Price paid: $ 699
Purchased from: Musicansfriend
Sound — 10
For reference I play an American Standard Strat. This is where Fender really shines. This amp, on the clean channel just sounds amazing by any standard. And considering most players have a nice pedal collection, that is all most need out of an amp. The amp is loud enough for any size gig. We always mic the guitar amps, so all you need is enough volume to hear yourself on stage. But this could carry most gigs on it's own. But one complaint is the volume knob really only goes from 0-4, not 12, after 4 it is almost at full volume. The reverb sounds great to my ears. It does have an effects loop to add more effects. Now for the most controversial topic, and the area the draws the most complaints from this amp, the Drive channel. This amp with produce great tube overdrive, but will not produce distortion. A lot of people buy these kind of amps thinking the Drive channel is going to sound like hard rock distortion. The overdrive sounds like The Rolling Stones or John Mellencamp, not AC\DC or Nirvana. That is where a good set of pedals come in. Most of those bands used distortion pedals to create their sound, I know a lot of players with Marshall Stacks that just end up using distortion pedals. I use an Boss DS-1 (seeing eye mod) and a MT-2 pedal, and with these pedals I can reproduce almost any sound from Led Zeppelin to Marilyn Manson. But it won't do stuff like Korn or Slipknot, but for anything else this amp is hard to beat at it's price.
Overall Impression — 9
I have been playing for about 12 years now, and in bands for about 8 years. I play almost any kind of rock music, but mostly alternative rock. And this amp is just amazing. I can almost bet it is the best under $1000. I would buy another one if need be. The only amp I would ever consider trading it for would be a Mesa Boggie, but I would rather buy another guitar.
Reliability & Durability — 10
The blues deluxe is built very nice, and has details like the Fender name on the carrying strap. The tweed looks great with the chrome control cover and chicken head knobs. The overall look of the amp will attract attention.
Features — 8
On the surface the Hot Rod and the Blues Deluxe are almost that same amps. Looking at their specs the only differences are the Drive channels (more gain on the Hot Rod), foot switch (reverb on the blues deluxe), and Internal Variable Bias control on the Hot Rod. Both are loosely based on the 59' Bassman, which by the way is my personal favorite amp. The Blues deluxe has a little less low end then the Hot Rod due to different caps used in the preamp, it uses the preamp tubes a little different making different distortion, it shares the drive control on both channels so it is not as clean at higher levels on clean, and has a different reverb circuit. I think the blues deluxe sounds better out of the box, but with the Bias Control, the Hot Rod can be modded with different power tubes very easily. So if you plan on modding buy the Hot Rod.