In the June ’07 issue of VG, amp profiler extraordinaire Dave Hunter said of the Fender Deluxe Reverb, “If guitarists were to vote for the one ‘best amp for all occasions,’ [it] would very likely earn a majority decision’.”
And while this year’s nominees in the VG Hall of Fame “Instrument” category pitted the “DR” against three stalwart guitars, the results speak, um… volumes.
The overwhelming winner (trouncing Gibson’s Firebird and Les Paul Junior as well as Gretsch’s Duo-Jet), the Deluxe Reverb is viewed by many vintage-tone purists as the ultimate guitar amp. Why? Well, for starters (and we’ll recall Hunter’s words here), the DR is “…small enough to crank up into tone territory for recording, rehearsal, or bar gigs, yet loud enough to fill a room and be heard above the drummer in a medium-sized club with just a vocal P.A.”
Introduced in 1963, the DR came along as part of Fender’s storied “blackface” line, and was a fairly dramatic reinterpretation of the previous-generation tweed Deluxe. Though it kept the tweed’s two 6V6 output tubes and 12″ speaker, its circuit was entirely new even beyond the addition of reverb and tremolo (which, by the way, sounded gloriously lush), and there’s precious little not to like! The key changes included a move away from cathode-bias and the addition of a negative-feedback loop around the output stage, giving it class AB operation, rather than the straight class A of the tweed. Also, its split-load phase inverter was replaced with a long-tailed-pair PI, which let it use more of the 6V6s’ headroom. And, the tweed’s Tone control was replaced with controls for separate Treble and Bass. Overall, this configuration was “hotter” and more dynamic than most of the DR’s bigger-brother Fender amps, giving it more focus and headroom while allowing it to retain a deliciously tactile playing feel.
So, what’s it all mean, in meat-and-potatoes terms? We’ll let Hunter’s June ’07 text lay it out (and take us on out)…
“The Deluxe Reverb is a great amp for anything from blues to country to rock and roll, and even jazz. Consequently, it has long been a go-to combo for countless first-call Nashville and L.A. session players.”