Other Amps

Rivera Era Fender Amps - What’s So Good About ‘em?


I see these Rivera Fenders going for more than even Silver Face Fenders. Riveras where early 80s era.

Tell me why so popular.


Hand wired but with a few cool improvements ala Paul Rivera. Also a return to Pseudo blackface cosmetics. Nice amps


Were all the 1980/81 retro black panel ones Rivera? I thought it was just a few particular models. I have not quite pinpointed when silver panel was totally phased out in favor of the 'slight return' of black panel (panels were not exactly like original later '63 - late 67 black panels. Did they lose the DOGMEAT pull pot volume boost?


One of my 1st amps was an early 80s Bassman 20. 1x15. Wish I still had that one.


Tried one out about 3 yrs ago, locally on CL, and could've had it for $375. What got my attention was that it had a 15" speaker. Not a mark or number on the speaker though. It had push/pull knobs for almost everything IIRC. It also had a switch to go from 75 watts to 15 I believe. Couldn't get a warm sound out of it though and it was a real boat anchor at around 70 lbs!


One of my 1st amps was an early 80s Bassman 20. 1x15. Wish I still had that one.

– mshehan

I got one. Killer


My Deluxe Reverb is an 80-81 model. It is identical to the earlier silverface and had the "dogmeat pull pot volume boost." But if you don't pull it, it doesn't affect anything. Fender simultaneously had silverface models available so you could choose which you wanted. I started out with an original '65 DR (that I foolishly sold) and the faceplate on my 80-81 model did not look right so I replaced it with a reissue. Then I had the circuitry "blackfaced" to the extent possible and then replaced the beat up particle board cabinet with a reissue cabinet. Along the way it got a Weber California speaker. Great Amp.

Rivera may have been involved in going back to a sort-of blackface look. But the ones that he designed were the II models (Deluxe, Princeton and Twin Reverb II). There also was the Concert II and I believe the Showman II. Those were the Rivera amps. I think that there is a mod that needs to be made from a reliability standpoint on the higher powered ones. A resistor or capacitor that needs to be changed or something. The Deluxe and Princeton Reverb II amps are decent amps and are a bargain compared to the earlier ones.


I always keep my eyes peeled for another Bassman 20. I bought it to use as a bass amp. Once I plugged a guitar into it I had an "Ahhh" moment! I think I sold it for rent during college. I should have just moved into an appliance box and kept the amp!!


I saw one at a local guitar shop 20 years ago and was told it was $400. I am talking about a DRll. I didn't even try it out so don't know how they sound. Should have tried it.

I will check YouTube for the sounds but you can't really hear the true sound of an amp over the internet in my opinion.


I had a Princeton Reverb II, a Twin Reverb II and a Concert II at various times in the 80s. The difference was that they had the cascaded preamp thing like Boogie, so you had preamp gain pull for mid boost, pull for gain boost, that sort of thing. The Twin and Concert also had an excellent FX loop with send and return level knobs on the back.

Lots of features but really the dirt sound wasn't so good - better than the SF though! - and they weighed a ton. They also didn't have much in the way of low-end in the dirt channels. I gigged for a few years with a Twin Reverb II, and the only FX I used were a delay and chorus in the loop (hey, it WAS the 80s!). I sat them on top of the amp, so no pedalboard for me back then. The Twin also came with plug-in castors, which was very useful.



  1. Point to point wired. The last Fender amps to be made this way. This makes them collectable, but also easier to repair and MOD.

  2. Up until recently they were a well kept secret. Lots of features for the money such as presence controls, mid boost switching, effects loop.

  3. Lots of modding information available. I believe the Gear Page has a whole discussion page on different mods to make the Concert II into a metal shredding beast.

The Cons:

  1. HEAVY. But they are built like a tank unlike the new Fender stuff that rattles when you crank it due to cheap construction. Look at the bright side, they will last a lifetime and are easy to repair. Just be aware that they are heavy combos in the higher wattages like the Concert II and Twin II.

  2. Like some silverfaced Fenders, they are a bit harsh when overdriven in their stock form. The cleans are to die for but they can be a bit solid state sounding if you don't clip off the "snubber caps" that bridge some of the preamp tubes. Theyt are put there as a safety measure to prevent oscillation...but they can sterilize the sound. It is a simple 5 minute procedure to rectify if you know how to do it...and I believe that's why these amps never took off in popularity in the 80's.

The secret is getting out about these lately. I'm glad I snapped up two Concerts back in the day for $600 each. They still sometimes pop up at a Guitar Center or pawn shop here or there. Here's a demo of one stock. They are LOUD amps:


I have a Rivera Super Champ. It's 18 watts and quite loud ( my Deluxe Reverb is 22w). It is a great practice amp, and the one I take to rehearsals most often because of it's convenient size. It has a foot switch for reverb and a gain/lead channel. The clean channel sounds quite good, but, as others have mentioned, the lead channel does not--it is a little harsh-sounding. It has a weird tube that is hard to find, but it is a great amp. I paid $600 Canadian dollars for mine, so I think I got reasonable deal.


Yes the 6C10 triple triode tube. Sometimes called a compactron.

I believe there's a way you can modify a Rivera Super Champ to use more standard tubes but it involves drilling a hole in the chassis, installing another tube socket, and rewiring things inside. Lots of work and at the end of the day it would be easier to just stock up on the NOS tubes I suppose.


I had a Princeton II. Not a bad amp (sometimes I wish I hadn't gotten rid of it), but at the time (1990), it was (for me at least) kind of hard to find 6V6s, and the ones in my Princeton II were going bye-bye. The cleans were great, the dirt - welllll, kind of tinny and dull. Sort of buzzy in a way, with not enough low end and crunch for my tastes. But, I ran a Chandler Tube Driver into it, with the gain maxed, and it got killer Soundgarden "Louder Than Love" tones.


I've been hoping to find a model 30 2x10 for about 10 years. The price is up so high now that I would rather get a silver Deluxe.


Not as good as what went before, but better than what came afterwards. No Tremolo.


Not as good as what went before, but better than what came afterwards. No Tremolo.

– Billy Zoom

If you want built in preamp distortion, people have had 35 years to improve upon the ideas in this amp.

If you want a well built non-master volume amp that just sounds better as you turn it up, well, you're about ten years too late.


I had a Champ ll for a while. Never warmed up to it. Could have swapped out the flubby stock Oxford speaker for a JBL or EV but never got around to it. Had SF Princetons and Champs that sounded better.


Don't like 'em. Unnecessary unfenderish features - catch phrase being versatility.

I'd take ultralinear 70's Fender before those anyday. Still better than the red knobs thou.


the red knob scene came just after these ? But that clears it up..so the ones Rivera was involved with were the II models.


Don't like 'em. Unnecessary unfenderish features - catch phrase being versatility.

I'd take ultralinear 70's Fender before those anyday. Still better than the red knobs thou.

– ChesterTheThird

Maybe but the red knob Super 60 is one of my favorites especially w/ an external cabinet. Probably the best channel switching amp Fender ever made.


The red knob models were a few years later. Even heavier! The Super 60 was good but I liked the Prosonic better. You could run the Prosonic cathode biased or fixed bias I think - they said class A but that's bollocks. You could also switch between a tube rectifier and diodes. Funny thing was that they went to a lot of trouble with the dirt channel but the best sound was tube rectified "class A" in the clean channel. Cranked it sounded amazing - easily the best Fender dirt sound I have heard.

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