Howdy Gang! Hope your 2021 is shaping up and showing good solid signs of life! While we were sleeping (or ... er, quarantining) the fine folks at Fender have continued their decade long history of kicking serious booty in bringing great new products to fruition. One of the HUGE successes of 2019-2020 has been the 1968 (drip-edge) reissue amp series. And so, this blog will officially be part ONE of a four part series on the '68 Custom Princeton Reverb, the Deluxe Reverb, The Pro Reverb, and the Twin Reverb, all from the perspective of what's the BEST speaker upgrade for these fine tube amps. Ready? Let's start with the smallest of the lot, the Princeton Reverb!
The '68 Princeton Custom comes from the factory fitted with a Chinese made Celestion 10-30; the 10-30 has ALWAYS been Celestions budget 10" speaker, and while they are quite good "for the cost", there is some serious improvement to be had here.
REMEMBER: The '68 reissue is very different tonally from the '65 blackface reissue!
The blackface reissue was voiced fairly close to an original Princeton, ie: a bit anemic on the bottom-end and quite sparkly on the top-end. As someone put it on Sweetwater's forum:
This amp does a thing with low end. Watch the YouTube videos and comparisons and you'll hear it. The problem is that everyone seems to be treating this like a 65 Princeton reissue. It's not. If you run it that way, you be disappoint with a weird muddy sound that you cannot dial out with the bass knob. Here's the secret. There is a resistor on the bass control that makes this amp more like a fender Bassman than a Princeton. This resistor does add bass, instead it adds low mids. If you turn the bass all the way down, those low mids will still be there and it will drive you crazy. The solution is to raise the treble and bass controls. This will effectively scoop the low mids and give you a sound that is more like what you're expecting. Here is a good setting to start with for a great fender clean sound on a Strat: volume on 3 or 4, treble on 8 or 9, bass on 4. Guitar volume on 10, tone on 6-7 Throwing the treble up to 8-9 will raise some eyebrows, but in my experience it's the missing piece to getting great tone out of this amp. It sounds great now and takes pedals like a champ.
This has been my experience EXACTLY with this amp.
Fender REALLY went all-out at seeing to it that this amp would not be referred to as thin or anemic on the low-end. But ... if what you want is REALLY Princeton tone, they went too far. Now, you could go in and replace a few capacitors and resistors to help this situation, or maybe attempt a tube-change, but most folks are not going to be able to safely inside a high-voltage tube amp, and my experience is that tube-swaps seldom deliver much more than small results. Whereas, a speaker swap can totally re-voice the amp!
Now, if you already LOVE the more bassman-esque tone of the amp stock, then by all means leave it alone! However if you want your Princeton to sound more like a real vintage Princeton, then the speaker you will want to put in her is the WGS Vetren 10, an inexpensive American voiced speaker. Yes, this will make the amp loose some bottom and lower-midrange, but it WILL most certainly bring on the classic Princeton tone in SPADES ... and you certainly won't be raising any eyebrows by turning the treble up to 8 or 9 either! You'll find the sweet spot is with both the bass and treble right at about 5.
Option 2:Vintage Princeton tone on STEROIDS, put a G10C in her and you'll keep all that Bassman like bottom end, plus add in the missing Fender sparkle. Warning: if you go this route, the amp will be LOUD, easily loud enough to gig with, and will have clean headroom for days, something I personally can't get too much of :-)
See ya next week when we moove on to the '68 Custom Deluxe Reverb, it'll be AMAZING!