Fender Bassman Model 5D6-A Tube Amplifier (1955)

Fender  Bassman Model 5D6-A Tube Amplifier (1955)
$10,500.00 + shipping
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Item # 11677
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Fender Bassman Model 5D6-A Model Tube Amplifier (1955), made in Fullerton, California, serial # BM-00269, tweed fabric covering finish.

This is a long-awaited first for our showroom, an original narrow panel 4X10 tweed Fender Bassman. This is one of the most collectible guitar amplifiers of all time, although in one of those vintage great ironies it is not bassists but guitarists who covet this model, widely considered one of the greatest blues/rock amps of all time.

Conceived as a partner for the revolutionary Precision Bass guitar in 1951-2, the first 20 watt, single 15" speaker Bassman amp was intended to amplify "bass, and bass only" according to Fender. This design soon showed several shortcomings for the bass application; over the next few years player opinions and complaints made their way back to Fullerton. The amp struggled to adequately amplify the lowest frequencies of the bass guitar, resulting in undesirable distortion levels. An even more serious issue at the time was the easily blown speaker which posed a huge problem for gigging musicians; if your only speaker blew, you couldn't finish the gig! Fender soon grasped the importance of offering a solidly reliable bass amp; if they could not then the sales of their solidbody electric bass would also suffer!

In 1954, the amp was re-envisioned by Freddie Tavares (with Leo's blessing) as a four 10-inch combo, solving the reliability issues plaguing a single-speaker amp. At this point, Fender also openly recognized the model's growing appeal to guitar, accordion and harmonica players, as the '55 catalog literature states: "Provides true bass amplification or may also be used for other instruments due to its widely varying tonal character."

The extremely short-lived 5D6 appeared in late 1954 and was the first amplifier combo with a 4x10 speaker configuration. The 5D6-A revision soon followed; This amp's tube chart bears the stamp EE, indicating an assembly date of May of 1955. This revision now featured a fixed bias output stage allowing for greater headroom and a clearer low-end, along with dual rectification, another first for Fender. The push-pull 6L6G-powered output section drives four 10" Jensen P10R speakers yielding around 40 watts of power. Like the former versions, the 5D6-A has two inputs, but now two separate channels, voiced differently; one normal, one bright. The channels each have a dedicated volume control, as well as master treble, bass and presence controls. The subsequent circuit revisions, the four-input 5F6 and 5F6-A were famously duplicated by Jim Marshall for the initial JTM-45 amps and the Bassman overall has made its presence felt, in design terms, in more subsequent tube amps than any other amplifier.
Height is 22 1/2 in. (57.2 cm.), 22 1/2 in. (57.2 cm.) width, and 10 1/2 in. (26.7 cm.) in depth at deepest point.

Cosmetically, this veteran amp shows years of gigging and hard living, with the tweed covering bearing an attractive amber patina and a significant number of cigarette burns! The covering shows fraying and tearing, particularly around the corners and edges, but is otherwise nicely intact. The grille cloth is in great shape overall; taut and free of any notable blemishes, save for one or two minor punctures. The control panel shows minor signs of corrosion but overall retains its shine with most of the stenciled lettering intact. The original handle was supplanted with a high quality replacement some time ago.

Electrically, the amp remains all original. All four Jensen P10R speakers are original to the amp with matching codes: 220-519, dating them to the 19th week of 1955. All four speakers appear to have been reconed at some point and sound fantastic. The Triad power, choke and output transformers are original to the amp as well and bear the codes 7993, 14537 and 2485, respectively. Pots appear original and all date to late '54.

The amp has seen our typical maintenance and servicing, including replacement of all electrolytic capacitors, a 3-prong grounded power cord, cleaning of all sockets, pots and jacks and power tubes biased to spec. It sounds truly fantastic, with the rip-roaring but highly detailed tone these are justly renowned for especially at higher volumes. It even sounds great with a '50s Fender bass, though few players would combine them today! Overall Very Good + Condition.