Blues Junior Historical Timeline

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by JayFreddy, Mar 8, 2019.

  1. JayFreddy

    JayFreddy Poster Extraordinaire

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    So the trusty old Blues Junior is up to its fourth iteration...

    I have a stock BJ III that I enjoy. I have thought about trying a different speaker, but basically I'm happy with how it is. Ain't broke, nothing to fix... It's a fun amp for living room and garage jamming.

    I have read a few online pages that say they're all essentially the same, but then there are cadres of loyalists who swear by one version over another... Lol

    Since there are now four distinct versions of this amp, not including special runs with the different cabinet coverings, I was hoping someone could post a summary of the different versions, and the pros/cons of each...

    Thanks in advance!
     
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  2. Crawldaddy

    Crawldaddy Tele-Holic

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    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fender_Blues_Junior

    Hate to just post a link, but the wikipedia article gives us plenty of insight.

    I've played and heard a US-build Blues Junior, Version 3 and Version 4.

    I will say that I much prefer the sound of the V4, but I just wished that they had retained the plywood cab, or went over to solid pine like the Hot Rod Deluxe 4.
     
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  3. JayFreddy

    JayFreddy Poster Extraordinaire

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    Thanks. I saw that.

    It gives lots of random information, but it doesn't talk about how they *sound*...

    I was hoping for something more succinct. But thank you for your reply.
     
  4. Crawldaddy

    Crawldaddy Tele-Holic

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    I can give you a quick run-down of each respective amp, so hopefully this benefits you somewhat:

    Original US-built BJr
    Darker compared to more recent models, boxy-sounding; amp overdrive was not particularly exciting, a little too coarse.

    Blues Junior III
    Initially boxy-sounding, but with plenty of time, managed to open up. High-end can be a bit spiky if not careful. Classic EL84 mid-range grind, drive is still gritty, but more pleasant than original US model. Still farts out in the bass if driven too hard with high-output humbuckers.

    Blues Junior IV
    Much more open-sounding, with better balance across the frequency spectrum. No trace of boxiness to my ears, allows you to get closer to the classic Fender BF tone; amp overdrive is much smoother, more pleasant. Have not tried with pedals.
     
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  5. Ess Eff

    Ess Eff Tele-Meister

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    Only very few special editions were ply. The normal versions were particle board.
    .
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2019
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  6. Ess Eff

    Ess Eff Tele-Meister

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    Plz explain 'boxiness' ?
    There was a very long thread where ppl gave their definition of boxiness and there was NO consensus, so I still have no idea what it means (to the majority of ppl).

    I suspect it is just a generic term of derision.
    .
     
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  7. stevemc

    stevemc Tele-Holic

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    boxiness,no bass response.usually caused by too small an enclosure.
     
  8. KC

    KC Friend of Leo's

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    yeah, sort of. a combo of limited bass response and emphasis on the low mids. a big rigid cabinet seems too do a lot for bass response -- but I suspect it's also big burly power and output transformers that can deliver a lot of current when needed. A Bad Cat Cub is getting the same 15 watts from the same pair of EL84s but the presence and punch of the low end is amazing compared to the BJr. it also costs a lot more and weighs a lot more.
     
  9. Mutato

    Mutato Tele-Meister

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    I owned the first edition made in USA. I think it was 1996. It was tweed and agree it had a boxiness and darker tone. I.e. it was more mid focused and didn’t have a high end chime. I did like it a lot and only sold it about ten years ago to find my current amp. 1977 PR.
     
  10. galaxiex

    galaxiex Tele-Holic

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    To me "boxiness" is that mid range "honky" kind of sound.

    Hard to describe in words what something sounds like.... but I know it when I hear it. :D

    Maybe the phrase, "A little box with guitar sounds coming out of it".... probably not much help, sorry.
     
  11. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Poster Extraordinaire

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    I, too, would like to know more of the different versions.
    I have a BJ III, with an upgraded Birch (factory) cabinet. While I bought it used, I don't think any mods have been performed. I do want to try another speaker or two, just to see what an older, really "broken-in" speaker sounds like. I'm reasonably happy with the tone, volume and head room, and size for my gigging purposes. I'm going to check out the info on Wikipedia.....Thanks!
     
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  12. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    I had a blonde one, looked just like the one in the Wikipedia article. I gave it to my son, along with one of the teles I'd made, several years ago. At that time I'd recently bought my Peavey twin, and the Blues Junior wasn't being used as much.

    Over the past few weeks I've been helping my son with some remodeling of his house. He's finally working on learning to play his guitar, and I've gotten to play through the Blues Junior again. It's a fine-sounding thing to me.

    I forget whether it has a green board or a brown one. I'll have to look next time I'm up there.
     
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  13. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    To me “boxiness” means lack of high end clarity and sparkle as well as a stiff midrange and mirky bass. In other words, a comparably dull sound lacking in liveliness and openness.

    A small cabinet can cause this at higher volumes, but if it’s happening at lower volumes that can indicate a circuit or speaker designed with a voice that’s too dark (assuming pickups and tubes have been ruled out).

    I believe a hard edged midrange is an obvious culprit, but if the bass lacks crisp definition and the highs are subdued then the effect is further exacerbated...



     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2019
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  14. Ess Eff

    Ess Eff Tele-Meister

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    Stop it now!

    We are going to end up with another long thread, where everyone gives their definition of ''boxiness' and all we achieve is to confirm, that no one actually knows what it means.
    .
     
