I don't get the Fender Princeton/Reverb

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by dickey, Apr 2, 2020.

  1. dickey

    dickey Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 2, 2010
    I always cruise the classifieds, just for the helluvit, & one thing I noticed. Vintage Princetons are going for as much or more than vintage Twins.
    Now, the first amp I ever owned was a Blackface Princeton that my uncle bought new at Straub music in Syosset, Long Island for $55; around '67 or '68. It didn't sound all that great, but I remember it didn't even have enough power for garage jams back in the day. You definitely cannot use one for gigging, unless you are miked; most of the bands around here don't mike anything except the bass drum.

    So why all this Princeton love suddenly? For the same $$, I'd much rather have a Twin. Remember...you can dirty up clean, but you can't clean up dirty!
  2. Esquier

    Esquier TDPRI Member

    Feb 14, 2020
    Vernon. Canada
    The plain "Princeton Amp" with no reverb has next to no gain and is half the amp of the Princeton Reverb Amp due to there being two less tubes in the preamp. Even the earlier brown Princeton was hotter than the black Princeton Amp
    Fuga Mante, DHart, darkwaters and 2 others like this.
  3. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

    May 8, 2008
    Knoxville TN for now
    Big amps are not wanted anymore ... old dudes like me love them and the great sound , but they are too loud and a pain to haul ... hence, market demand and prices for lighter, smaller gear rise ...
  4. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

    Aug 30, 2011
    It's not sudden, first of all. People have always loved PRs, in their place. And when it comes to old style Fender amps, the DR is still king by a mile on stages and in studio, from what I see.

    Secondly, what's changing is musical styles, musical volumes, and PA equipment. Fewer and fewer guitarists need self contained gigging amps to play in a full rock band without good sound support these days. Many don't play traditional rock, and/or they need studio or low volume jamming amps that can also be gigged in venues that have good sound support...and they also have their louder amps in the arsenal usually...not just a PR.

    The PR has tone for days, is tiny, weighs practically nothing, yet is still relatively full featured – and simply fits the bill for many things. Not everybody is playing in a rock band without good sound support, like the old days.

    When it comes to pure tone, the PR has it all to my taste. It's only volume that it lacks. And in todays gigging scenarios, when decent sound equipment is common, and loud rock bands are not necessarily people's go-to format for a musical group, small amps can often work just fine, and they make transport and setup easier and faster.

    FWIW, I do own one. An all original '68 PR bought by my dad when it was 5 or 6 years old, and inherited by me when he died in '07. And no, I don't regularly gig it, because it usually doesn't fit the bill for what I do. I did used to bi-amp with it and my little Ampeg in this one band I played in for a few years, via the simple jumper cable method: run a cable from the second input of the Ampeg over to the PR. But it certainly is one of my favorite tones of all time, and I am all over it in low volume scenarios or when recording.
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2020
  5. tarheelbob

    tarheelbob Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Aug 30, 2014
    This. Everything that EsquireOK said.

    - Bob
    imwjl and Fretting out like this.
  6. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 17, 2003
    There are many times more people looking for a bedroom amp than for a gigging amp.
    I have one.
    It's loud enough for small bar gigs, even with my 5-piece including sax and keys (my drummer is highly evolved), but seriously lacking in a couple areas...not the least of which being bottom end.
    PA systems being what they are, I'd be much more inclined to use a Princeton at a big festival than a small club.
    Small, light...stick it on a chair or stand a few feet behind me and stick a mic on it.
    Microphones love a 10" speaker and can make a little ankle-biter sound huge.
    Flaneur, imwjl and rangercaster like this.
  7. newminglewoodblue

    newminglewoodblue Tele-Meister

    Nov 16, 2016
    Southern California
    A great story from the Mesa Amp website about Princetons & how Mesa Boogie got their name:

    Around 1969 we wanted to play a prank on Barry Melton of Country Joe and the Fish. So I took his little Fender Princeton amp which, stock, puts out about twelve watts and has a ten-inch speaker. I cut up the chassis to fit big transformers and entirely rebuilt it using the famous 4-10 Tweed Bassman circuit. After careful measurement, I cut out the speaker board and squeaked in a twelve-inch JBL D-120, the hot speaker back then. When I finished building it, I took it out to the front of the store to get a good play test and who do you think happened to be hanging out right then? Carlos Santana. He just wailed through that little amp until people were blocking the sidewalk. When he stopped playing he turned and said, “**** man. That little thing really Boogies!” Word spread fast and before long there were over a hundred little Princeton/ Boogies appearing on Bay Area Stages including the Fillmore and Winterland …all of them built up a dirt path in a mountain shack I had converted from an old dog kennel.
  8. popthree

    popthree Poster Extraordinaire

    Jan 25, 2005
    a hawk makin lazy circles
    Killer amps but I think the prices have gone crazy...at least for a non reissue.

    Can't touch a ptp pr for under 1500 and often they go for much more. 5 or 6 years ago you could still find one for 600 or so.
    Jared Purdy, scook and Jakedog like this.
  9. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    No-one says you have to. You like what you like, you know what you know. The BF/SF Princeton as noted is a sweet clean sounding amp but not standout. The earlier single tone control 6G2 Brown one that's a direct link to Tweed Deluxe and Tremoluxes is a little screamer with more gain.

