If you want a British sound, you go Vox. If you want an American sound, you go Fender.
These two amps ARE the Fender sound. But just how do these two icons compare? Well, let’s dive in and take a look.
Fender Twin Reverb vs Deluxe Reverb
Fender '65 Twin Reverb
Fender '65 Deluxe Reverb
Putting these two amps side-by-side, you would be forgiven for thinking that they are the same. While testing, I confused the two on a few occasions.
The only clear visual difference between the two amps is that the Twin Reverb is slightly bigger than the Deluxe Reverb. Other than that, they look almost identical.
Their control layouts are the same and both channels are named the same (Normal and Vibrato). Both amps are also available in the same black or wine red finish.
I like that Fender gives you this option. If you want the amp to have a vintage look to match its sound, you should go with the wine red finish.
If you are like me and prefer a more modern look, then the black finish is great. I am a little confused as to why the black finish is more expensive. I would think have a special finish like the wine red would be more expensive to produce than a standard black.
Another thing that I should mention is that the Twin Reverb is made with pine, while the Deluxe Reverb is made with plywood. While both amps feel sturdy and well-built, I am a bit concerned about how the Deluxe handles wear and tear over time.
The Twin is also much heavier than the Deluxe. It is sometimes even called “The Backbreaker”. So, be prepared for a workout every time you want to take this amp to a gig or band practice.
I mentioned that the control layouts are similar on both amps. Well, that is because they have similar controls.
Both amps feature two inputs on both channels. They both have an external speaker output and footswitch input at the back.
Both channels have a Volume, and the Vibrato channel has a Speed and Intensity control on both amps. The first big difference is with the EQ controls.
The Deluxe Reverb has a 2-band EQ with controls for Bass and Treble on both channels. The Twin Reverb features a 3-band EQ on both channels. I prefer 3-band EQs because they offer much greater control over your tone than a 2-band EQ.
The other difference is the inclusion of a Bright switch on both channels of the Twin Reverb. This means that the Twin has two voicing on both channels, which I feel gives it a lot more versatility.
The sound of these two amps is what made them famous. And if you think of the Fender amp sound, chances are you are thinking of one of these amps.
Both have that classic Fender sparkle and chime. They both have wonderfully bright highs, with buttery smooth lows, and those distinctly Fender scooped mids.
At 85 watts, with two speakers, the Twin Reverb is much louder than the Deluxe’s 22 watts, single speaker. But that doesn’t at all mean the Deluxe is soft.
You can still take this amp to any venue and it will be loud. In fact, plenty of guitarists like Eric Johnson use a Deluxe for live performances.
Turning up the volume, these amps start to break up quite nicely. Both amps just have this wonderful vintage crunch when you crank them.
The Twin Reverb’s Bright control helps to give it an extra boost when you need it. On high volume, the Bright control gives the amp a bit more growl.
But where I feel the Bright control really helps is on lower volumes. It just pushes the amp’s tone a bit forward, making it stand out more.
With the Bright off, you still have a lot of brightness, the tone is just a bit more mellow and rounded. This is great at higher volumes if you don’t need to give the amp a push, like with jazz or blues.
The Vibrato channel on both amps is equally impressive. You can have a slow, pulsing or quickfire, tremolo-like vibrato, and everything in between.
The Vibrato channel also has some more dirt to it because of the extra gain stage the reverb requires. This means that you can get a meaner drive sound through the Vibrato channel.
As for pedals, both amps have no problem with a pedalboard running through them. I even tried a few digital pedals since those tend to be trouble sometimes. But no, both amps handle digital pedals just as well as analog.
Some might say that you should only use analog pedals with these amps, because digital sounds terrible. Honestly, as long as you don’t use a cheap digital pedal, you aren’t going to notice a difference. The audience certainly won’t.
Which Amp to Choose?
The easy answer is both. Both of these amps are simply fantastic, and choosing one over the other is impossible.
The long answer is it depends. The Twin Reverb is slightly more versatile than the Deluxe and its sound is a bit more rounded.
But because of its size and weight, it might be too much of a hassle to carry around to gigs and practice. And unless you play huge venues, it will probably be too loud for most.
I would say that the Twin Reverb is the perfect studio amp, and the Deluxe Reverb is the perfect live amp. The Twin can be kept in a studio where it doesn’t need to be moved too often, while the Deluxe can easily be carried around.
If I had to choose between the two, I would probably choose the Deluxe. It just makes more practical sense for an average guitarist.
The Fender Twin Reverb and Deluxe Reverb, the choice of countless guitarists for six decades.
I have a feeling that we won’t be seeing these two legendary amps going out of style any time soon, and honestly, that thought makes me happy.