Fender Hot Rod Deluxe
Original Author: Staffay
Model: Hot Rod Deluxe (-97)
Fender Hot Rod Deluxe is an all-tube amplifier that was released the first time in 1993, as an attempt to re-create the classic sound from the Bassman and Deluxe amplifiers from the 50's. Since then Fender had coloured versions of the amp out, and they did a new release around 2000 that has a three-channel system. This seemed to be a little unlucky since the players preferred the old version, and Fender has now released a "reissue"-version in tweed. It has a two channel system, the clean channel has its own volume and is not connected with the "Master"-volume. The "drive" -channel uses this instead and has also a "more drive" -switch. The amp has a nominated power of 40 W. (which nowadays says actually nothing, since the manufactorers are selling 5W amps sounding like 50, and 100W amps sounding like 10, but it is loud enough)
The amp has an sturdy construction, but is due to its all-tube circuits pretty heavy-weight for its size. (the transformer in all-tube amps, is what actually weights) The amp has an 12' inch Fender Eminence speaker, which Fender claims that should be equivivalent to the old speakers. The amplifier section is built round three 12AX7-preamp tubes/ two 6L6 power amp tubes. There is also a spring-reverb in vintage style built-in. All jacks are on the top of the amp, except for the speaker jack that is located inside the box.
The equalizer section is common to the two channels, and consists of Bass,Middle,Treble + a presence control. There is also a bright switch and a channel-switch amongst the other controls. (the amp is delivered with a footswitch to handle this, though) There is also jacks for power-amp in, and a jack for pre-amp out.
The amp has a characteristic clear Fender sound, which I associate more with 70's Twin Reverb than real vintage Fenders. It's a little less warm, but in return You can play crystal clear even at high levels. The response from the Eminence speaker is VERY fast and gives You a sharp attack and the characteristic fender "twang" -sound but is a little too fast for my taste.
The distorsion channel gives enough distorsion even for heavy rock, but its more bluesy distorsion is what the amp does the best. There is also a button for "more distorsion" as described above that lets You play with heavy distorsion even at lower volumes. My impression is that like all tube-amps, this one comes alive first when You play it loud. The EQ-section works well and so does the "bright" -switch, which is a must on these type of amps. As mentioned before, this is not an amp You carry around on the bus, but it is light enough to carry shorter distances with one hand.
To compare amps is a subjective task, but I believe that this amp does its job for the money it costs, but not more. Comparing to a vintage Deluxe amp isn't fair, since these old babies have a kind of "compressed" sound, which this amp lacks. The weakest point on this amp is really the speaker in my opinion, I tested the amp with my 4 x 12 Marshall cabinet and got a MUCH warmer sound out of it. Otherwise it is a good amp, especially for blues & jazz playing, but I wouldn't recommend it for harder styles of music.
Test with different speakers:
Marshall Combos, Peavey Combos, there is plenty around in this price-range.