#1
So, I am in the market for a new amp, and have narrowed it down to the two amps listed in the title, the Fender Blues Deluxe and the Hot Rod Deluxe. At first glance, they appear almost identical , other than the Hot Rod's third channel and the tweed on the Blues. Under the hood, though, they seem to be completely different amps. I know the Blues version is slightly more expensive, and I'm wondering if it is worth the extra for the Blues Deluxe over the Hot Rod. I play Blues, Blues Rock, Garage Rock, think Black keys, White Stripes, John Mayer, and the such. I have a Big Muff and a TS9 so I am not too worried about the distortion (although I would like a nice distortion/overdrive in the amp). So, anyone who has had experience with these amps, what should I go for? Any help is appreciated.
#2
No. They are almost identical. The blues deluxe has an extra gain stage in the clean channel, and is designed to break up earlier than the hot rod. They are similar enough that you can mod a blues deluxe to a hotrod and back, but the difference is minimal, IMO.

What are the differences between the Hot Rod Deluxe and Blues Deluxe?
By Steve Dallman

The two are similar in some ways and quite different in others. The obvious differences are the drive channel and "more" drive. Both amps are sort of takes on a 59 Bassman according to Fender with the added drive, reverb and effects loop. That may be a stretch. "Normal" Fenders, such as 'black face' and 'silver face' Twins, Bandmasters, Bassmans, Deluxe Reverbs and the like have a gain stage, the tone stack (which introduces a lot of signal loss) and then a recovery gain stage. From there there will be a mixing stage for the channels and reverb and on to the power amp.

In the BD and HRD there are 2 gain stages preceding the tone stack. This helps create the blusier preamp breakup similar to a 59 Bassman. The tone stacks are sort of a cross between a 59 Bassman and a standard Fender. Next comes the drive stage. In the BD it is a rather anemic single tube stage. In the HRD both halves of V2 are used. In the BD there is half a tube unused. How much you like the distortion in either amp is really a matter of taste.

The first stages are classic Fender except the BD uses a 22uf cathode bias cap while the HR uses a larger 47uf, which will create a bit more low end.

Coupling cap next is .01BD Vs .022 in HRD. Still a little more low end in the HR. The bright switch in the BD is next. This is a non-standard Fender design, which bypasses a 100k resistor with a 750pf cap. As the 100k resistor is attached to the 250k-volume control, it is only effective in clean mode. The drive control in the HR is between the first and second stage.

The second stage is unbypassed in both amps. In the HR the bright switch is a .068 cathode bypass cap that is non-functioning in drive mode.

The tone stack follows the second stage. They are identical except the HR uses a 130k mid slope resistor, while the BD is 100k. This will create a little less low end in the HR.

The drive control precedes the 3rd stage in the BD, a standard Fender bypassed gain stage. The 3rd stage is used in both clean and drive in the BD.

In the HR the 3rd and 4th stages are used in drive only. This tube is unbypassed. In More drive a 1uf-bypass cap is switched in on the 3rd stage and a 22uf bypass cap is switched in on the 4th stage. (The 4th stage is not used in the BD, but is just waiting to be modded in.)

Note on bypassing. The gain in a tube stage is set by 3 components, the plate resistor, (typically 100k in Fenders, larger for more gain) the cathode resistor, (typically 1.5k in Fenders, smaller for more gain) and a bypass cap that bypasses the cathode resistor. The cathode cap is not always used but when it is, it will increase gain in different frequency ranges. 22uf will increase gain across the entire guitar spectrum. Smaller will only raise gain in higher frequencies.

The master for the drive channel follows in both amps. From there the amps are nearly identical, except the HR has somewhat fuller reverb due to the design of the reverb return. (The reverb circuit and the effects loop are solid state.) The HR has an extension speaker jack that uses the 4-ohm speaker tap on the output transformer. The BD has this tap but it is not used (but could be added by a tech.)

In general these amps are similar. The BD will not stay as clean at higher volumes due to the 3rd stage always being active. The HR has "improved" distortion (drive) with "more drive" added. The HR has fuller reverb and an extension speaker jack. Both are good designs with plenty of classic Fender tone.

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#3
So you would say the Hot Rod would be a better choice? I am going to guitar center tomorrow, so I guess I'll just get whichever I like better when I play them both. Thanks for all the info, though, I'll take all that into consideration when making my decision.