NAD - Return of the King...

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NAD - Return of the King...

Post by Surfysonic » Tue Jun 15, 2021 3:53 pm

Vibro-King, that is! I had one for a while a few years back but ended up selling it. My rationale at the time was that it's way too heavy to lug around for gigging. Well, I'm not gigging much these days (who is?) and if/when I get the opportunity to play out again, instead of this 73 lbs. beastie, I'll use my 35 lbs. Tone Master Twin Reverb.

I've been on a 10-inch speaker kick, now owning two 2x10 amps (Fender Vaporizer & Fender "Custom" Vibrolux, which I just sent out the chassis to John Fromel in Seattle for him to do his mods to fix the common but serious issues with this amp - hissing, hum, etc.), and a 4x10 amp (Fender '59 LTD Reissue Bassman). Why not add a 3x10 amp back into the herd again? ;)

Recently, I saw that my local music shop has had this Vibro-King for sale on their website. The price had at some point been marked down significantly; making it way more affordable for what they cost on Reverb or eBay. I resisted for over a month. :derp:

Today, since I was nearby after an appointment, I figured...I'll just look at it, maybe test it out (you know how that goes). :blush: I checked it out for some of the common issues like a clicking noise when the tremolo (speed/intensity) was activated. No clicking! I don't expect to be ever diming it to cause the 60 watts to blow out the Fender "Vintage Blue" speakers (Eminence, I believe).

Using some tele-style Reverend guitar as they don't sell Fender or Squier guitars, I played for about 15 minutes - the amp sounded awesome. The onboard reverb is glorious (sounding more like an outboard reverb unit than your typical blackface inboard reverb units. I ended up buying it...quelle surprise... :fp: I'm definitely going to have to move some gear soon to offset the cost of this beast.

Date code on it is EG = July 1994. It came with the cover and footswitch as well. Highlight feature - it has caster wheels! :w00t:

On to the photos!

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I dusted off the speakers soon after... :-[

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Due to the caster wheels, I felt it prudent to swap the Princeton Reverb with the '64 Reverb Unit so it will be less likely to topple over. :fp:
The Princeton Reverb has been adjusted to be more stable on the Bassman than it looks in the photo - work in progress, lol.. :derp:

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Last edited by Surfysonic on Wed Jun 16, 2021 9:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Return of the King...

Post by CorporateDisguise » Wed Jun 16, 2021 1:53 am

Man, blonde/oxblood has to be my favorite color combo for amps. Gorgeous collection you have there!

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Re: Return of the King...

Post by jthomas » Wed Jun 16, 2021 3:10 am

Beauty, eh?

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Re: Return of the King...

Post by Surfysonic » Wed Jun 16, 2021 6:35 am

Thanks! Finally got the amps arranged so nothing will topple over off of the caster-wheeled Vibro-King.

'59 LTD Reissue Bassman, '94 Vibro-King, '62 Bassman, '64 Reverb Unit, '64 Princeton, "Custom" Vibrolux (chassis is off for mod installation/fixes)...

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Pawn Shop Excelsior Pro, Vox AC15C1-TV, Vaporizer...

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Super Bassman, Allen Encore, Princeton Reverb...

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Re: Return of the King...

Post by Tafarel » Wed Jun 16, 2021 7:23 am

You have great taste. I love the blondes you've collected.

I, too, had a VibroKing -- it is the best sounding amp I've owned, and the onboard reverb is brilliant -- but after using it for a few years I injured my back getting it into the boot of my car. Numerous hours (and hundreds of dollars) of chiropractic care later, I decided to sell it on. I miss it; the sound, if not the weight.

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Re: Return of the King...

Post by Surfysonic » Wed Jun 16, 2021 12:49 pm

Tafarel wrote:
Wed Jun 16, 2021 7:23 am
You have great taste. I love the blondes you've collected.

I, too, had a VibroKing -- it is the best sounding amp I've owned, and the onboard reverb is brilliant -- but after using it for a few years I injured my back getting it into the boot of my car. Numerous hours (and hundreds of dollars) of chiropractic care later, I decided to sell it on. I miss it; the sound, if not the weight.

