Fender Custom Vibrasonic

Fender Custom Vibrasonic
NO Schematic
Brand:
Era:
Configuration:
Production: ,

Model/Circuit Number:
Years of Production:
1995 – 1996
Era:
Configuration: Combo
Controls: Black, forward facing w/ white labels, controls numbered 1-10
Knobs: Black skirted w/ chrome center, numbered 1 – 10
Faceplate

  • Front: Steel: In, In, Sweet Sw, Vol, Treb, Mid, Bass – Guitar: In, In, Fat Sw, Vol, Treb, Mid, Bass, Reverb, Speed, Intensity – Pilot Lamp
  • Rear: Fuse (4A), Power Sw, Standby Sw, Speaker Jack, Ex Speaker Jack, Footswitch Jack

Cabinet

  • Dimensions: Combo Cabinet: 22” x 26” x 10”
  • Hardware: Large Chassis Straps 5 5/8”, 16” Tilt-Back Legs
  • Handle: Black Plastic Handle
  • Feet: Glides
  • Corners: Corner Protectors

 

Covering Material

  • Tolex/Tweed: Black Tolex or Brown Western
  • Grill Cloth: Silver Sparkle Grill Cloth

Logo: Grill mounted, flat, chrome & black script
Weight: 71 lbs.
Speaker

Effects: Reverb, Tremolo
~Watts: 100 watts
Tubes

  • Pre amp: 12AX7
  • Power: 4 x 6L6GC

Bias: Fixed with bias adjustment pot.
Rectifier: Solid State

Comments: Repair tech Mike Schway notes:

The Custom VibrAsonic (not vibrOsonic) is one strange amp. It’s very different from the original VibrOsonic Reverb.

Reverb and (lcr-mediated) Tremolo are active on both channels, V1B and V2B have their plates AND cathodes in parallel (but the grids are independent!). I suppose this was a cheap way to get efx from both channels….they could have just kept the basic AB763 design and tied the downstream ends of the V1B and V2B coupling caps together to achieve this and maintain a decent amount of preamp gain to boot. On the other hand, this is supposed to be a relatively low gain amp designed primarily for super-clean pedal steel use and the lower gain from the 2nd audio stage is probably OK for the intended application. Actually, it’s a GREAT amp for pedal steel, but that’s a relatively small niche.

Another really weird thing is they use a 12AX7 for the phase inverter (not a 12AT7). With 100V DC on the cathode, you get loads of inductive hum from that stage. What WERE they thinking!?! (a simple sub to a 12AT7 will help a bunch here). The hum balance control is a MUST for this amp!

12 Responses to “Fender Custom Vibrasonic”

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  1. Comment by Anonymous — September 13, 2011 at 11:32 am   Reply

    I own a Fender Custom Vibrasonic Amp and find it to be one of the most articulate amps I have ever played thru. It has been totally reliable and perfect in every way. After reading the above comment and several others on the web, I decided to contact Bruce Zinky, himself, the designer of this great amp and get his take on it, so there won’t be anymore mis-guided information and opinions on this fine amp. Here is the major body of the email I received from Bruce Zinky on September 12, 2011, concerning the 1995-1996 Fender Custom Vibrasonic Amp in his own words:

    “It’s
    a modified twin with a 15″. STEEL channel is stock Twin, GUITAR channel is
    like a Vibro-King or Tone Master channel.

    Fender needed a good sounding, loud amp with a 15″ that could be aimed at
    guitarists or vintage style pedal steel players.
    It has what I called at the time, the “Nashville” mods, which make
    the power amp louder and clearer, compared to a Twin.

    It’s heavy, but cool. Fender made a lot of those in a very short time. The
    factory figured out that the amp didn’t cost much more than a Twin to make, but
    sold for a whole lot more money,
    and then built thousands of them to make their “Profit Center” look
    good. Head of
    Fender freaked out and discontinued the amp….Which, of course, made them
    highly sought after as soon as they were no longer available.”

    ENJOY.

    BZ

    • Comment by Jd Harris — October 25, 2011 at 6:45 am   Reply

      I agree with Telecastoff. I played thru a Custom VibrAsonic a few years ago, that I had borrowed and defintiely feel it sounded much like a Vibro King. I wish I would have bought that Custom Vibrasonic now. Not too many of them around. I never see them up for sale. Players or collectors must be hanging onto them. It’s a great amp….definitely a mis-understood amp and not a real familiar amp. One of Fender’s best in my opinion.

      • Comment by Tom Barton — November 17, 2011 at 8:32 pm   Reply

        I really like that amp. I played thru one at one of our local recording studios and was really impressed. It’s a very quiet amp when idling, unlike the first review on this page. i thought it was perhaps one of the most versatile clean fender amps I had ever played thru.  I remember the stock speaker sounding very much like a cross between an EV 15L and a JBL D130. Very nice speaker. I’ve been on the lookout for one but they just don’t come up for sale. Great old Blackface sound and great old Blackface looks. Gotta get my hands on one. This is a “must have” amplifier!

