January 10, 2013 in Gear Reviews

Hot Rod Deluxe – Great Or Not So Great?

I’m going to take a few minutes out of your day to talk about the Fender Hot Rod Deluxe from a tone snob’s point of hearing. This amp is one of the best selling amps of all time. I’ve been through quite a few guitar amps over the years and I now own the hot rod deluxe. Below is a list of some of the amps I have owned, in no particular order:

Fender Frontman 25R
Marshall Solid State Half Stack (can’t remember the model, but it was terrible – Before I transitioned to valve amps)
fender hot rod deluxeHot Rod Deville
65 Deluxe Reverb Reissue
59 Bassman Reissue (early 90s model)
63 Vibroverb Reissue (early 90s model)
Blues Junior
100 Watt Twin Amp (early 90s model)
Peavey Classic 30
Peavey Delta Blues 115
65 Super Reverb Reissue
Hot Rod Deluxe (MIM version II)

I can’t comment too much on the Hot Rod Deville as I was still a fairly new guitar player when I owned it. But I’ve played them in stores, and they sound equally amazing. Of all of these amps, My two favorites were the 100 Watt Twin Amp and the Super Reverb Reissue. For financial reasons, I had to sell the super reverb which then bumped me down to the Peavey Delta Blues. Great amp, but it was missing the Fender feel that I’ve been used to all of these years (I actually liked my Peavey Classic 30 more than the new Delta Blues). So I did away with the Delta Blues and purchased a used Hot Rod Deluxe from a local musician for $350.

The Hot Rod Deluxe easily rivals the clean tone of the Twin and the Super I once owned. I was a bit reluctant to go back to a combo that pushed a single 12″ speaker, but there’s something about the Hot Rod that gives it a bigger, fuller sound. The cabinet, speaker and the 6L6’s contribute to this. I’m not a fan of the overdrive channel, but could get by with it if I had to. I purchased this amp for the clean tone. The reissue amps don’t even have an overdrive channel option, but you don’t see folks complaining about that, do you?! This amp receives a lot of positive reviews as well as negative. Speaking from my experience, there’s a reason that this is the best selling amp in the world. It’s extremely affordable and it has that clean Fender tone. I have A/B’d this next to a blackface Bandmaster and silverface Bandmaster and this amp came out on top over both of them to my ears. I will say that the blackface Bandmaster did not have a very good cab/speaker to run through. The silverface Bandmaster was converted to a 2×10 combo and it sounded really good, but brighter and a bit thinner. The bass had to be turned up to nearly 10 (bright switch off) to get the fatness required for my single coil equipped strat. The Hot Rod Deluxe thrives in a live band situation. One day when the Hot Rod Series line of amps comes to an end (if they ever do), I believe they’ll be sought after by the same people who used to criticize them. Once something’s gone, it becomes more attractive.

With all that said, don’t sell this amp short. It’s great and will be suiting me just fine without any modifications . I considered the Omega mods, I looked into speaker changes and also thought about getting an extension cab, just because I like to tamper with things and “fix” things that aren’t even broken. I’m going to leave this one alone for now..

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