Ultimate Guide To
Fender Amps

Leo Fender may be regarded as the world’s most influential innovator of electric guitars, but he was also largely responsible for pioneering the production of guitar amps. Manufactured by his eponymous brand since the early ‘50s, Leo’s amplifiers arguably set the precedent for all others to follow, with dozens of companies still basing their designs off classic Fender circuits.

Almost 70 years later, Fender’s amps remain as popular as ever. With their catalogue encompassing a number of timeless valve-powered classics, the company also proceeds to push the boundaries with its modern digital amps. But with so much variety, it can be difficult to understand the differences between certain amplifiers of theirs.

And that’s why in this guide, we’ll be dissecting the differences between their key models and ranges - to help you find the perfect Fender amp!

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Written by

Elliot Stent

Fender has created some of the guitar industry’s most recognisable and famous amplifiers. Whether that be their Hot Rods, Bassmans or Deluxe Reverbs; Fender has released dozens of models that have satisfied countless working musicians and, of course, some of music’s biggest stars.

Despite Fender’s enviably large amp range, it’s fair to say that most of their products are quite easy to identify from a sonic perspective. With typically bright-sounding, high-headroom clean tones; Fender guitar amps are also notorious for projecting plenty of volume. But it’s these distinctive qualities that make Fender amps so popular, especially with blues and country players.

Fender amps are also synonymous with what is referred to as the “American” guitar sound. In fact, it could be argued that they’re largely responsible for the coining of that term. American-sounding amps typically have a broad frequency response, meaning that their lows are deep while their treble frequencies are vibrant and articulate. US-style amps tend to remain clean at high volumes too, which can be largely attributed to the 6L6 and 6V6 power tubes that brands like Fender frequently use in their valve amps.

Of course, Fender’s amplifier range isn’t limited to just analogue valve amps. As one of the community’s leading giants, they’ve also moved with the times and explored the world of solid-state and digital modelling amps too. We’ll be covering all of the main models and ranges that form Fender’s amp lineup. Use the tiles below to skip to a section, or scroll down to read our breakdowns for each of Fender’s amp series’.

The Fender Amp Range

The Hot Rod series is Fender’s best-selling amp range, and for good reason. Comprised of a tidy selection of mid-priced valve amp combos, these relatively inexpensive models are adored for their powerful clean tones, harmonically-rich drive channels and sparkling spring reverb circuits.

Fender’s Hot Rod lineup encompasses several amps, available with different speaker configurations and wattages. The Hot Rod Deluxe is the standard model, a 40-watt 1x12” combo that you’ll see at practically any live venue - it’s a true industry standard! The Hot Rod Deville is a step up; a larger 60-watt 2x12” that offers greater headroom and projection with its two speakers. But if both of those options sound like too much (and trust us - they’re plenty loud), then the Blues Junior is a great choice with its more compact enclosure and 15 watts of headroom.

All current Hot Rods feature high-quality Celestion A-Type speakers, which ensure smooth highs, restrained mids and rounded lows for balanced projection. But what makes Fender Hot Rod amps so popular, though, is their ability to respond well to guitar pedals; especially fuzz and modulation effects. This makes them ideal pedal platform amps for stompbox enthusiasts, particularly for those that prefer to have their core tones at their feet.

Fender Hot Rod Amps on Andertons T.V.

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Fender’s Bassbreaker range is fairly new, introduced in late 2015. But despite its youth, the Bassbreaker series has become one of Fender’s most popular and lucrative product lines. Made up of a number of affordable valve-powered heads and combos, these amplifiers cater for modern players that seek classic Fender clean tones mixed with contemporary high-gain distortion.

Versatility is certainly their strong-point, and Bassbreaker amps are unique among the rest of Fender’s amp catalogue as they feature EL34 and EL84 power tubes; normally associated with British-style guitar amps. It is these particular valves that enable Bassbreakers to achieve their saturated distorted tones, as they break up more softly at high volumes and compress for a tighter sound.

Other features include built-in digital reverb circuits and effects loops for effective use with modulation and time-based effects (like chorus and delay). Arguably the coolest contemporary features found on these amps are their speaker-emulated line-outs. Making it possible to record directly into audio interfaces or mixing desks without the need for microphones, these XLR-outputs also enable you to plug directly into front-of-house PA systems in live situations. The sound guy will love you for it!

