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