In a sea of inexpensive, feature-laden digital modeling amps, Fender is doubling down on its simple all-tube Pro Junior IV with a new SE version that increases control while lowering the price.
A first impression of the Pro Junior IV SE starts with remarkably sturdy construction for an amp in this price range, from its 3/4″ particleboard cab to the black tolex and aged silver grillecloth. The circuit board is neatly laid out with space between components, with the tubes separated altogether (to prevent their heat from causing damage) and nestled in a protective metal cage; power tubes held in place with high-quality retainers. The transformer is beefy for a 15-watt amp, and the handle could lift four amps of this size and weight at one time.
With the new SE, Fender set its sights on improving the Pro Junior’s progression of breakup and keeping low-end tight when the amp is overdriven. Using traditional Strat single-coils, the amp’s sound stayed fairly clean with the Volume control up to 6 (max is 12). From there, it broke up very gradually, making it remarkably easy to dial in a tasty amount of overdrive or distortion. The two Groove Tubes 12AX7 preamp tubes and two GT EL84 power tubes and 10″ speaker are fairly loud for a 15-watter, and offer all the chime and midrange scoop that are Fender’s trademarks. Even at the upper ranges on the Volume knob, low-end was flub-free.
The Pro Junior has been one of Fender’s most popular amplifiers since its introduction in 1993, and the Pro Junior IV SE, at $100 less than the tweed-covered model, is the most functional – yet cost-effective – version yet offered.
This article originally appeared in VG’s January 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.