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  15. dlew919

    dlew919 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I was a t a gig once with my Blues Junior III (that's the tweed one, yes?) and a guy said, 'oh, how do you get a decent sound out of it? Mine is honky, and no bass range, yada yada yada)' I shrugged and turned on.. He said, 'Wow! What did you do to it?'

    He asked if I'd changed anything? Nope. I think the III with its Jensen speakers is different.

    I understand he went and bought one.
     
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  16. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

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    I still have an original version and sold off my lll version. In the first case, it was the speaker that made them sound dark and boxy, change that and it was a different amp. The latter versions all sound pretty good to my ears, but I was never sold on circuit board reliability...still not.
     
  17. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    I have an amp that definitely sounded boxy, until I found the right speaker for it... for what that’s worth...

     
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  18. Crawldaddy

    Crawldaddy Tele-Holic

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    Oh damn, I guess I was mistaken about that spec!

    In my mind, "boxiness" is a sound quality of the amp whereby certain mid-range frequencies feel overtly emphasised at the expense of the other supporting frequencies. Regardless of tweaking the EQ, that particular 'vocal' 500-800K frequency remains, and is hard to fully dial out.

    From my experience, this sound quality comes down to 3 main things:

    1. Enclosure size and type.
    In general, smaller and closed enclosures tend to produce the 'honkiest' and 'boxiest' tones. It's clearly a generalisation because a Mesa Boogie MK III has a small, semi open-backed enclosure and sounds anything but boxy; but of course it is a factor that determines the sound considered as an entire package. The same phenomena of 'boxiness' could be observed in the Fender Princeton Reissues, although their semi open-backed nature lend a more natural sound. I would also posit that amplifier position in a room should be a major consideration in tandem with semi/open-backed combos and cabs. This leads me to...

    2. Amplifier circuitry.
    How the pre-amp is designed, and the type of power amp circuitry affects the frequency response of the amp; I hate to generalise this, but I tend to hear a certain mid-range forwardness and slightly shelved bass response with EL84-equipped amps.

    My personal favourite pre-amp and power-amp design right now is my Mesa Boogie Fillmore 50. 6L6 bottles with that dual-channel preamp sounds amazing. That said, I have experience of excellent EL84 designs including the Mesa Boogie Subway Rocket 20, and the F30.

    As mentioned before, the Blues Junior IV sounds incredible to my ears, but that's not to say a degree of mid-range forwardness that helps the guitar cut through the mix is lacking.

    On the other hand, I have plugged a Blues Junior III into an attenuator, and with the line out signal, gone straight into a Two Notes Torpedo CAB, with fantastic results. This leads me on to...

    3. Speaker size and type.
    Not all speakers are created equal, and certainly size matters. I loved the relaxed sound of the modified Custom Vibrolux Reverb with its 2X10 configuration, but I equally enjoy the forwardness and punchiness of my 1X12 '65 Deluxe Reverb Reissue; the Celestion G10M in my Subway rocket is by no means going to fool anyone it is a larger speaker, but it does the job commendably. Likewise for the Weber 10F150 that I installed in a '65 Princeton Reverb Reissue, that transformed the amp's flubby bass with a Jensen 10-incher, into a solid performer that is gig-ready with the appropriate microphone going into a PA.

    In my experience, there are too many variants of speakers to generalise, but American (scooped) voiced speakers tend to work best in the Blues Junior. Billm Audio have a very good list of suggestions here.
     
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  19. Luthier Vandros

    Luthier Vandros Tele-Holic

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    The reverb and chime of the III have been lost on the MKIV. I've yet to play another amp - my 64 Vibrolux clone (whis is stunning) included, that has such an ethereal and immersive reverb effect. It's much more hall/room-like than the drippy tone of the bigger Fenders. Most Fenders make the guitar sound like it's at the mouth of the cave or at the back. The BJIII sounds like the guitar is in the middle of the space, so the notes are enveloped by the effect. Some like this; some don't.
     
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  20. MrGibbly

    MrGibbly Tele-Afflicted

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    I can't give you any kind of a scientific definition, that's for sure. When I use the term it describes a lot of different characteristics all occurring at the same time. Simplest case...my Katana Mini is "boxy". I can tell exactly the point in space from which the sound is emanating ...even if blindfolded. It has no meaningful bass response. There is no high end sparkle reflecting around the room. At the far other end of the spectrum is my SFVR. If it's in the corner of a room, I am off axis and the volume is up, I might have a hard time playing "pin the tail on the donkey", and leading you to it if I was blindfolded. Bass is felt as much as heard (which contributes to the omnidirectional experience). High end reflects. The sound is enveloping and doesn't seem to come from a point source. I wouldn't simply view "boxy" as a generic "bad" sound.

    Examples... Certain Fender Champs sound boxy in the room (especially big rooms) but may record wonderfully or sound fantastic mic'ed. The Thiele cab that I use for my Boogie V:25 can take on some boxy characteristics in a small space and at lower volumes but sounds entirely different in a bigger room and/or at higher volume. There are examples of small amps that don't sound particularly "boxy". My son's Vox Adio does a surprising job of sounding bigger, wider than it could possibly be.

    Still not sure I buy in to the notion that we all have to mean the exact same thing when we use a term to describe a sound. Especially today when there are so many ways and places for us to hear/feel a piece of gear before we plunk down our hard earned money. I'd imagine i was "easy" to buy gear in the 50/60s...get what your stockist had in your price range in a bit of blissful ignorance. Now, there are so many ways to narrow your search even in the face of myriad options. In between? I felt like it was a lot harder because you "knew" some things were supposed to sound better or worse but had very few opportunities to compare/experience.
     
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