#TweedTone: You’ve Got To Be A Huge Fan Of Tweed Tone To Get A Real Fender Tweed Deluxe Amp In 2023

Regular readers will know that I’m quite the fan of “tweed tone”: the sound of classic amps from the fifties. So much so that, back in 2021, I went out and bought Fender’s modern reissue of the holy grail of tweed amps: the 5e3 Tweed Deluxe.

I’m glad that I got mine when I did, because I’m not sure that I could afford – or justify – buying the same amp in late 2023.

Read on if you’re interested in my thoughts and experiences on this topic.

Table of Contents

The 5e3 Thing Is A One-Trick Pony … But What A Trick

When folks like me gush about the sound of the 5e3 Tweed Deluxe, I think there’s something very important that often gets lost amidst all that praise and adulation:

The 5e3 Tweed Deluxe is a very limited amplifier.

  • It really has just the one sound … but oh what a sound! (see, I just can’t help but fawn over it at every opportunity 😂)
  • It doesn’t really like all that many different guitars (I’ve settled on using it mostly with my Telecaster these days).
  • It has no onboard reverb, no onboard fx loop for you to add your own, and it doesn’t take reverb well in the front.
  • It sounds far better recorded than it does in the room.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the 5e3 Tweed Deluxe is very much a purist’s amp. It’s the kind of amp where you’ve got to let go of what you want, and let the amp dictate what you get.

There’s a lot of joy to be had with that, but Fender’s asking price is very steep indeed. And for home use, you’ll need more than just the amp on its own.

One Does Not Simply Buy A Fender Tweed Deluxe Amp …

Unfortunately, if you’re a home player like me, there’s an important complication to owning Fender’s Tweed Deluxe reissue.

I went and bought Fender’s own reissue largely because I wanted to get as close to the original 1950’s Tweed Deluxe amps as possible (without actually buying a vintage amp). That experience – warts and all – remains important to me, as part of my self-education about what “tweed tone” is.

One of those warts is just how loud the Tweed Deluxe amp is.

The Tweed Deluxe doesn’t come with a master volume control. It has two preamp volume controls (one for each input channel), but they don’t really change the output volume all that much. All they do is change how much drive the amp produces.

Put the amp in a spare bedroom at home, and the amp is just too loud to use. It’s uncomfortably loud for me, and it’s not fair on the neighbours to have it blasting out like that. And there’s no mechanism on the amp itself to turn it down.

I have to use an external attenuator to make the amp quiet enough to play at home. And not just any old attenuator will do.

Affordable Attenuators Do Not Do The Job With This Amp

I’ve been using the Two Notes Captor attenuator for many years now. These are affordable, passive devices that sound pretty decent with my Marshall amps.

The amount of attenuation they offer is fixed at -20db. And, unfortunately, that’s just not enough to bring my Tweed Deluxe amp’s output volume down to a home-friendly level. The amp is still too loud for home use.

There are attenuators out there that offer variable levels of attenuation. That feature is only found on the top-tier attenuators from the likes of Boss, Fryette, Tone King and Universal Audio.

I went for the Fryette Power Station PS-100, for several reasons:

  • it effectively reamps whatever amp I’m using it with, allowing me to dial in the exact volume I want for home use
  • it’ll cope just fine with any amps I get in the future, no matter how much they output (handy if I decide to get a real Marshall plexi amp one day …)
  • it has an effects loop, so that I can add delay and reverb to my Tweed Deluxe

Top-tier attenuators like the Fryette come with top-tier prices too.

Runaway Inflation In The Guitar Gear Industry

Pricing in the guitar gear industry has been heating up for many years now. It started in 2016 (well before the first COVID lockdowns) and at the time of writing, it’s showing no sign of slowing down. If anything, it’s getting worse.

My favourite example of this is my Fender American Deluxe Telecaster. I paid around £1200 for this back brand-new in 2015. At the time of writing, Fender is asking £2299 for what is almost exactly the same guitar, the American Ultra Telecaster. That’s approximately a 90% price rise in just 8 years.

To put that in context, the Bank of England’s own inflation calculator says that normal inflation in the economy would have driven that price up to £1570 today, or approximately 30%. There’s a big difference between overall price rises and how much more Fender is asking for.

Fender aren’t the only brand that has done this by any means. That’s (perhaps) a story for another blog post.

Hopefully it sets the scene for looking at how much it costs today to replicate my Fender Tweed Deluxe rig. Because, even though my rig is only two years old, the prices have changed a lot more than I realised until I sat down and did the research for this article.

Today’s Costs For The Fender Tweed Deluxe + Attenuator

Let’s look at how much my Tweed Deluxe rig would cost in late 2023:

  • Fender are asking £2429 for the 57 Custom Deluxe amp
  • Thomann* are asking £1133 for the Fryette Power Station PS-100

That’s a total of £3561 in late 2023.

(* Unfortunately, the Fryette PS-100 doesn’t seem to be available in the UK at the time of writing, so I’ve had to use Thomann’s prices. Due to their immense size, Thomann often sells gear far cheaper than UK shops can.)

