On paper, the Fender Blues Deluxe and Fender Hot Rod Deluxe seem almost like the same amp. They share almost the exact same specifications and controls.
But just because two amps appear almost identical, doesn’t mean that they are. Let us take a look at how these two amps compare and which one is right for your needs.
Blues Deluxe vs Hot Rod Deluxe
Fender Blues Deluxe
Hot Rod Deluxe
Design and Controls
While these amps might be similar on the inside, they are very different on the outside. The Blues Deluxe has that very vintage tweed look, while the Hot Rod Deluxe looks like a modern amp with its black cabinet and silver grille.
Both amps are the same size, though, and I mean the exact same. Height, width, and depth dimensions are exactly the same.
The Hot Rod is 4lbs lighter than the Blues. While this doesn’t seem like a lot, it actually makes a bit of difference, especially if you are going to be carrying your amp around often.
The controls on both amps are also almost exactly the same. Both amps have full three-band EQ, Presence, Reverb, Master and Drive Volume, and Bright switches.
Where they do differ is in the number of channels they have. The Blues Deluxe has two channels, a normal and drive, while the Hot Rod Deluxe has three, normal, drive, and more drive. But I will get into the more drive channel shortly.
Where I expected to find the biggest difference between these two amps was certainly in their sound. And I certainly did notice a difference.
In terms of their clean tones, the Blues and the Hot Rod are actually quite close. They both have that Fender twang and brightness. I wouldn’t describe either as being shimmering, though.
Both amps have a much more rounded sound than what I usually find on Fender amps. I would describe their sounds as being more on the bluesy side. Even turning on the bright switch on both amps doesn’t really push either into overly shiny territory.
The Hot Rod does, however, sound a bit thinner to me. It still has a very full sound and is very close to the Blues, but the Blues does sound like it has a bit more weight to its clean tone.
Switching over to their gain channels, their differences in tone start to become more apparent. The Blues is still a bit fuller than the Hot Rod. The Blues also sounds a bit dirtier to me than the Hot Rod.
The Blues has a bit more bite, while the Hot Rod has a much cleaner distortion. The Hot Rod is also a lot twangier than the Blues.
Turning the gain up, both amps become much more aggressive. The Blues’ tone becomes thicker and muddier, while the Hot Rod now has a bit more bite to it.
With the gain at max, I would call the Hot Rod the more aggressive amp. It has a very hard rock sound to it, while the Blues has a swampy tone to it. I would call the Hot Rod as being more Led Zeppelin, and the Blues more Cream.
The Blues still has a bit more crunch to it than the Hot Rod. The Hot Rod, on the other hand, has more bite than the Blues.
This is when the biggest difference between the two amps comes in, the Hot Rod’s third channel “more drive”. This channel pushes the Hot Rod quite a bit further into overdrive, hence the name.
I would almost call this pure distortion territory. The “more drive” channel boosts the Hot Rod quite a bit, giving it an almost ‘80s hair metal sound. A more shred style of playing actually sounds quite nice on the third channel, and I found myself automatically playing faster licks and runs.
Using With Effects Pedals
Both amps have built-in reverb that sounds great, but what about expanding their sound with effects pedals?
Well, I am happy to say that both amps work really well with effects pedals. I tested a variety of pedals like delays, chorus, overdrive, etc.
Effects pedals sound great going through these amps. I didn’t notice any artifacts or noise with any of the pedals on either amp.
Overdrive, and especially distortion pedals, sound fantastic. Even on the Blues Deluxe, which I was a bit concerned about. A pedal like the Boss DS-1 can give the Blues Deluxe a very modern metal sound.
One thing I did notice was the difference in volume. I am not entirely sure why, but the Blues Deluxe gets a bit of a volume boost with pedals, even though the volume on the pedals and amps where the same.
This was more noticeable with the delay and chorus pedals than the overdrive and distortion.
Choosing between the Blues Deluxe and the Hot Rod Deluxe is rather difficult. Not only because they seem to be the same in terms of specs, but because both amps sound so amazing.
Ultimately, I don’t think there is a right or wrong choice between these two amps. It will really come down to personal preference, but either way, you won’t be disappointed.