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Fender Blues Deluxe Reissue Reviews
I played in a rock band in the 70s. I used Laneys, Orange and lastly Marshall JPMs.In 1994 I was looking for a smaller all valve \"bedroom\" amp. I tried everything! i came across this combo and I already had a preconceived idea that I wouldn\'t like the Fender.How wrong I was. This amp can do everything from Malmsteen to Gary Moore. I do have two pedal boards, however, even clean it sounds stunning.I have since bought a 100w Marshall stack for old times sake but I hardly ever play it.I keep coming back to this. By the way, I play evey week and the valves are original!
I\'ll start this review by saying that I did not want to buy this amp. I went to the store to buy a Hotrod Deluxe and that\'s what I thought I had bought. It was only when I got home and opened the box I discovered they had given me a Blues Deluxe. Ah well I may as well plug it in and see what it sounds like.
The original Blues Deluxe was the forerunner of the popular Fender Hotrod Deluxe and Deville range. Fender issued the Hotrod amps with different circuitry and a \"more drive\" channel. Many players liked the warmer clean tones on the Blues Deluxe, which is why Fender decided to reissue it. The reissued amps are now made at Fender\'s facility in Ensenada, Mexico.
The Blues Deluxe is an all tube 1x12 combo weighing in at around 42lbs. With my back I joke these days that I buy amps by weight not volume but this baby is LOUD. It\'s loud enough to carry a medium sized room without having to mic it up. There are 3 12AX7 preamp tubes and 2 6L6 power tubes all Groove Tube brand. There is no facility in the circuit to adjust the tube bias and Fender recommend fitting the same color-coded Groove Tube power tubes when the originals wear out, which takes a fair while unless you\'re gigging it every night.
My amp came in a lovely Tweed covering, which is well applied and a fitted cover is also supplied. It is a two channel amp with channels changed via the included footswitch, which also has a switch for reverb on/off, or a button on the control panel. The footswitch has status lights to show if drive and reverb on are selected. Like most Fender tweed style amps the controls are on the top of the amp at the rear. There is clean channel volume, gain and master volume for the drive channel, a three band EQ section shared by both channels, presence and reverb level. There is also a bright button to add more sparkle. The speaker is a Fender badged Eminence.
There are preamp out and power amp in sockets that can be used as an effects loop. The footswitch socket is also on this control panel. Round the back is the speaker out jack and a further jack for an 8ohm extension speaker.
So what does it sound like? Well first off I would say that if you are buying this amp for home use you are not going to get the best from it. On the clean channel nothing happens until the volume is past 2 and then it is loud. Too loud to sit next to. This has something to do with the volume pot taper and quite common on Fender amps.
The clean channel has a lovely warm tone, warmer than the Hotrod Deluxe and is the ideal match for my US Standard Strat. Turn up the volume on the clean channel (the knobs go up to 12) and you get some grit and bite as the power valves start to drive, great for clean blues. There is not a huge amount of distortion on the drive channel and metal fans should look elsewhere. However for blues and classic rock this amp does the business. The sound is rich and full of harmonics. As with most tube amps the best tones are found by keeping the drive low and the master volume high to drive the power stage. As I said before this amp is loud. It does not flatter sloppy playing as there is plenty of clarity even at maximum drive. If you want even more drive just use a good overdrive pedal. I find this is more versatile than the more drive channel on the Hotrod amps as the volume boost using this channel can sometimes be too much. Some may find the shared EQ something of a compromise but I don\'t find it a problem and I\'m fussy about my tone.
Reliability wise there have been no problems other than a preamp tube went microphonic, but that can happen anytime and was probably due to rough handling. I now keep the amp in a hard case by Amp-Mate which also acts as a an amp stand when gigging. The amp has a standby switch and it\'s best to switch to standby when powering up and before switching off to prolong the life of the valves.
So did I take it back and swap it for a Hotrod? No way.
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