I paid £2900 for the same setup in the summer of 2021 – £2000 for the amp, and £900 for the attenuator a couple of months later.

That’s a 22% price rise in just two years.

Can We Reduce The Cost Of The Rig At All?

While cheaper attenuators are available, almost all of them come with some loss of functionality:

  • the Fryette PS-2a lacks the second channel of the PS-100 (very handy when switching between two amps – I use it a lot more than I expected)
  • the Tone King Ironman II lacks the fx loop (so no delay and reverb with the Tweed Deluxe)
  • the UAD Ox Box is considered best as a silent recording tool, and is only cheaper if you get one in one of UAD’s regular sales

If I only ever used the amp for silent recording, then I definitely wouldn’t get the Fryette PS-100 in 2023. But where’s the fun in that?

I think the best way to spend less is to go for a completely different rig. I’m going to explore that in some upcoming posts.

Final Thoughts

Two years ago, the Fender 57 Custom Deluxe was a major purchase for me. I only realised I needed a new attenuator once the amp was home. At that point, I was already committed to the amp (it was a special order, and I was already falling in love with it). If I’d had to find all the money in one go, I’m not sure that I would have bought the amp.

Would I buy one at today’s prices? That’s a difficult thing to say.

Back then, I got one because I wanted to learn about real tweed amps. By definition, I didn’t know what I was getting into, and what it would be like to play through one of these amps. Now that I’ve had that experience, it can’t help but influence how I feel about buying it all again today.

So let’s try this: if the amp and attenuator went up in smoke, would I replace them at today’s prices? I don’t think I would. The amp doesn’t get much use, and neither does the attenuator. Ironically, I bought the Axe-FX to be the fx processor for my Tweed Deluxe rig, and it ended up replacing them most of the time.

What would I do, if I wanted a Tweed Deluxe amp today? I would spend half the money on the Cornell Romany 12, and have an amp that I can use at home far more comfortably.

17 Replies to “#TweedTone: You’ve Got To Be A Huge Fan Of Tweed Tone To Get A Real Fender Tweed Deluxe Amp In 2023”

  1. Hello Stuart,

    I just want to say I enjoy your posts so much. I am a begginer guitar (older) player, and I find so much joy in your opening up about your experiences. Cheers and best wishes!


  2. I’m 66, and stopped being a tone chaser after 30 years of playing…when I turned around 40. It’s just a bottomless pit of chasing and spending.

    1. hi Ira! I’m very happy you’ve found your sound. And indeed, it’s one reason why I never chase anyone else’s tone. We’re in a golden age of gear atm, and I’m deeply enjoying exploring as much of it as I can while I can.

  3. As a player who’s owned & gigged with an original ’58 5E3 tweed Deluxe since the late 70s, yes you’ll find it is loud for home use. May I suggest using a 12AY7 for the 1st preamp tube. Originally the “normal” channel was intended for use with high-impedance microphones, there’s less gain with the AY7 tube. That channel was originally labeled “mic”. It’ll be more manageable with the lower-gain tube.

    1. hi David – my Tweed Deluxe already has a 12AY7 as the 1st preamp tube. I’ll try using the Mic channel more, and see how that goes. Thanks!

  4. Hi Stuart, the plus side to new gear going up in price is that used gear prices have also risen. Looking at Reverb.com you’ll still get somewhere around £1500 for that amp and likewise a decent price for your Fryette.
    Indeed the Cornell 12 is great. When I got the Tweed bug I ended getting a Tweed Deluxe from Flynn Amps. All handwired, beautifully made and can be built (along with any customisation you’re after) with an inbuilt attenuator disguised as a fuse switch. Their prices don’t look like they’ve gone up since I got mine several years ago. Currently going for £1,695. The amp is killer.
    Was surprised you found your amp a one trick pony, i.e. the Tweed roar, a 5e3 has some of, if not THE lushest cleans of any amp ever built. I play mine at home in a box room, have it set clean, I use a transparent booster pedal to push it into over drive. Reverb sounds fine. The only limitations of the amp are related to a live band scenario where it lacks clean headroom yet if a PA is present these can be overcome by mic’ing it see James Gang #Funk 49 belting out in stadiums. Shame to have that much valuable gear not getting much use.
    Cheers for making your blog, hopefully you’ve alerted other guitarists to how loud a 5e3 without an attenuator is.
    If you’re interested in hearing my 5e3, email me and I’ll send you some sound clips, it’s such a wonderful thing. All the best, Phil.

    1. Hi Phil! Unfortunately, my Tweed Deluxe breaks up far earlier than what I see others do in demos. I probably need to switch this custom Fender speaker out too for a Celestion Blue or something too, to get better clean tones out of it.

      1. Yeah speakers make a huge difference in any amp….. Celestion Gold I ended up with. Takes an age to break in but my word, the cleans it does.

