FM-5E3SD Super Deluxe review by Frenzel

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  • Features: 10
  • Sound: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.5 (2 votes)
Frenzel: FM-5E3SD Super Deluxe

Price paid: $ 795

Purchased from: Frenzel Tube Amps

Features — 10
The amp is a Frenzel Super Deluxe, 50 watt head. It was hand made by Mr. Jim Fenzel and his team in 2016. Frenzel amps are all made to order and it took about 5 weeks for mine to be made. The estimate was 4-6 weeks, so it was right on time. The amp has 2 inputs, normal is based off the Fender 5F6 and the bright is based off a marshal Plexi. I say based off, because they are not clones. Fenzel does offer the option to replace the Plexi type preamp with a JCM 800 type preamp.

The amp came with 2 6L6 power tubes, 4 12AX7 preamp tubes and a 5AR4 tube in the FX loop (all JJ tubes). The amp, however, can take 6550, KT88, KT77, KT66 or El34 power tubes. It has a selector switch on the back for 6L6/EL34. It can also take 12AT7 or 12AU7 in the preamp.

The amps controls are normal input volume, Bright input volume, Bass, Mid, Treble, Master Volume, and Presence.

The Master Volume is Push/pull and controls the FX loops on/off. The Presence knob is push/pull and controls the "no-negative-Feedback" option which increases volume a bit, and makes for a more open, less compressed tone. This is called the "Edge boost." Along with the FX loop and tube selector switch, the back panel has a power scaling switch for full/half/quarter, a line out and line out level control, speaker out and a selector switch for 4/8/16 Ohm.

Frenzel also offers the option for footswitches for the FX loop and Edge boost, which would replace the push/pull on the master volume and presence. They also offer this amp with a quad of 6L6 tubes. I give this section a 10, because I can't really think of any features that the amp could have that are not standard or can be added on.

Sound — 9
I wanted an amp with fantastic cleans and a platform for pedals. The amp has surpassed my expectations. The sound of this amp is incredible. The cleans are fantastic and with a touch of reverb it sounds amazing. There is a very large difference between the normal and bright inputs, so it's not just a gimmick. Aside from being brighter, the bright channel has a bit more grit and punch and has different dynamics than the normal input.

I have guitars with humbuckers (hot and classic) and a Tele and they sound great. The Tele sounds especially nice. I have a Cmatmods Signa drive and a BAT Black Forest OD's, a Celestial Aquarius, Earthbound Super Collider, DopeFX Bobba and Earthdweller fuzzes and they all sound amazing. Hell, this amp even makes a boss metalcore sound good. With this amp, I think I have heard what my pedals are supposed to sound like for the first time.

With the master volume, you can crank the channel volumes to get some grit directly from the amp. Clean, blues, rock, stoner, you can pretty much play anything through this amp, with a little help from pedals.

Reliability & Durability — 9
The amp seems extremely well built. This is not a made in China mass produced amp. This is a made in America, point to point, hand wired amp. There are no loose parts, no cheap looking parts. Everything is solid, well made and expertly put together. The chassis of the amp is metal, with screening on the front, back, and top to allow good airflow. The metal is not flimsy or cheap. It has a rubber coated handle solidly connected to the top. All the toggle switches are tight and seem to be high quality. I don't think this amp would have any trouble surviving out on the road.

Overall Impression — 9
My overall impression of the amp is that it not only met my expectations, but blew them away. When I was originally looking at buying a new amp, I was looking at the Rivera Venus Deux, the Victory Dutchess, Fender and Supro. I would put this Frenzel up against any of these amps for sound and build quality. The amp is rich with features and they aren't gimmicky, unusable features. The controls are responsive and no matter where you set them, you get beautiful tones. At this price point, you won't find a better sounding amp, with this many features, and this quality.

I know a lot people don't like reviews that do nothing but praise the equipment being discussed, but I literately can't find anything to complain about with this amp. It's quality in every aspect. If it were lost or stolen, I would certainly buy another one.

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