Other Amps

Help me understand - Modern Fender amp comparison

1

Help me understand a few things. I own a Fender Limited Edition '65 Princeton Reverb (like the one in the photo). It is a 15w amp with a 10" speaker with reverb and tremolo. It has one channel with Bass and Treble controls and retailed for about $1,100.

My buddy has a Fender Reissue Blues Deluxe that is 40w, one 12" speaker, reverb, two channel, with Bass, Treble and Middle controls, and an effects loop. That amp lists for $800 and me being the unsophisticated guy I am I can't figure out why the Princeton sells for so much more.

The reason I ask is I like his amp better, I like the two channel thing and I like the Master Volume and Gain combination, I'm tempted to sell mine at some point and get the Blues Deluxe or something similar. I am not a pedal kind of guy and prefer a two channel/Volume/Gain button combination.

School me will yas? What am I not understanding why what seems to me the technically superior amp costs less than the other one?

2

I think the Blues Deluxe Reissue is built in Mexico and the Princeton in the USA.

I have an older (non reissue) that I believe is USA built.

3

The reissues were built to be clean sounding amps like the originals. If you are into distortion ('I'm not) then you'd like the one with the master/gain scene. Still 2 channel amps work better for some, also. I would love that Princeton if it had a 12.

4

I've never been able to grasp why a small 15 watt amp with only a 10" speaker should command over $1000. To me that's ludicrous! I understand the issue many have with weight but a vintage SF DR (12") can be had for less and IMO beats the ass off a Princeton. Even the vintage SF Princetons are valued too high for my liking. For some odd reason, it's the only SF model I can think of that isn't a really good buy.

Now, if the Princeton, recent or vintage, has had a good 12" put in it - originality be damned - I'd consider it a mod that increases the value, but still not at a grand or more.

5

I’d like to say that the higher price of the PR is due to a higher level of quality, but that’s probably not the case. More likely an appeal to nostalgia.

Both are PCB circuit circuits. The PR is classic tube path while the BD has some solid state gain stages.

The BD is a more versatile amp, more power, effects loop. Really loud. Really heavy. The PR is what it is. You either love it or you don’t. You can get one with a 12” speaker.

I like the PR for what the BD isn’t. Small and light enough to easily carry it along to jam sessions and small venues. Great tremolo. Sweet power tube breakup without SS gain stages or bleeding ears. My PR has a 12” speaker and a larger DR output transformer for a little more headroom.

7

Marketing.

Most folks will buy the higher power/more optioned amp because of the price point. After figuring out that this amp is just too loud for their needs, they're ready for a lower powered amp that's marketed as "vintage inspired".

Folks in round two will pay the price and feel good about it.

8

I’d like to say that the higher price of the PR is due to a higher level of quality, but that’s probably not the case. More likely an appeal to nostalgia.

Both are PCB circuit circuits. The PR is classic tube path while the BD has some solid state gain stages.

The BD is a more versatile amp, more power, effects loop. Really loud. Really heavy. The PR is what it is. You either love it or you don’t. You can get one with a 12” speaker.

I like the PR for what the BD isn’t. Small and light enough to easily carry it along to jam sessions and small venues. Great tremolo. Sweet power tube breakup without SS gain stages or bleeding ears. My PR has a 12” speaker and a larger DR output transformer for a little more headroom.

– Powdog

I like the sound of your PR.....12" speaker and larger OT! I know portability can be a big issue when 15 watts will be plenty for the venue.

For small venues, I use a [recent] tube/solid state Fender Super Champ X2 - improved, & replaces the XD - which comes in 2 versions.....and not heavy. The combo has a 10" speaker and sounds sadly anemic. I have the separate head and cab version which has an upgraded Celestion 12" speaker, everything else with the head being identical. Sure is a nice stack I picked up privately but new for half price. Lots of features and a lot of amp for the money.

9

I’d like to say that the higher price of the PR is due to a higher level of quality, but that’s probably not the case. More likely an appeal to nostalgia.

