My first guitar amp was a Crate G40CXL, it was pretty cool for learning on, solid state, 2 channels (clean and drive) reverb and chorus. Before that I had been using an old Coomber PA amp that my dad got for me when it was being thrown out from his school, he was a primary headmaster!!
The Crate was a lot of fun and I remember quite liking the drive on it at the time, but it wasn’t particularly loud enough for gigs even though it was 40watts. I sold it on for forty quid in the end.
Enter the Fender Blues Deluxe, it was 1994 when I got this, cost £400 from a friend of a friend who worked in a guitar shop and it was an ex demo model. Made in 1993, first year, and in the rarer blonde tolex and maroon grill cloth. Most of these Blues Deluxe’s came in a genuine tweed covering with a brown grille cloth.
The original concept of these amps was to have a vintage style look and sound in a more affordable package with modern features. i.e channel switching and effects loop.
With the recent closure of the Fullerton facility in the early 1990’s the production line of Fender’s hand wired amps had come to an end and Fender were losing market share. Hence the debut of the original tweed Blues range in 1993 to help re-assert Fender in a marketplace where the desire was for vintage styling.
Running two 6L6 output tubes and three 12AX7 preamp tubes its output of 40 watts go into a single 12" Special Design Eminence speaker (8 ohm).
It has two channels, normal (with bright switch) and drive, these are supposedly voiced for classic blues, country and rock.
Other features include:
Fender spring reverb,
Chicken head pointer knobs and a chrome control panel.
Two-button channel footswitch.
Solid state rectifier
Fender kept the costs low in the construction of these amps to be able to make them affordable and keep profits high. The cabinet is made of particle board (MDF) rather than solid pine.
The circuit board is a PCB rather than a hand wired eyelet board with some components smaller and of lower quality. The tube sockets are also PCB mounted on a separate board.
These first Deluxe’s were biased cold from the factory to increase tube life and prevent problems with low quality tubes and user error, thus cutting back on warranty work. Later Blues Deluxe’s did have an adjustable bias and included a bias test point on the tube socket PCB.
I love this amp, it has been all round Europe with me and never let me down. Ok, so the drive channel isn’t great and the reverb a bit metallic, but the clean channel is bliss. Its warm rounded tone has a beautiful bass response and its loud, cranked its a joy, but far too full on for home use. However the clean open tone makes it a great base for using pedals. Drive, fuzz, modulation etc, all respond really well and you get to hear what specific pedal designs are trying to achieve and an idea of how they will sound at greater volumes.
As gear in our lives comes and goes in the natural cycle of things (i did have a Hot Rod Blues Deluxe for a short time) this has always been a constant and will remain so, as now its sentimental value far out weighs its material one.
Some extra info: