Vintage Tweed Sound & Style
Much to their credit, when the demand for vintage-style sound equipment began to ramp-up again during the early 1990s, Fender was right there on top of it — they released their new, but decidedly retro-cool “Tweed” series of all-tube amplifiers in 1993 and I was lucky enough to purchase one at a guitar show that very same year.
Amazingly, a few years later I would save my hard-earned money for nearly 6-months in order to purchase Fender’s awesome and iconic ’65 Fender Twin (see my review here) but today, going on eighteen years later, that big, black, silver-grilled Twin Reverb has long since been sold off, and the trusty old Blues Deluxe is my guitar amp of choice yet again. It was the hefty weight of the Fender Twin that ultimately did it in.
The Blues Deluxe, while not necessarily on a par with the Twin for sheer volume & clean headroom (hell, this thing was built for dirty blues, and at that it excels,) feels light as a feather in comparison, making it a pleasure to toss into the back seat of your car and haul into a dank club a few nights a week. In my younger days I could handle that hefty Twin. Nowadays, not so much.
Warm Tone, Powerful Output
No slouch in the features department, the Blues Deluxe sports modern channel switching (with both clean & overdrive channels,) a dual-button footswitch for quickly jumping between the two channels, old-school Fender spring reverb, a contemporary effects loop for your pedals and rackmounts, three 12AX7 preamp tubes, and two 6L6 output tubes –– with the whole 40-watts of power pumped through a single 12“ speaker.
Now if you’re looking for modern high-gain madness you’re just plain looking in the wrong place brother, but for a soft, bluesy, crunchy overdrive and sustain, Fender’s Blues Deluxe absolutely sings. In overdrive mode it can easily break out from behind your average rhythm section, and in its clean channel it produces the deep and shimmering bell-like tones that Fender’s amps are known for. This thing produces a warmth of tone that you can only really find in an all-tube amp.
As far as downsides go, there really aren’t many to speak of; I suppose that if I could upgrade the reverb unit in this baby I probably would. It’s not that it’s bad in any way, it’s just that the reverb produced by the Blues Deluxe is incredibly raw, and after being spoiled by “the Twin,” I kind of miss that truly lush, almost spacy reverb.
Pure & Simple
Ultimately what I like most about Fender’s Blues Deluxe, and what brought me back to this little tweed beauty even after experiencing the rock-solid performance of the Twin, is its all-inclusive nature.
I’m a no-nonsense kind of guitar player, and having a good reverb, plus both overdrive & clean channels all in one amp means less luggage to haul from gig to gig — no extra cables, no extra stomp-boxes, no extra nothin’… you just drop the Blues Deluxe onto the stage, plug in your guitar, and you’re ready to play. It’s that simple…