Both are PCB circuit circuits. The PR is classic tube path while the BD has some solid state gain stages.

The BD is a more versatile amp, more power, effects loop. Really loud. Really heavy. The PR is what it is. You either love it or you don’t. You can get one with a 12” speaker.

I like the PR for what the BD isn’t. Small and light enough to easily carry it along to jam sessions and small venues. Great tremolo. Sweet power tube breakup without SS gain stages or bleeding ears. My PR has a 12” speaker and a larger DR output transformer for a little more headroom.

– Powdog

The PRRI has chassis-mounted sockets. The "Blues/HotRod" amps have board-mounted sockets and thin traces.

10

The PRRI has chassis-mounted sockets. The "Blues/HotRod" amps have board-mounted sockets and thin traces.

– Kap'n

Could you translate that for a layman? Sockets and traces?

11

Could you translate that for a layman? Sockets and traces?

– Mr_Christopher

Maybe I can clear it up a bit, I've rebuild a lot of tube amplifiers over the past few decades. I hope I'm not stepping on anybodys toes by jumping in.

A socket refers to the component that the vacuum tube plugs into. A chassis mounted tube socket is mounted to the removable metal structure that contains all the electronic components (the chassis). A hole, the size of the socket, is punched into the bottom of the chassis and the socket is inserted up side down, and secured by a pair of small nuts and bolts. The tube hangs up side down into the body of amplifiers that have the chassis located under the top of the amplifier, this includes Fender amps. The bottom of the socket, that is now inside the chassis, has metal tabs, corresponding to each pin of the tube. Appropriate resistors, capacitors and wires are soldered to these tabs.

Board mounted sockets are mounted directly to the main circuit board, and copper traces, or runs on the surface of the circuit board take the place of wires. Thin traces (runs) can't handle a lot of current, are more prone to burning out, if a problem occurs.

12

Most relevant to many shoppers, the chassis-mounted tube-socket design is more reparable in case of eventual problems - its larger tabs and soldered components connected with wires let a technician more easily work on it.

The printed circuit board with integrated socket is based on thin, more fragile circuit traces of thin flat metal, subject to failure under repeated hot-cold cycles - and by nature is much harder to repair.

Repairs on an amp with chassis, sockets, and full-size separate components is indistinguishable from original construction - repairs to the other sort are almost always a more-or-less workaround and kludge. They can done with more or less skill, ingenuity, and improvisation - but the microcomponents, slowly-brittling circuit boards and fragile connections remain, waiting to fail again either in the same or another place.

13

An example of chassis mounted sockets. They are connected to the circuit board via the green wires.

14

The Princeton Reverb is tube rectified and the Blues Deluxe is solid state diode rectified.

The PR's bias can be adjusted via an adjustable pot. The Blues Deluxe has the bias set in place by a resistor.

Higher wattage amps aren't as in demand as lower wattage ones these days. Gigging musicians mic to the PA more. Venues are smaller. Home players and recording are more common and a lower wattage amps can be pushed into clipping without choking things with a master volume.

Nostalgia

Blues Deluxe amps sound sterile and solid state. Especially the drive channel. Too many snubber caps in the circuit.

15

When I bought a PRRI, I was looking for a lightweight amp with clean tones - reverb & tremolo are a bonus. The volume and sweep of the volume knob was exactly as expected. I "called" MF and got more than 15% off just for asking (and being persistent). I've used it at a couple bar gigs and it does just what I wanted. I have a Carr Hammerhead @ 38 lbs and 28W for larger shows.

When I was shopping for the PRRI, I noticed they hold their value quite well. Used ones were selling close to my 15% off. A used HRDx (especially the older ones) can be found at very reasonable prices.

OP - The PRRI's MSRP is $1000. You were upcharged for the LE tolex - which looks super cool.

17

Fender amps - R.I.P., 1980.

– Billy Zoom

In many ways Billy, it's hard to argue against your assessment.

