigilante397

Re: Vintage *FAKE* Fender Amp
« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2016, 10:04:41 AM »
Kind of forgot to update this as I made progress on the amp. The hardest and most time-consuming part was moving everything over to the new chassis without completely taking apart the circuit. So I kept the circuit completely intact and kept the stock transformers, but changed just about everything else :P Pretty sure I did everything I listed above, but to reiterate:

New tubes (matched Sovteks, HUGE tonal improvement)
New speaker (12" Celestion Rocket 50, again HUGE improvement in sound)
New chassis (Hammond enclosure from Tubes and More, huge improvement in stability)
3-prong cord (grounding it completely got rid of background noise 8) )
New handle (went with a vintage Fender style, much more comfortable)
Rubber feet (apparently whoever designed it decided it didn't need feet)
And some cosmetic stuff: Fender knobs, Fender pilot light, real Fender logo (sorry Hatredman :P )

I was thinking about a faceplate, but I think I'll probably just paint the top of the box silver and throw a waterslide on it ;D Click on pictures for full image.






« Last Edit: February 08, 2016, 10:06:44 AM by vigilante397 »
"I'm not sure what "serious design flaws" you see. Does it explode or poison your dog?" - PRR

"Tayda's Whipping Boy"

http://www.sushiboxfx.com

mth5044

Re: Vintage *FAKE* Fender Amp
« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2016, 01:29:07 PM »
Damn the naysayers, I think you did yourself and that amp a huge service buy making better than 'new', whatever 'new' was when it was made. Looks nice! Trace the circuit yet?

wavley

Re: Vintage *FAKE* Fender Amp
« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2016, 01:39:37 PM »
That looks awesome, I did like the old "Femder" logo though, perhaps you should save it an put it on a pedal or something.
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vigilante397

Re: Vintage *FAKE* Fender Amp
« Reply #18 on: February 08, 2016, 02:23:05 PM »
Damn the naysayers, I think you did yourself and that amp a huge service buy making better than 'new', whatever 'new' was when it was made. Looks nice! Trace the circuit yet?

Thanks! ;D I haven't traced it yet, though I do have plans to do so.

That looks awesome, I did like the old "Femder" logo though, perhaps you should save it an put it on a pedal or something.

I liked the logo too, but not enough to leave it on the amp :P I still kept it and was trying to decide what to do with it. Maybe do a cab sim, cover it in tweed and throw it on there? 8)
"I'm not sure what "serious design flaws" you see. Does it explode or poison your dog?" - PRR

"Tayda's Whipping Boy"

http://www.sushiboxfx.com

Hatredman

Re: Vintage *FAKE* Fender Amp
« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2016, 08:28:37 PM »
Or you can send it to me, I'd love to put it on my cabinet :D
Kirk Hammet invented the Burst Box.