Short Term Review: Fender 57 Custom Deluxe Amp

How has it been three months already?!? And how am I getting on with my Tweed Deluxe amp?

This photo shows a close-up of my Fender Player Stratocaster, leaning against the front of the Fender Tweed Deluxe amplifier.
The Fender Tweed Deluxe Amp is very photogenic!

In no particular order …

Table of Contents

For Home Use? Only Thanks To The Fryette Power Station

If you’re thinking of getting one of these yourself for home use, make sure you budget for a top-quality attenuator too.

Au naturel, so to speak, this amp is too loud to use in your typical British home. You’re going to upset the neighbours if you run this amp without an attenuator, and it’s not exactly going to be good for your hearing, either.

I went with the Fryette Power Station PS-100, so that I could still run the amp into guitar cabs. If you prefer, you could run the amp into a silent recording solution like the Two Notes Captor X, and listen to the amp out of your DAW and studio monitors.

There is a downside to doing this. Back when I bought it, I said that I wanted the authentic, warts-and-all experience of the original 5e3 circuit. Well, it turned out that that’s just not practical, so I’m having to compromise. I’m not show how different the amp sounds through the attenuator. It sounds really good, but it probably doesn’t sound identical.

Speakers And Cabs Make A Huge Difference

It didn’t take long at all – maybe a week or two at most – before I started running the Tweed Deluxe into my Victory 1×12 cabs instead of into its own speaker.

I’ve got a pair of 1×12 cabs, fitted with Celestion Blue and Celestion A-Type speakers, and I really like just how solid the low-mids are through these. These are the speakers that I listen to my tweed-tone pedals through, so am I merely trying to make the amp sound more like the pedals?

The Eminence speaker in the Tweed Deluxe … I’ve been avoiding it because I’m not enjoying how it handles the low-mids and bass. The low-mids aren’t as strong, while the bass can often be a little too much. At attenuated volumes, it doesn’t fill the room anything like as well as my Victory cabs do.

For the next three months, in the run-up to Christmas, I am going to spend more time using the built-in speaker. I can’t learn it if I don’t use it.

The Sag Is Real

“Sag” is this term I’ve heard other people talk about, but never experienced myself before.

If I plug my Les Paul into just one channel on the Tweed Deluxe, crank the channel’s volume to get it cooking, and then pick a note hard enough, the sound kinda disappears for a moment: the sound sags.

It’s not a fault in the amp, it’s just one of the features of the 5e3 circuit.

I get round it by jumpering both channels, or just sticking to single-coil guitars.

Where Are The Cleans?

Seriously, this amp’s so overdriven that I’ve already popped the V1 tube out, just to make sure it had the correct 12ay7 tube instead of a 12ax7. (I believe that the V1 tube controls the amount of preamp gain in this amp. A 12ay7 preamp tube produces less overdrive than a 12ax7 tube does.)

That said, if it had been a 12ax7 tube in the V1 slot, I probably wouldn’t have changed it out anyways. With the right settings, this amp is simply glorious to play through. Honestly, I’d rather have a second amp for cleans than change the sound of this amp.

There is one way to get clean tones out of this amp: to turn down the volume control on the guitar. That brings up another topic though …

I’m Finding That It’s Quite A Dark Amp (Through The Attenuator)

I’ve got the Power Station’s bright switch on max and the presence control almost maxed out, and I’d say that the amp’s only just bright enough to use. There isn’t a lot of top-end coming out of my speaker cabs.

How much this is the amp, and how much this is the Power Station … I’ve no idea.

At some point, I’ll run the amp into a silent recording setup (Two Notes CAB M into my DAW), and hear how it sounds there. That’ll help me understand a bit more.

Just how dark is it, in the room?

  • Works great for Les Paul bridge humbuckers and Tele pickups.
  • Really suits Stratocaster bridge single-coil pickups (these are the brightest / spikiest pickups I have, and they sound fantastic through the Tweed Deluxe).
  • Usable with my Stratocaster’s neck single-coil pickup
  • Can be a bit too dark with the middle position on my Les Paul
  • Too dark for me with my Stratocaster’s neck + middle position (position 4)

I’m probably making it sound worse than it really is.

I’m a little picky about having a clearly-defined top-end. I can’t stand guitar tones that sound like a blanket has been thrown over the speaker cab. (It’s one reason why I don’t really use digital modelling at home.)

Final Thoughts

I’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of what this amp can do. I haven’t even worked through all the different recommended settings that I’ve found online yet.

Sound clips, blog posts … they can’t get across just how nice it is to play through this amp. Yes, I got my bucket-list amp for the tweed tones – and I’m not disappointed in the slightest. But what’s kept me using this amp almost exclusively is the feel of playing this amp. Maybe it’s because it’s a non-master volume amp, I don’t know. None of my other amps give me the same experience.

I do have one regret: I haven’t spent enough time playing guitar these last three months. It’s been a busy time, and it’s going to be another busy three months in the run up to Christmas. I’m really looking forward to the end of the year, when I can just disappear into playing this amp for at least a couple of weeks.

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