The Fender Bassman Amplifier has gained a reputation for being the go-to amp for both electric guitar and bass players. The warm tube sound was introduced in 1952 when the first Bassman model was designed for Fender Precision Bass guitars. Shortly thereafter, the Bassman would become the most sought after amplifier for country and rock guitar and bass players. Bassmans that were manufactured in the 50s and 60s are known to resell in the $10,000 to $15,000 range. The ability to date a Fender Bassman will often mean the difference between thousands of dollars when shopping for a vintage Bassman. Since the Leo Fender and Co. manufactured the first Bassman in the early 50s, it has been replicated many times, making it hard to tell them apart. The only sure-fire way to date a Fender Bassman is by matching serial schemes.
Find the tube chart located in the back of your amplifier. The tube chart is a diagram detailing what kind of tubes are installed in your amplifier. It will usually be printed on a 4- by 4-inch sticker placed near the tubes in your amp.
Locate the production stamp on the tube chart. From 1953 to 1967, this was a two-letter stamp that corresponded with the month and year the amp was manufactured. For instance, if the amp was manufactured in March of 1955, the serial code would be EC. E for 1955 and C for March. This two-letter production stamp continued in 1990 when Fender began reissuing Fender Bassman Amplifiers. Here is a comprehensive table for identifying the production stamp:
A - 1951, 1990 B - 1952, 1991 C - 1953, 1992 D - 1954, 1993 E - 1955, 1994 F=1956, 1995 G - 1957, 1996 H - 1958, 1997 I - 1959, 1998 J - 1960, 1999 K - 1961, 2000 L - 1962, 2001 M - 1963, 2002 N - 1964, 2003 O - 1965, 2004 P - 1966, 2005 Q - 1967, 2006
A - Jan B - Feb C - Mar D - Apr E - May F - Jun G - Jul H - Aug I - Sep J - Oct K - Nov L - Dec
If you are unable to find the production stamp, find the serial number that is also printed on the tube chart. Here are the serial number schemes from 1951 to 1970.
1951 to 1954 the serial numbers were 001-0900.
1951 - BM00001 to BM00550 1956 - BM00550 to BM01200 1957 - BM01200 to BM01600
1957 - BM00001 to BM00400 1958 - BM00400 to BM01500 1959 - BM01500 to BM03100 1960 - BM03100 to BM04600
1961 - BP00100 to BP01100 1962 - BP01100 to BP05000 1963 - BP05000 to BP08400 1964 - BP08400 to BP12000
1964 - A00100 to A03800 1965 - A03800 to A15000 1966 - A15000 to A33000
1967 - A32000 to A40000 1968 - A39000 to A49000 1969 - A48000 to A58000
1970 to 1983 - A58000 to A60000
The Bassman was discontinued in 1983 until Fender re-issued new versions of the 50s and 60s Fender Bassman models in 1990.
There are several re-issues that look identical to vintage amplifiers of the 50s through the 70s. Look closely at the serial numbers and production code stamps to see if they match your Bassman model. Double-check the serial numbers with the serial scheme guide on Fender.com.
Ezekiel James began as a music writer in 2003. Since then, James has served as a writer for several music, technology and design publications. His work has been published on eHow, TechAxcess.com and in print for the "The Potrero View" and "Punk Planet." James is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Portland State University.