Fender 400-PS User's Comment Page
Subject: Re: [400PS_group] Re: Steve! what year....
Date: Sat, 22 Feb 2003 02:22:02 EST
I USED TO PLAY A G&L B1000 THROUGH A PEAVEY MK IV w/ 1810 CABINET. YEAH,
I'M A BASS PLAYER; BUT, WAIT, IT GETS PERTINENT! I PURCHASED
A BCRico BASS & FOUND MY SOUND IMPROVED DRAMATICALLY! THEN, IT
HAPPENED; THE THEFT OF A LIFETIME. I WAS ABLE TO RECOVER THE G&L
AND I SUPPOSE THE 1810 SPEAKER WAS TOO HEAVY; CAUSE I GOT TO KEEP IT.
HAVING ALWAYS UNDERSTOOD THE AMPEG SVT WAS TOPS, I SEARCHED FOR ONE. WHAT I
FOUND, FOR WHAT I COULD AFFORD & WHAT THE SALESMAN TOLD ME, WAS A FENDER
PS400: "THE DESIGN AMPEG BASED THEIR SVT AMP ON!" RICH HAS SINCE FELLED
THAT MYTH ! HOWEVER, I GOT LUCKY, ONCE THE G&L WAS RECOVERED: OH BABY -
TALK ABOUT SWEET SOUND!!! THE PS400 IS AWESOME!! I WAS MERELY PLAYING ONE
CHANNEL AT THE TIME - AND STAYING UP WITH OUR DRUMMER WITHOUT FLEXING or
MAXING ANYTHING. NOW, 14 YEARS LATER;
WITH THE SAME PS400 & PEAVEY 1810, I USE A VERY SWEET BCRich MOCKINGBIRD
BASS WITH ACTIVE ELECTRONICS & I GOTTA TELL YA "I'M ON TOP OF THE
THE PS400 WILL DELIVER !!!! THE PS400 WILL SURPRISE!!!! THE PS400 WILL
GIVE YOU TONES THAT YOU DID NOT KNOW WERE POSSIBLE!!!!! HEY, THE BETTER THE
INSTRUMENT, THE MORE YOUR DISCOVERY WILL BE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hey and good afternoon!
Very cool site, and thanks for all the information.
I've had 9 of these wonderful amps, and sold them all to the same guy
out towards the Montana/South Dakota area. You may know who I'm talking
about. The cabs are very rare, I only have had one, and that was in 2003- a
friends dad died, and he had some gear for sale. Imagine seeing a mint 400 PS
head, with stand, cover, and the W cab with cover, manuals, etc all sitting
there. I still get goosebumps.
The first PS 400 I went into blind. It took a year, I went slow, backed
up- I had a copy of the schematic, but it was a different animal. It came
from a pawnshop in Lenoir, NC, for 175.00. I had some good but used GE's,
and got 160 watts out of each output. I hooked 3 high powered 4 ohm Marshall
cabs up to it, cranked it up, and eventually the NAPA guy across the
street came over and asked me to CUT IT DOWN!!! I was drowning out his
customers. That legend still lives at my shop.
I bought another one at an auction last week. I'm still recuperating from
serious shoulder surgery following a bike accident, and sat in the cold for
4 hours to buy this amp. Your site gives these guys the respect they
deserve. These are magnificent amps, and whether fortunately or unfortunately
the best kept secret in amps. I've never had a 300, but I remember looking
and lusting as a kid of 13 at the picture in the catalog. Still get that
I found your Page.
I have a Fender 400 PS Amp which I cannot use anymore. Ist to heavy and
fragile for the road. Well I know that this is a very special amp and I want
to sell it to good hands.
My question for you is: can you tell me the price of this amp?
That would be great.
THX and Greetings from Hamburg, Germany.
Hello you crazy wonderful gents in NJ!
What a relief and pleasure it is to find you online. I'm happy because I just bought an ancient looking 400 PS that works but needs some major cleaning and is missing one knob and the front and back grilles.
I'll try to contact you on Monday to see if you might have any spare parts (knob/grille/service manual....? owner's manual?)
My wife and I have been doing house concerts in our living room for about the last 11 years, and I'm thinking this might be wonderful for that. Anyway, thanks for being out there, and I really look forward to talking to you. I'm also excited to read your marvelous archive of goodies about this amp.
