Price paid: € 850
Purchased from: Knight Music
Features — 8
The Fender Hot Rod Deluxe II is a Fender tube amp made in Mexico. The amp has 2 channels, Clean and Drive. The drive channel can be switched to more drive which can act as a third channel. The amp has 3 12AX7 preamp tubes and 2 6L6 power tubes. The amp is rated at 40W and delivers the power through an Eminence special designed speaker. The amp has 2 inputs labeled as input 1 and input 2.
The clean channel has a bright switch that increases the high end detail if engaged. It also has a volume control. There is a channel selection switch to switch to the distorted channel. The distorted channel has 2 knobs, a Gain control and a Master volume control. There is also a more drive switch that increases the gain by a specific amount of gain.
The amp has a 3 band EQ system that is effective with both channels. It consists of Bass, Treble and Middle. It also features a solid state driven effects loop and a solid state driven spring reverb. The reverb has a knob controlling the amount of reverb to be mixed to the dry amp sound the amp. The amp features a presence knob that controls the harmonics of the signal. It sounds like boosting treble.
The amp comes with a footswitch that controls the channel selection switch and the more gain switch. A dust cover was also supplied with the amp. The amp can be connected to an external cabinet.
Sound — 8
The amp has 2 inputs, I find that input 1 suits single coil pickup guitars and input 2 sounds better with humbuckers. With EMG HZ1 pickups on channel 1, I can hear the sound slightly distort. this issue is fixed by plugging the guitar in input 2. Single coil pickups sound dull in input 2.
The clean channel sounds fantastic. The channel has a nice dark Jazz tone, and if the bright switch is engaged, the amp delivers nice shimmering cleans. This amp sounds really great on the clean channel. The reverb is nice too if used very subtly. The distortion channel on the other hand is not as nice. It is quite noisy and the distortion does not sound as good as the clean channel. I prefer using a distortion pedal with this amp. Ibanez TS9 and MXR ZW-44 improve the sound of the distorted channel but adding so much gain stages, increased the noise.
The amp takes effect pedals very well. I use a number of pedals that sound good with this amp. The list includes: Ibanez TS9, MXR ZW44, EHX Small Stone, TC Electronic Corona Chorus, Boss DD-3, ProCo You Dirty Rat, and my favourite pedal with this amp; the MXR Dynacomp.
Reliability & Durability — 8
The amp did breakup after 6 years. The symptom was that after about an hour playing the amp would start changing channel at random. I opened the amp and found that the capacitor that stabilizes the voltage for the circuit that controls the channel selection leaked some fluid. I ended up replacing both capacitors and their corresponding high power resistors as I noticed that the PCB beneath them had heat marks. the heat could have been a result due to the bad capacitor. The total cost for repair was less than 5 euro for the replacement parts.
Most of the time I gig with this amp without backup. Rarely I do take my Fender Frontman 212R as a backup. Having said so, the amp has a good build quality and seems like it can withstand day to day duties of a gigging guitarist.
Overall Impression — 10
With a nice clean channel and a usable spring reverb, the amp fits my style very well. I can get around the distortion channel by using a drive pedals. The amp takes pedals very well. The effects loop allows the user to place effects between the preamp and the power amp sections of the amp to utilise pedals effectively. I got an extension cab with the amp loaded with a Celestion Seventy 80. The cab adds a lot of high end detail to the sound. At first I liked it as humans are drawn to high frequencies. Later on I noticed that the Eminence speaker is enough to deliver a nice tone. The Eminence speaker delivers more low end content.
This amp is a great amp for a gigging guitarist as it is loud enough for a small venue gig. The features of this amp allow for a lot of functions and settings. Also, it is relatively easy to carry and reasonably priced. It can also be found in a number of studios.