Sell PRRI to buy Blues Junior: Am I crazy?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by tele_pathic, Oct 5, 2018.

  1. tele_pathic

    tele_pathic Friend of Leo's

    Aug 18, 2009
    St. George, UT
    About a month ago, I bought a used Fender Princeton RI from It's the special run from sweetwater: in tweed, 12" Cannabis Rex speaker. It included the Fender cover and the footswitch, though that had to be replaced. sounds okay. I mean, it sounds good. BUT there are some things: I don't really like the reverb: It's kinda cavernous and surprisingly strong. I keep it about 3. On 10, it's kind of drippy but more washed out. There are random "ghost" reverb noises: when at idle, sometimes there are noises that sound like someone kicked the amp and splashed the reverb. The Tremolo is very, very weak. I have to turn it up past 5 for it to actually engage. Also, when I step close to the amp, the tremolo sounds even at idle.

    So I don't know if it's the price that sticks in my craw: for $800....maybe I can't help but see an $800 bill sitting on the floor. Maybe I just bought into the hype too much and it doesn't live up to my expectations. I had a Catalinbread Topanga Spring Reverb that was fantastic but I had to sell to fund the purchase of the PRRI. Also, I had a Stonedeaf Tremotron Tremolo that I had to sell to fund this amp. I crazy to be thinking about selling the PRRI and buying a Blues Junior III or IV? I mean, if I don't like the reverb or tremolo in the PRRI, I would have the cash to buy a reverb and tremolo pedal. IF I simply saved and bought a reverb and trem pedal to use with the PRRI, doesn't that defeat the purpose of having the PRRI rather than a BJ? I wouldn't use the drive part of the BJ: I get drive from pedals.

    Thoughts? Can you convince me to keep the PRRI or sell it for the BJ?
  2. adjason

    adjason Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Jan 9, 2010
    doubt you have it but I think if you have receipt then they have a 5 year transferable warrenty. Sounds like something is wrong with the princeton. See if you can go play one at a guitar store and try to access if yours is broken. I would not consider the blues jr over a prri
  3. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

    Sep 4, 2008
    Hudson Valley, NY
    $800 buys a lot of (used) amp these days in all kinds of flavors. I just saw an Orange Dual Terror on Craigslist for $400 - whole different amp, but a whole lot of amp for that money.

    Around these parts you can pick up a BJr on Craigslist for $350, sell your Princeton and use the cash on a very fancy trem + reverb pedal. I wouldn't do it because I have never played a Blues Jr that I liked, they don't sound like classic Fenders at all and what they do sound like I just don't like. The Verb on them is pretty bad too. Lots of people love them though, just try before you buy.
    JustABluesGuy likes this.
  4. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Friend of Leo's

    Aug 10, 2018
    In space with Ziggy
    From what you have said I would buy myself a Strymon Flint and take it along with me to test a bunch of used amps. I would start with your own amp, then a nos blues junior and go from there if it didn't sound great to you. More people buy new amps and barely play them before deciding a change is required than not. That makes for great savings on basically new used amps.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2018
    Piggy Stu likes this.
  5. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Friend of Leo's

    Mar 29, 2007
    Manassas Park, VA
    I LOVE my 1999 Blues Jr. (I bought it used in 2000 and have probably played hundreds of gigs with it, if not 1K+) and it has been very reliable and good sounding ( I run amp Clean and ' goose' with an always ON Blues Driver)
    But I'd trade it or upgrade to a Princeton Reverb in a heartbeat! ( Just no $$ to do that)
    I think a PR' s clean tone, plus its Reverb ( all tube signal, a BJ's is not) is superior, plus real tube Tremolo- not even close IMO

    Edit: my perspective comes from someone ( me!) that owned above BJ, and also at the same time, an amazing ' 68 Deluxe Reverb, which I sadly had to sell due to $$ hardship. So I associate the tone and features of a PR with a DR!
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2018
  6. Mike Simpson

    Mike Simpson Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 19, 2006
    Gilbert, AZ (PHX)
    I wouldn't buy a reissue anything or a blues jr. Ironically the blues jr's have been known to have a crappy reverb and require tank replacements and modifications to sound good. I play silverface Princeton Reverb amps and I never turn the reverb over 3. The tremolo on a Princeton Reverb is a bias vary tre,olo so if the power tubes are biased too hot or too cold there is no room for it to "vary". Poor tremolo on a Princeton is an indication that it need to be biased and possibly new power tubes.
  7. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    You would never run Fender tube reverb on 10 unless you were doing a 'Dick Dale' or Atlantics impersonation. Mostly you would set it on 3-4.