All the best,
Echo Park, Calif.
Well, thanks for your kind words, but in all truth Rich Koerner at Time Electric is really the 400PS master. The stuff I told you about I learned mostly from Rich. He really helped me get mine going, after it had set underneath my bench for 10 years. :-)
Turns out that Rich had some significant contact with Ed Jahns at Fender - the man behind the 400PS. That was back in the 70's. Since then, he's spent decades dissecting the 400PS...so he can really give you the skinny on that beast. I just had to learn it some because my wife plays through one and I have to keep it going. hehe... Seriously, it truly is a sweet sounding and much under-appreciated amp. I paid fifty bucks for mine (no kidding) because the technician at the local music store couldn't figure out how to fix it. He said it was "junk" and a "boat-anchor".
www.timeelect.com is Rich's website. Very interesting guy - old school all the way!
Anyway, keep up the good work. I'll keep an eye on your site and pass it around. You're doing good stuff.
Just a note of thanks to you for your advice and schematic on my 400PS restoration. You may not recall, but you helped me several months ago by supplying some advice and a schematic on my 400PS... the one with the missing gain.
After completing the electronic restoration and repairs some months ago, the amp has been sitting around waiting for the cosmetics and the custom speaker cabinet build. Now the amp is complete... including some spiffy cosmetic upgrades. The matching cabinet is well along in process.
Here's the update
As you know, the eternal 400PS battle in real life application is full power utilization vs. excessive cabinet bulk.
My goal in this design project was to build a relatively compact single cabinet that could take advantage of the entire 400PS output section, while avoiding excessive size and multi-cabinet situations that have made the 400PS somewhat impractical for normal gigs in the modern era. To accomplish this task, my 400PS special design cabinet is slightly smaller than a Marshall slant-front 4x12, (though it is obviously configured totally differently.)
Anyway - tonight my custom built cabinet (at least the high frequency 1/3 of it) roared to life. A pair of JBL K-110's (which together constitute a 4 ohm load occupying one of the three 400PS outputs) handle the top end of the work. Tuned to the magical Rich Koerner 400PS line current specifications, and using those wonderful GE 6550A's the amp itself is clean, quiet and stable. It has gobs of power, and of course that great 400PS tone. Driven by it, the JBL's sound just wonderful in their optimum frequency range of 190 Hz - 6 kHz.
In my cabinet design, these JBLs are acoustically bandwidth limited below 190 Hz, using a custom damped MF cabinet design that acts as an acoustical crossover. This approach avoids power losses, distortions, and other nasty side effects typically associated with capacitors and inductors found in passive high power crossovers. This acoustical crossover approach also allows straight wire right from the 400PS output to the voice coils of the JBL. Simple, efficient, and effective.
According to my measurements tonight, the cabinet works beautifully. The sound of the 400PS-driven JBL pair is crystalline, clean, punchy, and without any hint of audible distortion - even with the 400PS cranked beyond 5 and into the crazy range :-) The K-110 pair easily make 104 dB in the design frequency range of 190-4kHz. That seems to match fairly well with the JBL advertised performance for those power levels.
All in all, a very satisfactory result.
The LF section of the cabinet is next to test. I look forward to seeing what the 400 can do driving the 30-190 Hz tuned section. I should know some preliminary results tomorrow night on that part.
I hope to finish the cosmetics on the special design cabinet very soon as well. I'll send you pics, if you want them.
So anyway, THANKS! Without your help, I don't think the outcome would have been as satisfactory. In any case, it would have been much more difficult and time consuming.
After that last gig with the 400 I think I nearly suffered a hernia and
definitely did my back no good....I hate to admit it, but I think I'm now
too old to tote such a beast. I was wondering if you or anyone in the club
is interested in relieving me of it. I'd be willing to trade straight across
for a Showman 4 ohm or a Dual Showman in good shape. I'd hate to go the ebay
route if we can keep this in the 'family'. I have kept it up nicely and it
has been re-capped not that long ago. Still sounds fine and performs up to
spec, (local amp tech Dave Vidal has done all the work since I've had it).
Cosmetically it is not great, but the cabinet is solid and I can send close
up pics of it to anyone who is interested.
