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What's wrong with a Blues Jr.?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by MisterZ, Dec 1, 2017.

  1. PBO Blues

    PBO Blues Tele-Meister

    438
    Jan 15, 2016
    Chatham County, NC
    Agreed. I suspect that our revered and greatly missed friend BillM wouldn't have dedicated the time and energy to this little guy if it didn't have a few redeeming qualities. Nor would he have sustained his business without a bunch of others who found them at least a bit interesting.

    And I like my pickup trucks, by the way. Both of them.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2018
    JuneauMike, RetroTeleRod and MisterZ like this.

  2. kelnet

    kelnet Telefied Ad Free Member

    Apr 17, 2008
    Port Moody, BC
    The common complaints are that it's "boxy" and it doesn't have enough head room. That just sounds like it's not an amp for every situation. I would think that if you run out of headroom with 15 watts then you need to mic your amp, or get a bigger amp. It's like complaining about your Corolla not being able to carry a sheet of plywood.
    I still have no idea what "boxy" sounds like.
     
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  3. PBO Blues

    PBO Blues Tele-Meister

    438
    Jan 15, 2016
    Chatham County, NC
    Amen! Guess which stays at home while the other goes out to play.

    BJr.jpg
     
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  4. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Age:
    61
    Jul 18, 2010
    Western Connecticut
    Blues Junior? I could talk about build quality compared to BF/SF amps. I could talk about EL84s vs 6L6s. About how "boxy" tone really doesn't have to do with the size of the cab.

    None of that matters. What matters to me, is that I only liked mine because I literally hadn't ever played anything else. But once I did, I was blown away. Sold the BJr immediately.

    If you like it a lot, then good for you. If you've just never played a really decent amp, prepare yourself for the possibility...
     

  5. IJammer

    IJammer TDPRI Member

    Age:
    61
    20
    Feb 1, 2017
    deep south... Hants. uk
    Obviously you can only judge a stock Blues Jnr by compaing it against something else.... put it against a stock sixties Fender Princeton (10" speaker) with a similar output and you will hear just how limited the Jnr is. It can be made better... and that guy BillM (RIP) has worked extensively to improve the Blues Jnr. but whats the point of buying an amp and ripping the guts out of it (unless its real cheap) to make it sound reasonable. May as well get a good one thats right to start with... even if it does cost a bit more. I paid £150 for the almost new Jnr I had so it was worth the effort... the guy who had it originally hated it, but could not be arsed to mod it. All you stock Blues Jnr guys... go check out BilM's site; some of the mods are not that involved and yeald worthwhile returns... esp the tone stack mod.
     

  6. kelnet

    kelnet Telefied Ad Free Member

    Apr 17, 2008
    Port Moody, BC
    What are the quality control issues? I used my Jr. for my rock band class, and it just sat on a table for two years. However, it got used for a few hours every weekday. I don't really think that's working it too hard, but I never once had a problem with it.
     
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  7. MilwMark

    MilwMark Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Apr 29, 2013
    near Arnold's
    I’d take a stock BJr over a 60s Princeton or Princeton Reverb, if that’s what you mean, any day. And yes, before you ask, I’ve owned both and played both live. I haven’t owned a 60s Princeton (non-Reverb) which seems to me a bland and quiet beast.
     

  8. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

    May 5, 2015
    Alaska
    It does have a boxy tone and the very small MDF cab contributes to that (I know this well because I built a larger Deluxe-sized plywood cab and the results were startling). Not a major flaw, just a preference thing.

    Its got a speaker that is really midrangy and present (it is a great speaker, but probably not the best voice for this amp). Easy to replace.

    The tube sockets are mounted directly to a PCB board. The ribbon wiring and these tube sockets contribute to the impression of engineered obsolescence. The PCB board is difficult for a tech to service, the ribbon wiring is easy to damage and the heat will eventually create problems for the tube sockets.

    It could benefit from more power stiffening and in addition some models encountered a run of defective IC filter caps that leaked. Mine was a part of that lot. But that's no hill for a qualified amp tech.

    A serious gigging Fender amp usually has some method to bias the tubes to suit the performer. The Blues Jr. did not until BillM came along, although I don't think this amp was intended for serious gigging musicians. He liked to bias EL84s cooler, but I think Vox would respectfully disagree. I wonder if Fender biased them hot for similar reasons.

    The pots are cheap and terrible, PCB pots that really can't stand up to abuse.

    The Reverb is solid state. Some people hate it, I think any reverb is better than no reverb.

