For our ten year anniversary, we are unveiling a very special project we are calling the Benmaster.
The 2nd amp I ever built was a clone of the 5E7 Fender Bandmaster, a semi-mythical model from the tweed era featuring 3 10” speakers. My clone was true point to point inside an old organ chassis. I came up with the layout and learned a TON about parasitics and grounding in that chassis…stuff I still use today. When I finally got it working it sounded incredible. I made a mini stack cabinet set for it, @billy4fun and I picked out a striped fabric that we covered in some stinky finish, and it was done. After hearing it, bands started borrowing the amp for shows around town.
Later, after building and analyzing hundreds of circuits, I finally understood the exotic why and how of the 5E7 circuit’s majesty: on its face it’s everything the 5F6A Bassman is not. The Bandmaster has the worst power supply, phase inverter, tone stack, transformers, etc. for a clean and direct sound...everything about it seems custom designed to create a compressed, greasy bark with a glorious halo around it. It had to be an accident, but what an accident!
I share an appreciation for this particular tweed era circuit with a long time customer and friend. He sent me an original Bandmaster to study. He then called and proposed that I go back to my roots, with the knowledge I have today, and make a limited run of my ideal version of this great amp for myself, for him, and for some of our friends. After thinking it over, I decided to go for it.
The process of creating this very special amp has been a joy and an adventure. The original example from the 50’s had a capacitor value that is dramatically different than the widely available 5E7 schematic. It looks original, and it also sounds better than the schematic value. 5E7s are so rare in the wild, I have no way of knowing what is what, but we went with the better sounding one. Finding the right speakers was its own journey. Finally it all came together and I am totally thrilled with the gutsy, pure rock and roll tone this machine creates.