Fender Vibroverb Review

This is a review of Fender Vibroverb. 

The classic Vibroverb combo amps were only produced for a brief period of time. They were, nevertheless, an important aspect of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s tone. For a limited time, Fender re-released this model of the Vibroverb. When I found out they were discontinuing it, I bought the last one I could find. Cesar Diaz, Stevie’s amp specialist, contributed significant modifications to the re-issue. It’s a one-of-a-kind amp for me and I adore it.

In this article, I will talk about the product – the Fender Vibroverb, which is well-known for its glassy, clear tones. Continue reading to learn more.

Product Overview

The Fender Vibroverb is a 40-watt guitar amplifier that was produced between 1963 and 1964. It was the first Fender tube amp to include on-board reverb, that later became a basic feature on several costly Fender tube amps in the 1960s and 1970s.

There are just a few blackface Vibroverb amps available because Fender discontinued the Vibroverb after CBS took over in 1965, most probably because musicians didn’t want 115′′ amps at the time. Given the buzz and recognition, these Vibroverbs are extremely rare and collectible.

Features

So, what makes the Vibroverb so unique? The 15-inch speaker, for starters, makes it stand out from conventional guitar amplifiers. Although, most guitar amps come with numerous 10′′ and 12′′ speakers, the Vibroverb came with either a Jensen C15n or a JBLd130f, the latter of which has a large magnet, aluminium dust cover, and flat speaker cone that might be challenging to manage in terms of bass, punch, and attack. Apart from the speaker, the blackface Vibroverb resembles the other Fender amps. As a matter of fact, the Vibroverb’s popularity is based on its lack of new features or technical advancements.

It featured two 6L6GC power tubes, three 7025s for the preamp and phase inverter, a GZ34 rectifier, and two 12AX7s for reverb and tremolo control, respectively. Both the regular and bright channels included two inputs with volume, treble, and bass controls. The channel has extra reverb controls, as well as tremolo speed and intensity dials. The initial Vibroverb was completely covered with brown from head to toe.

The TREBLE control was similar to that detected in many Fender amps at the time. It had a “channeled” treble circuit, which meant that at setting “5”, the treble adjustment was “flat”; lowering or increasing the treble could be done by twisting the knob down (below “5”) or up (above “5”).

This edition of the Vibroverb was only made for a few months, and it is estimated that just 600 units were made.

Sound

With this amp, I can play any sort of guitar and it sounds great. Unless the instrument I’m using has a problem, I don’t hear any noise from it. Around 5 – 6 on the volume dial, the amp has a beautiful break up, which is a good position to play it. This amp is equally at home in the studio as it is on stage. It does a good job with pedals. The tone is fantastic, with crisp highs and booming lows thanks to the 6L6 power tubes. In V1, I replaced the tube with a 5751 and installed Jensen C10Q speakers. By comparison, the stock oxford speakers seem thin and are the weak point in this amp’s tone.

Another instance where Fender elected to stick to the original ’63 design. It employs an SS rectifier, which some may argue is one part where they might have stayed true to its roots but chose not to. Why? I’m not sure. This amp, however, is all about terrific classic Fender tone.

Durability & Reliability

I’ve only had one problem with this amplifier. The speaker wire connecting the speakers to the 1/4 inch jack was damaged. The amp’s volume would drop, and there would be a buzz. When you pressed the jack on the rear of the amp, it went away for a few moments before reappearing. That cable was replaced, and I haven’t had any problems since.

Alternatives

Listed below are the alternatives of the Fender Vibroverb.

Ampeg Jet J20

This amplifier is quite similar to the vibroverb. I really like how it’s fully hand-wired and has a tube rectifier. The speaker is an Ampeg alnico, and after a few years of use, it has broken into a powerful sound. 

With this amp, all you get is volume and tone, and that’s all you need. At higher volumes, increasing the tone above 2 o’clock appears to give it a bit extra grit, so some knob-twisting can be gratifying.

The tremolo is also fantastic. It is a stylish, no-frills amplifier that always works great and has a distinct sound.

What Are The Different Types Of Vibroverb And Where Can I Get Them?

The “brown” Vibroverb, the first Fender guitar amp with reverb, is by far the rarest. It also had a “bias” type power tube tremolo. Only about 600 were made, so you’ll have to hunt for one and expect to pay upwards of $7000 for a decent one.

The black face SRV’s Vibroverb is a 15-inch speaker with a 40-watt amplifier and an LDR-based tremolo. It’s a lot more common, however there are a lot of clones and tweaks out there, so be cautious while buying it. It’s likely that 5200 of these were made.

Fender released the 63 Reissue Vibroverb in the 1990s, which had a brown face and a 210 combo with reverb. However, there were several notable differences from the original, such as the use of a solid state rectifier instead of the GZ34 in the actual VV. Nevertheless, with a few tweaks, they can sound extremely similar. They’re inexpensive and you can find it easily online.

These can be found on websites such as Reverb, eBay, Chicago Music Exchange, Elderly Instruments, and Norman’s Rare Guitars, among others.

Final Thoughts

I don’t think I’d perform with this amp without a backup, or any other amp for that matter. I’d have a hard time finding another at the price I paid if it was stolen. Due to the rarity of these amps, I’d probably get something else. I rated it a 9 based on its tone, appearance, and ability to accomplish its goals.