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Fender’s Ultimate Tower of Tone: A Real ‘Showman’

Some of Fender’s most celebrated amps have been pint sized. The Champ, Harvard, or Princeton are all lightweights but pack a punch. Yet as the style of stacks emerged in the era of stadium rock, Fender made their biggest entry into the amp market ever. Ironically, it’s massive but easily missed in their catalogue of all American tube tone machines.

I’m talking about the Fender Dual Showman Reverb TFL 5000D. These mega amps hit the market in the early 1960s, with variations on the amp continuing until 1993. 

So what makes this Fender amp so unique?

First, the size. You know that moment when you have to help a friend move and you’re suddenly left shuffling the fridge on your own across the kitchen floor? That’s pretty much what it would feel like to be a roadie wrangling the Dual Showman. The amp is a single cabinet stack plus head combo. Altogether, these two come in at a towering five foot two inches. They’re a veritable tower of tone.

Second, the cabinet. Whereas Marshall stacks set the standard typology for 4×12 speaker cabinets, the Fender Dual Showman Reverb went bigger and fewer. Tucked within are a pair of fifteen inch JBL speakers. You read that correctly: fifteen inches.  When you take into consideration that this speaker cabinet is also closed back, that means every decibel and frequency of sound came cranking out the front end. With the 100 watt head, your ceiling of clean headroom was up in the stratosphere. You wouldn’t have to worry about cutting through the mix with this amp—you were more likely to crush through it!

Third, the price. Back in their heyday, the Dual Showman Reverb came in at around $1000, which nearly doubled the price tag of Fender tube combos. On the used market today, these amps go for…about $1000. So why hasn’t this relic appreciated like some other vintage gear of the 1960s? Perhaps the form and function just aren’t right for nearly any modern playing situation. Realistically, the only place the amp would fit in your house is that alcove in your kitchen for the fridge. And I’m willing to bet that real estate is taken!

While you might not be rushing out to pick up a Fender Dual Showman Reverb, at least you’ll know how to spot one if you see it out at a pawnshop or vintage guitar store. Even if you don’t take it home, be sure to plug it in for a truly behemoth Fender tone experience!

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One thought on “Fender’s Ultimate Tower of Tone: A Real ‘Showman’

  • November 10, 2019 at 11:11 am
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    Here’s how hot those were for awhile. In 1970, a Dual Showman Reverb head was $550 (no cab); a TWIN REVERB (the very same amp, plus 2-12″ speakers) was $500.

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