Snf...
Thanks! I'm a huge fan of brownface/early '60s Fender amps with brown or blonde tolex. I love the Vibro-King's brownface vibe, too.

They aren't light for sure. This caster-wheeled beastie will be staying at home as I have lighter amps for playing out. If I really had to bring it out, I'd also make use of my handcart, heh. ;D
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Re: NAD - Return of the King...

Post by Veitchy » Thu Jun 17, 2021 4:51 pm

Hot damn I love those amps. It's almost like a Fender greatest hits package built into one amp but still remains it's own thing. I love the tens especially, as well as the fact that they kept tweaking speaker choice over the lifetime of the amp - always fun to geek out on. I find Bruce Zinky a really interesting cat and this is one of his best designs atmo. As I understand, the reverb is basically a 6G reverb circuit built into the front of the amp, rather than a regular reverb between the pre and power stage - no surprises then about the sound. Really, I feel like it's the last truly original amp circuit Fender has put out (Modeling amps aside). If you forced me to play one Fender amp and practicality of volume wasn't a consideration this could well be it.

Stoked for you.

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Re: NAD - Return of the King...

Post by Surfysonic » Thu Jun 17, 2021 7:50 pm

Cheers, Veitchy! 8)
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Re: NAD - Return of the King...

Post by 46346 » Wed Jul 21, 2021 2:51 am

this was the only new amp that i really lusted for back in the 90's. i had already gotten into 50's and 60's amps, but suddenly this brand new Fender hit all my vintage buttons at once. my only difficulty was the price. and when they finally reached the used market, they were still going for well over $1000. i had played one of the original brown 3x10 Bandmasters and was stoked. and i always loved the Fender outboard tank.

and isn't it power tube tremolo, bias modulated?

best of all worlds for a Fender 6L6 amp!

back then i found a '66 Bassman head for $150 at a yard sale.
also found a used brown Fender reissue reverb tank for $200 in a Denver guitar shop while on tour.
eventually built a sweet blonde 3x10 combo cab with casters.
i've had just as much fun as Zinky and Fender did, trying different speaker combos over the years.

10 years ago i stumbled upon an early '61 brown Bassman head, one of the very first transitional models.
fixed it up and slipped it in the 3x10 cab.
also got the 2x12 sealed Professional cab, in case i needed to go full Townshend.

ended up with my own custom Fender Blonde VK. only took 15 years and ultimately almost as much money!
but it makes for two full vintage Bassman rigs, too!

i always get happy when i see thee amps. CONGRATS!!
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Re: NAD - Return of the King...

Post by Veitchy » Wed Jul 21, 2021 2:59 pm

46346 wrote:
Wed Jul 21, 2021 2:51 am
and isn't it power tube tremolo, bias modulated?
I don't believe it is - I think it's photocell.

As I understand it, it's really hard to get bias vary trem to work in high power amplifiers as you run into voltage problems, and apparently it can get pretty noisy too. The brown vibrovebs were the largest (most powerful) amplifiers that I know of that had bias vary trems. Once you got into the black panel stuff you only really found it in Princetons and similar. Bit of a bummer as it's probably my favorite way of doing trem in an everyday amplifier.

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Re: NAD - Return of the King...

Post by Powdered Toast Man » Thu Jul 22, 2021 11:25 am

My condolences.

Really.

I picked up a Vibro King in 2016 because it was a crazy good deal. I ended up selling my Custom Vibrolux Reverb to my friend to make room for it. So out of the gate I had problems with the tremolo ticking. And then it was eating reverb stage power tubes. And then the power transformer actually started to go. Lots of repair costs. And then I found out while getting the PT replaced that ALL the transformers on it are all made in China imports. And they use the same low grade IC caps in the VK as their Hot Rod series. In the end mine was unreliable and extremely heavy, and I never could get the trem to function properly. Plus the "Fat Boost" function is absolutely useless as a solo boost. Every time I'd engage it my volume would jump such that even my drummer was stunned.

I finally decided to get rid of it and go back to using my 5F6A Bassman instead (which sounds superior anyway). I took a bath on the sale of it too. NO ONE wants these things today.

