Fender Blues Ju­nior

One of Fender’s most pop­u­lar amps gets an update

Total Guitar - - CONTENTS -

Fender’s tweed and black­face amps from the 1950s and 60s are revered for their great tones and his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance – how­ever, they’ve both been out­lasted by the mas­sively pop­u­lar Blues Se­ries, which has been in pro­duc­tion since around 1993.

While the larger Deluxe and Deville com­bos were trans­formed into the Hot Rod range in 1997, the Blues Ju­nior, in­tro­duced slightly later in 1995, has stayed with the same name ever since, de­spite a num­ber of up­dates over the years. Its com­pact di­men­sions, light weight and pedal-friendly cre­den­tials have made it one of the most pop­u­lar gig­ging com­bos in the world, but for 2018, Fender has up­dated its Pro Ju­nior, Blues Ju­nior and Hot Rod amps to the new Mark IV spec­i­fi­ca­tion, which fea­tures var­i­ous tweaks, in­clud­ing Ce­lestion’s ex­cel­lent A-type loud­speaker. The cab­i­net styling is more or less the same, bor­row­ing its di­men­sions from the nar­row panel tweed amps of the 1950s, while the black vinyl and taste­fully yel­lowed sil­ver sparkle grille cloth is in­spired by the black­face re­verb-equipped com­bos of the 1960s. The cab­i­net in­ter­nals are mostly un­al­tered, with a large sin­gle-sided board hold­ing most of the small com­po­nents, in­clud­ing the top panel con­trols. This is joined by rib­bon con­nec­tors to a smaller through-plated board, which holds the Ju­nior’s five valves – three 12AX7’S and a pair of EL84S. The re­verb spring, in com­mon with the rest of the range, is driven by a dual op-amp. Con­trols in­clude gain, bass tre­ble and mid­dle, re­verb level and mas­ter vol­ume, with a small push-but­ton ‘Fat’ switch.

In use, the Ju­nior’s re­worked preamp and the new loud­speaker com­bine to un­leash a stun­ning range of Fender tones, from spanky, sparkling cleans, to fat and smooth midrange crunch that’s spot on for blues and clas­sic rock. The Fat switch adds a gen­er­ous midrange boost and can be re­mote-con­trolled from a footswitch for greater ver­sa­til­ity, while the im­proved re­verb cir­cuit is very im­pres­sive, with no noise and a smooth, warm de­lay that feels more in­te­gral to the over­all amp tone, hark­ing back to the best black­face re­verbs of the 1960s.

No mat­ter what gui­tar you use, the Blues Ju­nior flat­ters sin­gle coils and hum­buck­ers alike, not to men­tion drive ped­als with plenty of vol­ume. The sounds are top-drawer, com­par­ing well against many so-called bou­tique amps cost­ing four times the price. Fac­tor in the com­pact di­men­sions and light weight, and it’s easy to see why the Blues Ju­nior re­mains a firm favourite.

Nick Guppy


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