Actually I am thinking over to sell my Fender Princeton Reverb, not because I am not happy with it, not at all, but because I have recently purchased a Kemper Profiling amp read my review here and why should I have two amplifiers, if I am just recording at home? And as an active musician I could use the earnings for other most important things like other gear, promotion, hiring musicians, there an endless list of most important investments. When I record I can also use a Kemper-Profile for the Princeton. But of course the Kemper can not substitute the feeling of the real amp played in my room. I am still not decided and this is a good moment to look closer on my relationship to the Fender and to think over, why I kept it for almost ten years. I have never used it live and I will just look at it from the perspective of a living room player and home-recorder.
There is one big problem with Tube-amplifiers: Almost all of them don’t sound well at neighbour-friendly levels. Before the Fender I had made experiences with 1×12 Combos of Peavey, Mesa boogie and Carvin and none of them sounded good at home with the level on 1 or 2. The Carvin could even not be dialed to a room-friendly level. There was an annoying volume-jump between Volume 1 and 2 from almost not audible to too loud. Okay, at these times I still played live, so I used the Amps mostly for playing live and at home I practised with a Korg Multi-effect and headphones or later with a POD First generation. But I started to hate headphones and the sounds of the Korg and the Line6 were not that inspiring. Therefore I searched again for a real Tube-amplifier. I looked for a small and light-weighted amp, which I could easily build up and down at home, because which husband could let his pretty Tube-Amplifier in the living-room?
Hundreds of Youtube-videos later my attention was caught by the videos of the american guitarist Jim Campilongo, who is the best advertiser for Fender Princeton Reverb Amps. Watch him live here
He deserves his endorsement-deals with Fender. I fell immediately in love with the sound of his Tele in combination with the FPRR (Fender Princeton Reverb Reissue). I was searching for a mind-blowing Clean-sound, which I could colour with pedals later, and it seemed, that the Princeton could be the perfect choice for this purpose.
There were cheaper alternatives: I considered also one of the small Vox, Laney and Blackstar amps, but at last I decided to go with the Fender, because if you are longing for that Fender-sound, why look elsewhere? I ordered it around 2008. Here are some pictures:
When I first plugged in and played a bit I just thought “Wow, what a fabulous sound” and I still think so after ten years. The little Combo produces the essence of the famous Fender-Clean, warm but crisp and very responsive, suitable from Country to Jazz. The amp is well-made, nothing rattles or shakes, everything is stable, though the Combo just weighs ten kilograms. The classic blackface-look is stunning. You become automatically more serious, when you play with a classic like this. It’s a pleasure to lift the amp each day from the cabinet, where I store it normally, up to a little chair. Do this with a Mesa Tremoverb every day and you can save the costs for the fitness centre. The controls for Treble and Bass are more effective than I know it from other Tube-amps. In fact it’s possible to dial in too much treble or bass, therefore it can be necessary to adjust the amp, if you feed it with different guitars. The Tremolo and the Spring-Reverb are exemplary examples of these effects. I could not imagine a better Reverb or Tremolo, maybe the separate Fender Reverb Tank could beat the Princeton Reverb, but I have never tried one.
The Combo is equipped with a 10″ Jensen P-10 Q. Though I was very pleased with the sound of the amp from the very first moment, it became even better after a few months of playing. This happens, because the speaker needs a bit of time to come to life. There are countless articles in the internet about speaker-replacements for the Fender Princeton Reverb. Many people modify the amp and build in a 12″ speaker. In my humble opinion the stock speaker is a perfect match for my purpose to play at home. Maybe you should swap the speaker, if you are playing at high volumes in a band to achieve more headroom and power, but for home-use a replacement is not necessary.
I had bought the Fender for its Clean-sound and the purchase was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The Amp produces pure beauty, doesn’t matter what kind of guitar you plug in. And it shines also at low levels!
Since I bought the Fender I play it with the Volume at 2 and I plug always into the Low-Input. At this Volume the little Combo is able to fill the room with unearthly Fender-Clean. I have never the impression, that the speaker is driven too low or that the tone looses substance, just a perfect Clean-sound at home-level. Add a dash of the Spring-reverb, which never waters down the tone, even at higher settings, and you have everything you need as long as you want to stay within the Clean-area. So the Fender Princeton Reverb Reissue fulfils every wish I had before
- Easy to lift, light weight
- Good Sound at low levels
- High Quality Reverb
Here is a video I recorded years ago, which showcases the pure Princeton-sound (and an annoying Metronome). Its just the camera-mic, but I think you can guess how good it sounds in real
The second good news is, that the Princeton seems to be made for Pedals.
Later I added a Barber Small Fry, a Suhr Riot, a Strymon El Capistan to my arsenal, but the quality of the basic Clean-sound is always shining through and makes everything sounding good. With the Suhr Riot and a BC Rich Stealth I can achieve Metal-sounds and it’s still not too loud and neighbour-friendly (Well maybe it depends upon how tolerant your neighbours are)
– The Price
– It’s beautiful, nothing ugly