Impressed by Blues Jr.--should I be surprised I was?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by RoscoeElegante, Jun 22, 2019.

  1. RoscoeElegante

    RoscoeElegante Friend of Leo's

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    Hey, all.

    So we had a pretty big and varied show here yesterday. Two tweed Blues Jrs. were on stage--stock, as far I know. Over about 4 hours of music, they were used, singly and dually (that is, sometimes just one Blues Jr. in use, sometimes both) for keyboards, a Tele, a banjo w/ an onboard pickup, an acoustic with a sound hole pickup, and even, once, for vocals. Quite the eclectic mix of genres, textures, tones, bands, players, tempos, volume levels, singers, instruments.

    I was very impressed by the amps. A lot of depths and complexities to the notes, lushness but distinctness to the chords. Very clear and rich when used for voice. Very responsive, with just the right degrees of compression and distortion available if the player or singer dug in, and very sensitive to nuances, too. The hall has a good bit of natural resonance, so the reverb levels were very low on both amps--about 2.5. Volume levels were at about 3.5. One's Master was at about 6, the other at 3.5. EQ's about Noon on both. Spaced about 12 feet apart, set up on wooden chairs.

    I guess I had unconsciously picked up the claim or cliche that they're mediocre at best, and kinda noisy, at that. But they seemed dead quiet. And they are sure handsome-looking amps!

    Not about to buy one as I'm plenty amped up, but am I way off about their merits, and do their flaws decisively undermine these merits? Meaning, down the road, my amp-gluttony may fixate on snagging one of these things. That Tele, particularly, was ringing buttah through it! That particular player/singer was using mostly the neck pickup, and she sounded great.

    I was doing just acoustic/acoustic+fiddle stuff, so I didn't directly use the amps myself, but I am intrigued now!
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2019
  2. Matthias

    Matthias Friend of Leo's

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    Nope. For the price and the size they’re pretty good. They fall down a bit on robustness (going on accounts and my own experience) but if you like a Fender sound they just about get it. The more expensive, RI amps are nicer but even the reverb is acceptable in the BJs. They’re fine.
     
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  3. bender66

    bender66 Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    If you buy into the internet hate then yes you should be surprised.

    People compare them to bigger cabinet amps. I dont know why.
     
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  4. Big_Bend

    Big_Bend Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've owned a few. The secret of getting great tone from a Blues Jr is to keep the master volume on 12. Trust me on this.
     
  5. Slidedude

    Slidedude Tele-Holic

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    ^ This! I've been using a DRRI for a good number of years, and I'm not even thinking of selling it - HOWEVER - I've got some back issues and needed something lighter. (Age, huh?) I went to my local GC, and my sales guy there showed me the Blues Jr, a Boss Katana, and a solid state Marshall combo. The amps all had pluses and minuses, but at $499 less 15% and using my GC card to pay it off over 90 days/same as cash...I bought the Jr. I did make some of the typical mods: clipped the bright cap, put a G12H Celestion in it, modded the mid control to allow me to turn it ALL the way off....BAM. I use it as a pedal platform, so running the Master @ 12 and using the Volume control as my level as Big Bend suggests is perfect.
     
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  6. RLee77

    RLee77 Friend of Leo's

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    Yep, if you can turn them up past house/bedroom levels, they can actually sound excellent. I think most of the complaints come from people trying to get cranked sound out of them at bedroom levels, which they do not excel at. Nice gig amp, not great bedroom amp.
     
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  7. urbandefault

    urbandefault Tele-Meister

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    I have a Blues Jr that I got pretty cheap on the 'bay around 2006. I played it out a bunch before the internet told me it didn't sound good. :shrug:
     
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  8. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'm reasonably happy with mine. It's a BJ III, black Tolex, completely stock. It's the first Fender amp I've owned since having to sell my '66 BF Deluxe Reverb, '63 BF Deluxe (non-reverb) and '64 BF Princeton. (also non-reverb) Needless to say, the BJ III does NOT sound as sweet as those, but it's decent nonetheless. I do want to try a couple of different speakers in it to experiment. I'm also thinking of one of those reissue Princeton Reverbs, with a 12" speaker.
     
  9. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

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    Not surprised at all, they do the Fender sound really well and a real bargain. Might need a back-up though if using them on stage a lot as they are not overly robust. Keep them cool, I use a little computer fan to lower temperatures around the chassis when using on stage. Heat is what kills those PCB designs.
     
