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Fractal Audio AMP models: Band-Commander ('68 Fender Bandmaster, AB763)

yek

Moderator
Moderator


Band-Commander: based on ’68 Fender Silverface Bandmaster (AB763 circuit)

Maybe not as famous as some of the other Fender amps, but the modeled Bandmaster with the AB763 circuit is considered to be another “holy grail” Fender.

This amp has the looks of a silverface Fender, the period between 1967 and 1981 following the blackfaced Fenders. Silverfaces are commonly associated with less desirable Fenders. But this amp has the AB763 circuit from the blackface period, considered the best circuit version produced for this amp. So you may as well regard this amp as a blackface version. This “hybrid” Bandmaster was produced shortly by Fender, before the introduction of lesser-quality circuits. More information. Do not confuse this version with the later Bandmaster Reverb or the earlier Tweed Bandmaster.

Ampwares.com: “In August 1967, Fender changed the cosmetics once again, this time to the silverface style. The earliest of these (Aug. ’67 to July ’68) had aluminum grill trim, black vertical lines on the control panel, and a highly textured version of the famous silver/blue sparkle grill cloth. In addition, the speaker cabinet was enlarged and ported. In June 1968, the Bandmaster was given the infamous AC568 silverface circuit. The amp shown here is one of the very last silverface Bandmasters produced with the blackface AB763 circuit.”​

Fenderguru.com: “Not all silverface amps were developed in a bad direction. Let’s study the blackface Bandmaster AB763 and Bassman AA864. They are similar in the way that both are clean sounding with just one 12ax7 tube in the preamp stage (vibrato ch in bandmaster and normal channel in bassman). The vibrato channel in the Bandmaster is even more clean than the Bassman because of the vibrato circuitry loading the signal chain and reducing the gain level in the premp section. Hence, the AA864 Bassman normal channel has more preamp “juice” and reaches the sweet spot at an earlier volume knob setting. The Bassman has a slightly bigger output transformer resulting in a firmer tone and more attack. A smaller output transformer will introduce sag and compression in the power amp section. The blackface Bandmaster is therefore ideal for those who look for a pure Fender clean sound without making ones ears bleed. The blackface and silverface Bandmaster is a big sounding amp with a flexible speaker impedance of 4 ohm, allowing anything between one and four speakers (8 ohm each) to be connected via the main and/or external speaker jack. This makes it possible to adapt to small and big stages and gigs just by configuring the speakers."​

This amp puts out around 40 watts through two 6L6 tubes. It has two channels: “Normal ” and “Vibrato”. The model is based on the Vibrato channel.

It’s an amp with quite a lot of headroom. When it does start to break up, it produces a nice overdrive.
The Bandmaster sounds very balanced to me. I know quite a few people use it as their main Fender model.

The original amp controls are: Treble, Bass, Volume Bright and Volume Normal, and a Bright switch. There’s no Middle tone control, so keep this at “5” in the model for authenticity. No Master Volume either, so keep the Master control in the model dimed.

Note that the range of the controls on this amp is 1 to 10, while the model's controls range 0 to 10. Here's a translation table, created by forum member Barhrecords.​

The Bandmaster provides two inputs per channel. Fractal Audio models of Fender amps are always based on the input with the highest input level. To get the equivalent of using the lower input, set Input Trim to 0.500.

This Bandmaster was used with a 2x12 cabinet, with Jensen or Oxford 12” speakers. Find the 2x12” Fender stock cabs on this page.


 
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ETOLKIEN

Experienced
I love the tone of this amp!
Other of the not-so-famous amp models that I never would have been enjoyed without the axe!
When I plugged first time I immediately thought: The Who!
 

Rocket Brother

Power User
Yep - you said it Yek - great balanced high headroom amp.

If I'm not mistaken John Mayer had one in his rig for a long long time.
I'm not up to speed on his current rig so I don't know if he still use it, but he had a Bandmaster next to a Dumble and a Two Rock when I was invited up to see the stage and his guitars after a concert a few years go.
I've used it myself quite a bit for (you guessed it) John Mayer style clean sounds - a great amp for sure.
 

Jan Geerts

Inspired
I use it for playing funky cleans. Which is not often, but it's got the right tone, tightness in the bass and clarity for that.
 

yek

Moderator
Moderator
Yep - you said it Yek - great balanced high headroom amp.

If I'm not mistaken John Mayer had one in his rig for a long long time.
I'm not up to speed on his current rig so I don't know if he still use it, but he had a Bandmaster next to a Dumble and a Two Rock when I was invited up to see the stage and his guitars after a concert a few years go.
I've used it myself quite a bit for (you guessed it) John Mayer style clean sounds - a great amp for sure.
Yes, this model screams: "Play a John Mayer tune".
 

Smittefar

Fractal Fanatic
I had great fun with this amp today. This and the Atomica combined in a weird preset playing Mayer and EVH at the same time - but great fun. So far, I have not have the best luck with Fender Cleans, but this one does the part perfectly.
 

StickMan

Experienced
When I was a teenager, I had one of what I figured was the last of the pre-CBS Bandmasters, made in late 1964 - almost the same time that I was born. It had the Jensen speakers in the cab. The head weighed 30 lbs, and the cabinet weighed 50 lbs.

I had a tech run the output of channel 1 into the input of channel 2. I remember being pretty impressed with the resulting distortion, and the fact that you now had 4 tone knobs (2 before and 2 after the distortion) to play with.

The 40 watts was pretty loud. My mother had a teaspoon collection in a bunch of racks on the wall in the dining room. Some guys were over and we were playing "Wild Thing". I cranked it and strummed the first two chords and all of the spoons came rattling off the rack. No way we could get them all back in the right places.

I was a teenager, and therefore stupid, and I figured the 2:1, lbs:watts ratio was a loser, so I sold it. I regretted that for about 30 years - sigh.

Anyways, it was so long ago that I can't remember enough about the tone to tell how true the AxeFX version is to the one I had. Sigh.
 
I have a '68 Showman at home that I picked up a few years ago. It's basically the 100-watt version of the Bandmaster. One of the loudest amps I've ever owned (second to an SLO100). Mine also has blackface circuitry. The Band-Commander in the Axe does a pretty fantastic job of accurately replicating the tone and feel of this tight, punchy, incredibly clean amp.

showman.jpg
 
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iaresee

Moderator
Moderator
I get a TON of miles out of this model. It sounds wonderful with my Strats and my PRS' alike. It's this big, beautiful clean sound with a touch of mid-range spank. Not scooped or peaky. Just lovely.


Paired with a Marshall 4x12 it's a lot of fun for Fogerty tones:


 

ETOLKIEN

Experienced
It's also a great bass guitar amp in the Fractal when paired up with a 4 X 10 or 1 X 15.
Agree, better for bass than the Bassman, IMO!!

When I was a teenager, I had one of what I figured was the last of the pre-CBS Bandmasters, made in late 1964 - almost the same time that I was born. It had the Jensen speakers in the cab. The head weighed 30 lbs, and the cabinet weighed 50 lbs.
My mother had a teaspoon collection in a bunch of racks on the wall in the dining room. Some guys were over and we were playing "Wild Thing". I cranked it and strummed the first two chords and all of the spoons came rattling off the rack. No way we could get them all back in the right places.
Haha, nice story!
Hhmm...Wild thing...I can almost hear you!
For this kind of distortion I like to add a Drive block in FullOD type, all defaults except gain tamed at 10-11 o'clock.
 
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