Some of the best amps today are made by Fender. Each amp they make is an incredible piece of gear which can make choosing a Fender amp an almost impossible task.
So, how do different Fender amps compare? How are they similar and how are they different? And most importantly, how do we choose the right one for our needs?
Let us take a look at the Fender Blues Junior and Fender Princeton Reverb, and answer a few of those question.
Both the Blues Junior and the Princeton Reverb are very well-built amps. That isn’t too surprising considering they are Fender amps.
Fender amps are both sturdy and lightweight. Even larger amps like the Princeton Reverb are light enough to carry with one hand. These amps are built with traveling musicians in mind.
Both the Blues Junior and the Princeton Reverb come in either tweed or black. If you want that vintage look, then tweed is perfect.
I prefer the black look as it is more modern. Black amps are also a bit more discreet on stage.
Both amps also have similar designs. The only real difference is the controls for the Blues Junior sit at the top of the amp, while the Princeton’s controls are on the front of the amp.
The Blues Junior and the Princeton Reverb are fairly similar in terms of features, with a few key differences.
As I mentioned, the Blues Junior’s controls sit at the top while the Princeton’s sit on the front. The Blues Junior has a full 3-band EQ (treble, mids, bass), while the Princeton only has a 2-band EQ (treble, bass). This gives you a bit more control over your tone with the Blues Junior.
The biggest difference, perhaps, is in the reverb controls. While both amps have great reverbs, the Princeton Reverb offers more control and versatility.
The Blues Junior only has a single reverb knob to control how much reverb is being added to your sound. The Princeton, on the other hand, has a speed and intensity control along with the reverb knob.
The Princeton Reverb also has two instrument inputs. This doesn’t change much in terms of controls. It is really more of a convenience to make swapping guitars and jam sessions easier.
The names of these amps describe quite well what they do and the type of tone you can expect from them. The Blues Junior is, of course, a blues focused amp. While the Princeton Reverb offers a lot more reverb.
That is a bit of a simplification and from my experience, these amps are capable of more than what their names would suggest.
In terms of clean tone, both amps are fantastic. Both have very bright, shimmering cleans that are almost a staple of Fender amps.
The Blues Junior doesn’t sound quite as bright to me as the Princeton Reverb. There is certainly a bit more warmth to the Blues Junior’s tone.
Pushing the amps into their distortion ranges is where things become a bit more interesting. Both amps have a nice, natural crunch, but the Blues Junior is much muddier and, well, bluesy.
The Princeton has a much twangier drive. The Princeton also sounds a bit more aggressive to me than the Blues Junior once it is at full drive.
The Blues Junior does also start to distort faster than the Princeton. The Blues Junior has an almost immediate switch from clean to overdrive, while the Princeton has a transitional twangy area before going full crunch.
You also aren’t limited to the tones on the amps. Both of these amps work really well with practically any pedal. I have tested a variety of pedals with these amps from fuzz, overdrive, phasers, delays, and didn’t find any that didn’t sound great.
The only exception would be heavy distortion pedals designed for metal. While the amps still handled these pedals quite well, there was a noticeable amount of breakup in the sound. While these amps can certainly do heavy metal distortion, I wouldn’t recommend using them for that purpose.
While the Blues Junior is a 15-watt amp and the Princeton Reverb is a 12-watt, you might assume that the Blues Junior is the louder of the two. But interestingly, that doesn’t appear to be the case, at least not to me.
The Blues Junior isn’t louder than the Princeton, and in fact, I think it might even be a little bit softer. This is likely due to the Princeton’s size as well as its open back design.
The Blues Junior is also an open back, but much less than the Princeton. The Princeton’s opening is also right over the back of the speaker, while the Blues Junior’s opening is at the bottom of the cabinet.
This allows more volume to escape out of the back of the amp, making it louder overall.
There isn’t really a right or wrong between the Blues Junior and the Princeton Reverb. It is really more a question of do you want a versatile amp that can do a wide range of sounds, or do you want something a bit more focused on doing one thing really great.
Either way, both these amps are excellent choices that won’t let you down, no matter what.