Video: What's the Best Entryway to Fender Tube Amps?

Right up top, know that this isn't a shootout. We're not examining the Fender Deluxe Reverb and Blues Junior in a head-to-head comparison with the purpose of crowning the almighty winner. Rather, this will be a breakdown of what each amp can and cannot do well so that you can make an informed decision about which is right for you.

Fender Deluxe Reverb

Today we're using a '68 Custom Deluxe Reverb, which retails for about $1400 new.

This 22-watt amp features all-tube circuitry, with four 12AX7 and two 12AT7 tubes in the preamp section and two 6V6s in the power section. It's packed with one 12-inch G12-V70 Celestion speaker and features built-in spring reverb and tremolo effects with a footswitch for on/off control.

The '68 Custom Deluxe Reverb's normal channel has been replaced with a custom channel featuring a Bassman-style tone stack. The vintage channel (which replaces the tremolo channel) promises to replicate the traditional silver-panel Fender sound. There are two inputs for each channel for high/low gain options.

In terms of sound, the Deluxe Reverb, with its 6V6 tubes, has a darker, more American-style tone with a fuller bass. With greater wattage than the Blues Junior, the Deluxe Reverb also has more headroom and will sound cleaner at louder volumes.

Fender Blues Junior

For this video, Joe is using a Fender Blues Junior from 2000, which goes for around $500 on the used market. The newest Blues Junior IV, which improves the amp's spring reverb and preamp circuit, sells for $750 brand-new.

This Blues Junior is a 15-watt amp packed with one 12-inch Celestion A-type speaker, three 12AX7 tubes in the preamp section, and two EL84s in the power section. Traditionally associated with British-style amps, the EL84 tubes give the Blues Junior a slightly brighter tone than the Deluxe Reverb.

It features a built-in reverb effect, but doesn't have the tremolo option or the footswitch control like the Deluxe Reverb.

The Blues Junior's lower wattage and single channel also means that it'll sound cleanest at lower volumes—though, with its master volume control, you can drive it to get a dirtier, higher-gain tones at attenuated volume levels.

Verdict: Ultimately, the Fender Deluxe Reverb and Fender Blues Junior offer two different style of Fender tube amp sound at two different price points, with just a few overlapping qualities. The Fender Deluxe Reverb, with its extra channels and extra effects, is going to be a more adaptable choice overall for both low- and high-volume playing scenarios. It's also going to give you more of the "classic Fender" amp sound than the Junior, but it's going to cost more about be heavier to lug around.

If you don't need the extra headroom and effects and are satisfied with a brighter Fenderish tone, the Blues Junior is definitely worth a look. It'll only cost you half of what the Deluxe Reverb would, is much lighter to carry around, and provides a better modding platform if that's something you're into.

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