Guitar amp shopping!

Yup. Sam Ash has em for $699.00

I can’t keep up with their amp lines - and I can’t always tell what is fully digital, digital with some sort of quasi-tube circuit so they can claim that the pre-amp or power amp has a tube in it (which, if there is a lot of digital circuitry, doesn’t really behave like a tube amp - it’s just a spice), or fully tube.

Check with **Crotalus **regarding HR Deluxes - he has one. I believe he will tell you - and their rep - is great cleans, but not so great crunchy. The on-board crunch circuit is not so good, and they are not all that effect-friendly when it comes to distortion boxes (they take choruses, delays and other time effects well, though).

Why are you looking to go bigger? A Blues Jr is a gig-level amp - it can get over drums if you ever need to…

The trouble with new Fender tube amps, in addition to the widely held opinion that the crunch circuit is not that good (which I agree with), is that they are simply priced too high for what they are. $1000 for a new HRD is just ludicrous to me, when there are better, older Fender amps (esp. silverfaces) that can be gotten for less. Hell, my local mom 'n pop has a brownface (1960) Bandmaster quarter stack for $1000.


Me too. Dibs! :smiley:

Like I said, I’m just curious. I think the Bjr is probably plenty loud, but I just haven’t gotten a chance to go back to GC and experiment with it again. If the clean-tone loudness is a fail, then I was wondering what the next step up is. I doubt I would need to take that step, just wondering out loud.

Missed the edit window:

Isn’t another plus buying Fender is that it holds resale value really well? I see them in craigslist for around $400-$500, which is pretty close to the GC price for a new one. If I keep the Traynor, it seems likely I’d never be able to unload it if I tired of it.

Another question I posed above: I was in love with that Blues Junior NOS, and it sounded much better than the regular Blues Junior, I would guess because of that Jensen speaker. Is it a reasonable expectation that I could buy one of the cheaper Bjr’s, swap in a speaker, and I’d get basically the same tone as that NOS?

I wouldn’t worry too much about this. Traynor amps definitely have their fans. I’ve owned two of them, which I liked very much. In the end, I was able to get good money for both of them.

I gigged pretty hard for two years with a YBA-200 bass amp. It had loads of wallop. Great sounding amp. I also had a YCV40WR (essentially the 40-watt version of yours) for some time. These amps are basically the Traynor answer to the Fender line (YCV20 for the Blues Jr., and YCV40 for the HRD.) They are really nice sounding amps, but they suffer from the same problem the Fender amps do - the crunch channel ain’t that cool.

Now, I used to run a good crunch pedal into the clean channel and never switch channels on the amp. This works very well, for both the Fender and Traynor amps. And the clean channel on both these amps is very, very good.

I eventually got rid of both of mine in order to upgrade, and because I like used gear. I like the old stuff, and in a lot of cases, the old stuff still costs less than the newer lines.

Addendum: but I don’t know how much demand for the YCV20 there is. I know I considered buying one for a while, but eventually found my Bassman Ten, which I fell in love with.

I have had my Fender Hot Rod Deluxe for six years. I am by no means a tone expert, but here’s my review of the amp. The clean tone is great, a nice typical Fendery sound with lots of subtle harmonics that make chords sound rich and lovely while giving a bit of fatness to single notes. It provides lots of clean headroom; this is a loud amp. I like the overdrive circuit; to my ears it gives me the crunch and sustain that I want out of an overdriven tube amp. When I bought this amp, I sold my vast collection of distortion pedals. The Hot Rod gave me all of the distorted tone I needed for the rock band gigs I was playing when I bought it.

There was a problem with the master volume pot on these amps that Fender may have since corrected. They used a linear pot for the master volume, which meant that somewhere between 2 and 3 the amp would reach a very loud volume that was verging on too loud to use. This effectively meant that the master volume knob had a usable range that was too narrow for fine adjustments, and made it very touchy and difficult to adjust. I bought an audio taper pot and took it to an authorized Fender repair shop where they installed the pot and told me that they would not consider my warranty voided by the modification. This pot increases the volume of the amp much more gradually, making it much easier to use. If you decide to by a Hot Rod, and if Fender still ships them with the linear pot, you will probably want to change to an audio pot.

I paid $499 for my amp at Musician’s Friend in 2004. At the time, it was a bargain-priced all-tube amp, but due to price increases for the Hot Rod and new entries in the market, it seems like less of a bargain now. If I needed an amp now, I would probably buy the Epiphone Valve Junior combo and use a ProCo Rat to push it over the edge, since it doesn’t have an overdrive channel.

Wow, that’s really surprising. It’s not like log vs linear pots are a big mystery in audio electronics. Talk about bone-headed.

OK, so I went and did it. I now have both the Fender BJr and the Traynor sitting side-by-side in my office at home. Mwah Ha ha ha ha!! Now I have 25 days left in my evaluation window before I have to return one to Guitar Center, and I can really do a head-to-head comparison at my leisure.

It gets better: I went to buy the Blues Junior NOS @ $579, and they were out of stock. After I reminded the sales guy that I’d gotten a flyer from GC which said “DEMO CLEARANCE ON ALL FENDER TUBE TONE! limited quantities, demo units only, prices too low to print!”, he got on the horn with someone, and I got the demo amp for $399. Score!

I recently bought a B-52 AT-100. A 100 watt 2x12 combo.

