The tweed and blackface amps from Fender became popular during the eras of the 1950s and 1960s. These amps are revered for their historical significance and remarkable tones. However, the hugely popular Blues Series have outlasted them both. The Blue Series has been in production from about 1993. The grander DeVille and Deluxe combos were converted into the Hot Rod range in 1997. The Blues Junior was introduced in 1995 and has kept the same name ever since, in spite of a number of updates as the years went by. Definitely a great guitar amp but you can also check out our other best guitar amp recommendations as well.
Its light weight, compact dimensions and pedal-friendly features have placed it in a category among the most sought after gigging combos in the world. However, in 2018 Fender updated its Pro Junior, Hot Rod and Blues Junior amps to the latest Mark IV specification, which features a variety of tweaks such as Celestion’s exceptional A-Type loudspeaker.
There is not much difference in the cabinet styling; it borrows its dimensions from the slender panel tweed amps from the ’50s. The blackface reverb-equipped combos from the ’60s provides the inspiration for the stylishly yellowed silver sparkle grille cloth and the black vinyl. Regardless of the guitar that is used, the IV flatters both humbuckers and single coils.
The amp is altered and has a huge single-sided board that holds the top panel controls and most of the other smaller components. Ribbon connectors are used to join this to a tinier through-plated board that accommodates the five valves – a pair of EL84s and three 12AX7s. Along with the rest of the range, the reverb spring is ably powered by a dual op-amp.
For those who gig regularly, you will find that the dependable Fender Blues Junior is among the amps that often show up on backline stages. This small spectacle is loved by soundmen because with its low wattage, the volume is easy to manage and its speaker can be mic’d rapidly. It is loved by guitarists for its single-channel front end and compact portability. The channel can be dialed in to produce juicy cleans that work remarkably with pedals. It can also be amplified to deliver spongy overdrive. However, the Blues Jr has had its shortcomings.
As the years go by, there are guitarists who lament over the highs of its icepick, ill-suited speaker choice and boxiness in tone in the revised editions of the Fender amp. Well, Fender is known for not resting on its laurels; it to consistently perfecting its offerings from top to bottom. With the Blues Junior IV, Fender has addressed the previously-mentioned issues by providing the popular amp with a total overhaul. This was done by remarkably improving this long-lasting grab-and-go amp.
For many individuals, when they hear that something is new and improved, they immediately think that it is just a repackaged edition of the existing model. However, after spending just a few minutes with the Blues Junior IV, it is easy to conclude that it is a totally new creature of an amp. The modifications that were done by Fender to the preamp circuit of the IV has successfully altered the harshness of its previous versions and transformed it into a more bolder-sounding and powerful amplifier with moxie. Additionally, there is headroom and a forceful midrange presence is noticed in the cleans. Instead of the pierce, the highs sparkle and the lows no longer sound flabby.
It is remarkably full and balanced and its tonal nature is only enhanced by adding effect pedals. Another of its very impressive features is its overdriven grind that is no longer mushy, instead, it growls. Much of this can be credited to its Celestion speaker luring the amp to deliver a more controlled response. Yet another great feature of the Blues Jr is its spring reverb which is incredible in its natural decay and overall ambience. For its size, this amp is nothing short of a powerhouse.
According to Fender Blues Jr review, its simplicity has always been its biggest allure. On the surface, the Fender Blues Jr IV has stayed untouched as an all-tube, 15-watt single-channel combo that features three 12AX7 preamp tubes and two EL84 power tubes. Among the differences is the control panel that is no longer a mirrored-chrome. It is now a white on black textured panel with pointer control knobs in ivory. In addition, the orientation of the control panel is now front facing as the user stands above it. This is definitely a practical change that makes the controls no longer look like it is upside down from that position.
Included among the controls are Treble, Volume, Bass, Middle, Reverb and Master. There is one ¼-inch input jack, a power switch and a fat switch (preamp gain boost with the capacity of being remotely activated through footswitch as well). Fender has claimed that the preamp circuit have been modified for additional body. In addition, the spring reverb has also be modified for a smoother taper. However, the most noteworthy switch is the Celestion A-type 12-inch speaker which is its minted voice that is new and improved. A steel-reinforced strap handle and a slightly-aged silver grille cloth are some of the other cool touches that are included.
- Works well with pedals – check out our article on the best overdrive pedal for Blues Jr amps.
- Spectacular clean and drive sounds
- Fairly lightweight
- Remarkable built quality
- May not be adequate clean headroom for larger gigs