Aug 032018
 

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I’ve been using a Henriksen Jazz Amp, but I decided to order a Fender ’65 Princeton Reverb vacuum tube guitar amp from Sweetwater to use with my Collings Eastside LC Deluxe jazz guitar.

Henriksen Jazz Amp

The Henriksen is a nice sounding solid-state guitar amp for jazz, but I’ve been wanting to get a vacuum tube guitar amp for a while, so I ordered the Fender ’65 Princeton Reverb 15-watt 1×12″ Tube Combo Amp in lacquered tweed, which has been getting rave reviews.

Henriksen Jazz Amp (left) and Fender ’65 Princeton Reverb (right)

The Fender ’65 Princeton Reverb 15-watt 1×12″ Tube Combo Amp in lacquered tweed is a special edition that Fender makes for Sweetwater, and in Sweetwater’s words:

“Fender used the beloved ’65 Princeton Reverb as a starting point, then they added a beautiful and vintage-style lacquered tweed covering that will transport you back to the great Fenders of the 1950s. The speaker has been beefed up to a 12″ Eminence Cannabis Rex for its blend of smoothness and sparkle.”

One of the things I like about the Fender ’65 Princeton Reverb is its tube amp, which instead of having solid-state rectification like some of the other Fender guitar amps, it has vacuum tube rectification which almost always sounds better to my ears. I suppose that’s my audio preferences coming through, but I think it matters.

The tube complement is three 12AX7’s and one 12AT7 in the preamp section, a pair of 6V6’s for power tubes, and a 5AR4 rectifier.

Collings Eastside LC Deluxe and Fender ’65 Princeton Reverb

It’s way too early in the Fender ’65 Princeton’s run-in period to make any real comments about its performance, but it was immediately obvious that it was much more evenly balanced across the strings than the Henriksen, which emphasizes the 6th and 5th string more (i.e. more emphasis on the bass strings). 

One thing I might mention is that guitar amplifiers respond to high-performance power cords in much the same way as high-performance audio equipment does. 

For example, both the Henriksen Jazz Amp and the Fender ’65 Princeton Reverb benefited considerably from the high-quality Acoustic Revive Power Reference AC cord that I’ve been using over their OEM AC power cords. 

Anyways, I’ll report back after I get some more run-in time on the Fender ’65 Princeton Reverb. 

As always, thanks for stopping by, and may the tone be with you!

 Posted by at 7:57 pm

  13 Responses to “Today’s Fresh Catch: Fender ’65 Princeton Reverb”

  1. Hi Jeff,

    Congratulations again, didn’t expect you to buy a nice tube amp this fast.

    Did the amp come with Chinese tubes? If so, you might want to put in some nice vintage tubes.
    I find that great sounding guitars and amplifiers will make you want to play more.
    Every time I fire up my amplifier and strike the first chord it brings a big grin to my face. Such a sweet sound.
    Enjoy you new gear!

    Kind regards,
    Peter

    • Hi Peter,

      Your earlier comment got me to thinking about not putting off getting a tube amp, so I decided to go for it! 🙂

      I haven’t pulled the back cover off yet to inspect the tubes, but my plan is to put in some nice NOS tubes and set the stock tube set aside.

      I was thinking about some NOS 6V6GTY JAN military stock RCA’s for power tubes, either NOS Mullard or RCA black plate 12AX7’s, NOS Mullard or RCA 12AT7, and a NOS RCA 5AR4 rectifier, but I haven’t decided for sure yet.

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

      • Hi Jeff,

        I don’t know if you can get them in the US but I’ve been very happy with Philips 12AX7’s and 12AT7’s (made in the Netherlands). Tried Mullard, Telefunken, Siemens and Philips. For guitar I prefer Philips, for Hifi Mullard.
        You could also try the 5751 you have to see how that works out.

        Any plans to experiment with speakers? You could do that in a seperate cabinet and leave the Fender stock.
        If you want to get even closer to the classic sounds you’ll end up getting an alnico speaker. 🙂
        My favourite is the JBL D130, but I’d also like to try the Altec 418-b (used in the Benson amp Howard Roberts used). But they are hard to find in Europe.

        Kind Regards,

        Peter

        • Hi Peter,

          Thanks for the tip on Philips. The 12AX7 are available here too at Radio Electric Supply, and they’re about $85-$100 USD each. The Philips 12AT7 are about $15 USD from RES.