This amp rocks. It has great dirty tones, you can dial anything from a little bit dirty to ‘I’m gonna rip out your heart’ evil gain. The clean tones are quite nice as well. The only down side to the amp is that the reverb kinda sucks. Since I am using it mostly for recording, that isn’t a big deal. Oh, also the amp is LOUD.

If you can find one in the stores try one out. I think they recently stopped making them for some reason.


The rumor around the various boards and websites I frequented that taught me about the problem and the solution was that Fender used the linear pot to impress young players with how loud the amp was. Who knows? All I know is that the amp was very difficult to use without the simple modification.

Ha! I just noticed that on this BJr, all the knobs go to 12!! Is this a “vintage Fender” thing, or a Spinal Tab reference? :wink:

Wow, that’s truly bizarre. Now I’m going to look for that not-feature on amps next time I’m in GC. Weird!

Anyway, thanks for the detailed review of the HRD!

TOTAL Score! Yay you!

Let us know how the Great Amp Comparo™ goes and any observations / questions you may have…

When anyone (especially WordMan) talks about an amp that goes to 11, I mention that mine goes to 12. That’s one more, right?

I did the best I could on my review of the HRD. I have a lot to learn about tone, but the HRD is a very usable amp for me, with the MV mod. It has taught me to check out the nature of the volume controls on any amp I test drive.

Just to start wrapping up this thread, I think I’ve decided to adopt the Blues Junior, and send the Traynor back to the pound. What’s decided me is that the BJr is the amp that makes me want to play it, it just sucks me in completely. The Traynor, not so much. I don’t know exactly why this is so, and it may be unanalyzable, but there it is: I gotta keep the amp that makes me want to play it, and that amp is the BJr.

The BJr and the Traynor both have very good clean tone. The BJr just has a much better clean tone, really lush, sparkling and lovely. The Traynor’s is merely pretty good. The BJr also has a good sounding reverb, where the Traynor really doesn’t.

The Traynor is certainly a more flexible amp – two channels, a standby switch, an effects loop, a balanced direct out, a headphone jack, external speak jack. The BJr has none of these things. However, I really, truly hate the Traynor’s drive channel, so that feature matters little to me. I can overdrive its clean channel with a pedal, and get really good, loud, rawk tone. But, I can do the same on the BJr, and its a better, punchier tone. Not as loud, but close.

As for the rest of the Traynors features, I’m unconvinced I need them. I tried monitoring the Traynor via the effects send, but the tone was buzzy and unlovely vs what was coming out of the speaker, which seems really odd – shouldn’t it be a close approximation? In any case, I don’t see the utility. And I don’t care about the external speaker jack, headphone jack, etc. Nice to have, but not crucial. The tone is what’s important, and the extras are window dressing.

I do wonder if I’m really just testing the BJr’s Jensen speaker vs the Traynor’s Celestion Greenback, and the Jenson won? If I could reasonably swap speakers in a few minutes, I’d try out the reverse, but that’s much more fiddling than I care to do when I’m returning one of these amps.

I have about another 1 1/2 weeks to return one of these amps, but I think I already know the final verdict. The Traynor is a really good amp, but the BJr just works better for me.

[Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally]

YES! Yes, yes, yes, yes - YES!!

[/Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally]


That, my friend is the WHOLE point - if you are one of the folks who have played enough to get to the point where you can hear something - even if you can’t put your finger on it - that makes you realize you need to choose between “one tone I like, but less features” vs. “tons of features, but only an acceptable tone” then you are starting to hear the tubes. NOTE - that does NOT mean you should always choose the tube option - only that you can make a more informed decision, right?

In this case, since you have your current home-theater+POD rig, choosing the option that is more tube-alicious makes sense, because you have the equivalent of a digital rig already. My hypothesis is that the Traynor is either not really a tube amp (i.e., the stick a tube in the circuit but only as window dressing on a digital design) or it is not as well made. Blues Jr’s are just simple, rock-solid amps that deliver tubey goodness…

What starts to get interesting is that, if you do dig into the amp, you will find that while it is a bit of a Johnny One Note of an amp - it really isn’t. You will find that you bring the variations you want by using your hands - i.e., tweaking your technique to emphasize things, which a tube amp can accentuate in ways that a digital can’t - and by tweaking the knobs on the every-versatile Tele.

This could be fun for you.

My friend, both amps are tube amps. However, both the BJr and the Traynor contain tubes and (a very small number of) transistors. Here is the service manual for the Blues junior; it has 3 12AX7s and 2 6BQ5/EL84s, but also a couple of op-amps. Here is the service manual for the Traynor; it has 3 12AX7s and 2 6BQ5/EL84s, also several transistors and ICs. Which is more tube-alicious? I can’t say, I’m not an electrical engineer. I suppose if you really want to get old-school, having a printed circuit board is a problem and the design should be bread-board and wires with hand-soldered joints, but I think that is slicing hairs a bit more than necessary.

Anyway, both amps sound good and tubey (overlooking the Traynor’s drive channel), they both seem very well built and solid (the Traynor feels like it could survive a drop down a flight of stairs). I just enjoy playing the BJr more. I think this may rest on the Blue’s Junior NOS’s speaker. I played some BJr’s with the stock speaker in the store, and if I’d tested one vs the Traynor, I think I might have chosen the Traynor.

Any thoughts on why that Jensen vs the Celestion might sound better? Or just guitar speaker observations in general? I know next to nothing about that topic.