Fender Bassbreaker Amps on Andertons T.V.

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Fender’s Vintage Reissue range encompasses some of their most famous amp designs from 1965 - the year the brand was famously taken over by CBS. Recapturing the spirit of those original models, the Vintage Reissue lineup includes Fender’s immensely popular ‘65 Deluxe Reverb combo, as well as the Twin Reverb and Princeton Reverb.

The Fender ‘65 Deluxe Reverb is an industry staple. When someone says “Fender amp”- it’s likely that this is the model most would think of first. Featuring 6V6 power amp valves for ultra-clear cleans and boasting a relatively modest 22-watts of headroom, the ‘65 Deluxe Reverb is a popular gigging amplifier and adored for its snappy character, especially with its vibrant tube-driven reverb circuit. Although marked ‘vibrato’, the Fender Deluxe Reverb also features a valve-powered tremolo channel; providing that signature Fender warble.

The ‘65 Twin Reverb is similar feature-wise, but is far more powerful than its 1x12” Deluxe counterpart. Featuring two Jensen C-12K ceramic speakers and 85-watts of headroom, this 6L6-driven amplifier is renowned for its incredible projection, as well as its ability to remain crystal-clean even at ear-splitting volumes. It’s practically built for large stages!

If that much power is too much to handle, you’ll probably feel more at home with the ‘65 Princeton Reverb. With a bonehead-simple set of controls, this 15-watt 1-channel amp has a smaller 10” Jensen C-10R speaker, meaning that it’s enclosure is smaller and more portable than the aforementioned models.

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Somewhat similar to the Vintage Reissue range, Fender’s Vintage Modified series also features a number of their classic old-school amps - brought back to life! However, these amplifiers have some modern enhancements that make them more suitable for today’s players; most notably updated tone circuits that ensure a quicker onset of overdrive and that reduce negative feedback for greater tonal flexibility with pedals.

The Vintage Modified series is largely comprised of ‘68 Custom amp models like the Princeton, Deluxe Reverb, Twin Reverb and Vibrolux Reverb. Often referred to as Fender’s “Silverface” amplifiers for their unfinished metal front panels, the differences between these and their ‘65 Vintage Reissue counterparts aren’t just aesthetic. That’s because Fender ‘68 Custom amplifiers are fitted with Celestion speakers instead of Jensen, giving them a slightly warmer and more rounded sound.

Fender’s Vintage Modified lineup also boasts the modern Super Champ amps. Essentially hybrids that rely on digital modelling technology combined with raw 6V6 power amp valves, these clever 15-watt amps are designed to emulate 16 famous sounds (including Fender’s own Tweed and Blackface amps) via simple voicing switches. These affordable amps also feature 15 built-in effects and USB speaker-emulated outputs, making them exceptionally versatile and effective for recording.

Fender Princeton & Deluxe Amps on Andertons T.V.

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That unmistakable ‘50s “Tweed” Fender amp sound can only be faithfully recreated by a model from the Custom series. Made up predominantly of ‘57 amps like the Custom Champ, Deluxe and Pro-Amp; these vintage-spec, hand-wired models rely on pure tube power to project powerful cleans and rich, organic overdrive.

The Fender ‘57 Custom Champ is the smallest of the bunch and dead-simple to use; boasting just a single volume control. Equipped with a single 8” Weber Alnico speaker, this tiny 5-watt, 6L6-driven combo compresses nicely when cranked; bringing out plenty of rich harmonic content and mid-range potency. The 5F1 circuit is also responsible for giving the ‘57 Custom Champ its unique voice, with a heightened dynamic response that allows you to play expressively despite its low and somewhat restrictive headroom.

While the ‘57 Custom Champ is perfect for studio use, its limited wattage doesn’t make it very gig-worthy. The ‘57 Custom Deluxe, however, is a bit more powerful with its 12-watt design. It also boasts a larger 12” Eminence speaker that can emit broader lows, making the Custom Deluxe a more rounded-sounding amp. What’s also worthy of note is the ‘57 Custom Deluxe’s all-tube 5E3 circuit, which enables early-onset distortion. This means that the amp doesn’t have be turned up super-loud to achieve break-up; even with its 6V6 power tubes that typically remain clean.

