Why the Showman Project? This site is dedicated to the restoration project which is my 1967 Silverface Fender Showman AB763 amp.
For a little backstory on this amp, by all means, keep reading.
Or if you’d like to dive right in, head on over to the main page HERE
A little backstory… About 20 years ago (late 90’s or so) I played bass in a band in the Los Angeles area (along with every other resident of LA). I didn’t have an amp at the time so I played bass in my bedroom through stereo speakers via a microphone jack plugged into the tape deck and the cassette queued in the deck on Record/Pause. This allowed the bass signal to pass through the receiver and out the speakers. It was pretty ghetto but it worked.
Eventually we acquired an actual jam space which was basically a derelict garage at a buddy of mine’s house.
One problem remained however, I still didn’t have an amp…
This would soon change because one evening after talking music with a family friend of mine, he said, “I have an amp you can have“.
Say what!?! “HAVE???”
“Sure, come by sometime and look at it. I’ll never use it, it’s too big and heavy“.
I thought, OK, what’s the catch. This thing must be a POS. But I went over to take a look at it anyway and low and behold it was this beautiful vintage Fender Showman. I didn’t realize at the time how rare and valuable this amp was or how original it was. I mean… it still had the two prong plug and “death cap” for cryin’ out loud!! How I never shocked the shit out of myself I’ll never know.
I played through this amp for quite a few months. Played great, sounded great and it forced the other’s in the band to get into bigger amps.
But then tragedy strikes…
One afternoon we show up at the jam spot. It was after a weekend or so off. We step into the garage and immediately noticed this waist-high layer of thick, heavy, now-settled smoke covering the floor. We thought, uh oh! electrical fire? Smells like it. Then it occurred to us that it may be one of our amps, but how?
Both guitarists flick on their amps and are relieved when the pilot light starts to glow. I reached behind my amp to turn it on, only to find that the toggle was already in the ON position. “Click-Click” Off/On, nothing… Then I get to looking around, sniffing, yup my amp was somehow the cause of all this smoke and stench.
Now, before you flog me for doing something as careless as leaving my vintage amp on unattended all weekend, please know this… It was not uncommon for our friends, primarily my buddy who’s garage we were using, to come in and jam out while we were gone. In fact it was totally acceptable. I’m 99% sure someone came in, jammed out on it and left it on.
At any rate, it was toast. This was like 1997 or ’98, there was no internet or Google and I certainly didn’t know enough about electronics do diagnose or fix the amp. At the time, all I managed to do was pull the chassis out and examine the fallout. It was definitely a ruptured power transformer. Get this… I called Fender… As in on the phone. I talk to one of their techs and convince them to send me a schematic of my amp. They actually snail mailed me a schematic! Didn’t matter, I had no idea what those symbols meant.
I did end up getting another amp but it wasn’t my classic Fender. And shortly after that, the band sort of dissolved and eventually I packed up and moved out of state.
Now, fast forward to last November (2015). I had a trip to LA planned for some personal business and arranged to stay at my uncles place while I was there. My uncle has been in the music/entertainment industry for as long as I can remember and is firmly rooted in the LA scene. In fact it was he who got me interested in music way back as a young child and is the reason I picked up an instrument to play in the first place.
During one of our catch-up conversations we talk of music and old vintage equipment (which he has lots of). I asked him, “Hey you remember that Fender amp I had back in the day?” He says, “Yes, the showman. I remember that well”. I kinda sigh and say. I wonder what ever happened to that? He looks at me like you’re kidding right??. He says, “I have it, it’s in the garage. Don’t you remember giving it to me? You didn’t have anywhere to put it and I didn’t want to see you give it away, so I told you I’d keep it”.
WHAT!!? NO WAY…!!!
I totally forgot ever giving that amp to him!
Well now I know where it’s at, but I’m 3 states away. Time for a road trip!
Rewind to last month (February 2016). I convince my brother to take a drive down to LA with me to rescue this amp which worked out well because he had a set of drums he wanted to bring back also. So all together this turned into one successful music equipment rescue mission and it was great, and I have my old amp back!