The purpose of this guide is to share my experiences in shopping on Ebay for a vintage Fender Bassman amplifier. Included are the summarized results of watching and analyzing the results of 146 completed auctions.
As a brief summary, Fender Bassman amps from the 1960's and 1970's are very desirable and collectable amps much valued for their great sound. While fine bass amplifiers, they are actually more valued by guitar players for their great tube distortion. The much more famous Marshall amps were actually derived from the Bassman tube amp design. Bassman amps consist of head and cabinet. The head's are generally 50 watts RMS power (except for some later models of 70 or 100 watts), powered by 2 6L6GC power tubes with two separate pre-amp channels – bass and normal. Various cabinets were sold with the Bassman, but generally a 2 x 12" cabinet was the standard. This buying guide focuses on the amp heads, which are often sold separately from the cabinets. Much more information on Fender amps, including the Bassman, is available on the web. I suggest the Fender Amp Field Guide at Ampwares as a starting point. There you can learn the details of the models from blond to blackface to silverface amps.
I began watching the results of auctions to get a feel for the market price of various models and years of amps and recorded the results in a database. As a general rule, I only include the results of completed auctions, sold in and available to U.S. customers in U.S. $’s. I exclude auctions that appear fraudulent or fake, don’t have adequate descriptions to confirm the condition or identity of the product. As a warning, buying vintage musical instruments, including amps, has some degree of risk. I encourage all buyers to be familiar with the products they are buying, check the feedback of sellers and use safe payment methods. There are bad people out there.
On to the results! The average ending auction price for the 146 sampled Fender Bassman amps (heads only) was $517.11. For a complete head and cabinet combo’s, the average price was $867. The highest price paid was $2860 for a 1962 Blond Bassman with matching cabinet. The highest price for a head only was $885 for a 1964 blond Bassman head. The lowest price paid for a head was $300 for a 1970’s “Bassman 50”. The lowest price for a complete head/cab set was $510 for a 1969 Silverface.
As I suspected, the average pricing fell into distinct categories depending on age and model type. By age and model, here are average prices:
1962-64 Blonds $730.00 Pre-CBS w/blond tolex
1964/65 Blackface Amp Heads $651.79 Pre-CBS w/black tolex
1966/67 Blackface Amp Heads $536.40 Post-CBS AB165
1968 -70’s Silverface Heads $399.82 Post-CBS w/silverface
Like Fender guitars, amps from the Pre-CBS years (CBS bought Fender in 1965) are more highly prized, even though the designs remained relatively unchanged for several years after the acquisition. The amps from 1966 – 67 are essentially the same design as the more costly ’64-65 pre-CBS models and are a good value for player’s as opposed to collectors. Starting in 1968, cosmetics as well as circuit designs began to change.
My decision – I ended buying a 1966 Blackface for $549 that was a local pickup (no shipping cost) that was in excellent shape and sounds fabulous. It is very comparable to my Marshall JCM900 in tone and volume and sounds great through a repro 2 x 12” Jensen loaded cabinet. Good luck in finding an amp of your own!