Pros:Vintage Tone, Small Footprint, Great Price
Cons:Lack Of Standby Switch
The Bottom Line: The Fender Blues Junior offers a big slice of the Fender sound in a small package at a reasonable price.
In the beginning, there as Fender, it was always Fender. Sure there was Magnatone, and Gibson, Kay and a host of other manufacturers whose bloom has only recently been apparent to old tone purists, but it was Fender that got it right it and has been since 1945. Over the years Fender has produced some really great amps including the Black and Silver faced series of which the Super Reverb comes to mind. Deluxe Reverbs, one of my favorites, Bandmasters, and the classic Twin Reverb really do hail the great artists from all genres that have graced many a car ride to a party, beach, a friends house or simply to the grocery store on a milk run. Fender was and is the staple from which the whole of the industry benchmarks their products. You often hear" Fender Tone" when other manufacturers describe their amps.
Recommend this product?
One of the great things about Fender is that they are financially within reach of anyone who wants a quality piece of gear that can help catapult their sound to the next level, as is the case with the now infamous Blues Junior.
Decked in the distinct Hot Rod ser enclosure the Blues Junior gives a first impression of a beginner's piece though nothing could be farther from the truth. The diminutive Blues Junior is a little amp that features a pair of El84 and three 12AX7 preamp tubes. El 84's are a great choice for small underpowered amps as they are characterized as having sweet clean tone but with the capability to quickly progress into creamy overdrive that is perfect for recording as well as performing small venues, rehearsals or simply as a great starter amp.
Simplicity is the as the Fender Blues Junior's vintage pointer controls are minimal including l-r:
On/off Toggle Switch - There is no standby, which is disappointing
The controls are set on a handsome chrome panel that sits in black tolex with classic Fender silver grille cloth in a cabinet that harkens of the old days, but this is far more than there ever was in the 40's and 50's.
The special design 12" 8 ohm speaker is standard fare though different series have come out featuring better second party offerings. The single channel Blues Jr. is rated at 15 watts but can offer all the presence of an amp twice the power on account of the master volume, which is useful when pushing the front end of the amp at lower volumes. The FAT switch, which, if memory serves stands for Fender American Tone, boosts the presence exhibiting a more vintage tone which makes it a pleasant compliment to single coils adding the signature classic Fender sparkle with rounder and yes, fatter signal response. By loading the preamp with the volume knob, the Blues Jr. can emulate Foreigner, Bad Company classic rock tone. The spring reverb is excellent for an amp of this caliber harkening Maybelline or Elvis's CC Rider tone as you peg the control.
There have been both American and Mexican versions of the Blues Jr., with the early American series coming more into demand of late. Early versions came equipped with the green circuit board which was produced from1995-2001 with the lighter cream colored tone post 2001 with livelier sounding treble characteristic of that era.
On stage, or in the bedroom, the Fender Blues Junior is a bit of a Swiss Army knife in that you can get everything from classic, surf, rockabilly and country twang from this 15-watt baby behemoth. At under $500.00 street price, you really can't expect much more from a PooPoo platter amp that will give you sampling of all the tones Fender is known for.
One pet peeve of mine with the series is that I wish they would buck tradition and make the controls readable from the front side of the amp. It would be great if it had an external speaker input and that standby switch, otherwise this amp would be perfect. That said, the Fender Blues Junior delivers on the most important front, tone. I can pull everything from Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Hendrix, Buddy Holly, Steve Cropper, Wes Montgomery, and Robben Ford out of this amp with little effort, which says a lot about a piece of gear that can easily take up a small corner of your bedroom or studio. At the end of the day, you really can't expect more from an amp.
In the beginning it was Fender, and you know what, they still have it!