    The Princeton Reverb is gainier - over 6 on the vol is cranking with virtually any guitar, the cathodyne PI gives it its own touch sensitive vibe. Plus the bias vary trem is simply dreamy.

    I gig in small-medium venues, and they don't want bands with cranked stacks or big 212 or 410 amps - plus no space. Hence my 83 Superchamp which is basically a PR vib channel with Deluxe output section is running on 5-6 and it's still often too loud.
  10. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Feb 15, 2016
    I actually prefer the non-verb version of the Blackface Princeton since it stays clean....as I age, I really prefer good cleans.

    I agree that the price of the Princetons have surpassed the logic stage. They are light, great studio amps, and hold a wonderful tone....but the 10 inch speaker isn't my favorite and they can sound a little raspy when driven hard. To me, that doesn't equal the prices that they are going for.

    I have a Brownface Princeton and find it to be a wonderful sounding amp, but where it really shines (same for the Blackface / Silverface) is playing it in stereo with a larger amp like a Twin Reverb. That is what I am doing these days and that sound is everything any player could ever want.
    nojazzhere likes this.
  11. fasteddie42

    fasteddie42 Tele-Afflicted

    Dec 10, 2016
    Tip of the Mitt
    Fender cleans at reasonable home volume.

    Fender drive at reasonable(ish) volumes.

    Add sound reinforcement for live work.


    Bias Vary Tremolo.

    Small and light.

    what's not to get?
  12. DavidP

    DavidP Friend of Leo's

    Mar 16, 2003
    Vancouver BC, Canada
    Dropped a Weber 10F150T into my SFPR and it sounds bigger than it should!
  13. scooteraz

    scooteraz Friend of Leo's

    Apr 17, 2007
    Peoria, AZ
    And, interestingly, Mesa is more into amps that are smaller, or at least able to play smaller, these days. I have a 5:50 Express+ and a California Tweed (2-40 watts). Both gigging and bedroom volumes (albeit a bit on the heavy side). I used to have a Princeton Recording amp, and loved that little thing. Decent enough volume for small gigs and pretty light versus other amps.
    newminglewoodblue and NBS2005 like this.
  14. oatsoda

    oatsoda Tele-Holic

    Aug 15, 2013
    The Shack
    Hey dickey, sometimes you don’t know what you got till it’s gone. The Princeton Reverb is my sweet spot, hope you discover your own.
  15. dogmeat

    dogmeat Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 12, 2017
    I was in Columbia studios San Fran in 1970. Santana was recording Abraxas. he and a guy we called the "kid" (Neil Shchon) were both playing through Princetons and we were wondering what the hell they were because it was obvious that they weren't really Princetons. I (much later) heard that was the beginning of Mesa, so apparently true?
  16. Downshift

    Downshift Tele-Holic

    Jan 16, 2006
    I have a 68 RI. I changed the preamp tubes to lower gain 12AY7s, put a more robust speaker in it, put the volume at 10, and gig regularly at small and medium size bars in three and four piece rock bands. No farty low end. Bell tone highs. The best tone I could ask for.

    Its also worth noting that the older we get, the quieter the drummer is getting. Either that or he's blown my ears out worse than I thought.
  17. Mike Simpson

    Mike Simpson Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 19, 2006
    Gilbert, AZ (PHX)
    I have around 500 gigs on my 74 Princeton Reverb and I rarely mic it. I use a Cannabis Rex speaker and a boost pedal and play clean unless the song calls for dirt. I rarely get it over 3 1/2 on volume. I often have to be careful or I'm too loud. No shortage os bass with the 12" Cannabis Rex.
  18. knavel

    knavel Tele-Meister

    Jul 21, 2014
    (1) With a microphone and a stage monitors I am able to gig a pretty large room at 3-5 volume setting with a 10 watt amp.

    (2) My rule of thumb is amps (i) weigh 3 lbs for every watt of power up to 10 watts or 2 lbs per watt of power above 10 watts; and (ii) a person's tolerance to transport weight is 3x his age in young adult life cycle, 1x his age in midlife cycle and his age divided by 3 in older life cycle.

    (1) + (2) above = Princeton Reverb / Deluxe Reverb. BF/SF Vibrolux Reverb can just squeak into this equation.

    3) Even with the equation that resulted in the OP, legendarily large amps have value at outdoor gigs so I keep a brown tremolux in the attic. But otherwise they are kind of going the way of tenor guitars.
    studio1087 and Fretting out like this.
  19. Fearnot

    Fearnot Friend of Leo's

    Jan 17, 2010
    Decatur, GA
    So don't get one.
  20. 72_Custom

    72_Custom TDPRI Member

    Aug 11, 2007
    I use a SF Princeton non-reverb for small jazz gigs and it really fits the bill. I’m thinking about changing out the stock speaker for something more efficient to get a little more volume out of it, but it’s not bad as is. Through an extension cabinet, it can definitely be loud enough to do today’s medium sized gigs.

    Tone is truly in the ears of the beholder. The non-verb models tend to be cheaper, presumably because A) people like reverb and B) they’re so much cleaner. For my application, although I wouldn’t mind a touch of reverb, it’s the king-of-klean thing that I really love about it.
    studio1087, Milspec and Fretting out like this.
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