Fender subtly updates a classic, delivering value, dynamics, and versatility.
Sparkly tones. Dynamic response. Great value.
Low-end loses some focus at high volumes.
Fender '68 Custom Princeton Reverb
The Princeton was never the amp for everybody, but it came pretty close. If you’re working with a loud drummer and like your tone clean as can be, it won’t take long to reach the limits of 12 watts and a ten-inch speaker. On the other hand, it’s not uncommon to hear guitarists say: “If your band’s too loud for a Princeton, then your band is too loud.” The dictum is truer than ever in an age of better and more powerful P.A. systems.
Fender stopped making the original Princeton Reverb in the late ’70s, though the company has used the Princeton name for other models over the years, some of which bore little resemblance to the original. A few years ago, Fender added a Princeton Reverb to its line of ’65 Reissues, and recently introduced the ’68 Custom Princeton Reverb featuring circuit tweaks that, while less vintage-correct, are friendlier to pedals and deliver more modern and immediate response.
Despite the amp’s name, Fender is up-front about the fact that this is not a strict reissue. While the amp captures the general vibe of vintage units, it’s wired for less headroom and less negative feedback (for a more dynamic response).
Fans of Fender design minutiae will love the vintage-accurate silver-and-turquoise front panel and grille cloth, aluminum trim, and chrome hardware. In fact, the only obvious differences between the Custom ’68 and a vintage Princeton Reverb are on the rear panel, where there is now a standard cord socket, a metal cage protects the power tubes, and in a nod to 21st century safety compliance, there’s no ground switch.
The amp has two inputs (the second is padded by –6 dB). Six knobs control volume, treble, bass, reverb, and the tremolo’s speed and intensity. A blue jewel power light replaces the original red one. The rear panel is similarly streamlined: there’s a fuse, an on/off switch, two speaker outputs (one for the built-in speaker, another for an extension), a 1/4-inch TRS jack for the included vintage-style two-button footswitch (for controlling reverb and tremolo), and RCA in and out jacks for the amp’s spring reverb tank.
The tube array is vintage-correct: two 6V6 power tubes, three 12AX7s, a 12AT7 reverb driver, and a 5AR4 tube rectifier. The transformer is a Schumacher, and the speaker is a Celestion Ten 30.
It took all of one note from a Gibson ES-335 with stock ’57 Classic pickups to know I was going to like this amp. Even at living room volume, the Princeton possesses the sparkly and slightly spongy response you hope for from a good Fender amp. The nice, fat jazz sound from the neck pickup had me reaching for my Real Book. The output remained clean until the volume knob reached 4 or 5. This setting was loud and clean enough for most jazz gigs. Above that, the Princeton gets surprisingly loud and begins to break up in a most musical way.
What really knocked me out was how sensitively the amp responded to varying types of pick attack and guitar volume knob settings.
But what really knocked me out was how sensitively the amp responded to varying types of pick attack and guitar volume knob settings. With the amp’s volume around 6, I could go from playing clean chord comps with my thumb to a more saturated sound when digging in with a pick. The amp’s inherent compression narrowed the volume differences between those extremes, which makes the ’68 Princeton ideal for conveying dynamics without blowing away your bandmates in louder passage.
I also tried the Princeton with a Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster Custom and loved what I heard. Played clean, the tones are quintessentially Fender, ranging from nice, jazzy warmth with the neck pickup and the guitar’s tone control rolled back, to biting bridge-pickup twang with the controls wide-open. Just for fun, I tried a Jim Campilongo-inspired move and turned the Princeton’s volume, bass, and treble knobs up all the way, controlling the volume only with the guitar. Played this way, the amp had amazing range, though it became hard to control the bass response at louder volumes. When pushed with a TS-9-style pedal, the amp provided excellent overdriven sounds.
You’d expect this amp to have sweet-sounding reverb, and it does. But as nice as the reverb sounds, complete saturation occurs with the knob at about 5 or 6, which Fender chalks up to the reduction in negative feedback. The amp’s vibrato is gorgeous, deep, and as authentic-sounding as the reverb.
The Custom ’68 Princeton Reverb is a great amp. It’s not a down-to-the-letter vintage replica, but for some players it may prove more versatile than an original. Yes, some gigging players need a little more volume than the Princeton can deliver. But anyone seeking that classic sparkly Fender tone at a less-than-boutique price needs to check out the ’68.
Review Demo - Fender '68 Custom Princeton Reverb
- First Look: Fender Tone Master Super Reverb - Premier Guitar ›
- Joe Bonamassa's 5 Most Underrated Amps - Premier Guitar ›
- 40+ Guitars, Amps & Effects That Won 2021 - Premier Guitar ›
- First Look: Fender '68 Custom Pro Reverb - Premier Guitar ›
Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
D'Addario XPND Pedalboard
DR-05X Stereo Handheld Recorder
Wampler Pedals Ratsbane
Flare is a dual-function pedal with a tube-like booster and a 1970s-style ring modulator effect that can be played separately or together.
