by Brendan Greene-Walsh
The Fender Blues Jr. has been a simple solution to a problem that has long plagued guitar players – how to maintain excellent tone without breaking your back lugging around a huge amp. Granted, not every guitar player will be completely satisfied with the Blues Jr., but hey, those pre-CBS Bassman heads aren’t a dime a dozen.
It's difficult not to acknowledge the depth and versatility behind this pint-sized amp. Two power tubes create 15 watts to drive the 12 inch speaker, and drive it does. The Blues Jr. can get loud effortlessly, certainly louder than my old neighbors used to enjoy (especially at 3 a.m. while ripping solos). The amp plays wonderfully in rooms of all sizes, whether un-miced in a small room or running through a large PA, it retains tonal character and warmth.
The controls are simple. A three-band equalizer, preamp volume, master volume and reverb offer plenty of options for every style of music. An added “fat” button boosts the preamp tubes to create overdrive that can be enabled via footswitch as well. One of my favorite touches is the real spring-loaded reverb chamber built into the amp. My amp is an original Fender Blues Jr. I. Fender subsequently released two newer versions: With the II, the circuit board was swapped out for one that has a brighter overall tone; and the III really doesn’t have any differences that aren’t cosmetic.
I have owned mine for 10 years without any problems. It has been through the rigors of multiple practices per week, gigs and even tours without fail. It is a great option for the working musician looking for an affordable and compact amp without sacrificing tone. However, hessians may not be sold on it.
Brendan G-W is an Omaha native. Some of his fave things are tape machines, tubes and vinyl records. He is a recording enthusiast and multi-instrumentalist (some way worse than others). Drop a line and let us know what you think at email@example.com.