          Another fellow was telling me he replaced the stock printed circuit board in his Princeton Reverb with a point-to-point wired breadboard, and thought that made a nice improvement.

          I’ll tell you what though, the stock unit I have sounds pretty good, so I’m not in a big hurry to make changes other than some nice NOS tubes, although I have no doubt that a nice complement of good capacitors and resistors would do nice things too!

          I don’t really have any plans to experiment with speakers at this time, as the stock 12″ Eminence Cannabis Rex speaker is sounding pretty nice. Have you had a chance to try one yet?

          Kind regards,

          Jeff

          • Hi Jeff,

            I can send you a used Philips 12AX7 if you’d like to try one (you can keep it).

            Modifying a brand new amp is not something I’d do either. Maybe after years of use.

            Haven’t tried the Eminence unfortunately. The 12″ speakers I tried where the Celestion Blue (great for blues based music) and the University UC-121 (also breaks up fast).
            The ceramic speakers I tried where all 15″: Peavey Black Widow and a Jensen C15N. The Jensen was in a Gibson GA77RVT. Made the amp sound shrill and harsh. It sounded a lot better with a JBL K130. I haven’t tried a ceramic speaker that sounded right to my ears yet.
            The only Eminence speakers I tried where the 10″ ones (blue frame alnico) in a ’59 Bassman reissue, they sounded really nice.

            Kind regards,

            Peter

          • Hi Peter,

            Thanks for the offer of a tube, appreciated, but I think I’ll just go ahead and buy a set.

            On the Philips, did you run Philips tubes in all the positions? The 6V6GT, 12AX7, 12AT7, and 5AR4? I was just going through my tube stash and found a NOS RCA 12AT7, but I didn’t have anything else the Princeton uses.

            My buddy Ron Barbee was looking through his tube stash but came up short on the 6V6GT and 5AR4, but he has quite a few 12AX7’s and 12AT7’s, so will have to investigate with Ron further.

            I hope you get a chance to hear the 12″ Eminence Cannabis Rex speaker, and if you do, I’d sure like to know your impressions of it.

            Kind regards,

            Jeff

  2. Hi Jeff,

    You’ll have to try the Philips 6V6 and 5AR4 (you’ll find it as a GZ34) I don’t have any experience with those. But I haven’t been dissapointed with any of the Philips tubes (made in the Netherlands) I have tried. I’ve built a replica (from scratch) of the Standel 25L15 years ago and tried every brand in my stash (12AX7, 12AU7, 12AT7) and prefered the Philips versions over the other brands I had.
    For the rectifier I prefered a RCA (5U4G), for the power tubes NOS 807’s made for the Russian army. The Russians sounded better (in that amp) than the Valvo 807’s I had.
    My current amp (the rebuilt Dutch PA) has all Philips tubes.

    I’ll ask around if anybody has a Cannabis Rex in one of their amps, it’s always fun to try stuff.

    Kind regards,

    Peter

    • Hi Peter,

      I was out looking at the Watford Valves website, and they had a lot of NOS Philips tubes for guitar amps: 12AX7, 12AT7, and 6V6GT. No Philips 5AR4/GZ34 rectifiers.

      All of the Philips they listed were USA made though, not made in the Netherlands. They had some interesting things to say about Philips relationship to Sylvania in that Philips bought Sylvania so they could gain access to US tube markets, and thus all Watford’s Philips branded tubes were actually made in the USA by Sylvania rather than the Netherlands, in fact none they sold were made in the Netherlands.

      They had high praise for the Philips tubes for guitar amps, saying they had a warm tone (the warmest of all the US tubes), along with sparkling highs, and said they were particularly well suited to Fender guitar amplifiers.

      I found that really interesting because the best 6CS7 small signal tubes that I’ve use in my Leben CS-600 integrated amplifier are NOS Sylvania’s, with warmer tone than the NOS RCA or Tung-Sol I’ve got, which really flatters the Leben.

      I’ve really been impressed with my Sylvania tubes for their warm, clear, natural, and musical sound, so I’m guessing I’d like these US made Philips / Sylvania’s too.

      So I’m curious if you’ve ever had a chance to compare the Netherlands manufactured Philips tubes to the USA manufactured Philips / Sylvania tubes, and what you think of them.