Fender’s ‘57 Custom Pro-Amp is the undisputed king. With 28-watts of pure Fender tube tone at your disposal, this particular amplifier is fitted with a huge 15” Eminence Legend speaker for unparalleled projection, while the 5E5A circuit ensures natural-sounding overdrive as your turn up the level. The addition of a presence control gives you more flexibility when it comes to shaping the top-end too, making the ‘57 Custom Pro-Amp arguably the most versatile of the bunch.

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It’s fair to say that Fender’s Super-Sonic amps are a little bit underrated, and deserving of more praise. While they keep that classic Fender styling intact, these vintage-looking 2-channel amplifiers are actually deceivingly versatile; with the ability to deliver modern saturated high-gain sounds alongside those inimitable Fender cleans.

The Super-Sonic combos are viable gig-worthy amps with their 6V6 power tubes and 22W of headroom; akin to the specifications of Fender’s always-popular Deluxe Reverb amplifiers. Installed with single 12” Eminence/Fender-designed “Lightning Bolt” speakers (exclusive to just the Super-Sonic series), their design ensures a balanced response with supreme clarity at high levels.

If you’re a player that adores the clean sounds offered by Fender amps, yet seeks searing distortion and everything in between too - Super-Sonics can cover all of the bases. They also feature effects loops for your modulation and time-based stompboxes, making them ideal pedal platforms.

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Released at the 2019 Summer NAMM Show, Fender took a giant leap into the world of amp modelling with its Tone Master combos. Although they might look like traditional Deluxe and Twin Reverb amplifiers, the Tone Masters are actually completely valve-less and rely on their massive digital processing power to emulate the sound and response of their tube-driven counterparts.

Featuring solid-state power amps to recreate that engulfing Fender headroom, the Tone Masters also feature lightweight 12” Jensen N-12K neodymium speakers for excellent projection. These feather-light speakers, combined with the lack of valves, means that the Tone Master amps weigh about only half as much as their tube-powered contemporaries. So, not only do their valve-less designs ensure better reliability, but their forgiving weights also make them extremely portable.

Apart from their fundamental sounds, Tone Master amps also precisely emulate Fender’s world-class reverb and tremolo effects; you wouldn’t believe how accurately! Additional rear-panel features include power selector switches for attenuating the amp’s volumes, as well as balanced XLR line outputs with built-in impulse response (IR) cabinet simulations. This means that you can plug Fender Tone Master amps directly into mixing desks or audio interfaces for microphone-less recording, or into PA systems for live performances.

Fender Tone Master Amps on Andertons T.V.

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Fender’s Mustang amps serve as excellent practice amps for the home, and are designed with beginners and intermediates in mind. Featuring large LCD screens, these amplifiers are hailed for their intuitive digital interfaces; making it easy to dial in the perfect tones.

These particular amplifiers come loaded with several presets that cover a wide range of different genres; essentially giving you a “greatest hits” of guitar tones (in Fender’s words). With many presets designed to offer the sounds of classic Fender amps, others loosely emulate models from different brands to ensure that players have versatile palettes of tones at their disposal. Fender Mustang amps also come equipped with over 40 built-in effects, including reverb, delay, chorus, flanger and many more!

One of the coolest things about Fender Mustangs is their WiFi compatibility. This means that with the accompanying Fender ToneApp, you can share your presets online and download tones created by other users, as well as those crafted by official Fender artists. This also makes it a lot easier to download software updates, with Fender frequently making tweaks and uploading new amp and effect presets. Last not certainly not least, Fender Mustang amps also feature Bluetooth for streaming your favourite music and backing tracks through.

Fender Mustang GT Amps on Andertons T.V.

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Fender’s Champion series has been a mainstay for several years. Essentially a step up from the entry-level Frontman range, Fender Champions are simple solid-state amps that are perfect for beginners or intermediates that are looking to upgrade from their first amplifier.

Fender Champion 50XL on Andertons T.V.

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