I want to assure you that I am still getting laid, (by my wife of 17 years),
and even occasionally a proposition from someone else-which I have turned
down all this time!! (LOL)....
Hope all is well with you,
Thanks so much for your reply and the update on some of your new projects-I
used to have a Fender 6, but used it only to record with-usually to double a
line with my Jazz bass in the traditional usage. I haven't listened to all
the clips yet but I will as soon as I get the time. You are truly a 'wild
man' with your ideas and equipment...were I ever to come east I'd be sure to
look you up and hang out.
I did wait a couple days to hear back from you then put the 400 on Craig's
List in hopes of selling it locally...almost immediately I heard from my old
pal Norm Fisher who has been playing with Bryan Adams for the past 10 years
or so. He was very excited and said that he has been looking for a 400 ever
since he heard of it. He emailed me from the road and will be by my house to
pick it up on Friday next. He is truly an amazing player-can groove like a
bastard and solo better than anyone I've heard around here. He wants to run
it with 3 SVT cabinets. I am cc-ing him this letter so he can join the club
if so inclined. I think the other members would be very happy to have a bass
man of this stature in the 'family'.
All the best to you, Rich, and I will stay in touch!
I found a link to your 400PS page in the Audio Asylum forum. Very Cool!
I have worked on quite a few 400PS amps. There are several in use in our area.
A couple questions:
The most common problem I have seen with 400PS amps is the switching contacts on the output jacks. As I'm sure you know, each jack switched off a pair of 6550's by opening the cathode circuit. Dirty contacts cause tubes to be switched off.
Have you ever seen a 300PS? I have not, but I have a schematic for one. It is similar, but with four 6550's instead of six, and a 6V6 driver instead of a 6L6.
Your company seems very similar to ours. We also do live concert sound and amp repairs. Here is a link to us: www.alphasoundandlight.com
Alpha Sound and LIght
Came across the website and found it most absorbing.
I currently own a Fender Bassman 135 and it has served me very well over the past 18 years, playing about 400+ gigs and only needing 1 retube in that time(purchased 1990).I use it with a single 15 inch (4 Ohm) speaker playing mostly 50's,60's rock'n'roll and a bit of blues.In 2001,a mate ask me to sit in with their early 70's rock cover band .We all enjoyed it and I began a new side line for myself playing in a louder more aggressive style of band which I really enjoyed.
After 4 or so jams I knew the 135 was never going to keep up in this new situation,so the quest for an "early 70's rock cover band" amp was about to begin.Loving only the tube tone I thought the only solution was another Bassman 135 or Bassman 100 to use in conjuntion with my 135 but I was amazed to discover a Fender head I never knew existed.I knew of the 300 PS but had never seen and never expected to see one in real life, but while looking thru a new/secondhand music shop near Sydney I made the discovery of a lifetime...There it was...sitting up on it's side....this huge Fender monster...a 400 PS !!!!. Straight away I put down a deposit so nobody else could buy it from under me.Cost me $1200 AUS about $1500 US at the time, probable the most expensive 400 PS in history but I had butterflies in my belly and was totally in love.
The sound difference from my 135 was remarkable.A tone I never thought nowaday bass players could acheive was right there in the 400 PS.Straight away built myself a cheapish 4 x 12 cab (cheap because nearly all my money went on the 400 PS ) 2 x 200 watt 4 Ohm stereo box, which gave me two grabs of 145 watts. 290 watts of pure tube tone with more to come in the future.Even with slightly above average speaker quality,I was speachless.I started using the 400 PS as my normal 50's,60's band amp thru the single 15 inch speaker and was totally amazed with the tone. Sure the 400 PS was heavy (really heavy) but the tone at the gig was just sensational it was more than worth the carry.I knew now that I had to save for another two really good quality 15 inch 4 Ohm speakers to go with the one I had get the full (and deserved ) benefit of the legendary 400 PS.
I ran the head for only about 12 months saving all the time for new speakers,but at one rehersal session it began to emit a low frequency hum.It started softly but built up sharply in about 15 seconds and gave out a mutted pop and a stream of smoke.A timely end to a great, great amp.Not have the funds to get it repaired I went back to playing the 135 which was no bad thing seeing the 70's cover band folded six weeks earlier.Reajusting to the inferior tone was the hardest thing.With no cash available in the near future I retired the 400 PS.