        • Comment by John C. Rawlings — September 14, 2013 at 6:20 am   Reply

          I have had this amp since it was new and have played perhaps hundreds of gigs with it. It has never let me down. I play a Telecaster mainly thru this amp and it sounds great. The only thing I have changed besides tubes, was the speaker. I found the stock speaker to be less than desireable in that it was too bright on the highs and farty on the lows. I put a Peavey 1501-4 Black Widow in it and that amp really came alive. This is the only amp I have gigged with for all these years, although I do have others. I kept the stock speaker in case I would ever sell the amp, but I honestly can’t see that ever happening. This is truly the nicest sounding Fender amp I have played thru in all my 50+ years of playing. You just don’t see many of these coming up for sale these days. Real, working players are hanging onto these. Theses amps are THAT good, period. I highly recommend this amp to anyone seeking a high quality, reliable Fender amp that can do just bout everything with a Tele plugged into it. By the way, my amp tech at Savage Audio loves this amp! Enough said.

    • Comment by R DGordon — November 20, 2011 at 8:01 pm   Reply

      Hey Telecastoff, Way to go contacting Bruce Zinky. It’s always good to get the real low-down when possible from the designers-builders of amps to fully understand the inner-makings of those amps. I’ll definitely have to try to find one to at least play through one for myself. Any idea what the going price is on these now? I’ve always heard only good thing about Bruce Zinky’s amp designs and it sounds like he created solid gold again in the Vibrasonic Custom Amp. Hope to find one.

    • Comment by B Neilsen — December 12, 2011 at 9:16 pm   Reply

      Telecastoff, I agree with you and good job of investigating that amp further. I just tried one this past weekend I found at my local music store. It was in really nice condition. Sounded huge and crystal clear. They wanted a bit more for it than I was willing to pay and they wouldn’t budge on price. I’m going back tomorrow and check it out again. If it’s still there and it still sounds as good, I’ll most likely just buy it. As scarce as these are where else am I going to find another one anytime soon? I did an A-B with a new Vibro King they had there and I truly felt the Custom Vibrasonic sounded much better. Maybe just my ears, but I like what I like. I’ll let you know if I buy it.

      • Comment by Telecastoff — May 9, 2012 at 3:10 am   Reply

        B Neilsen, Did you buy the Vibrasonic Custom you were looking at? Since I hadn’t heard back from you I figured you either missed out on the deal or you changed your mind. Let me know. Curious.

  2. Comment by Tbonecus2000 — March 31, 2012 at 7:03 pm   Reply

    I own a vibrasonic.  I have thought about selling it, but I just bought a 12″ swampthing speaker put it in a 2 – 12 closed back cab with a celestion classic 30.  Wow.  I’m selling my PRS SE50 head instead.

  3. Comment by Lee — August 30, 2012 at 7:43 am   Reply

    Is this amp wired point to point or does it have a circuit board?

  4. Comment by Stevio359 — March 16, 2014 at 11:26 am   Reply

    Hi everyone!!
    Can anyone help on here – it seems ‘the’ place to get top end info on this amp!!

    I am working on a 1996 Reissue and since I’ve had it (2nd hand) the footswitch controlling the Vibrato has never worked. I have changed the stereo jack socket and valves but with no joy :-) There is no-one local to me who works on valve amps so any info would be appreciated. One thing I did notice is that with the Reverb footswitch ‘on’ the vibrato switch ‘pops’ but does not give me the effect, adversely with the Reverb switch off the is no ‘popping’ sound from the speaker. Does anyone have a photo of the underside of the footswitch I can view – please?

    • Comment by msaudio — April 1, 2014 at 6:07 pm   Reply

      To Stevio359:

      If the vibrato isn’t working, it’s not necessarily the footswitch. A couple of other possibilities: Try replacing the 2nd 12AX7 to the right of the 6L6s. That’s the 5th tube from the right (counting towards the left) when looking at the back of the amp.

      Another possibiity is the Tremolo “roach” on the circuit board. That’s a combination neon lamp and photo-resistor enclosed in one piece of black heat-shrink tubing. Failures in that component aren’t all that uncommon, but 20 years is a pretty short time for it to fail.

      You can always check the footswitch with a multimeter. Look at the continuity at the plug between ground (the sleeve) and both the tip and sleeve when the individual buttons are pressed. I forget which one (tip-to-sleeve or ring-to-sleeve) controls the tremolo effect.

  5. Comment by TJ WegerMay 15, 2014 at 8:09 am   Reply

    After many gigs with my retro country band using my Deluxe Reverb reissue (I play both Tele and Fender Stringmaster steel), I finally realized that I needed more power and clarity, mostly for the steel. I didn’t want to haul two amps, but almost bought a Twin to (reluctantly) do just that. As I searched around, a player on the Steel Guitar Forum told me about these Vibrasonic amps, and that he had one he didn’t need any longer (just bought a boutique Webb for his PSG). After reading the info on this page, and the comments, I started thinking about one in earnest. I bought his, and got it in March, and I have to say, I am SOOOO happy I did. It makes all the difference in my rig’s sound now. I get all the Tele twang I need, and my steel stays full, rich and clean with all the headroom I need for virtually any gig. And I haven’t even put in new power tubes yet! It’s definitely a much heavier schelp, but worth it. I’m hanging on to this one!

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