Vintage Series '65 Princeton Reverb Review

manufacturer: Fender date: 03/30/2012 category: Guitar Amplifiers
Fender: Vintage Series '65 Princeton Reverb
Come travel with me back to the year of 1965. A simpler time featuring Lyndon B. Johnson keeping it all-too-real, Mary Poppins sweeping the box office, and the birth of J.K. Rowling. But perhaps the most magical thing of all was the release of the Fender Princeton Reverb, an amp that has been reissued so we can all enjoy a little piece of the past.
 Sound: 9
 Overall Impression: 9
 Reliability & Durability: 9
 Features: 8
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overall: 8.8
Vintage Series '65 Princeton Reverb Featured review by: UG Team, on march 30, 2012
3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 789

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If this were 1965, the features on this amp would be pretty incredible. However, we've come a long way since then and there are a few (dare I say glaring?) omissions we've become accustomed to expect from guitar amps. The lack of a gain knob might scare away prospective players right off the bat, so you'll really have to turn it up to get any kind of saturated distortion. The volume at which this occurs might pose a problem because the majority of players envision the Princeton as a practice or recording amp, so you most likely won't be buying one for distortion.

Secondly, there are knobs to control the bass and treble, but no mid. Apparently, pretentious blues players didn't start complaining about evil mid-range guitar frequencies until 1967, thus no need for a knob. You can still dial it but it'll take a little bit of experimenting with the volume and EQ controls.

On to the good stuff. The tube-driven spring reverb is one-of-a-kind and incredibly responsive. The vibrato is a welcome effect, aside from the fact that it continues the streak of 47 years baffling anyone who knows the real difference between 'vibrato' and 'tremolo'. Again, 'vibrato' refers to quick changes in pitch (which the amp does not provide) and 'tremolo' refers to quick changes in volume (which the amp does quite well). Both effects are controlled by the provided footswitch and you'll be happy to know it comes with an amp cover.

Keeping in mind that this amp's natural environment is in more of a blues/jazz setting, and the lack of modern features shouldn't be too much of a detractor. // 8

Sound: It sounds, for lack of a better word, vintage. The thing that surprised me the most was how warm the low end was, almost Bassman-like. All the effects are very responsive and the tremolo is reminiscent of a Twin. It's a good representation of all the things that make Fender amps what they are, and for under $1,000, the sound quality is pretty hard to match. I will say that the reverb gets a little harsh when you push it anywhere past 5. // 9

Reliability & Durability: Fender wouldn't have brought back a nearly-half-century-old amp if it didn't stand the test of time. The reissue arguably has some more reliable upgrades in the construction and the choice of rectifier tube. The original came stocked with a 5U4, as compared to today's 5AR4, which is designed to have a more efficient and gradual warm-up time that will add life to the output tubes. // 9

Overall Impression: You won't find a better clean amp for $800. The tube-driven effects are great, the tone is fantastic, and it gets surprisingly loud for 15 watts. Rock players might want to check out something different in this price range if they're looking for a combo with a little more distortion (Orange Tiny Terror maybe?), but if jazz or blues is your game, or you rely on pedals for distortion, check it out. // 9

- Sean Daniel (c) 2012

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