40 Fender Blackface Vs Silverface

Shootout 1966 Blackface Fender Bassman vs 1976 Silverface Bassman [with Jazzmaster] YouTube
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Fender Blackface vs Silverface


When it comes to vintage Fender amplifiers, the terms "blackface" and "silverface" are often used to describe different eras of production. These two designations refer to the cosmetics and circuitry of the amplifiers, and they can greatly affect the tone and value of these iconic amps. In this article, we will explore the differences between Fender blackface and silverface amplifiers, and discuss their significance in the world of vintage guitar gear.

What is a Blackface amplifier?

The term "blackface" is used to describe Fender amplifiers that were manufactured between 1964 and 1967. These amps are called blackface due to their black control panels, which were a departure from the previous brown face panels used in Fender amps. Blackface amplifiers are highly regarded for their warm, smooth, and balanced tone.

What is a Silverface amplifier?

The term "silverface" refers to Fender amplifiers that were produced between 1967 and 1981. During this period, Fender transitioned from blackface to silverface cosmetics. Silverface amplifiers feature a silver control panel with blue lettering, and they are known for having a slightly brighter and more aggressive tone compared to their blackface counterparts.

Circuitry Differences

While the cosmetics of blackface and silverface amplifiers are easily distinguishable, the circuitry is where the most significant differences lie. Blackface amps were built with hand-wired circuit boards using high-quality components, resulting in a more vintage and organic tone. Silverface amps, on the other hand, introduced changes such as printed circuit boards and different component choices, which affected the overall sound and feel of the amps.

Tube Rectifiers vs Solid-State Rectifiers

One of the notable differences between blackface and silverface amplifiers is the rectifier type used. Blackface amps typically used tube rectifiers, which produce a sagging effect when pushed hard, resulting in a more compressed and dynamic tone. Silverface amps, on the other hand, often featured solid-state rectifiers, which provide a tighter and more immediate response.

Tone Stack Differences

The tone stack, which consists of the bass, middle, and treble controls, also underwent changes during the transition from blackface to silverface. Blackface amplifiers had a more interactive and musical tone stack, allowing for a wide range of tonal shaping. Silverface amps, on the other hand, featured a modified tone stack that was less interactive and offered a more straightforward control layout.

Reverb and Tremolo Differences

Another area where blackface and silverface amplifiers differ is in the reverb and tremolo circuits. Blackface amps are known for their lush and warm reverb, which is often referred to as "brownface" reverb. Silverface amps, on the other hand, introduced a new reverb circuit that is often considered less desirable and less dimensional. The tremolo circuits also saw changes, with blackface amps having a smoother and more organic tremolo compared to the slightly harsher silverface tremolo.

Value and Collectibility

Due to their vintage charm and desirable tone, blackface amplifiers are generally more sought after and valuable compared to silverface amps. Collectors and players often prefer the warm and organic sound of blackface amps, which has led to higher prices in the vintage market. However, there are still plenty of players who appreciate the unique character and affordability of silverface amps.

Modifications and Restorations

Over the years, many vintage amplifiers have been modified or restored to suit the preferences of different players. It is not uncommon to find blackface amps that have been modified with different speakers, upgraded transformers, or modified circuits. Similarly, silverface amps are often restored to their blackface specifications, either by changing out specific components or by performing extensive circuit modifications.


Whether you are a vintage gear enthusiast, a collector, or a player looking for the perfect tone, understanding the differences between Fender blackface and silverface amplifiers is crucial. Blackface amps offer a warm and smooth tone with vintage appeal, while silverface amps provide a brighter and more aggressive sound. Both have their unique characteristics and can be modified or restored to suit individual preferences. Ultimately, the choice between blackface and silverface comes down to personal taste and the desired sound. Whichever era you choose, these vintage Fender amps have proven their worth and continue to inspire musicians to this day.