Fender Princeton '65 or '68?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by Rick_M80, Jul 29, 2020.

  1. Rick_M80

    Rick_M80 TDPRI Member

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    Hey

    Just wondering if anyone has any working experience of Princeton amps? I've plugged into a '65 Reissue and it sounded great, but a lot of people seem to recommend the '68 Custom as a more versatile amp but haven't had the chance to test this out myself yet...

    I'm looking for versatility above all. My main influences would be Tom Petty/Mike Campbell, Johnny Marr, Peter Buck and The Edge who all seem to build on good solid, clean(ish) tones - and they're the sounds I'm hoping to emulate the most... I'm not a loud player either and don't need anything more than a moderately powered amp.

    Any thoughts?

    Cheers!
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2020
  2. Piotr

    Piotr Tele-Afflicted

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    I've really disliked the tone of the '68 Custom. To me it was screechy and without substance.
     
  3. gridlock

    gridlock Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I’ve owned a ‘68 Custom Princeton Reverb and a vintage ‘66 Princeton Reverb with the stock Jensen. I liked both amps, but selling the ‘66 PR is my biggest amp selling regret yet.

    The ‘68 Custom PR is a great at home amp. Lots of low end bass with the ‘68 CPR at low volumes VS the ‘65 PRRI. In my opinion, the ‘68 would be the better low-volume amp over the ‘65. Guess that depends upon you’re preference for more low-end bass over the ‘65 PRRI’s bass response.

    My experience with the ‘68 CPR, is it is a great low-volume amp stock, but at higher volumes a speaker upgrade would be needed, because at volume (overdriven) the amp became harsh and raspy. I believe an upgrade to an American-type speaker would have corrected this raspiness.
     
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  4. Kmaxbrady

    Kmaxbrady Tele-Meister

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    Just the other day I was AB-ing these two at a local shop.
    I liked the 68 a little more. The 65 is very clean and clear and crisp while the 68 is darker and heavier feeling and breaks up sooner. If I were to pick one I’d go with the 65 because It’s much easier to add dirt and thickness than it is to remove it.
    Also, later that day I tried out a 65 deluxe. And you didn’t ask this but if you have to choose between the two Princeton’s, get the deluxe :)
     
  5. OldPup

    OldPup Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

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    I bought a 68 CPR just over a year ago. When playing single notes riffs or solos, its sound is full, rich, and very sweet. I miss it for that reason. But when playing chords it is very muddy. It lacks clarity, period. I also found out that people like the 68 because it breaks up at low volumes. Someone described it as a dirt pedal in amp form, which would make it the most expensive dirt pedal I have ever bought by far. I looked around a ton on this topic and kept landing on forums about how to blackface my 68. I almost went down that road, but then realized I could sell the 68 and buy a 65 PRRI for less money. So that is what I did and I have zero regrets.

    The 65 is plenty versatile. It will definitely give you the sounds you mention. Like the post above me says, it's easier to add the dirt and thickness than it is to remove it. That's also some good advice about the Deluxe. The 68 Custom Deluxe Reissue doesn't experience the same problems with muddiness the 68 CPR does from what I hear, but I have not played that version of the Deluxe. The 65 Deluxe would be great, too.
     
  6. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    It’s always interesting to read How other people experience gear.

    My experience: Princeton reverb amps are neither fish nor fowl. Far too loud for home. Not quite loud enough for anything other than quiet full band rehearsals and very small shows.

    In general I think the differences between the 68 and 65 Princeton Series of amps are overblown and mainly come down to different speaker choices between them. The biggest difference is in the Princeton reverb’s in my experience though.

    I do hear the 68 as thicker and fuller at Low and all volumes.I don’t hear a big difference in overall volume though to me the 68 has slightly less headroom or at least breaks up slightly earlier. 68 does seem to have more bass, and when I played mine at small shows they often have bass at zero.

    If someone hears either one as screechy and thin, I can’t disagree with that, especially when pushed above six or seven on the volume dial. But in my view it applies to both, not just the 68.
     
  7. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Tele-Afflicted

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    I have had both. They both sound great, but totally different. With the 68, I found I had to put treble on 9 and bass on 1 to get a usable sound. And even then, I needed to stick with the bridge pickup, the neck pickup was so dark. It sounded great, as long as you were satisfied with that one sound - there just wasn't much room to adjust from there. The 65 sounds great, especially if you put a couple pedals in front of it. To me, it's not too "scooped." You can pull back the bass and treble to get more mids. I am able to get almost any sound out of it, with the right pedals.
     
