Fender Blues Jr vs Princeton Reverb – How Do They Compare?

Author: Dedrich Schafer | Updated: | This post may contain affiliate links.

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 questions.


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.

However, many amplifiers are black, and if you want your gear to stand out on stage, you might want to consider another color.

Fender often releases limited-edition amp colors so it’s not hard to find either a Blues Jr or a Princeton in your preferred color as long as you’re willing to wait a while.

However, for most purposes, black amps will do just fine.

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.

I personally prefer top-mounted controls on smaller combo amps like these. It’s easier to tweak your control knobs from above at a gig or rehearsal if need be.

Front-facing knobs require you to kneel or crouch to access the control panel, which isn’t always comfortable, especially on smaller stages when you already have your guitar strapped on.

For that reason, I prefer the top-mounted controls of the Blues Jr.


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.

Generally speaking, midrange is the most important frequency when tailoring a guitar sound. It’s what will help your guitar signal stand out from the drums and bass.

Consider that the bass guitar, kick drum, and toms occupy most of the low-end frequencies better than your guitar. Then consider that hi-hats and cymbals will occupy the treble frequencies better than your guitar.

Midrange helps sculpt your tone optimally for a band setting. I like a mid-boosted tone for playing with a band, so the Princeton loses points in my book for not having an onboard mid control.

You could, in theory, use an EQ pedal to sculpt the frequency range a little, if you want to tailor your mids and have other Princeton-only features.

The biggest difference, perhaps, is in the reverb and tremolo 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 for the tremolo 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.

Back in the ‘60s, it wasn’t uncommon for multiple guitarists (and sometimes even the singer) to plug into the same amplifier at rehearsal or a gig. That’s less common now, but multiple inputs remain on some vintage-style amps of that era.


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.

With this sort of ultra-clean sound, both amps operate as excellent pedal platforms.

Guitar players who prefer to get most of their tone from their pedalboard rather than their amp would appreciate either amplifier, although the Princeton is probably better-voiced for this approach with its brighter 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 at lower volumes 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.

Where the Blues Junior really sounds best is in the edge-of-breakup sweet spot. Just at the edge of overdrive, where harder-picked notes sound driven and softer-picked notes sound sweet and clean.

The Princeton also offers this sound, but I’d say it’s better suited to a crisp,  precise country-style drive than a swampy blues drive.

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.

Remember that guitar wattage doesn’t always translate to volume. A 100-watt amp isn’t 10 times louder than a 10-watt amp.

The difference between 15 watts and 12, in terms of volume, is really so minimal that the two numbers may as well be identical.

In this case, the amplifier’s speaker array and construction have a far more pronounced effect on the amp’s volume than its wattage.

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.

Final Word

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.

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About Dedrich Schafer

Dedrich is a guitar player, songwriter and sound engineer with extensive music production and studio experience. He mostly listens to classic rock and punk bands, but sometimes also likes listening to rap and acoustic songs.

3 thoughts on “Fender Blues Jr vs Princeton Reverb – How Do They Compare?”

  1. The Blues Jr has a Master volume control that the Princeton does not have. So theoretically you can crank the volume up to 10 for max overdrive and set the Master to a low number to not blow out your ear drums. But I found the distortion at any setting not to be very pleasing with the Master choking the speaker output. But make no mistake. These amps are damn loud. Anything over a 2 or 3 and your ears will bleed.

  2. The wattage of the amp has no bearing on its volume, only how quickly it breaks up. However the smaller speaker in the Princeton is more likely to affect perceived volume, although of course it depends on the speaker (plus there are Princetons with 12″ speakers as well as 10″). But as you suggest the more open back does counter this somewhat.

  3. I just bought a Blues Junior tweed used from my favorite music store in NH on black Friday. I get a great tone out of it. I’ve brought it to a jam three times and so far it blows the room(s) away. Anything past 2 on either volume and I’m being told to turn it down. Then again, I’m playing a Gibson Les Paul thru it. Anyway, I love the amp. If I were a working musician I would gig this one and retire my Hot Rod Deluxe.


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