  5. I’ve built 2 x 5e3 amps from Stewmac kits.
    I gave one to my father to use and have the other as a practice amp basically. It wouldn’t keep up with a hard hitting drummer i reckon, but the sound is really something else. My stock 75 Strat and Gibson Howard Roberts Fusion both sound amazing through the amp. I did the Rob Robinette NFB switch mod and that makes these amps more pedal friendly and versatile. They’re fun to build and will quickly become your favorite amp.
    MojoTone make great kits too.
    I paid about AU $1700 delivered from the U.S.

  6. Hi. Felipe here.
    I also wanted a lot the Tweed Tone, but it’s really expensive to be able to get a Fender Tweed reissue in Brazil.
    If the Dollar close to 5 to 1, plus merely 120% of tax for importing, I would have to work 11 times more in comparison to an American to buy it. The same would be applicable to the PS-100.

    So, my decision was to build from scratch.
    Thanks to RobRobinette website, I do a way to do it.
    I purchased locally the tubes and electronic regular components, and imported the ones not available. That meant the Jensen AlNiCo speaker, the 12AY7 (the others where available), and good quality capacitors (Digikey) such as Illinois Capacitors and Rubycon.

    Everything worked as a charm, and I’ve got the same issue about loudness.

    So, what I’m working on right now is to attenuate the intensity. As an engineer, a possible way is to divide the impedance of the speaker with resistors. Maybe that won’t be as good as a full featured PS-100, let’s see.
    In short, the Amp sees originally (in my case) 8 Ohm impendamos from the Speaker. If I use a high dissipation power resistor if also 8 ohm and put it in parallel with the speaker, the expected resulting impedance will be 4 ohm (50% of the power running through the resistor, and the other half through the speaker). Then, to finally adjust the overall impedance, I’m adding another 4 ohm high dissipation resistor in series with the connection speaker/8 ohm resistor. The final impedance seen by the amp will still be 8 ohm.
    Now, the only concern with that is because impedance and resistance are not always the same thing, in other words, the bass or treble could be somehow affected. As soon as I connected,
    I’ll may have to use one or two non-polarized capscitors to compensate any loss, acting as a passive filter.

    Finally, another interest tweak available in RobRobinette’s website is to make a change into the circuit to enable FX loop in it (before the amplification stage) but that would be for another day of discussion and experiments, but it tends to infere me that what PS-100 should do would be to attenuate the input sound, somehow similar to what I’m doing, down to signal processing amplitude, allow FX loop, and then have its own amplification stage (it just need to be fully linear, without any tone change). Again, I’m no expert on FS-100, it’s just a perception.

  7. Hey Stuart,
    I thought I was settled with my Supro Delta King 10 (5 watts x 10″ spkr) because I mostly play at home. I also purchase a Blues King 12 Combo (15 watt x 12″ spkr). As for pure tone, I think I like the 5 watter better. Whereas the Blues King could probably hold its own in a jam situation.

    I blame you for tweaking GAS in the Cornell. LOL
    Love your honest & thoughtful commentary on the Tweed Deluxe.
    “What would I do, if I wanted a Tweed Deluxe amp today? I would spend half the money on the Cornell Romany 12, and have an amp that I can use at home far more comfortably.”

    I see a couple of used Romany 12s on Reverb & was saving to spring for one but then I spied that Supro has their “Amulet” model now has a 12″ speaker model available. Any thoughts — or is the Cornell Romany 12 still your amp of choice next to a Fender Tweed Deluxe?

    Best regards,

    1. Hi Dennis,

      Sorry about tweaking your GAS 😂

      So far, the Cornell Romany 12 is still the Tweed Deluxe alternative that I’d recommend. Just keep in mind that tweed amps are really rare where I live, so I don’t have experience with alternatives like the Supro that you mention.

      The Lazy J 20 is also a revered amp that’s based on the 5e3 circuit. I’d love to try one of those one day.

  8. Hi Stuart,
    very happy to have stumbled over your blog. Myself I feel a bit like I’ve gradually been traveling back in time ; ). Bought a hand-made Tweed Deluxe clone in a well built cabinet 2017 for 12 000 SEK (ca £ 9600 at the time ) and then a Princeton Tweed-clone shortly after that from the same builder. I thought that the official Fender Reissues were way too pricey. Also I liked the fact that I know exactly who built the amplifier and could discuss speaker options. Interesting to read your views on attenuators. I have an old Tom Scholtz but it “eats up” too much of the tone. I agree in much of what you’ve written. That the Deluxe is pretty much a “one trick-pony “. But with lots of possible variations and nuances though to “the one trick”. I especially like the pick- and volume sensitivity in both amps ( and pedals I have). I prefer to play more of the type “roots-music” than Heavy rock/Metal or very “clean music”. I guess it has something to do with a sort of “timbre” in the Tweed amps, the color it adds to the tone.
    Sometimes I feel a bit limited by the slightly “gritty” sound of my set up but it is possible to clean it up to a reasonable level anyway.
    Look forward to read more of your blog!

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