    Does your amp have 12AX7s in all stages? If so - bingo. I would run a 12AT7 in the reverb driver stage or you get an overdone effect that isn't pleasant. I'm not sure how Fender equipped the Reissues.

    The Princeton runs a bias-vary tremolo, which pulses the power up and down. You need the footswitch to totally kill it. If it's biased 'hot' on the power tubes it can make the tremolo shimmery rather than full.

    It sounds like your amp needs the attention of a good tech just to tweak it. A PR is amongst the most treasured Fenders for recording both reverb and tremolo so it's worth ensuring its running right even if you ultimately decide to sell it. It's a classic but maybe not for everyone.

    Nothing against a BJ but it's a step back to an entry amp.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2018
    LPTyler, RomanS, Tonemonkey and 2 others like this.
  8. teleman1

    teleman1 Tele-Meister

    May 16, 2003
    First place to look? The reverb tube. Last place to check? Blues Jr. Get my drift?
    LPTyler likes this.
  9. bluesky1963

    bluesky1963 Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 1, 2011
    Glendale, AZ
    Blues Jr + pedals will give you:
    1. Blues Jr + Reverb pedal + Trem pedal.
    2. Blues Jr + Blues Jr Reverb + Trem pedal.
    3. Blues Jr + Blues Jr Reverb.
    4. Blues Jr + Reverb pedal.
    5. Blues Jr + Trem pedal.
    PRRI + pedals will give you:
    1. PRRI + Reverb pedal + Trem pedal.
    2. PRRI + PRRI Reverb + PRRI Trem.
    3. PRRI + PRRI Reverb + Trem pedal.
    4. PRRI + Reverb Pedal + PRRI Trem.
    5. PRRI + PRRI Reverb.
    6. PRRI + Reverb pedal.
    7. PRRI + PRRI Trem.
    8. PRRI + Trem Pedal.
    I'd keep the PRRI and buy a couple of pedals. You have more possible effect combinations that way.
    jannodude likes this.
  10. dannyh

    dannyh Tele-Afflicted

    Jul 1, 2005
    North Texas
    I’m with the previous two posters...sounds like your amp isn’t running properly.
  11. telepraise

    telepraise Tele-Meister

    Feb 27, 2017
    Palmetto, Florida
    I have the same amp. Out of the box, I thought it sounded really bad- not that sparkly clean Fender vibe and chime. But having been down that C-Rex path (put one in an old Blues Junior cuz so many raved about that combination) I new it was the speaker. I seems to take a good 20 hrs of play time to loosen up a new C-Rex, they're stiff at first. Not having the patience to do that again, I put a Jensen alnico in it since that's more the sound I'm going for and it's good now. BTW, an Emi Allesandro SC-64 sounds fabulous in that amp, IMO, and gives you tons of headroom. A BJ is a whole nother creature. I never got on with the EL84s. I guess I'm spoiled on the 6V6 blackface tone. BTW, that reverb issue is universal on all BF Fenders near as I can tell. There are mods you can do to make the range on the knob more usable. Mine seems to live on about 2. I'd plug a different speaker into the amp before you punt on it.
  12. teleman1

    teleman1 Tele-Meister

    May 16, 2003
    Wear a thick diaper. Replace the v1 with an RCA 12ax7 or better a real Mullard, they can be used. Replace that reverb tube with NOS/ANOS. Turn on amp, play, clean yourself, throw dirty diaper away. Your done. Listen to Daccious he is in the Godzone. If you aren't comfortable, bring it to a tech.
    RLee77 likes this.
  13. RLee77

    RLee77 Friend of Leo's

    May 15, 2016
    Silicon Valley
    I was recently contemplating doing just the opposite — trading in my BJr for a PR... lol.

