Embracing and overcoming the quirky qualities of an under-appreciated hero of tube tone.
As a guitar player, I consider guitar amps to be tools. The more varied work I do, the more tools I need. There are some amps that excel in one or two things but often disappoint outside their playing field. These amps require experience to dial in good tones and to pair with guitars and other gear.
This month’s amp is an underdog—a jack-of-all-trades but master of none. It is a tool you can bring with you to any type of practice or gig, small or large, and it will deliver. It truly lives up to its name: the Pro Reverb. So, let me explain why I love this amp … but also what annoys me about it, and what I do to get around that.
In 1963, Fender offered a single-speaker Pro amp with front-mounted controls. Various Pros with top-based controls had been in Fender’s line since 1946. In ’65, the Pro was replaced by the Pro Reverb, loaded with 6L6GC power tubes in a classic Fender push/pull class-AB configuration. The Pro had either a single 15"CTS ceramic speaker or a Jensen C15N. The Pro Reverb came as a 2x12, with either Jensen C12Ns, Oxford 12L6, or Oxford 12T6 speakers—the latter a very underestimated speaker and comparable to the more famous C12N. In 1967, a silver-panel model followed and was available through 1969. Several other speakers, including models by Utah and Rola, came throughout the ’70s. And around 1978, a 70W version of the Pro emerged, with master volume and a push/pull boost, for a roughly five-year run.
The differences between the single- and dual-speaker black-panel Pros were most importantly the speaker configuration and the addition of reverb in the vibrato channel. There were two different versions of the output transformer: the 8-ohm 125A7A and 4-ohm 125A6A. This smaller output transformer is found in several medium-sized amps, such as the Vibrolux Reverb, Bandmaster, Tremolux, and also the rare and coveted 1964 Vibroverb.
How does it sound to play through a Pro Reverb, with its combination of the classic black-panel AB763 tone stack, dual 6L6GCs, a large and bass-y 2x12 cabinet with a 5U4GB rectifier tube and a small output transformer? Beautiful, full, clean tone at lower volumes and wildly cranked tones when pushed—much more than you’d expect from such a big Fender amp. Very few amps can do both of these sonic profiles.
Please find a Pro Reverb and plug in your Telecaster for a real Keith Richards experience, with one of the best rhythm tones there is.
The large open-back cabinet means you can point the Pro in almost any direction and fill the room or stage. At home, I sometimes want the most natural break-up from the amp at lower volumes, so I simply disengage one of the speakers and insert a 12AX7 in the phase inverter slot. I think the Pro Reverb delivers the most elegant and balanced cranked tones of all black-panel amps. I also love that the amp offers a bright switch that will support pedals and guitars well.
One annoying thing about the Pro is the lack of a mid pot. Since it is that good at delivering cranked tones, I would like more mids for heavier distortion at lower volumes without having to disengage speakers or swap tubes. A mid dial would also improve EQ control, for playing clean. Without a mid knob, I often have to dial the bass knob all the way down due to the bass-y cabinet and flabby output transformer. The solution is, as always, installing a switch on the back of the amp that toggles between the stock 6.8k mid resistor and a 25k. The Pro Reverb is the amp that benefits the most from this mod, I think.
Finally, do we really need a Pro Reverb in our toolbox? The Deluxe Reverb and Vibrolux Reverb are also low/medium wattage amps. Both are lighter, more snappy, more practical at home or in the studio, and don’t carry two large 12" speakers, which are overkill for the Pro’s light output transformer. The Super Reverb also breaks up—and with more punch, bass, treble, and attack overall. It is also more touch sensitive. The clean-voiced monster Twin Reverb is 17 1/2 to 22 pounds heavier but does not require more space than the Pro Reverb.
Given all the superior amps mentioned above, the answer to my question is still “yes.” Our underdog can almost do all of what these legendary Fender amps excel at. But none of them will sound as warm as the Pro Reverb when cranked.
Please find a Pro Reverb and plug in your Telecaster for a real Keith Richards experience, with one of the best rhythm tones there is. Also, try a Les Paul or SG in the bridge pickup position and you might consider selling all your overdrive pedals. A semi-hollow ES-style guitar with P-90s in neck and the amp dialed-in clean will urge you to learn jazz! Please, don’t just take my word for it. Go experiment.
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Mystery Stocking is coming soon! Sign up for PG Perks below so you don't miss it.
Sign up for PG Perks on the form below to make sure you don't miss the launch announcement!
About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $44.95. ($39.95 + $5 Flat shipping)
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
- US only. (Sorry World.)
- Make sure your shipping address is correct.
- Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
- There will be NO REFUNDS given.
- There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?
Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.
Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.
Q. How much is it?
A. $39.95 Plus $5 shipping
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.
Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.
Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.
Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!
Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
Origin Effects introduce the new M-EQ DRIVER mid booster & drive pedal. Based on a vintage Pultec studio EQ, this unique pedal offers a range of mid-focused tones, from a subtle mid boost to thick, resonant overdrive. Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
A choice of three mid-range frequencies ensures that you can boost just the right part of your guitar signal and, when pushed harder, can elicit a range of saturation from a classic “mid-hump” overdrive to fierce “cocked wah” distortion. Thanks to the Adaptive Circuitry, the high-end roll-off of the Cut control is reduced as the pedal cleans up. This allows for a smooth transition from warm overdrive to bright clean tones in response to playing dynamics or guitar volume knob changes.
Introducing... M-EQ DRIVER || Mid Booster & Drive
Built-in the UK to the highest standards, the M-EQ DRIVER continues the Origin Effects tradition of vintage, studio-inspired tones in modern guitar pedals. The Origin Effects M-EQ DRIVER is available now from Origin Effects dealers worldwide.
RRP: 259 GBP (Inc VAT) / 319 USD (Ex TAX)
For more information, please visit origineffects.com.
The new finish, according to Lava Music, is “inspired by the beauty of the golden hour,” a shining time just before sunset and after sunrise when photographers covet to capture stunning pictures.
With bright and warm golden hues, the new finish adds a brilliant metallic glow to the surface of Lava ME 3, complementing its AirSonic 2 carbon fiber unibody which features L3 Preamp with FreeBoost 2.0, delivers industry-leading sounds by breakthrough acoustic technologies, and houses a multi-touch display powered by Lava-developed HILAVA system.
Speaking of the HILAVA system, Lava Music also added four new effects: Nebula, Desert Rose, Cassette, and Edge of Breakup. As unique as their names sound, they are very much different from what we normally know about effects. Programmed into the HILAVA system, each of the four is powered by the company’s latest ArctanDrive algorithm and incorporates effects like Pitch Shift, Delay, and Reverb. And every one of those incorporated sub-effects comes with various parameters that players can adjust to design unique, overdriven sounds by just tapping on the multi-touch display. That said, those effects enable users to play with overdriven tone on an acoustic-electric guitar without even plugging in any external gear.
LAVA ME 3 | Now in Golden Hour | LAVA MUSIC
Lava Me 3 in Golden Hour is now available starting from $999 on LAVA MUSIC, Amazon, and local guitar dealerships near you.
For more information, please visit store.lavamusic.com.