59 bassman

Fender Bassman ’59 Reissue LTD Amp Review

There’s just something about those thick and bottom-end heavy tones that makes every guitar player satisfied. Whatever it is the genre that you’re into, every now and then, you really need to get some of that stuff going.

Sometimes even you might even feel like plugging into a bass guitar amp. Well, that’s nothing unusual since way back in the 1950s, that’s exactly what some of the 6-string players did in order to thicken their tone.

One of the most famous examples that we can remember now is the use of a Fender Bassman amp.

Initially intended as a bass guitar amp, it soon became more than just that. Guitarists, pedal steel guitarists, and even harmonica players began using it for their performances.

fender vintage reissue '59 bassman

But since this series of amps got the most attention from 6-string players, it began developing in that direction. One thing led to another, and it became known as one of the most popular and influential amps of all time.

Even to this day, you’ll find some models that replicate the old tones. And there have even been some solid-state Fender Bassmans over the years.

In this article, we will be focusing on the more modern version that we can find today, which is a recreation of the old 5F6-A model from 1959.

Introduced in 1990 and still produced to this day, you can find it labeled as Fender Bassman LTD or Vintage Reissue ’59 Bassman LTD.

So let’s dig into it and find out more about this great amp that’s a continuation of this legendary long-running and game-changing series.

Features

First off, it’s designed to be as true as possible to the original model from ’59. The first noticeable thing about it is that it’s a combo amp but with a configuration of four 10-inch speakers.

The speakers in question are Jensen P10R. The output power is at 45 watts, and the sound is shaped through three preamp tubes, the classic 12AX7 ones. As for the power amp section, we have the classic American configuration of two 6L6 tubes.

The whole thing is rounded up with one rectifier tube, the 5AR4 (interchangeable with the standard British GZ34).

The amp has two channels on it, “normal” and “bright.” It comes with the classic vintage configuration of four inputs, two for each channel. The No. 2 inputs are for higher gain instruments, or can just be useful if you prefer to have your own pedals instead of going directly into the amp.

Each channel has its own separate volume control. As for the other parameters, the 3-band EQ and the presence knob control both of the channels.

What’s kind of unusual, at least for today’s standards, is that the amp has the fuse compartment right on the front panel. While some might find it odd, it’s a really practical feature for changing the fuse when it goes out.

For those willing to experiment with different power amp tubes, Bassman LTD also has a special internal bias pot. But that’s mostly for advanced users.

Design

As for the design, we can see the classic “tweed” style finish on the Bassman LTD. Some would argue that it looks exactly the same as these original amps made back in the day. While there are some small differences, the similarities are pretty obvious and it’s a great tribute to the old original pieces.

What’s really unique about the amp’s front panel design is that all the labels of the control knobs go from 1 to 12 instead of the standard 1 to 10. We wonder what would Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel say about this.

Since this is an old blues rock (with just a dash of jazz) vintage-oriented amp, the looks definitely correlate to its tone and features.

Performance

Now we’ve come to the main part ñ how this amp actually sounds in action. Well, it’s a pretty convincing replica of the old models. However, it’s not the classic vintage-oriented amp with a very narrow use. In fact, there’s a lot of stuff that you can do with it.

Sure, it’s best known for its sparkling bright channel, producing those ear-piercing tones, especially if played through any standard Fender Telecaster with single-coil pickups. But tweaking the controls, you can achieve some smoother and even harder tones.

Pushing the volume over the limits delivers a great response from the preamp and power amp tubes. In fact, the amp can just scream when you need it to. In addition, the dynamic response when the tone breaks at higher volumes is just out of this world. All this while managing to keep heavy yet tight bottom ends in your tone.

Using it with your own pedals can be really interesting, although we would advise for you to go with an overdrive pedal and not a high gain scorching distortion. Softer clipping just goes better with this amp. However, you’re free to experiment and maybe you’ll be able to find distorted tones you need some other way.

Conclusion

As we said, this amp is a pretty convincing recreation of the old ’59 with just some minor differences, usually not noticeable by an average guitar player’s ear.

On the other hand, some more trained and experienced vintage lovers might point out some differences. However, this does not change the fact that it’s a great amp. It may be slightly different compared to the original, but it’s clearly a high-end professional guitar amp.

But with this being said, it for a specified target group only. Sure, it may be able to deliver some versatility, but Bassman’s true power lies in its classic blues-oriented tones.

The price in the area between $1,400 and $1,500 is most certainly justified, as long as you know what you’re getting yourself into. A great choice for all the vintage lovers who desire some versatility.


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Senior editor for Ultimate-Guitar, passionate about good music and quality gear. Bassist. King Crimson fan. Travel enthusiast.
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