Amplifiers

Fender ‘68 Custom Princeton Reverb

  • By Sarah FitzGerald @tonereport
  • February 06, 2014
  • 5 Comments

The Princeton Reverb is an icon in its own right. Sure, it may not have the status of, say, a Twin Reverb—but the Princeton has quietly been a staple for clubbing musicians for decades. Fender’s Vintage Modified Series has recently introduced three Silverface amps—a Twin Reverb, a Deluxe Reverb (which I’ve also had the chance to review), and a Princeton Reverb. I love a light but powerful amp, so I was stoked to be able to take the Princeton on a weekend getaway and see how it sounded. While I didn’t like it as much as the Deluxe, it’s still a pretty great amp. Read on to find out why.

 

WHAT WE LIKE
Personally, I’m nearing old-geezer status with my back after years and years of lugging gear around. The Princeton is a featherweight combo and you can take it anywhere. It’ll fit in your front seat, it would fit in an overhead compartment on an airplane, and it’ll certainly fit on any stage, no matter what size! However, let’s get down to brass tacks: this thing sounds pretty damn great. It doesn’t have the same personality and sparkle as the Deluxe Reverb, an amp that I absolutely fell in love with and still covet. The Princeton has less overall sparkle and is much more a straight ahead, somewhat flat sounding clean amp. Headroom doesn’t last for long on this amp—at 12 watts through a 10” speaker, you can retain headroom and volume up until maybe 5, at which point you start getting overdriven tones. The Princeton has a simple interface: volume, treble, bass, reverb, and speed & intensity knobs for the built in tremolo.

Having tremolo and reverb on such a small amp makes it a wonderfully versatile amp and the simple control panel makes it easy to quickly dial in a great tone.

CONCERNS
Lacks sonic ‘character’ compared to the Deluxe Reverb, but that’s a concern only if you prefer the tone of the Deluxe. As mentioned, the clean headroom of this amp only goes up to 4.5/5, at which point it starts to break up. I found the breakup tone to be a bit harsh in the highs and a bit buzzy. Backing off the guitar’s volume control just a hair helped smooth things out, but when it comes to driving this amp hard to get overdrive, your mileage may vary.

TONE 
The Princeton has great, flat clean tone up until it breaks up, at which point it can get somewhat buzzy sounding, but the reverb and tremolo are classic Fender all the way.

BUILD QUALITY 
Cabinet and construction is very good quality, Fender Mexico has been quietly and steadily producing great amps for years now.

VALUE 
The Vintage Modified Silverface amps are not strict ReIssues, but rather re-invented homages to the originals. At $849, I’d say the Princeton is a little overpriced – especially compared to the $999 Deluxe Reverb which is a much more nuanced piece of sonic kit.

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5 Comments

  1. Mark Macfarlane

    Thank you for the review. It would be great if you could review the new Twin Reverb in the series as well. Thanks!

  2. D.B. Cooper

    I was on the fence between the ‘68 Custom Prince Rev and the ‘68 Custom DLX Rev.  I chose the Princeton.  Why?  To the best of my knowledge, the PrinceRev is the smallest, lightest, tube amp, with Trem & Rev from Fender. All features were important to me. Unless I go back to gigging (unlikely), I can live without the second channel on the DLX.  12w (Prince) does the job for me vs 22w (DLX).  I can always do without the extra 8 lbs of the DLX.  I can use the full capabilities of the Prince before it gets to “call the police” level.  Plus I got a great deal on a new Prince, over $200 less than the $999 advertised price for the DLX, which is nice.

    Played with my old bandmates last weekend in our old rehearsal studio, the drummer’s basement. :D The Prince held its own just fine.  All my mates had good things to say about it.  Nobody said it wasn’t loud enough or clean enough or too buzzy…no complaints.  When we were gigging I used a Mesa MkIV, then I powered down to a Fender HRD, then I powered down more and alternated between a Mesa DC-3 and a Matchless Clubman. 

    My suggestions to Fender?  On both the Princeton and the Deluxe, put chrome corner protectors on it, tilt back legs, effects loop, standby switch, LED somewhere that indicates REV ON, TREM ON, make the volume knob go to 12. ahahahaha!

    It was interesting that NONE of the authorized Fender dealers around here had a ‘68 Custom Princeton Reverb or ‘68 Custom Deluxe Reverb on the floor to demo. 
    GuitCntr, NOPE!  Sam Ash, NOPE!  Any of the non-chain shops, NOPE!  What’s up with that?! I don’t live in One Stop-Light-Ville, ND (no offense intended to ND)  I live in a suburb of Chicago.  I bought mine based on playing old Princeton Reverbs and reviews like yours.  I lucked out.  I rolled the dice that the reviews were accurate and I won.  I also had good 30 day return policy from a reputable on-line seller. 

    Just my 7cents
    Cheers!
    D.B. Cooper

  3. Jack Taylor

    What’s with all the comparisons to your beloved Deluxe amp?  This amp is NOT the Deluxe, nor is it a like-for-like replacement.  Both amps serve different needs, one being a larger and more familiar Fender amp, with the Princeton being meant for recording and bedroom use.  How can you slam the Princeton’s lacking of having the same sonic capacities of the Deluxe when they are, A) Different sized amps, B) Different voiced amps, C) Amps intended for different situations.  Next time focus on the amp at hand rather than comparing it constantly to a completely different amp that you happen to fancy.  Would someone look into a Deluxe for apartment bedroom jamming and recording?  No, probably not.  They’d look at a Princeton, and would probably find your constant comparisons to the Deluxe a bit redundant and pointless.  This review was a disservice to the Princeton.  At least compare it to amps similar in size, price and stature to it.

  4. Tommy

    So I’m struggling here… This or the super sonic 22w? I play a lot of bluesy jazz light rockish type stuff. Anyways, I’m looking for an amp that is “playable” in our condo, small gigs, and garage type jams. I’m also using an Ibanez Tube Screamic, xxotic 25 DB boost, Boss Delay, and a Boss Compressor. Does either amp take pedals better than the other?

    Thank you!
    T.K.

  5. pharmerdavid

    I had two SFPR amps 10 years ago, but sold them, probably because they needed to be tweaked and better speakers.  I have a ‘clone’ BFDR now, with a Weber C12N copy, which sounds wonderful, even at low volume.  I think the DR sounds better than the PR even at low volume, but I like the low-miss.  If the PR was hooked-up to a 12” or better yet, a 15” speaker cabinet, then my opinion might change?  Probably not, because the extra wattage means more low end and clarity with the DR, and I like clean sounds and low down bass sounds.  Now I have a Gibson GA-18 with the Weber version of the C10N - same motor as the C12N copy (that Weber model kills it).  That amp sounds MUCH better than my PR’s did, although it’s more like a tweed deluxe, with more mids.  My GA-20 and GA-40 both sound very brown, which is good, VERY good - darker than Fenders! the redwood cabinets effect the sound - it’s a harder soft-wood than the pine Fender used.  You will notice that in many discriminating recording studios they use GIBSON amps, not Fender…