That all happened about 2001-2002.The 400 PS has been stored away in my garage.Recently my 15 inch speaker gave up and I purchased a new Schroeder 1212 box.Amazing weight,sound and size. Straight away my 400 PS seemed to be at the top of my thoughts(now I actually have some money these days) Three of these new cabs(20 kg each) and the devine tone of the 400 PS could be back in full force. I can't believe that I have not played the 400 PS for 6 years knowing that it's tone can't be got from any other amp.I feel I have robbed myself of the world's greatest bass tone for too long.
Time to consult with a Tech.Did'nt know how different the 400 PS was compared to other amps untill viewing your site, so I better choose my tech carefuly.Would love any advise you could offer me at this point. Can't imagine many techs in Sydney that have actualy worked on a 400 PS. Would love to get mine back in smick working order, running all three outputs at max. capacity but would hate to have it damaged beyond repair.
ps. sorry about the long winded e-mail
I have just purchased a 400PS from a gentleman in LA and it is soon to be on its way to me in Melbourne, Australia. I have only ever seen one 400 PS over here , owned by Ian Rilen, (may God rest his soul) who was the bass player for Rose Tattoo and another Melbourne band called X.
What I need to know from someone like yourself who has a wealth of experience with these monsters, is what should I use cabinet-wise? I currently run a 71 Bassman 135 with the 4x12 cab...could I put 4 75 watt 12's into that and pair them up to get 4 ohms per pair and run two jacks out the back of the box and use two of the 400PS's speaker outputs to achieve 290 watts? Or do I have to use all 3 outputs from the PS? What oldschool JBL speaker combo would you recommend?
The PS I have just purchased has just been totally overhauled and comes with 6 new GE 6550A's and a full set of new pre-tubes as well. The whole thing has been totally restored and it looks and sounds like he spent as much as I've just paid for it...it looks brand new...it was love at first sight!
My new band (The Utes) aint doing stadiums(yet!) but we are doing many small to medium clubs and I want to know if using two output jacks will be ok(4ohm cabs with 145 watt speaker outputs in each). I play a mongrel P-bass(64 body, 69 neck and 60 pickups) and am hoping that it will complement the amp...I'm guessing it will by the sound of everything said on your website on the PS.
Anyways, I figure that's enough questions to bombard you with for now, I look forward to your reply, and understand you are a busy man...
Thank you for your time,
Thank you so much for all that great information. Would love to end up with some JBL K's or 3 of the Fender W's, but for now I'm going to need to go as compact as possible...do you think my old 4x12 cab would cope with 2 pair of 75 watt speakers wired in parallel to make 4 ohms per pair?(obviously adding another jack for the second pair) And is it ok to run the 400PS with just two of the 3 speaker outputs? I guess I could always try diggin up another 4x12 cab, being that they are a 4 ohm unit( I know where one is...) but that would probably mean another station wagon! (And another personal roadie - my girlfriend draws the line at lugging the P-bass in it's gig-bag!)
So again, thank you and I'll keep in touch, and I'll send you some pics of my new baby when she gets here. It's riding in a shipping container with a couple of old mustangs to save an expensive airfreight bill...
Have a great day,
Just found your site.
I can inform you that there also is at least one 400ps in the Stockholm area in Sweden. Namely mine. It is a 210-240v unit, so it must originally have been built for export, but I don't think this model was ever marketed in Sweden. I bought it from an agent who, I guess, took in a single unit, just to have a look at it.
I bought it during the seventies and first used it with a Gretch bass and later with a Fender -74 Jazz bas. I used it with two channels serial connected, driving a big exponential horn, powered by a 18" 8 ohm JBL speaker. It has served me well over the years.
I then used to play in a dance orchestra, but now I am seventy and retired. I still have my Fender and play it at least once a week together with some friends. Lovely instrument - and beautiful: Natural ash body, american maple neck, rosewood fretboard and "Roto sound" strings! The 400ps is somewhat heavy, though, so I use a more transportable amplifier nowadays (an old Dynakit Mark III from the sixties with a built in pre-amplifier), but the 400ps still remains in my possession.
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