Aging a '59 Fender Bassman reissue
The Fender '59 Bassman reissue can be found used fairly cheaply and sounds surprisingly good in stock form. Retubing and rebiasing with NOS tubes (mine has q Mullard GZ34 rectifier, Phillips 7581A power and Telefunken 12AX7 preamp tubes) makes them sound even better. However, the unfinished tweed wrapped around the cabinet is a bit unappealing compared to an original tweed Fender or a new Victoria, Kendrick or Clark clone. Fortunately its fairly cheap and straightforward to make your reissue look like old tweed with a few hours of work.
Poeple who age their unfinished tweed cabinets have used Zinsser Bullseye amber shellac or Minwax Polyshades 'honey pine' finish, among other things. Zinsser will give you an amber/orange aged look, while the Minwax gives more of a butterscotch color (my preference and what you see in the following pictures)....
Here is the original amp in all its unfinished glory....
...and from the back
I decided to take the amp apart before proceeding as past experience has taught me that I am pretty sloppy with a paintbrush. If you are tidier than me you don't need to disassemble - just mask everything well (though you might want to loosen up the amp head and drop it enough so that you can mask between the metal surface where the controls are and the amp cabinet)...
Once the amp was disassembled I cleaned the unfinished tweed with carpet cleaner. I bought the amp used and it was a bit dirty so this got out most of the major grime.
Clean cabinet ready for the brush (Note that I didn't remove the Bassman logo; its easy enough to pry off with a small screwdriver)
Supplies - Minwax Polyshades (Honey Pine Satin), steel wool (#0000) for sanding between coats, brushes and drop cloth
Heres how it looked after the first coat
Second coat. I waited approximately 12 hours between each coat, and sanded with the steel wool in between coats 1-2 and 2-3 to smooth out the finish for the next coat
Third and final coat
Once the top and sides are finished and dry, its time to coat the bottom of the amp. Heres a shot of the untreated bottom (note the color difference)
Heres the bottom, three coats later
Reassembled and finished!
Closer view of the back top