    None of these shortcomings are show stoppers. They just are compromises that Fender made to produce a tube amp at the price point that would move units. It was my first tube amp and its led me to either buy or build four more tube amps. ... Ah ha, I see what you did there, Fender. Well played, sir.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2018
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  9. telepraise

    telepraise Tele-Meister

    Age:
    62
    175
    Feb 27, 2017
    Palmetto, Florida
    Like more than a few of us, I started out on and old BJ as my first tube amp. It sounded good turned up loud, but I'm in that unusual position of needing high quality tones at low volumes (praise band with low stage volumes). I put a C-Rex speaker in it which was a big improvement, but it still sounded beamy and needed more volume to round out the tone. I ended biting the bullet and going DRRI. As advertised, the cleans are awesome. Chime, shimmer, and sparkle are there and Gretsch filtertrons like it as well as the tele. I do find the larger box does have more breathing room and a broader dispersal. It is more to lug around tho.
     

  10. kelnet

    kelnet Telefied Ad Free Member

    Apr 17, 2008
    Port Moody, BC
    These seem more like design flaws than quality control issues. Despite these limitations, is the amp reliable? I never had a problem, but perhaps I just had a good one that didn't break down.
     

  11. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

    May 5, 2015
    Alaska
    No, I think you are absolutely right. They are design "limitations." And my guess is that they are compromises that allowed the amp to enter the market at a very specific and well thought out price point. I'm sure a lot of people will disagree, but I think Fender is very smart. They know exactly who they are and who their customers are: The proletariat.

    Its a very reliable amp, I think. My filter cap thing is just what you get with mass production anything. BillM's entire website is about personal preference or curiosity. The Blues Jr. doesn't need any modification to be a perfectly good tube amp.

    And as I think about it, there are plenty of professional gigging musicians who rely on this amp. Not a huge list of them, but enough to make us think this amp has a lot going for it.
     
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  12. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Age:
    61
    Jul 18, 2010
    Western Connecticut
    I don't think I said QC issues. As you surmise, more design than anything. I have similar problems with the BF reissue amps. But the BJr is worse. Half size tank, solid state reverb circuit, VERY limited compared to classic Fender 'verb, IMO. I really don't want to get the thread derailed by PCB vs hand wired, etc etc. But in general, to me, a PRRI is vastly superior to a (BillM modded) BJr (with CRex), in both tone and build/design. And a BF/SF is vastly superior to a xxRI in terms of design, build, and overall robustness. Tone to some extent, meaning mine sound better than RIs I've owned, but there are differences, such as speakers.
     

  13. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

    May 5, 2015
    Alaska
    It had better be. It costs nearly twice as much.
     
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  14. Ash Telecaster

    Ash Telecaster Friend of Leo's

    I had one. It was a beautiful little thing but ultimately I just didnt care for the way it sounded. Nothing against those who like it. It just didnt work for me. I have a DR and that works for me much better.
     

  15. kelnet

    kelnet Telefied Ad Free Member

    Apr 17, 2008
    Port Moody, BC
    I misunderstood.
     

  16. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Age:
    61
    Jul 18, 2010
    Western Connecticut
    Right, but not after all the popular mods, speaker change, etc etc. Also, I don't usually hear so much that it's a great amp for the price, as 'great amp' period. And I don't think it is, that's all. It's like the thread I recall where someone just couldn't find a tube amp they liked, and they rattled off a huge list of all the sub-$800 models. Well, duh.
     

  17. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

    May 5, 2015
    Alaska
    Everyone starts somewhere. And a lot of people started with the Blues Jr. I did. And fact is, I would have been just fine with the BJ. I just wanted something else. Something in a 6V6.
     

  18. tele12

    tele12 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Dec 2, 2006
    NY
    I really don't understand why anyone would expect an amp called a "Blues Junior " to have a lot of headroom,
    The name tells you it is a small amp that will break up early, Fender makes an amp with a lot of headroom, it's called a Twin Reverb.

    Like you said, if you want to haul plywood you buy a pickup truck.

    The Blues Junior is ,small, light ,relatively inexpensive, loud enough to Play with drums in a lot of situations. A lot to like about this amp.
     

  19. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Age:
    61
    Jul 18, 2010
    Western Connecticut
    If you read my initial post in this thread, you'll see that I started here, too. All I'm saying is, if you DID start here, don't stop. Like me, you might think you know about "good sounding" tube amps. Perhaps you even don't see a whole lot of difference between this and a digital one. All I'm saying, is when your budget permits, set the sights a bit higher, and see if you hear things that interest you.
     
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  20. Tezuka27

    Tezuka27 Tele-Holic

    612
    Apr 11, 2011
    Eastern Iowa
    The only comment I'll make is that my Blues Jr. works well for me, and the only thing currently limiting my playing is my fingers.

    jb
     

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