Review: Fender's ’64 Custom Princeton Reverb

Fender’s ‘64 Custom Princeton Reverb amplifier introduced at this year’s 2020 Winter NAMM show is a faithful recreation of the iconic 1964 Blackface Reverb amplifier. Attention to detail is evident throughout the amplifier’s construction. Not just another reissue, the ’64 Custom Princeton Reverb amp is wired completely by hand in Fender’s factory in Corona, California.

The ’64 Custom Princeton Reverb amp is based on the original AA673 vintage blackface circuit. The amp has been faithfully recreated utilizing period-correct components including Blue tone capacitors, Tube-driven spring reverb and tremolo, three 12AX7 and one 12AT7 preamp tubes, a matched pair of 6V6 power tubes and a 5AR4/GZ34 tube rectifier. The ’64 Custom Princeton Reverb amp, like the original, puts out 12 watts of power. The ’64 Custom Princeton Reverb amp features an extra-heavy textured vinyl covering and lightly-aged silver grill cloth. Accessories include a heavy duty fitted cover and two button foot switch to turn off and on the Tremolo and Reverb circuits.

The original Fender Princeton amp was introduced in 1947 and discontinued in 1979. The “Blackface” era Princeton Reverb amp, so called because of its blackface control panel, was manufactured for three years from 1964 to 1967. After that, in 1968 it was changed to the “Silverface” version. Fender was sold to CBS Musical Instruments in 1965. The AA673 circuit on which the '64 Custom Princeton amp is based is considered one of the classic Fender circuits. The pre-CBS Princeton Reverb amp was manufactured by Fender for just one year in 1964. After 1979, there were several solid-state and tube-solid-state hybrid variations of the Princeton amplifier until Fender revived the Princeton Reverb Amp in 2008.

The ‘64 Custom Princeton Reverb amp features a 10” Jensen alnico P10-R speaker. Alnico is an alloy comprising aluminum, nickel, and cobalt used for the Speakers Magnet.

The tone stack on the ’64 Custom Princeton Reverb amp is comprised of just two controls, treble and bass, or three if you include the volume control. There is no extension speaker jack.

It’s easy to take for granted now, but back in 1964 the Princeton blackface amp with its spring Reverb and Tremolo circuit on board was considered state-of the-art. Keep in mind that until 1964 all prior versions of the Princeton amp did not have a reverb tank. The Reverb circuit on the ’64 Custom Princeton Reverb-Amp utilizes a traditional reverb tank.

The tube-driven spring tremolo on the '64 Custom Princeton-amp has a unique and unmistakable tone that similar circuits with a solid-state rectifier simply cannot re-create.

The original Custom Princeton amp had a two-prong plug which is unsuitable for today’s grounded safety requirements. On the ‘64 Custom Princeton Reverb amp Fender has substituted a detachable cord with three prong plug. The 1964 Blackface era Princeton amp was made of solid pine. So too is the '64 Custom Princeton Reverb-Amp. That said, the '64 custom Princeton Reverb-amp is arguably the most accurate reproduction of the Blackface era Princeton Reverb amp Fender has ever manufactured.

Put all this together and you get the best elements of classic Fender Blackface tone in an all hand wired, highly collectible gig-worthy guitar amplifier with a few essential improvements on the original.

The Fender Princeton Reverb amp has found its place in countless stage and recording studios over the years and remains one of the most popular amps of all time for good reason. The ‘64 Custom Princeton Reverb amp works great in all kinds of venues for many kinds of music. The amp’s relatively light weight and portable form factor works in places where other amplifiers are too loud, but it is still powerful enough to keep up with the band in many live situations.

In the modern era, the ‘64 Custom Princeton Reverb amp is a great platform for pedal boards. In the studio, putting a microphone in front of it or going through a load attenuator will give an authentic tonal edge to home-based or professional studio recordings. Like the original, the ‘64 Custom Princeton Reverb amp is an extremely versatile musical instrument and for a lot of players the only amp they will ever need.

Priced at $2,299 and available now - find out more at www.fender.com