18

Thanks everyone, this has been a good lesson for me

19

I have owned both and still own the PRRI 65. Both sound good, but for me, the second (distortion) channel of BDRI never got used, for me it does not sound good and I rarely used distortion anyway. Both amps have reverb and between the two, the Princeton wins hands down. The Princeton has also the tremolo that I use occasionnally. On top of that, I'm a 10" guy: cleaner middle, better definition and attack. So when I needed a good bass amp, one amp needed to go to make room for it, and the decision was quick: keep the Princeton and let the Blues Deluxe go. And I have no regrets. As for the price difference, I would say that the Princeton is 100% tube, the Blues Deluxe is hybrid.

20

I got a 68 custom Princeton reverb, $899, and it's my favorite amp I've ever had. But, its got a crazy rattling when I play low notes and I can't figure it out

21

I got a 68 custom Princeton reverb, $899, and it's my favorite amp I've ever had. But, its got a crazy rattling when I play low notes and I can't figure it out

– Chmason85

My PRRI 65 had a similar rattle when I got it. RI have a metal cage around the power tubes to prevent from burnts. The sides of that cage were touching something (plucking them will let you figure out). Otherwise, the procedure is first to tighten all screws and make sure there is nothing loose touching the speaker.

22

My PRRI 65 had a similar rattle when I got it. RI have a metal cage around the power tubes to prevent from burnts. The sides of that cage were touching something (plucking them will let you figure out). Otherwise, the procedure is first to tighten all screws and make sure there is nothing loose touching the speaker.

– GG

Ive read some people saying it could be a loose tube? How would a tube cause that kind of rattling? I love the tone when its cranked but the rattle is so distracting. I'm gonna check that cage out

23

I miss my PRRI. I will own another one. And I LIKE the 10" speaker, altho the P10R is crap, and I will replace it (like I did last time.)

My issue was trying to get the PRRI to be something it's not: a gigging amp that overdrives well on it's own, and takes pedals well. (for me, it did neither.) I did a couple of easy mods and changed the speaker, and it was MUCH better, but then I bought a super-sonic 22 which is an awesome, versatile machine- perfect for gigging (or playing at home).

HOWEVER- nothing sounds quite like a Princeton. I miss it. I will get another someday, just for the beautiful cleans and amazing reverb, for home playing.

BTW you CAN get NEW PRRI's for under a grand pretty easy: https://www.zzounds.com/ite...

24

Fender amps - R.I.P., 1980.

– Billy Zoom

Oh, I don't know. I think alot of people get stuck in "vintage land", "older is always better", "they don't make 'em like they used to", "get off of my lawn"...LOL

Fender has made some great amps post-1980.

The Vibro-King is considered one of their best amps, EVER. (designed by Bruce Zinky)
The Pro Junior is very popular, and has been for a long time. (another Zinky)
The "Hot Rod" series has proven to be very much used, popular.
The Blues Junior might be the biggest-selling tube amp of all-time. (I'm not a fan lol)

You could get all hung up on PCB vs hand-wired (and I get the differences, and would prefer handwired myself, but let's stick to TONE here), but in reality, Fender has made alot of awfully good amps, including post-1980. Personally, I think the new Super-Sonics (I think the 22 is the only one they still make?) are great. As long as 22W is enough for your application, I think it can do pretty much anything from a jazz gig to a metal band. (alot of people dismiss channel-switchers out-of-hand, another short-sighted opinion, imho.)

Anyway.

25

I agree to a point. I’m sure Howard Roberts could sit down at a stock 2018 Princeton reverb and dial in a tone that would sound wonderful. Of course that can’t happen. But I do know that most people who grew up with the older/original stuff seem to prefer that same older/original stuff. I can’t imagine B.B. King saying “wow I love the tone of these printed circuit boards!” Some of that might be habit, or perhaps being resistant to change. But hey as long as the “old school grumpy cats” keep finding tone that I can’t seem to find, I’ll take their word for it. Now, if only I could afford the old vintage stuff.


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