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  10. King Fan

    King Fan Friend of Leo's

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    My brother did the all sorts of Billm mods and many others, and speaker swaps *and* cab swaps, to a few BJs. He was kinda obsessed with making one that was 'perfect.' But he'll admit that he not infrequently goes to shows, or past bars or street festivals, etc. where someone is playing an apparently stock BJ and sounding pretty great.

    I think that may go along with the insights here, to turn 'em up, dime the MV, etc. Maybe the price and form factor make folks buy 'em for home use, and maybe they lack the sensitivity or subtlety to do that without a ton of mods.
     
  11. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've used mine almost non-stop ( a Blonde/Maroon 1999)
    since I got it ( used) in 2000.

    Hundreds of blues/R&R/Classic Country gigs with a great-sounding reliable amp.
    It has needed some maintenance from time to time ( bias pot installed, new pots, HD Power Switch and Input jack...)-minimal visits to a very good amp tech.

    A basic amp but good all-purpose tube Fender for an all-purpose player!
     
  12. RoscoeElegante

    RoscoeElegante Friend of Leo's

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    Interesting (and, as always, much appreciated) replies.

    Given how low the Master was even on the one w/ the Master up on the two I heard yesterday, I'm thinking that the amps not even pushed to their best sounds were just an inherently good match for that hall.

    I've had my AC15C1 and Excelsior in there, and have heard a Vibro Champ XD, a Blues DeVille, a Deluxe Reverb RI, and a mid-60s Princeton Reverb in there. Lots of unknown and uneven variables are involved, of course. But the two Blues Juniors did sound the best out of this variety.

    Likely the stereo effect of two of them, spaced well apart, and conveying very different parts of a given song, is a big factor here. They sounded like a '59 Bassman's dimensionality, as if a tiny but crucial delay was enriching them. It shifted a bit if you moved around the room.

    Could be, also, that all the people in there--it was our best-attended show in a long time--affected the room's acoustics too.

    Anyway, in the off-chance that any of this is relevant, I've added it to the factoids-involved pile....
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2019
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  13. King Fan

    King Fan Friend of Leo's

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    Stereo? Spaced well apart? No fair! :)
     
  14. T Prior

    T Prior Poster Extraordinaire

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    I have an early USA BJr, for whatever that means. ( B-07...s/n) I never bought into all that crazy opinion stuff about Bjrs, --- boxy, tight, can't get good tone---I just use it on gigs that call for a small footprint without to much gain. I just happen to think it's a great amp !

    Sometimes I run it totally clean , Master on 10 and volume to whatever. Sometimes with a bit of drive, Volume at near 50% and Master to whatever.

    Its a 2 x EL84 amp, I don't actually consider it to be typical "Fender Amp" tone , its a small workhorse is how I see it.

    One of Fenders better offerings with a small footprint.

    I have no clue what the new 'improved" models offer.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2019
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  15. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I don't play out usually. I've always thought the Blues Jr. was a very good amp to have around the house.

    I gave mine to my son several years ago, along with one of my home-rolled teles. Recently I had the opportunity to stay at his house for several days. I was very glad it was there!
     
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  16. tubelectron

    tubelectron Tele-Holic

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    I'd like an empty BJ cab and chassis to built my personal electronics inside... o_O

    A non-working one would be OK too, fro the same purpose... :cool:

    -tbln
     
  17. nosuch

    nosuch Friend of Leo's

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    So; the internet says they are bad? Then it must be true. To me since borrowing one from our bass player for a gig like 15 years ago and buying one for myself a couple of years later it has been the most useful and reliable piece of gear I ever owned.
    When I bought it I was into clean tones for jazz, my tastes traveled to blues and some overdrive and back to clean tones and jazz. The blues jr. could deliver all of that.
    I use it at home, in the studio (it is quiet, no hiss) and on stage for smaller gigs. It could deliver good tones in all that situations. I compared it to a handwired princeton reverb a friend wanted to sell me and liked the blues jr. better. It has the kind of midrange and tight bass that will sit well in the mix. Some call that "boxy" – for me it just works.
     
  18. sds1

    sds1 Tele-Afflicted

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    This is no coincidence. MV's tend to suck tone more often than not, setting MV to max is essentially removing it from the circuit.
     
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  19. blackguts

    blackguts Tele-Meister

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    A better speaker and tubes and you are good to go
     
  20. 4pickupguy

    4pickupguy Poster Extraordinaire

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    If you are expecting “Deluxe Reverb” then it might come across as “boxy”, but I still think they sound great. Perfect sized amp for most everything. They have more low end than any small Vox amp I’ve heard and people love those.
     
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