Deluxe 85 review by Fender

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.8 (24 votes)
Fender: Deluxe 85

Price paid: € 150

Purchased from: A friend

Sound — 9
I use a Fender Squier Bullet Strat on this amp. The clean channel really fits the Fender guitars bluesy tone. I only don't like the distortion that much, it's only for blues and maybe some dirty rock. The boost is a good thing about this amp. I play basic rock, blues, punk and funk (Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, RHCP, Sex Pistols, Oasis etc.) and the clean channel serves me fine, and the reverb as well. As for the distortion, I use a Boss DS-1 pedal and it gives a more rock n' roll sound to it. Clean is really loud and I like it. I also use a Boss CS-3 on it for only some songs that I play. I like that it has a lot of power to it.

Overall Impression — 10
Overall, it's a good amp and I would recommend it to anyone. Like I said it's good for blues, funk and rock. I'm not a big fan of the distortion but it's good if you can find a good blues sound. I just love the reverb on this amp, combined with a delay it can give you some pretty U2 or Pink Floyd-ish sounds. The clean channel sounds amazing, and I like that this amplifier has a lot of power. For the distortion, if you're a metalhead or you just need a strong distortion, I suggest using a stomp-box. If it was stolen or destroyed beyond repair, I would buy the Deluxe 85 again, the amp is really growing on me. I've been playing guitar for about 4 years. And besides the Peavey Classic 30, it's one of my most favourite amps I've played with. I highly recommend you try it out.

Reliability & Durability — 8
I haven't tried it out on a gig yet, but if I got it fixed I probably would. It's probably from the 1990's, it's been in an underground metal cafe, and a lot of metalheads played their gigs on it (no wonder it's so banged up). All the knobs are working, but it's missing half of the channel input jacks. For the years it has been used, it's survived a looot of gigs. I'm still curious to find out how the parallel channel mode sounds. I dropped it once while carrying it to a rehearsal and nothing happened to it.

Features — 9
The amp is awesome. It's quite an old amplifier, but it sounds great. It has a lot of input channels like Channel 1, Channel 2, Parallel mode (haven't been able to try this yet, because my amp came a bit banged up and still is), Preamp in, Preamp out, Head Phones. The amp is made for blues and rock and even funk (I do play a lot of it myself). It's quite loud, whenever I play in my flat I never put the volume more than 2. I like that it's loud, it can be used for gigs. It has an amazing analog reverb, and it sounds beautiful.

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I mixed monitors for JJ Cale when he came through with his band to play at the Rialto Theater in Raleigh, NC in the early 90's, and during the sound check I heard this sound of a guitar that sounded exactly like my guitar sound, and it turns out that is because his girlfriend, who played in the band with him, was playing an Ibanez Roadstar II through a Fender Deluxe 85, just like I played, so it WAS my guitar sound. I presume that, as she played in the band of a legendary guitar player, she could play anything she wanted, and that was what she chose. I bought the amp around 1989 or so,, and it still works and sounds good. The cleans are very clean and very loud. I would give the distortion a B-. The limiter, if used gently, can make a sort of squishier tube-ish sounding overdrive tone. The reverb is a real spring reverb and sounds just like you would figure, a sound that nothing digital really does quite like that: kick the amp and listen to it clang! It is a fun effect for the right stage show. I have a Celeston Vintage 30 that I am not using that I am thinking of throwing in it just to see what that does to the sound. which again is already pretty good.
    These reviews are OK but one error runs thru. It's actually a 65 watt amp but you don't suddenly lose 20 watts! It's still VERY loud and the sparkling clean sound is as good as it gets and dikardus is exactly right. An amusing fact - I saw Alan Price in the late 80's and his lead guitarist was using one of these when it conked out. The road techs came charging on stage and set out his reserve amp; a black face Twin Reverb! It sounded just as good as the stage 85, Tubeheads, but no better - sadly Tubeheads. 2 numbers later the techs came on with the repaired 85 and swapped them back over when the 85 sounded just as good as the Twin and the guitarist had a contented smile. I can't remember his name but he had played with Hendrix so he was no slouch. Way to go.
    I've had one of these amps for years - it's my tried and tested practice amp. I've had many people comment on what a good sound it has for it's size. I bought it second hand and I've had it for 10 years without and it has never let me down. It's taken a few good beatings over the years too but it just keeps going. I don't know about using it for gigs but I suppose you could. As a practice amp it's very good though.
    When I was 11 I was looking for an amp with clean distortion, tubes and their need to be cranked to produce this sound were out of the question for me . I liked fender solid state amps and we found that there were three that had the clean yet heavy distortion I was looking for. 1 deluxe 85 2.'Princeton chorus and 3. the grey carpet cabinet fender 80. My music teacher ( Sam ash cherry hill high end sales guy) made me get this one and I don't regret it. Shout out to Bill, thanks I can't believe it's so cheap to buy used its versatility and sound are incredible I have played a lot of high end amps and next to a jcm 800 or 900 cranked this is what I like