Flare’s ring modulator is based on the iconic tone of the original Dan Armstrong Green Ringer. This vintage classic was made famous by Frank Zappa who loved the unusual modulations created by generating a harmonic octave over notes. Messiah’s version offers two control knobs: a “Sparkle” tone attenuator and output Level control. Its taupe-gold body, purple and green knobs and stick-figure rock ’n’ roller holding up a flame convey an appropriately rockin’70s vibe.
In a unique twist, Messiah’s Flare pairs the ringer with a warm tube-style boost instead of a fuzz. Flare feeds the booster into the ringer for an extra punch, while preserving the Green Ringerspirit. The ringer side also turns any fuzz into an octafuzz, and it has the ability to quiet signal background noise fed through it.
The booster side features a single Boost knob to control the MOSFET circuit, making it very tube-amp-friendly with a warm, organic boost and gain of up to 32dB.
The pedal is a distinct improvement over the 1970s pedal that inspired it. “Most ringer pedals don’t track well,” Tom Hejda, owner of Messiah Guitars. “The player can’t rely on repeating the same effect even with the most consistently played notes. We carefully matched the components, so our ringer follows your every move, producing that slightly dirty octave you expect on demand.”
Messiah developed this vintage octave pedal with flexible features so that people who love that messy, dirty Zappa-esque sound can get there with ease but there’s also something for those who have not fallen in love with fuzz or the Green Ringer alone. Flare offers an array of sonic options while retaining simplicity in the controls.
Each Flair Pedal Includes:
- 3 control knobs: Boost, Sparkle, and Level
- Two effects – Ring Modulator and Boost – can be used together or separately
- Space-saving top side jacks
- Durable, cast aluminum alloy 125B enclosure with fun artwork
- Easy to see, illuminated True-bypass foot switch
- Standard 9V pedal power input
Flare Pedal Demo
Messiah Guitars pedals are designed with an explorative player in mind. Like their custom guitars and amplifiers, Messiah’s pedals are hand-crafted in Los Angeles for a long life with guaranteed quality.
Flare retails for $199.00 and can be purchased directly at Messiah Guitars or you can hear it in person at Impulse Music Co. in Canyon Country, CA.
For more information, please visit messiahguitars.com.
This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal.
If it looks like a duck, acts like a duck, and QUACKS like a duck, then it must be a duck. That's how we came up with the name for our new envelope filter. This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal. Trevor explains how this is possible in the launch video, as well as gives a demo on Le Canard’s operation.
The attack control determines how quickly the filter responds to the envelope, and the decay sets how quickly the filter releases afterward. The range controls which frequency spectrum the filter does its magic on. Add to this relay-based full-bypass switching with failsafe, and you've got one crazy little quacky beast. It is so expressive that you'll want to give up on your rocker-wah forever.
The MayFly Le Canard envelope filter features:
- Super fast responding envelope follower. Touch it and it jumps!
- Range control to dial in the character of the filter
- Attack control to control how fast the filter moves on that first touch
- Release control to control how slowly the filter slides back to baseline
- Full bypass using relays with Fail SafeTM (automatically switches to bypass if the pedal loses power)
- Cast aluminum enclosure with groovy artwork
- MSRP $149 USD ($199 CAD)
Introducing the MayFly Le Canard Envelope Filter
All MayFly pedals are hand-made in Canada.
For more information, please visit mayflyaudio.com.
Outlaw Effects introduces their next generation of NOMAD rechargeable battery-powered pedal boards.
Available in two sizes, NOMAD ISO is a compact, versatile tool that offers the convenience of a fully powered board plus the additional freedom of not having to plug into an outlet. NOMAD ISO is ideal for stages with limited outlet availability, quick changeovers, busking outdoors, temporary rehearsal locations, and more.
NOMAD ISO builds upon the legacy of the ultra-convenient and reliable NOMAD rechargeable pedalboard line originally launched in 2018. The brand new NOMAD ISO editions feature eight isolated outputs (1 x 9V DC, and 1 switchable 9V/12V DC) for even more versatility and clean, quiet power. With an integrated lithium-ion battery pack boasting 12800mAh capacity, NOMAD ISO can fuel a wide array of pedals, and will last over 10 hours* on a single charge.
Each NOMAD ISO pedal board includes adhesive hook & loop pedal-mounting tape, eight (8) standard DC connector cables, and one (1) reverse polarity DC cable, giving you everything you need to build your ultimate "off-the-grid" rig. A rugged, road-ready padded gig bag with shoulder strap is also included, to safely protect your gear while you're on the move.
NOMAD ISO S
NOMAD ISO S: MSRP $309 / MAP: $249
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 5 ¼"
NOMAD ISO M
NOMAD ISO M: MSRP $349 / MAP $279
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 11"
More info: https://www.outlawguitareffects.com.