And the kicker is I still see/hear my CVR every now and then when by buddy and I play together. That amp sounds so good it's not even funny. The Vibro King is the one piece if gear I absolutely regret buying in the first place.

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Re: NAD - Return of the King...

Post by s_mcsleazy » Thu Jul 22, 2021 2:09 pm

and i thought my band used too many fender amps.
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Re: NAD - Return of the King...

Post by Surfysonic » Sat Jul 31, 2021 7:26 am

Powdered Toast Man wrote:
Thu Jul 22, 2021 11:25 am
My condolences.

Really.

I picked up a Vibro King in 2016 because it was a crazy good deal. I ended up selling my Custom Vibrolux Reverb to my friend to make room for it. So out of the gate I had problems with the tremolo ticking. And then it was eating reverb stage power tubes. And then the power transformer actually started to go. Lots of repair costs. And then I found out while getting the PT replaced that ALL the transformers on it are all made in China imports. And they use the same low grade IC caps in the VK as their Hot Rod series. In the end mine was unreliable and extremely heavy, and I never could get the trem to function properly. Plus the "Fat Boost" function is absolutely useless as a solo boost. Every time I'd engage it my volume would jump such that even my drummer was stunned.

I finally decided to get rid of it and go back to using my 5F6A Bassman instead (which sounds superior anyway). I took a bath on the sale of it too. NO ONE wants these things today.

And the kicker is I still see/hear my CVR every now and then when by buddy and I play together. That amp sounds so good it's not even funny. The Vibro King is the one piece if gear I absolutely regret buying in the first place.
Fortunately, I'm not experiencing any of the common issues associated with the VK, which actually surprised me. Now that I think about it, I didn't have any problems with the last one I owned either. Maybe both of them were later models that Fender addressed those issues...just speculating. :whistle:

I recently bought a used Custom Vibrolux that has ALL the issues associated with it as I assumed it would. It's currently receiving Fromel mods out in Seattle by John Fromel to address the problems. I'm looking forward to getting it back within the next few weeks. I'm hoping it will be a great 2x10 speaker and sound even better than my old 90's Vibroverb that I had for a few years but let go for (I think) my first VK.
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Re: NAD - Return of the King...

Post by Surfysonic » Sat Jul 31, 2021 7:30 am

s_mcsleazy wrote:
Thu Jul 22, 2021 2:09 pm
and i thought my band used too many fender amps.
What can I say - I love me some Fender amps and the tones I get from them. :-*

I'm really enjoying my Vox AC15C1-TV, though! The Bare Knuckle pickups in my Johnny Marr Jag really come alive with the Vox. 8)
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Re: NAD - Return of the King...

Post by 46346 » Sun Aug 01, 2021 1:38 am

Veitchy wrote:
Wed Jul 21, 2021 2:59 pm
46346 wrote:
Wed Jul 21, 2021 2:51 am
and isn't it power tube tremolo, bias modulated?
I don't believe it is - I think it's photocell.

As I understand it, it's really hard to get bias vary trem to work in high power amplifiers as you run into voltage problems, and apparently it can get pretty noisy too. The brown vibrovebs were the largest (most powerful) amplifiers that I know of that had bias vary trems. Once you got into the black panel stuff you only really found it in Princetons and similar. Bit of a bummer as it's probably my favorite way of doing trem in an everyday amplifier.
right! i remember now, also prodded by Powdered's reviving the 'ticking tremolo' noise issue, which i did experience once when auditioning a used VK.

the bias tremolo i was remembering was on the VK's sibling Dual Professional amp. that was the king daddy Fender of the time!
i remember being 'not yet professional enough' for that one!

that Dual Prof was a 4x6L6 power tube bias-tremolo'd amp... i had read that theory you mentioned as well, but it *can* be done! you gotta pay more attention to your bias level, though.
my latest guess is that in the brown/blonde Tolex era, Fender developed the awesome Harmonic Vibrato, and put that in their top pro amps. and the cheaper amps kept the cheaper bias-trem circuits. same thing with the blackface era - the new optical method went into the pro amps, and the student models kept the cheaper method. maybe it was just Leo's economics?
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