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  8. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Tele-Afflicted

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    I know a lot of people feel this way, and I guess it all depends on what you need. But I have a different experience. I think it sounds fantastic even at the lowest volume. And its plenty loud to gig with. At volume on 6 you get some good volume and a nice edge of breakup. Obviously in a big venue you would need to mic it, it's of course not as loud as bigger amps. That said, I do also have a bigger amp that I sometimes use for gigs.
     
  9. Eeeeeagle

    Eeeeeagle TDPRI Member

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    No experience with the 65 but I currently own the 68 as my main amp. It has a ton of bass, so for my use, I usually have it set at 1. I’ll echo that it is a dark sounding amp and at times, playing full or partial chords can sound unclear, most notably at higher volumes. However, for my purposes, which are primarily low volume (2-3) evening sessions at home, it is a great amp. I love the clean sounds I can get at low volume and the reverb and vibrato sound fantastic to me.
     
  10. Bob Womack

    Bob Womack Tele-Afflicted

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    My review of the '68 and comparison to the '65 is on my site, HERE.

    Bob
     
  11. BlueTele

    BlueTele TDPRI Member

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    With all seriousness, I sometimes find it interesting that people ask forum viewers to make up their minds for them. The best possible thing you can do, is find a vintage-focused store that has both amps. Go there with YOUR guitar, sit down, and play them both - A/B them, and let your own ears tell you what sounds best with your guitar and technique. I know the amps fairly well, but "my" opinion doesn't matter when YOU are the one who will be playing it. Right now during COVID-19 it is hard to get around, and into a store, but it might be worth a little road trip of 100 or more miles to the store that has both amps. This is especially true because even among the same make, model, and year of amp, you can hear differences. Just like guitars. SO MANY things come together when making a guitar or an amp, especially a guitar, that one may sound great, and the other just average. Good luck!
     
  12. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    65 version, unless home use only. The PR can be marginal keeping up in a group at times, the 68 version will be worse.
     
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  13. cravenmonket

    cravenmonket Tele-Holic

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    Both great amplifiers, and the reason they both exist is because they're different enough that they aren't competing with each other. The '65 is the classic Fender blackface, scooped mids, sparkly highs, nice focused bass, unmistakable Fender tone. The '68 is a bit thicker overall, and breaks up a little sooner, but the tone is the major difference: it brings up the mids and curbs the highs, and the bass is less focused. I've heard people prefer the '68 for humbucker guitars and more grit, while the '65 will give you the spotless cleans you dream about.

    The '68 has some neat versatility built in (although the 68 Deluxe is probably more versatile).

    Both great amps. You can make an argument for needing both. The '68s are built in Mexico and the '65s are US built.
     
  14. cravenmonket

    cravenmonket Tele-Holic

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    Double post.
     
  15. Rick_M80

    Rick_M80 TDPRI Member

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    Thanks for the input so far, I'm just interested in other peoples' experiences - especially as I live in a part of the world (Northern Ireland) where we're missing guitar stores that keep a decent stock of amps - hence not having had a chance to do a proper A/B test. I'm pretty sure I'd like them both - they're Fenders - and volume ain't an issue for me as I've been told to roll it back at gigs when using a humble Blues Jr. As a jangly chord/punchy riff player I'm guessing the clarity of the '65 might be the way to go, but the '68 gets a lot of praise too so I'm just curious to see the general consensus. Thanks again!
     
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  16. cravenmonket

    cravenmonket Tele-Holic

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    .
     
  17. 100LL

    100LL TDPRI Member

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    To further muddy the waters you could add a '64 Princeton Reissue into the mix for consideration.

    I know, anti-helpful, and I mention it mostly to hear people's opinions on that model. I've never seen nor heard one.

    I do own and love for several months a '65 PRRI with a Celestion G10. I totally get the love for the Princeton now.
     
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  18. tubegeek

    tubegeek Friend of Leo's

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    Great writeup!

    Do you happen to have/know where to find the 68 Custom schematic?

    Would you say of your Princeton quest that "It's all over now"?
     
  19. JSMac

    JSMac Tele-Meister

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    I can't compare the two but I don't care for my '68 and will probably sell it.

    Stock, It sounded awful, to me, with the volume above 4. Boomy bass and unpleasant breakup. The bass control was pretty ineffective and needed to be set to 1. I did the simple bass mod, which made the control more effective. I swapped in an Eminence Ragin' Cajun which helped a lot.

    Maybe it's just my particular amp or maybe just my taste, but I spend too much time trying to dial it in to make myself love it and it just ain't happening. I find myself more often plugging into the $200 Monoprice 15 watt, which I find more versatile and with better reverb.
     
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  20. PoorNoodle

    PoorNoodle TDPRI Member

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    Based on your influences I would suggest the PRRI (65) which I have myself. Great cleans. The 68 is cool but it’s a different sound and feel.
     
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