Blues Jr Vs Hot Rod Deluxe: What’s the Difference and Which Is Better?

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If you’re interested in the Blues Jr vs Hot Rod Deluxe guitar amp comparison, you’ve come to the right post!

I’m not a guitar expert, but I have played since 2003 and know a thing or two about the instrument.

So which is better, the Blues Jr or Hot Rod Deluxe?

Neither is clearly better or worse. But the Blues Junior may be better for blues, jazz, and old-school hard rock while the Hot Rod Deluxe may be a better general-purpose amplifier.

I’ll unpack this more in the following sections.

Classic Fender Tube-Driven Amps

Sure, we all know Fender for their awesome guitars. But the company is also very experienced in amp manufacturing.

They were the ones who defined the traditional American tone back in the 1950s and the 1960s. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ocean, the popular amp manufacturers were Marshall and Vox.

Traditionally, American amps had a bit of a smoother and rounder tone. And British amps, like Marshall, always had more mids in the mix. This is mostly attributed to the use of different power amp tubes. Fenders traditionally come with 6L6 or 6V6 power tubes.

The most impressive thing about Fender is that they continue their old lines of amps. But they also introduced new models along the way, all of which were inspired by the old stuff.

Blues Jr Vs Hot Rod Deluxe

Some of the relatively younger amp series are Blues Junior and Hot Rod Deluxe. They both came out in the 1990s. And guitar players often compare them. However, there seems to be no definitive answer to which one is better. That’s why we’ll dig deeper into this, analyze them, and potentially see which is better for you! 

Blues Junior

The first Blues Junior model came out in the mid-1990s. The idea behind this one was to replicate the 1950s blues tones. In addition, it was smaller and relatively cheaper. The most recent model is the Blues Junior IV, released in 2018.

So for the purpose of this guide, we’ll look into Fender’s Blues Junior IV. It still retains some of the features of its predecessors. And it’s a higher-quality amp than many of its predecessors.

Here, we’re looking at a 15-watt amp with one 12-inch speaker. Aside from being a tube-driven amp, it features just one channel. The reason behind such a feature was to have the same approach and sound from the old days of amps.

However, it comes with an input gain control which is (somewhat inappropriately) labeled as volume. But other than that, the controls are pretty straightforward. Aside from gain and master volume controls, we have a 3-band EQ, reverb, and a FAT switch.

This last one helps you get a more distorted tone. You can also activate the FAT feature with the external footswitch.

The preamp comes with three 12AX7 tubes. However, its power amp tubes are a bit unusual. It features two EL84s, which is typical of American amps. This also impacts its tone. 

There’s a clear boost in the high-ends. However, it still somehow retains some of the classic Fender tones, despite the EL84 valves. You may notice a slight boost in the mids. And the amp gets a more Marshall-style character when pushed over its limits into distorted territories.

Overall, it’s a simple vintage amp with one channel and some additional features. You can get some versatility in there, but it’s mostly blues-oriented. At the same time, it has a competitive price.

Here’s a simple guide to the Blues Junior IV amp:

Fender Blues Junior IV Lacquered Tweed Combo Amp Demo

Hot Rod Deluxe

Hot Rod Deluxe came out a year or two later. The idea was to have a different twist to the Fender Blues Deluxe amp. And, of course, for the purpose of this comparison, we’re discussing the latest iteration. This is the Blues Deluxe IV. 

Here we have a 40-watt tube amp on our hands with a single 12-inch speaker. Aside from three 12AX7s in the preamp, there’s a pair of 6L6 tubes in the power amp. This is more of a classic Fender setup.

But, most importantly, this amp has a pretty decent number of features. There are three channels, two inputs (low and high level), an effects loop, and a bright switch. The bright switch works with the clean channel. So you get an additional sonic option here.

There are also separate volume controls for the clean channel and two overdriven channels. Then we also have a drive knob, a 3-band EQ, master volume, reverb, and presence.

Aside from its 40-watt output, the amp does sound a bit more robust. Additionally, the amp comes with a more classic Fender tone on clean and lower-gain settings.

However, when you reach high-gain territories, you get a lot more options. In fact, for some reason, it reminds me more of Marshall amps here. It’s not completely mid-oriented, but it’s still pretty close.

Here’s a nice demo of the Hot Rod Deluxe. The video doesn’t have any talking, and it showcases different guitars with different settings.

Fender Hot Rod Deluxe IV Sound Demo (no talking)

Blues Jr Vs Hot Rod Deluxe: Which Is Better?

The first thing that I want to point out is that both of these are cheaper Fender amps. And they’re both manufactured in Mexico. Regardless, both of these are a pretty great deal for their respective prices.

What’s also worth noting is that both amps have some unique features. Blues Junior comes with EL84 tubes but it sounds like a classic Fender in clean settings. Meanwhile, the Hot Rod Deluxe comes with 6L6 tubes but gets some Marshall-like tones in high-gain settings.

With that said, the Hot Rod Deluxe does offer more options. And it’s not just about having more channels. It comes with an effects loop which can mean a lot for a tube amp. But, overall, it’s a very versatile amp. You can play pretty much any genre on it and get those organic tube-driven tones on it.

Meanwhile, the Blues Junior is a 15-watt piece with just one channel. Additionally, it’s more blues-oriented. Maybe you can get some metal-oriented tones with an overdrive pedal, but it’s still not like the Hot Rod Deluxe.

As for the reverb, these two amps are pretty much the same. I will also say the same thing for the 12-inch speaker quality and the overall build quality.

In my opinion, Blues Junior is great for blues, jazz, and old-school hard rock. It’s also a great choice for gigging musicians who don’t need more than 15 watts. After all, the amp is noticeably lighter.

Meanwhile, the Hot Rod Deluxe works well for pretty much anything. It’s like a Jack-of-all-trades amplifier that comes with 40 watts of output power.  


I hope this article has clarified some of the differences between these amps.

Also, if you want to read more about amps on this blog, check out:

Lastly, feel free to leave a comment below if you have questions about this or another guitar-related topic!

One Response

  1. Mohave Joe Nicoara says:

    I was at GC the other day and plugged a Jazzmaster into a tweed Blues Jr and was blown away. I cranked for a sec but then had to go down quick. Now I play a new Hot Rod Deluxe IV and gig with it a lot. It sounds great but not as great as the tweed Jr did. I played the Jazzmaster on another Hot Ros Deluxe IV sitting on the floor and it was not the guitar that made the difference I found. My tech tells me that the Jr is sort of unreliable and pain in the butt to work on. He told me to stick with the workhorse HR Deluxe even though my first HR fried after sixteen months.

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