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

      • Hi Jeff,

        I have some Sylvania tubes for a project, (power tubes and rectifiers) but haven’t tried them.
        Philips owned factories (and brands) all over the globe. I only tried some Philips 12AX7’s from Venezuela and they had a sterile sound. If you want to know where a Philips branded tube was made you can check the etched code on the tube:
        https://frank.pocnet.net/other/Philips/PhilipsCodeListAB.pdf

        The discription of the Sylvania 12AX7 sounds similar to what I hear in the Dutch tubes.
        There are vendors that sell Philips tubes (made in the Netherlands) in the US. If you search for ‘Philips 12AX7 Holland’ they’ll pop up. It surprised me how expensive they are.

        I’d probably go with the US made tubes, since they are cheaper, easier to get (for you) and they seem to have a similar sound. And you like the sound you’re getting from the one Sylvania you already have.

        The Standel 25L15 is the best clean amp I’ve come across. Big part of the sound is the JBL D130.
        The new ones are expensive, but the old ones are even more expensive and very hard to find.

        PS I’m planning to replace the signal wires in my amp with Duelund.

        Kind regards,

        Peter

        • Hi Peter,

          Today I got a chance to do a little tube rolling in V1 of the Princeton Reverb, and tried some Sylvania 12AX7WA’s and Mullard 12AX7’s. I’ll be reporting on the tube rolling shortly.

          It turns out the that stock Princeton Reverb tubes are all Russian tubes produced for Groove Tube.

          The Standel looks like an amazing guitar amp, and just reading through all the info on their web site pretty much gave me lust bumps all over! I wish I had a big pile of money so I could order one. Not in the budget at the moment, unfortunately.

          Let me know how the Duelund wire experiment goes!

          Kind regards,

          Jeff

    • Hi Peter,

      I forgot to say that I just went out and read about the Standel 25L15 and it sounds like quite a guitar amplifier!

      I’m impressed that Standel still makes them, and that they’re still point-to-point wired, but they are expensive! A fully loaded one is nearly $4K USD, which is well out of my price range at the moment.

      I don’t think I’ve ever seen an 807 vacuum tube on this side of the pond, but I guess they were used quite often, and I notice Radio Electric Supply in the States has them in stock for $16 USD per tube.

      Interesting – thanks for mentioning it!

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

  3. Hola Jeff,

    Congrats on the new amp. The PRRI’s a damn fine amp with the standard 10″ speaker, with the CannaRex, well, I’m kinda jealous – we don’t often see these special runs on this side of the pond…

    A couple of tips on valve rolling in these. For jazz tones (clean & fat) a NOS 5751 in V1 works really well, giving a little extra headroom in the preamp. Elsewhere, I’d go for modern JJ’s(slovakia) or russian. For output tubes, I’d suggest JJ or TAD. The JJ 6v6’s offer a little more clean headroom than most, while the TAD’s are more compressed. For rectifiers, in a 15w amp I wouldn’t be too worried. I’ve tried modern production V’s NOS Mullard, and the differences between them was minimal.

    While a full compliment of NOS is nice, it’s not really necessary in a guitar amp, especially in a pcb based guitar amp. Remember, these reissue amps are very much built to a price point, not to an audio standard. Should you choose to rebuild the amp (handwired eyelet board, improved transformers, etc), then a full set of NOS becomes worthwhile. Until then, put a good NOS 5751 in V1, back it up decent modern tubes elsewhere, and save the money to put towards the circuitry upgrades…

    As to the circuitry upgrade, Mojotone do a nice kit that covers pretty much everything internal for around $200. Add a Mercury Magnetics OP transformer for $130(ish). It’s a worthwhile upgrade…

    Hope that provides some food for thought…

    Cheers… G

    • Hola Gareth!

      Today I had a chance to hear my buddy Ron’s Fender Champ with my Collings, and it is a really nice little amp! Ron’s got a really nice Fender and Marshal guitar amp collection that is impressive and sounds great!

      I’ll tell you what though, the 12-inch CannaRex sounds amazingly good in my Fender Princeton Reverb, with delicious warm and rounded tones that sound great for jazz.

      Ron and I spent the day going through some of his vintage tube collection and trying them in V1 in the Princeton Reverb, and I’ll be reporting on that adventure shortly.

      Thanks for the hot-rod tips – cool!

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

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