As the name very much suggests, this is a reissue of a mid-60s Fender Deluxe Reverb combo amp. The black front panel replicates the original pre-CBS models, and the circuitry inside has been designed so that it delivers the same sort of tone too.
It's an all-tube amp, so this isn't to be confused with the Tone Master version of the same amp. In the pre-amp section, there are 4 x 12AX7 and 2 X 12AT7, and in the power amp section, you've got 2 x 6V6, plus a 5AR4 tube rectifier.
There are two channels, one with reverb and tremolo, one without, each with two inputs. It's worth remembering that this is a pretty faithful reissue of an old amp, so there is just one volume knob per channel - if you want this thing to distort, you have to turn it up loud. There's no master output volume to balance it out.
With 22W of power, you've got enough to gig with, but not so much that you can't play at home with it either. It's fitted with a single 12" Jensen C12K speaker with a ceramic magnet and to be honest, it’s the perfect example of a workhorse amp. The Deluxe Reverb has been used extensively over the last 60 years or so by all sorts of different players, and it’s easy to see why.
It sounds incredible. There's the crystalline top-end Fender sparkle that everyone talks about; it's bright but not overly so, and you've got the rich, warm low end to compliment it. You’ve got treble and bass knobs to help dial in your ideal sound. Some might miss the control over the mid-range frequencies but if you’re looking for a mid-heavy amp, then this probably isn’t the one for you. As a clean amp, it really is one of the best out there. You also get a lot of attack to the notes, as well as some really nice natural compression.
If you want some grit out of it, then it does that too. It started breaking up around 5 for me, though it will depend on what pickups you're using. In that 4-5 region on the volume, you're in the territory of 'on-the-edge-of-breakup', so if you want to push the amp more with pedals, then you can do so easily.
Past 5, you start getting amazing, warm organic breakup. It also starts to compress more (it will slowly start doing this before 5 though). Keep going and you'll get some incredible-sounding distortion. I had it at full volume for a short period, and it's probably the best my Gibson SG has ever sounded.
It takes boost pedals really well, as well as different kinds of overdrive. For me, overdrive pedals with a bit of a mid-boost worked best as they sort of balance the whole sound out a little, plus it means you can get distortion at a more reasonable volume.
The 65 Deluxe Reverb isn't just an amp that only sounds good when it's loud. Probably because it has a bright cap on the volume control, it retains a good amount of top-end detail, as well as that beautiful bottom-end bloom when played at lower volumes. It actually makes for a surprisingly excellent bedroom amp. I have played a lot of black and silver panel Fender amps before, but never lived with one for some time, and was pleasantly surprised at how good it sounded at bedroom-friendly levels.
When you want it to breakup, obviously, it's loud - probably too much so for most people at home, but in a gigging scenario, you'll likely be able to push this amp to where you want it and not have the sound person hate you (not the case with many other non-master volume amps). There's a reason why the Deluxe Reverb has been such a staple amp for players over the past 60 years - that 22W is sort of a sweet spot.
With some amps, you find that certain guitars sound really good through it, and others - less so. With this, every guitar I put through sounded amazing and helped me get the most out of the instrument.
The two channels, aside from effects do sound very slightly different. The vibrato channel is a touch brighter and clearer, though to my ears at least, the difference isn’t huge at all - nothing like the difference would be on the Silver Panel ’68 Reissue. Inputs 1 and 2 on both channels have more of a difference however, as they are designed so that you can pair them with guitars that have different tonal characteristics and outputs. Input 2 is a little quieter (-6dB), and slightly duller when compared to Input 1 which is louder and brighter.
The reverb is very luscious; super washy and dreamy when you really dial it in. It’s got a real spring inside, so obviously spring reverb is the only type you’ll get out of it, which might not work for everything, but it really is the perfect sound for things like surf and rockabilly. Dialed in around 1 or 2, it provides a nice texture that you can leave on all the time without it getting in the way of your playing.
The vibrato can add a really nice element to your sound, and with both Speed and Intensity knobs, you’re able to control how fast it is, and how much it’s incorporated into your signal. The only downside is that at lower volumes, it is a little noisy. You can hear a slight hiss at whatever speed it’s set to. As you turn the amp up, the volume of the hiss stays the same i.e. fairly quiet, so it’s only really an issue if you were recording with it at really low volumes.
This is a fantastic amp, especially if you’re after really full-sounding cleans at any volume. It’s perfectly giggable and when pushed, you’ll get amazing-sounding overdrive. At 22W, you can achieve this overdrive without the volume getting crazy, but it is still loud; probably too much so for home use. It’s really easy to see why so many players have turned to the Deluxe Reverb for studio use, gigs and home practice.
- Price: £1549/$1599
- Type: Combo
- Power: 22W
- Tubes: Preamp: 4 x 12AX7, 2 X 12AT7, Power Amp: 2 x 6V6, Rectifier: 1 x 5AR4
- Speaker: 1 x 12” Jensen C12K with Ceramic Magnet
- Effects: Reverb, Vibrato
- Weight: 42 lbs (19.05 kg)
- Contact: Fender