Bandmaster VM Review

manufacturer: Fender date: 06/03/2009 category: Guitar Amplifiers
Fender: Bandmaster VM
2009 Made in Mexico, 40W all-tube amp, 2AX7 tubes (phase-inverter & pre-amp), 2 6L6 power tubes. 2 8Ohm speaker exits (eventually changeable to 1 4Ohm exit), FX-loop.
 Sound: 8
 Overall Impression: 9
 Reliability & Durability: 9
 Features: 8
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review (1) pictures (1) 7 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 8.5
Bandmaster VM Reviewed by: williamsanders, on june 03, 2009
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Price paid: € 650

Purchased from: Muziek & Visie

Features: 2009 Made in Mexico, 40W all-tube amp, 2AX7 tubes (phase-inverter & pre-amp), 2 6L6 power tubes. 2 8Ohm speaker exits (eventually changeable to 1 4Ohm exit), FX-loop. Two channels (clean & Drive), separate FX-unit containing: reverb, chorus & delay. 2band EQ for the clean channel, 3 band "post-gain" for the Drive channel. Onboard effects are digital, but they sound very good. The appearance is the typical mid-sixties "blackface-look", which is rather nice! The only thing I don't like is the chorus, it sounds "fake". Replacing it with a (tube)vibrato would give this amp a 10/10 score. The controls for setting the effects are the same as on stompboxes (time/rate, mix & depth), so you can get some very versatile sounds out of one amp. Chorus & Delay share the same regulators, so be careful to remember the setting of effect X while changing effect Y. Cabinet is a closed-back 2x12 Celestion G 12P80 speakers. It would be nice if there was also a handle on the side, so you can use the cabinet with the two speakers on top of each other, but there's nothing some aftermarket parts and a screwdriver can't fix. With the cabinet placed "normally", you can get some weird "out of phase-sound" when standing in the wrong position of the amp. I'm giving it in total an 8.5, reduced to 8. // 8

Sound: I'm plugged straight in this amp with a HW1 Fat Stratocaster and classic '60 Telecaster, playing merely soul/RnB and Postrock, and this amp does the trick completely! It sounds quiet warm & mellow with the EQ set to neutral, but with some twists from the knobs you can get everything from jazzy-warm to country-spark. It's a 40W tube amp, and it does get loud, and it can withstand Live-playing with a hard kicking drummer and pumpy bass. The onboard effects do sound good (except for the chorus, it's to "wet" and "fake"). The reverb can go very deep, so surf-rock is also possible. The delay can get from 100 to 1000 milliseconds, and sounds quiet clear (good for postrock-like shoegaze). The Drive is a bit harsh, but it will do the trick. The amp cranks up when the clean channel is on approximately 8 or 9, so you can have it quiet clean at high volumes. There is some tube-hiss, but not more than on other tube amplifiers. // 8

Reliability & Durability: This thing is made like a tank! It's made from heavy plywood, nice & sturdy tolex, and it can withstand Live-playing with ease! It hasn't broken down (yet), but I'm confident that won't happen in the (near) future. The only thing that would be nice would be some "metal corners" like on the cabinet, giving that little extra visual appearance & sturdiness around the corners. I can depend on it, and I gig without backup (but that has also to do with the fact that I don't have the money for a backup). // 9

Overall Impression: I play postrock & soul, and it's a perfect match. The amp responds very well to my playing & dynamics, sounds very nice & is loud & powerfull enough to withstand Live-playing. I've been playing for over 5 years now, merely as a bassplayer (where I use rickenbackers (4001 & 4003) through an Ashdown. If it were stolen, I would consider buying it back. I love the fact that it's a Vintage looking amp with good onboard effects, it's loud enough for Live-gigs and the sound is delicious. The one thing I regret is that it hasn't got a vibrato (channel). I compared it against a Deluxe VM (the same amp, but in combo with an 1x12 speaker) and a hot-rod deluxe, but I needed some punch (so no 1x12-speakers for me) and warmth (so no hot-rod). // 9

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