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Saturday, October 20, 2012

What a difference a (tube) stage makes

Blackface Fender Deluxe amps sell for much less than blackface Deluxe Reverbs. An informal survey of completed Ebay sales shows about $1000 difference between the two.

This is due to more than the lack of reverb; the Deluxe Reverb has just a touch more gain to it, giving it a slightly different sound. There is one extra triode that's used to mix the reverb return with the dry signal, and even with the reverb knob set to 0, it's still in the signal path of the Vibrato channel. This, I think, is what endears it to a lot of guitar players.

When you add the reverb into the picture, the signal now goes through 3 additional stages, so the reverb adds additional coloration to the amp. I've read newsgroup posts where the Deluxe's fans feel they can get the same thing through a reverb pedal or other effect, but it doesn't duplicate the the signal path. There's reverb, but it's not achieved the same way.

The Deluxe is a great amp and has great sound. Although it's similar in name to the Deluxe Reverb, it's a different amp, and not as flexible. Its two channels are differentiated by one having tremolo, and the other not. A Deluxe Reverb's channels on the other hand, are almost like having two amps. The normal channel is a Deluxe with the tremolo turned off, and the vibrato channel adds a gain stage, reverb, and tremolo.

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