Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fender Vintage Reissue ‘65 Twin Reverb Guitar Amplifier Review


There are some truly amazing things in our world. And sometimes you lust for one of these things so badly and for so long, that by the time you finally get it, you realize that either it was not what your really wanted, or that you are in way over your head. Maybe it is a supermodel girlfriend, a high-pressure career, or that hotrod ski boat or muscle car. For me, this great white whale is the Fender Twin Reverb…

Fender introduced the original amplifier back in the 1960s, and it is generally regarded as the cleanest amplifier you can buy, as well as the loudest combo amp for it size. Both of these claims are still true, and the Vintage Reissue ‘65 Twin Reverb is worthy of the name and heritage. A veritable Who’s Who list of rock stars have used these amplifiers, including Hendrix, Clapton, The Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

It is not terribly huge, measuring 27 x 20 x 11 inches, but it certainly feels a lot heavier than its 64 pounds when hauling it around by the single vinyl handle screwed to its top. It has a super-solid chassis that is hewn from 7-ply 5/8-inch Baltic Birch plywood. You cannot by better wood that is this strong. The whole thing is covered in black nubbly tolex and combining this with the blackface control panel and the silver grill cloth gives the Twin Reverb that vintage look. Oh yes, and it has the tilt back legs of the original, too.

It is an 85-watt (at 4 Ohms) all-tube amp, and it comes loaded for bear. It is built with four 6L6 Groove Tubes output tubes, four 12AX7 preamp tubes, and two 12AT7 preamp tubes. Since the beginning of time, the Fender Twin Reverb has used a solid-state rectifier. All of this power is channeled into two 8 Ohm ceramic magnet 12-inch Jensen C12K speakers (a 4 Ohm load).

On the front of the chassis you will find two independent channels: Normal and Vibrato. There are two inputs for each of these.

The Normal channel has a three band EQ, a volume control and a Bright switch. This switch is intended to be used when the volume is set below 6 (or so) to compensate for any loss of high end.

The Vibrato channel has these same controls, plus knobs for Reverb, Speed and Intensity. The reverb circuit uses an awesome spring reverb, and the Speed and Intensity knobs control the vibrato effect. The included footswitch has two buttons to turn these effects on and off.

There is not too much to look at on the back: the on/off switch, a ground lift, two speaker outs, the footswitch jack and a 4 Amp Slo-Blow fuse. You will not find an effects loop or tuner out on this bad boy…

That covers the nuts and bolts, so I guess all that is left to talk about is its performance, and it is truly a factory-built hot rod!

It has power and volume to spare for anything I will ever do with it. Those 6L6’s are there just to look pretty and keep everything warm. In my studio I will never get past 2 without pissing off my neighbors, and in my world there is no way I am going to get a distorted tone without adding effects.

The clean tone is as advertised – amazing pure. It has a natural warmth but still has a supernatural clarity. It does not have any hum, and it would be a perfect amplifier for recording. If you choose to use effect there will not be any coloring of their signal, you will get out of this amp exactly what you put into it.

Also, the reverb is beautifully full, and is probably one of the best-sounding integrated units I have ever run into. Besides its obvious utility for rock music, the Twin Reverb would also be killer for country, or jazz.

So what is my beef with this amp? It is just an assortment of personal pet peeves. I miss having master and gain knobs, and it is just way more amplifier than I will ever have the use for. It would be better suited to guys that gig with bigger audiences. It is like having a Ferrari that I only get to drive around in 1st gear, if you know what I mean.

Though it is not the Ferrari of guitar amps, the Fender Vintage Reissue ’65 Twin Reverb is not terribly cheap either, with a list price of $1999.99 and a street price of $1349 (which should include the optional fitted cover, but does not, damn it). But it is well worth it if you crave clean tone and tons of volume. Just be careful of what you wish for, because you might just get it!


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