Price paid: C$ 899
Purchased from: Steve's Music Store
Sound — 10
I regularly use two guitars with this amp: a Fender Jaguar Special and a Yamaha SG-2 which is for all purposes a copy of a Fender Jaguar Standard. I play noisy ambient rock, and the Blues Deluxe fits my needs perfectly. This amp is capable of gorgeous warm cleans, and the Presence control allows me to add just the amount of trebly sparkle I need to create dreamy shoegaze lead tones along the lines of Slowdive and Chapterhouse. What amazes me about this amplifier is its ability not to break up; even at higher volumes it offers flawless cleans. I find myself using the dirty channel very often; it is a very crisp, useable overdrive suitable for everything from blues to Indie rock. The spring reverb is probably my favourite feature, producing that subtle but unmistakeable spring reverb sound that simply cannot be recreated by stompboxes. It does get noisy with the single coils of the Yamaha SG-2, but this is definitely the guitar, not the amplifier, as my Jaguar's humbuckers are dead silent. This is fairly versatile amp that achieves both great Vintage-sounding tones and modern rock tones effortlessly.
Overall Impression — 8
I play shoegazing and dream-pop, which commonly makes use of the Fender Twin Reverb for its lush cleans and the Blues Deluxe does the job just as well as the Twin would. The sound is deep and spacious and reacts very well to effects, which is absolutely essential for me. I currently use a DigiTech Whammy IV and a Boss Super Feedbacker & Distortion in front of the amp, as well as a Boss Giga Delay, an Electro-Harmonix Stereo Memory Man, a Boss Space Echo, a DigiTech Digital Reverb and an Empress Tap-Tempo Tremolo in the loop, and I've had absolutely no trouble even with everything plugged in. I was considering the Blues Deluxe, the '59 Reissue Bassman, and the '65 Reissue Twin Reverb. I settled on the Blues Deluxe for the simple reason that it was about half of the cost and delivered just as lush a sound. I really wish there was the option of a line out for recording, since I live in an appartment and can't play at volumes loud enough to record with a mic. Apart from that, this is a an amplifier that has everything I need.
Reliability & Durability — 8
This is a short and stocky amplifier that seems to be built to last. This is my very first tube amp, and the only thing I really imagine going wrong with the Blues Deluxe is it needing to have its tubes replaced. The store where I bought it had two of these in stock when I came in: one on the floor for demonstration purposes and one still in its box in the stock room. I was a little afraid about reliability when I learned that the one on the floor was malfunctioning, but everything seems fine so far.
Features — 7
According to Fender's website, the Fender Blues Deluxe takes the circuit of the classic 1959 Fender Bassman and adds to it a number of commodities essential for the modern guitarist: an effects loop, an overdriven channel, and a real Fender spring reverb. The amplifier comes with a footswitch controlling channel switching and reverb. The Blues Deluxe is a 40-watt all-tube tweed combo amplifier holding a 12" speaker. I've only used this as a bedroom amp so far, but it is capable of such high volumes that I'd have no trouble using it in a gigging situation. While the simple, classic layout is appealing, I must admit that it would be much improved by the presence of both a headphone jack and some sort of output for recording.