Here is a vintage 1960 Fender Bassman 5F6-A electric bass guitar amplifier. This particular example, serial number BM02414, was owned and used by legendary harmonica player Paul Butterfield of the Butterfield Blues Band. Though the cosmetic condition of this Bassman would suggest it has been used, and toured with, endlessly, it has remarkably remained internally 100% all original. This amp was recently purchased from Larry Cragg of Vintage Instrument Rental, who also techs for Neil Young. According to Cragg, this exact Bassman belonged to Paul Butterfield and was traded to him many years ago while Butterfield’s touring company was working heavily with VIR. As quoted in the screenshot, as well as, on Fretboard Journal’s website, “The (Bassman) was Paul Butterfield’s. ‘It’s been through a flood but it sounds good!’ Cragg says with a laugh.”
Serial Number: BM02414
Tube Chart Stamp: IH (August 1959)
Speaker Codes: 220035, 220750, 220001, 220037
Transformer Codes: 45249, 14684
What this amp lacks in condition and cleanliness, it makes up for in raw tone. Famous for simple and stunning sound, with loud musical compression, Freddy Tavares created an undeniable masterpiece when he innovated upon the 5F6 to give birth to the ultimate 5F6-A. With approximately 4,000 produced over a 3-year period between ’58-’60, it would be a generous assumption to estimate that approximately half of the originals still remain in some semblance of intact original condition.
This example has most certainly seen better days. The grillecloth has a repaired significant 3″ hole, displays significant water stains on the side and bottom, has a replaced dog bone handle, displays replaced tweed back panels, and appears to have a replaced ’57 speaker with exact same specs.
Sometimes, some amps are just magical. For no real explanation, certain amps are just spectacular. This is definitely that amp. Many years ago, it seems Butterfield jumped both channels internally, so it’s permanently high gain in the best way possible, Plug in to either channel’s input 1, and you’re ready to go. With incredible harmonics, smooth saturation, and the epitome of great Bassman tone, this amp is simply awesome. It sounds great with any guitar, and not surprisingly sounds fantastic with harp.