Fender’s popular Hot Rod DeVille—a 60-watt
2x12 combo designed for portability and power.
First of all, let me say I really enjoy
reading your column every month in
the best guitar magazine on the market.
I need to know how to “tame”
my Fender DeVille—it is the loudest
60-watt amp I’ve ever heard and I’m
not wild about the overdrive channel.
I can never get my volume past
2 before everyone is yelling for me
to turn it down. I’ve thought about
replacing the 6L6s with 6V6s, but
what I’d really like to do is put some
KT66s in place of the 6L6s. (Of
course, that won’t help me tame the
output at all.) Can you suggest any
mods I can have done to help me with
From one Jeff to another, thanks
and keep the great articles coming
—J. Jeff Bissette
Thanks for being an avid reader of Premier
Guitar and my column. Glad you enjoy
The DeVille series is probably the most
successful in Fender’s product line and
the amps came in two incarnations: the
earlier offering, the Blues DeVille, and the
later version, the Hot Rod DeVille. The
“updated” version was given more drive in
the overdrive channel by tapping into an
unused half of a 12AX7 preamp tube (V2B)
in the Blues DeVille design.
On the surface this may seem like a good
idea—make full use of a component that
is already installed and give more gain to
an amp whose predecessor may not have
had enough overdrive to satisfy some rockers.
While the result may have worked for
some, it’s obvious by your comment that
it did not work for you, and I don’t think
you’re alone. To me, this is an example of
“just because you can doesn’t mean you
should.” Maybe this idea could have been
executed differently, but in my opinion,
the way the extra stage was implemented in
these amps results in a drive channel that’s
very “grainy” and not as musical as I’d like.
You probably feel the same way.
Now I could just tell you to have your
tech remove R 20 and R 25 and connect
the signal input end of C 10 to pin 13 of
K2B—but I won’t. In theory, this would
bypass the new circuitry associated with
V2B, but there have been a substantial
number of other circuit changes compared
to the Blues DeVille, so I’m not sure the
remaining Hot Rod circuit would be satisfactory
enough to be worth the modification.
At some point I may have the opportunity
to perform this mod and I’d be very
curious to hear the results. But for now, let’s
see if I can give you a few real-world suggestions
to improve your amp.
Let’s first address your dislike of the
drive channel. I’d suggest trying different
types of preamp tubes, particularly in the
V2 position. Changing the gain structure in
the amp with alternate tubes could possibly
result in a more musical drive channel. Since
it’s the most readily available, you might first
try installing a 12AT7 in the V2 position.
This will reduce the gain in the last two
stages of the amp prior to the phase inverter,
but know that it will affect the clean channel
as well, so you may need to raise the typical
setting of your clean volume control.
If this doesn’t yield acceptable results or
you would just like to get more adventurous,
try both an ECC 832 and ECC 823
in the V2 position. Each of these tubes
has one half equivalent to a 12AX7 and
the other half equivalent to a 12AU7, but
they are mirror images of each other. This
means that each one will reduce the gain in
the opposite stage than the other and only
one, as a matter of fact, will affect the clean
channel. Hopefully one of these tubes will
yield a better-sounding drive channel.
Let’s move on to taming the amp’s volume.
Installing 6V6 output tubes in this
amp is not something I’d recommend.
The plate voltages typically used with 6L6
output tubes would be a bit too high to use
with most 6V6 output tubes. That coupled
with the fact that the primary impedance of
the output transformer is more than likely
lower than what is recommended for 6V6s,
I’d caution against it. And of course KT66s,
being similar to 6L6s, won’t result in any
significant power reduction.
One quick thing you might want to try
is installing a 12AT7 in the phase inverter
(V3) position. It won’t reduce the amp’s
output power, but it will reduce the signal
feeding the output tubes and may give
you more control with the master volume.
As far as reducing the power that’s reaching
the speaker, there are a couple of ways
to accomplish this. One is to use a power
attenuation device of some sort, such as a
THD Hot Plate, Tube Amp Doctor Silencer,
Rivera RockCrusher, Tone King Ironman,
Dr. Z Air Brake, and Alessandro Muzzle.
Inserted between the output of the amp and
the speaker, these devices allow you to adjust
your amp to the settings that sound and feel
the best, and then attenuate the amount of
power being sent to the speaker. This lets
you control the overall volume. Some players
get creative and mount these devices in the
back of their combo, so the unit is always
connected and ready to go.
Another way to reduce the output power
of your amp is to use a device called a
Yellow Jacket, which is designed by THD
Electronics. These adaptors plug into the
output sockets of your amplifier and convert
the output tubes from the current 6L6s to
EL84s. Doing this will reduce the output
power of your amp from 60 watts to approximately
20-30 watts. This should provide a
much more manageable power for smaller
venues. However, this will also change the
amp’s sound. While 6L6s have an open,
glassy tone, EL84s tend to be more compressed
with a bit more midrange and less
highs. Depending on what you’re looking
for, this could actually be an added benefit.
Well, there you have it—some simple,
player-friendly possibilities to tame your
amp. I hope one of them helps make your
is one of
the godfathers of the
low-wattage amp revolution,
co-founded and was
the principal designer for
Budda Amplification. Jeff recently launched EAST
Amplification, and he can be reached at