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Fender Blues Junior Tube Amp Review

Fender Blues Junior Tube Amp Review

15 Watts Öare you SERIOUS?

Scotty lent me his Fender Blues Junior tube amplifier for a few days, to get my opinion on it and to write a review of it. I think Iíll just skip town with it! Iím very impressed with this little amplifier.

Fender Blues Junior Tube Amp Features

  • All-tube (2x12AX7, 2xEL34), 15W

  • Controls: Reverb, Master Volume, Treble, Mid, Bass, Volume, ĎFatí switch

  • 1x12Ē speaker

  • Black Tolex-covered semi-open-back cabinet, classic Fender grille cloth, vintage-style Fender logo plate.

    My Fender Blues Jr. Dislikes

    (There are only two)

  • Not quite enough bottom-end response for my taste. This, I think, is a function of the small cabinet around the speaker, more than anything else.

  • Tendency of the high-end Ďsparkleí to lessen somewhat when the amp is driven into clipping. This effect seems to also be somewhat dependent on what type of pickup is driving the amp, and in any case itís easily compensated for with the Treble control.

    My Fender Blues Jr. Likes

  • LOUD! This little guy has an amazing amount of acoustical output for its wattage and physical size.

  • Sparkly clean tones, and very warm overdriven tones. The choice is yours, with anything else in between.

  • That classic tube-amp dynamic response. I can set the Volume control at a point where an average picking/strumming force will yield a nearly clean tone, yet when I Ďdig iní on the strings a little harder, I start to get some warm, tubey Ďcrunchí. I get that with the Volume control set at about 2/3. With Volume full-on, I get a thick, warm, creamy distortion, yet it still cleans up a bit with lighter string attacks. This amp isnít a high-gain shred monster with screeching distortion. Itís not supposed to be, after all. Itís a BLUES Junior by Fender, and it delivers that bluesy tone. Classic Fender tone, all the way!

  • Reverb. Even though the reverb tank in this unit isnít a really long/big one, it doesnít have that Ďboingyí sound that smaller reverb tanks generally produce. Itís very natural-sounding and clean. It tails off a little faster than a larger tank would, but thereís more than enough there for my tastes. Very nice, very useful reverb, and again, classically Fender.

    Some Blues Junior Observations

  • I think this amp could benefit from a bigger enclosure around its speaker, for a better bottom-end. I canít get quite as much bottom out of it as Iíd really like. It doesnít lack much, however. It would just be nice to have a little more of it there to play around with.

    But then again, the unitís small physical size is its own blessing as regards hauling it around. And it could be that if itís played at the higher ranges of its output capacity, the bottom-end would be more present (I really havenít pushed it hard enough to determine this).

    The top-end response, though, is just beautiful. Positively crisp and shiny. Oh, and the ĎFatí switch is a nice little feature, too. It appears to punch up the lower mids to give you a beefier overall tone. I would probably keep it on all the time, actually. I like the ísubstanceí it imparts to the tone.

  • Iíve read about all these different modifications that people make to these amps, and frankly, I canít see how they could improve very much on whatís already a great-sounding little amp. Building it off into separate head & speaker cabinets is probably one of the better things you could do with it, as that would allow you to combine the head with different speaker configurations, resulting in a very wide variety of available ícustomizedí tones.

  • I canít say enough about how loud this tiny amp can get. Iím frankly amazed at its acoustical output vs. its rated wattage. It would be plenty amp for any Ďintimateí venues such as coffeehouses, and probably a lot of smaller clubs as well. It really blows some tone for such a little guy!

    Fender Blues Jr - Conclusion

    I personally think this amp is just a bit pricey for a 15W amp. But on the other hand, itís a Fender tube amp, with that special Ďsomethingí that you just donít get anywhere but from a Fender amp.

    The thing is, if youíre just going to plug a bunch of effect pedals thru your ampís input, itís not really going to matter nearly as much what the amp itself sounds like, since your guitarís signal is so colored-over with the effects.

    But if you just want nothing but wire between your guitar and your amp, youíre going to need that amp to sound really great without external coloration. This one does, in spades!

    Itís small, relatively light, easy to haul around, and certainly loud enough for a good many rehearsal and performance situations. It definitely has its niche, or should I say niches. The tone is classic Fender, as is the quality of construction. If you want genuine Fender tube tone in a smaller amp, this is your guy, right here! The Fender Blues Junior is a classic!

    Boss SD-1 Mod

    Boss SD-1 Mod

    Boss SD-1 picBoss SD-1 Effect Pedal Mod

    More Dynamics & Tone Mod

    Electronic components needed:

    • 2 LED clipping diodes
    • Jumper wire
    This guitar effect pedal mod is simple and adds a tremendous amount to this basic Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive pedal.

    I opted to keep the stock 4558DD JRC Op Amp chip, because the basic sound of all these chips and their replacements are manufactured to operate with roughly the same characteristics. You could remove the op amp from the circuit board and install an 8-pin chip socket. Then, with the chip socket in place, you could exepriment with the tone by swapping the chips out. Your call on your pedal. I opted not to do that, because I liked the tonal results of my Boss SD-1 pedal mod.

    Personally, I believe there is WAY TOO MUCH HYPE around whether this op amp is sonically better than that one in any given application. While there may be a slight difference in overall tonal output, the difference will be missed when you are cranking it up - out in that great club you always play in! So, that's my reasoning...

    Effect Pedal Cases

    Effect Pedal Cases

    Rondo Music Effects Pedal Cases

    At Rondo Music, they have some of the best bang for your buck! They feature many different sizes of effect pedal cases, small for up to 4 pedals depending on the pedal dimensions, all the way up to Gigantic - You could put a full-sized bass guitar in it (though the padding is not sufficient to transport your bass).

    Even though you couldn't transport a bass guitar safely, you could, however, transport ALL of your effect pedals in this effect pedal case. Get a two-wheel hand truck cuz these dudes are sturdy!

    Click on each picture to see the details for what is currently available! If you don't buy one of these, I'm not sure why. They have everything you need to transport, easily setup, and easily tear down to transport again. Just the case you need for your effect pedals, and at the right price, too.

    The Pedal Cases

    CNB PDC-410C Pedal Case-Small

    CNB PDC-410D Pedal Case-Medium

    CNB PDC-410F Pedal Case-Large

    CNB PDC-410E Pedal Case-Large-EX Wide

    CNB PDC-410G Pedal Case-Extra Large-EX Wide

    CNB PDC-410H Huge Pedal Case

    CNB PDC-410I Gigantic Pedal Case


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    © 2016 DIY Musician    . . .    M. Scott Worthington - Austin, TX