Pete’s Gear: 1964 Fender Bassman amp and Fender Tremolux
Pete Townshend’s ’64 blonde Fender Bassman amplifier head (with gold weave grille). Used 1965.
Rather than the traditional 2x12 Fender Bassman extension cabinet to which the top was traditionally paired, Pete drove, first, one, then, two Marshall 4x12 cabinets, creating the first “stack.”
He also used a 1962 or 1963 Fender Tremolux head in the same manner, as pictured below. In addition, he also daisy-chained the Bassman or Tremolux heads with a Fender Vibrasonic or Fender Pro “head,” also driving the Marshall 4x12 cabinets.
The Bassman was a 50-watt amp, covered in blonde tolex and gold sparkle grille cloth.
The Tremolux was a 35-watt amp, also in blonde tolex, with wheat grille cloth and 12AX7-based tremolo.
Selected quotes from Pete Townshend
All quotes and references are copyright their original owners and are included for reference only.
From April 1980 issue of Sound International article, courtesy Joe G’s site.
PT: Yeah. I never used Marshall amps, I didn’t like them. I had Fender amps, a Fender Pro and a Fender Bassman and two 4 x 12s. Each one didn’t drive its own speakers, it drove those two Marshall 4 x 12 cabinets. And I kept that set-up for a long time.
Guitar Player, October 1989
I never, ever used a stack with one amplifier until I got into Hiwatts, and I didn’t use Marshalls very long. In fact, I never used Marshall in the beginning at all. I used to use Fenders; I had a Fender Pro and a Fender Vibrasonic and a Fender Bassman top, and I used to drive Marshall 4x12’s with those amplifiers. I thought Marshalls were awful, and I’m afraid I still do, although that’s just a personal opinion. I don’t mean it’s bad stuff: I just mean I didn’t like the sound. And when I heard Hiwatt I was over the moon, because they sounded to me much more like a really good, top-line mid-’60s Fender amp. I still think it’s hard to beat Fender amps; they’re astonishing.
Excerpt from The Soul of Tone: Celebrating 60 Years of Fender Amps interview with Alan Rogan
“Pete has used Fender amps off and on for 40 years. [Re: the My Generation album:] I said, ‘Oh, Pete, it sounds fantastic,’ and he told me exactly what he used on it: two Rickenbackers — a 6-string and a 12-string — and a blonde Bassman head with a Marshall 4x12 cab. That was the sound on that album, from 1965.”
Click to view larger version. Ca. 1965, feeding back a 1964 Rickenbacker 360/12 Export through an early “stack” of Marshall 4x12 cabinets powered by a Fender Bassman atop the stack, which is daisy-chained to a customised Fender Pro head at lower right.
Ca. 1965, Fender Bassman top on two Marshall 4x12s. Guitar is 1964 Rickenbacker 360/12 Export.
2 June 1965, Club au Golf Droutou, Paris, with two Vox AC-30s, left and far right, surrounding a Fender Bassman top and 2x15 cabinet.
2 June 1965, Club au Golf Droutou, Paris, with Fender Bassman top and 2x15 cabinet, left, and Vox AC-30.
Ca. 1965, conducting an interview next to Fender Bassman top. Guitar is 1964 Rickenbacker 360/12 Export.
Ca. 1965, at the Marquee, playing the 1964 Rickenbacker 360/12 Export through an early “stack” of Marshall 4x12 cabinets powered by a Fender Bassman atop the stack, which is daisy-chained to a Fender Vibrasonic at lower right.
16 April 1965, Goldhawk, a precursor to the actual “Marshall” stack, a blonde ’62 or ’63 Fender head stacked on two Marshall 4x12 cabinets, one with British flag “grillecloth” and one with grillecloth completely removed. Guitar is 1964 Rickenbacker 360/12 Export.
Resources and Information
- Fender Field Guide (Fender Bassman): ampwares.com/amplifiers/fender-blonde-6g6-a-bassman
- Fender Field Guide (Fender Tremolux): ampwares.com/amplifiers/fender-blonde-tremolux