Ampeg Bassamp Tube Bass Amplifier, c. 1956

Ampeg  Bassamp Tube Bass Amplifier,  c. 1956
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Item # 8981
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Ampeg Bassamp Model Tube Bass Amplifier, c. 1956, made in New York, NY, black textured fabric finish.

Before the world-beating B-15 of the 1960s, the Ampeg models 820, 825 and 830 were the company's dedicated 1950s bass amplifiers, direct successors of the first Ampeg products. The original 1940s "Ampeg Bassamp" followed by the larger Model 815 were really the first commercially successful purely bass amps, designed to accompany the "amplified Peg" for upright bass that Everett Hull's company was named for. Equipped with a 15" speaker, the 1951 Model 815 was the first unit to offer a truly deep enough low end to make amplified bass more than a novelty in the early 1950s.

It took Leo Fender less than a year to release a strikingly similar design, the original "Bassman" as the companion for their newly perfected solidbody Precision Bass. This copied the Ampeg Bassamp's old split-chassis format with the control panel on top and the remainder of the electronics at the bottom of the cabinet. In the meantime the Ampeg Bassamp continued to subtly evolve; the mid-50s were ripe with an abundance of variant models and one-offs emerging from Ampeg's modular approach to design, some of which were never featured in any catalogs.

According to available literature, this amp was indeed never advertised in any official product catalog. It appears to be closest to the Model 815 in features, but clad in the newer 1956 cosmetics and has an added sensitivity control to accommodate both magnetic and crystal pickup inputs. The control is smaller, unlabeled and installed in a "third" input-jack hole. This allowed the amp to better accommodate the growing number of new electric basses of the 1950s, which were proving much more popular then Ampeg's namesake Peg. Company founder Everett Hull didn't like them, but was smart enough to know they greatly would expand his potential market for bass amplifiers!

Like its predecessor, this amp has a main volume control and separate treble and bass controls. It originally sported two 6L6 power tubes in push-pull roughly yielding 15-20 watts into a 15" Jensen Alnico V speaker. It is functional at jazz club levels as intended, with a nice round low end. Fairly uncommon today, the early Ampeg bass amplifiers are historically important units, part of the inevitable ascendance of the electric bass although much overshadowed by Fender as the 1950s turned into the '60s.
Height is 20 1/2 in. (52.1 cm.), 21 in. (53.3 cm.) width, and 13 1/2 in. (34.3 cm.) in depth at deepest point.

Cosmetically, this amp is very nicely preserved for its age. The rather thin exterior black covering is showing its share of corner and edge-wear but remains nicely intact overall with no major tears or patches missing. The control panel is clean with only minor amounts of corrosive staining. The handle appears to have been replaced with a newer reproduction. The grille cloth is in fantastic shape with the stenciled graphic and Ampeg logo still strikingly visible.

Electrically, this little Ampeg is mostly original. The speaker appears to be a later Eminence square-magnet bearing the code 67-7940, dating it to the 40th week of 1979. All major components appear to be otherwise original. The amp currently runs EL34 power tubes for better compatibility and reliable operation. The amp has seen our typical maintenance and servicing including replacement of all electrolytic capacitors, a 3-prong power cord, cleaning of all sockets, pots and jacks and biased to spec. Very Good + Condition.