Gear Review: Fender Blues Deluxe

blues deluxeI had been frustrated for about a year with the Fender Twin Reverb (Reissue) I was leading worship with.  It was a great amp when it worked, but I was having all kinds of problems with finicky vibrato and reverb channels.  It was perpetually in the shop, and the  amp just weighed too much.  Every week as I carried it up and down the stairs I found myself mumbling under my breath that it was time for a change.

I came across a great deal on a Blues Deluxe Reissue and snatched it up last week.

First Impressions

The low cost of the amp just makes it too good to pass up.  There are definitely better amps out there, but it’s a Fender tube amp…and it sounds just like one, at a very reasonable rate (I paid $550 for mine).  The Blues Deluxe can lean towards that ice-pick brittle high end like most Fender’s, but pulling back the gain on the guitar pick-ups and spending some time on the EQ, I’ve been really happy with the clear and warm tone I’ve been able to dial-in…especially with the help of the built in reverb.  (When I want to get really soupy I have a Hall of Fame Reverb to stomp on.)

At louder volumes it seems like the amp wants to compress just a bit and lose a little off the low end, although I doubt I’ll ever even get that loud while leading worship.  The clean channel breaks up much much earlier than a Twin (which is to be expected), but it can still get much louder than I’ll ever need it to before the break up becomes a deficit.

It has been hard to set the volume right where I want it since the Master seems to be pretty finicky and the volume drops off right where I need it to be sensitive, however, I realize that it’s not built to operate at its best between 1 and 2 on the volume knob.  My hope is that in the next year or so I’ll be able to mic it off-stage in an iso cab or behind a curtain so I can really find the volume that works best for the amp.

All in all it’s a solid Fender tube amp for a great price…and with the money I’ll make from selling the Twin, I should be able to get a nice tremolo pedal to make up for the loss of the effect.  Now…which pedal to buy…

Comments

  1. Hey Travis!

    Good read on the BDRI. Very nice amp at a decent price tag. I currently own a Twin Reverb, and while I love the tones I get out of it, the volume is way too much for church use. I’ve always been a fan of the 2×12 combo but at 85 watts it can get fairly loud. Thinking of possibly making the switch to a fender deluxe reverb or blues deluxe.

    As for pedals, it’s a very fun adventure. Being able to sculpt your own sound and be able to have access to a number of sounds on stage. You already pointed out that you like tremolo, which is a great effect. I’m not entirely sure what you’re currently using and what you’re looking to use, but here’s a rundown on what my band’s guitarists use:

    Myself (rhythm):
    -Tuner
    -Compressor
    -A couple overdrive stompboxes
    -Volume pedal
    -Basic delay
    -Reverb

    My lead guitarist:
    -Basically everything I have simply more complex
    -Modulation (chorus, tremolo, vibrato, etc)
    -Boost pedal

    Really depends on what you do. I would personally say that the core pedals to have while playing worship is 1. A tuner, 2. Overdrive, 3. Basic delay. Any of these options would be the bare necessity and be able to allow you to play most worship tunes.

    -I love my tuner, I use a TC electronic polytune and I use it as my tuner as well as a mute switch in my chain. It’s great.

    -Overdrive is a very important part of my sound, I use it at different parts of a song to give it a nice texture. I find my Fulltone Fulldrive 2 Mosfet gives me a lot of different options when I’m on stage. It’s got 2 gain stages too so it’s a nice overdrive for low-medium gain. I will then use a Walrus Audio Voyager if I need more gain. Other notable overdrive pedals include Ibanez TS9, Boss BD2, MXR classic overdrive, Way Huge Green Rhino, and many more.

    -For delay I use a Boss DD20. I don’t use delay in every song but when I do I like the option of being able to select a preset that I’ve saved already. Boss DD20 does that really nicely. It’s a little expensive, but there are other Boss delays that are really nice for a lot cheaper. I used to own a Boss DD5 and LOVED it. That and it only costs about 90$ used. The best part about it is the fact that you can tap the tempo with your foot, so you don’t have to dial it in with the knob. A great feature.

    I know you said you use reverb on your amp, but sometimes having a little extra is nice. Hall of Fame is nice! I have it and love it. But if you want tremolo (and you said you do) I’d recommend the Strymon Flint. It’s a Trem/Reverb pedal and it’s AMAZING! Expensive pedal but well worth it.

    Tuner > Some overdrive box > DD5 > Flint

    Would be a great setup and not too complicated/expensive. Would love to hear more about your gear adventures!

    • Thanks Nathan!

      I pretty much have the same set-up as you…although I’m always looking to get new things and to upgrade.

      Here’s my rig right now:
      Boss tu-3 tuning pedal – Pretty standard. I know there’s also a tu-2 but I honestly couldn’t tell you what the difference is.

      BBE Sonic Stomp Sonic Maximizer – Brings clarity to everything. It’s like magic. I just throw it on and leave it. Here’s a video explaining it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLVJfLgAOyE

      Maxon DS 830 – A good distortion pedal with a lot of control. Separate controls for highs and lows are great so I can change the tone based on what the other electric guitar player is using.

      Line 6 DL4 Delay – a classic.

      Hall of Fame Reverb – I agree with you. It’s a great pedal. Really versatile. I like to use it on the church setting to make things really soupy and ambient.

      Ernie Ball Volume Pedal.

      I’d love to look into getting another overdrive or distortion pedal eventually too…it’s good to have different levels of distortion to go to…an A and a B.

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