    If you do pull the trigger, consider getting the BJr before you sell the PR, so you have both for a short time (if possible). That way you can directly compare and contrast, then just sell whichever one loses that head-to-head battle.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2018
  14. fatcat

    fatcat Friend of Leo's

    Jul 6, 2010
    Very Deep South
    I love my Princeton. But it's not the first one I started with.

    Ordered the first one on line and I didn't get to try before the buy..

    It had some odd noises on certain frequencies. Maybe just a tube, but I wasn't going to start rolling tubes in an amp that I had for less than a week in hopes to solve the issue. So I too it back and traded for one in the shop that I could try first.

    The one i ended up with has
    quite a cavernous and wet reverb as you say, but I expected that. But no ghost noises.

    The Princeton tremolo is not nearly as good as in my ac15 thats for sure. My tremolo behaves about as you described. But engages on about 3, and not instantly; there is a lag time.

    I still love the Princeton though. Mine has a really sweet clean sound I love. Cant beat fender clean.

    In the end you have to do what makes you happy. If you want to trade it or sell, that's your business. Screw anyone else's opinion.

    Especially if you are just going to potentially obsess over it like I would.

    Don't loose sleep. Don't feel guilty. Don't settle.

    Man I've been there!
  15. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    Yes :lol:

    You bought a used tube amp from *somebody*. Not from Reverb. You bought it from a shop or private party.

    It doesn't matter where unless a qualified amp tech provided service info that came with it.

    If it's not working right don't blame the amp until you have taken it to a qualified tech, told him what you expect out of it, and he's serviced it. If it's a newer amp it may run $100 or plus the cost of tubes for basic service and adjustment. If it's 10 years old it's *possible* that it may need new filter caps. In vintage models the service life was around 15 years, but many of the RI amps have cheaper types installed, and at 10 years they may be weak. In which case add another $100-150 for electrolytic cap replacement and other service.

    And it may be fine but just need a simple bias adjustment to sound wonderful.

    IMO every used tube amp should go to a tech for a general checkout (at least) before use. And every 15 years or so they all need a more complete service. It's like changing oil, or tires, on a car. ANY other tube amp would need the same things at some point.

    So IMO get your amp checked out and serviced if needed. THEN decide if it's the wrong amp for you.
    rdwhitti likes this.
  16. theprofessor

    theprofessor Friend of Leo's

    Aug 8, 2016
    Chattanooga, TN
    I agree with those above who say that you might just need to tweak it a little and that a tech can get this amp sounding its best. If the tremolo is that weak, it means it's biased too hot (as others have said). It is completely normal for the reverb to sound cavernous on a Princeton Reverb. I just built one, and I keep the reverb on about 2.8. I can't handle much more than that. If you want a broader sweep on the reverb dial, you can substitute at 12AU7 tube for the reverb driver in V2, which is a 12AT7. Don't give up on the PRRI yet. And in my opinion, the Blues Jr. is just going to be an "out of the frying pan, into the fire" situation.

    Even if all you did was have the amp re-biased a bit colder and put in some nice vintage tubes in a couple of positions, it can produce great results.
    GuitarGeorge likes this.
  17. schmee

    schmee Friend of Leo's

    Jun 2, 2003
    The PR and other fender amps have reverb that comes on crazy fast. Too much at 3+, None at 2, out of control above 6. There is a mod to put the 0-5 sweep over the 0-10 dial.... giving more control. The Princeton circuit derives tremelo from the bias, so It may be a compromise.
    The EL84 BJ is a much different amp, you should discover if you really like the EL84 sound or not first. Also, I know 3 people who have had reverb issues on the BJ .
    Greggorios likes this.
  18. fatcat

    fatcat Friend of Leo's

    Jul 6, 2010
    Very Deep South
    True I've been playing El84's for quite awhile (Orange and Vox), and the PR has a lot more bottom end.
  19. dan1952

    dan1952 Friend of Leo's

    Jun 24, 2004
    Anderson, IN
    Save some money up and buy a silver faced PR. Get it serviced and play it in good health. Way better sound, easier to work on, and more roadworthy than a PRRI. And better in EVERY way than a Blues Junior. I don't consider the BJ a pro quality amp.
    Mike Simpson likes this.
  20. fasteddie42

    fasteddie42 Tele-Meister

    Dec 10, 2016
    Tip of the Mitt
    yeah, you cray cray.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.