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May 11, 2017

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Tweets

A Brief History of Tweed

"Tweed" is much more than that yellowish covering you see on vintage amps and guitar cases. The term has come to define a Golden Era of vintage amplification—particularly when it comes to Fender amps. Well before Leo Fender was busy constructing his influential solid-body electric and bass guitars, he spent his time building amplifiers and homemade P.A. systems in his Fullerton, Calif., repair shop. 

The Golden Years of Fender Amps

The first of the now-iconic Fender "Tweed" Amps came about in 1948 with the introduction of the Champion 600 and 800. These particular amplifiers sported a lighter tan covering than the bright yellow color of later amps. Known as "TV Front" amps, they premeditated the hugely successful Fender Champ (which the Champion would eventually be renamed).

1949 FENDER CHAMPION 6001949 FENDER CHAMPION 6001949 FENDER CHAMPION 600

1949 FENDER CHAMPION 600

In the early to mid ’50s, Fender segued into producing larger-size amps with significantly wider grills (regard now as "Wide Panel Design"). The rounded grill of the TV Front era became slightly more square, and from this design transition a slough of new amp circuits came to life—among these were the introductions of the Bassman, Twin, Deluxe, Pro, and Super circuits. From this, Fender's amp offering would also expand to include a variety of speaker configurations, such as the 1x15" Bassman and Bandmaster, 1x12" Deluxe, and the highly sought-after 2x12" Twin Amp. 

 53 FENDER BASSMAN 5B653 FENDER BASSMAN 5B653 FENDER BASSMAN 5B6

53 FENDER BASSMAN 5B6

 

1953 FENDER SUPER 5B4 TWEED RECOVERED TOLEX1953 FENDER SUPER 5B4 TWEED RECOVERED TOLEX1953 FENDER SUPER 5B4 TWEED RECOVERED TOLEX

53 FENDER SUPER 5B4 TWEED RECOVERED TOLEX

Capitalizing on the popularity of the Wide Panel era, the "Narrow Panel" amp came to fruition 1955, and the outward design of Fender amps shifted once again. Notable amps from this time include the new 4x10" version of the Bassman, the 1x10" Vibrolux, and the elusive 3x10" version of the Bandmaster combo amp—a rare (and expensive) find these days. These amps became the standard for rock 'n' roll because of their natural "break-up"—an ability to create warm, natural overdrive simply by cranking the volume. 

 59 FENDER VIBROLUX TWEED59 FENDER VIBROLUX TWEED59 FENDER VIBROLUX TWEED

59 FENDER VIBROLUX TWEED

Each and every tweed circuit had its own character that, when cranked, gave just the right amount of snarly, raw, tube overdrive making these amps a joy to play. Notable players across various musical styles—rock, jazz, blues, and even country—came to rely on Fender amps for their tone and craftsmanship, helping cement their legacy for years to come. 

Recommendations on Modern-Day Tweed

Victoria Amps

No amp captures the classic tone and vintage vibe of late ’50s tweed amps like Victoria does. Handcrafted in Chicago, Victoria amps bring the sounds of Golden Era Fender amps back into the modern era. These faithful reproductions pay loving tribute to their predecessors. 

VICTORIA CHICAGO-LUX LIMITED EDITION TWEED AMPVICTORIA CHICAGO-LUX LIMITED EDITION TWEED AMP
VICTORIA CHICAGO-LUX LIMITED EDITION TWEED AMPVICTORIA CHICAGO-LUX LIMITED EDITION TWEED AMP
VICTORIA CHICAGO-LUX LIMITED EDITION 14W TWEED COMBO (CME EXCLUSIVE)
Tweed-Inspired Pedals

Tap into glorious tweed tone in the convenient form of the stompbox with these faithful pedal reproductions!

WAMPLER TWEED '57 ORIGINAL TONE
WAMPLER TWEED '57 ORIGINAL TONE
CBFORMULA55
CATALINBREAD FORMULA NO. 55 VINTAGE TWEED DELUXE PEDAL

 

Affordable Tweed

Vintage tweed tone without the vintage price tag. Modern-day reissues bring the tweed era back to life and are a great option for when you're on a budget!

FENDER VINTAGE REISSUE '59 BASSMAN LTD
FENDER VINTAGE REISSUE '59 BASSMAN LTD  
FENDER BASSBREAKER 18/30 2X12 COMBO
FENDER BASSBREAKER 18/30 2X12 COMBO

Stop in and check out the wide world of tweed at our Chicago showroom and see why these have become some most sought after amps around. 


Dan Jarvis
Dan Jarvis

Author