Hot Rod Deluxe Vs Deluxe Reverb: Which Is Better?

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If you’re curious about the Hot Rod Deluxe vs Deluxe Reverb Fender amps, you’ve come to the right post!

In short:

While both amps are great, the Hot Rod Deluxe is a less expensive, more versatile amp, while the Deluxe Reverb is a higher-end, blues-focused amp.

I’ll unpack this more in the sections below.

Fender Hot Rod Deluxe

Fender Hot Rod Deluxe IV Sound Demo (no talking)
Here’s a demo of this amp to get a better sense of this amp’s sound.

Fender’s Hot Rod Deluxe amps have been around since the 1990s. They are inspired by the Blues Deluxe amp. At this point, we have the amp’s fourth iteration, Hot Rod Deluxe IV.

This is a 40-watt amplifier, which is the same output power that it had since the beginning. Another classic feature is its single 12-inch speaker. The preamp comes with a trio of standard 12AX7 tubes. Meanwhile, it packs a couple of 6L6 tubes in the power amp section. It’s pretty much the classic tube formation for traditional American amp.

Now, what’s awesome about Hot Rod Deluxe is that it comes with a lot of tone-shaping parameters. Firstly, it has two channels. But there’s also a switch that adds a boost to the drive channel. We could say that it functions as a 3-channel amp. So it goes anywhere from sparkling cleans to those sizzling high-gain leads.

Then we have the regular 3-band EQ and individual channel controls. Along with that also comes a drive control for the dirty channel. We also have reverb and presence controls.

Overall, Hot Rod Deluxe isn’t your conventional Fender amp. Compared to their classic stuff, it’s designed to be more versatile. It’s not focused on the classic icepick sharp tones, it’s kind of all over the place. This is its biggest advantage. Nonetheless, it still keeps the classic Fender amp characteristics. 

Fender Deluxe Reverb

Fender '65 Deluxe Reverb Amplifier | Reverb Demo Video
And here’s a demo of the ’65 Deluxe Reverb.

Deluxe Reverb amp takes us back to the early 1960s. It was a combination of a Fender Deluxe amp with an onboard spring reverb tank. Fender has been making them ever since then.

These days, Fender has a few versions of the amp. There’s the cheaper Tone Master one that’s enhanced with digital technology. But the genuine version is the ’65 Deluxe Reverb. There are also other variants, like the ’68 Custom Deluxe Reverb.

The Deluxe Reverb amp remains an absolute classic. It’s pretty much one of the blueprints for classic American amps. It’s a dual-channel amplifier with 22 watts of output power. However, it brings a completely vintage approach. It’s as if it came straight out of the 1960s.

Firstly, we have two inputs for each of the channels. It’s the standard high and low-impedance configuration. Both channels also come with individual controls. We have volume, bass, and treble. However, the second channel also has reverb and tremolo effects. Bear in mind that tremolo is referred to as vibrato here.

It has entirely tube-driven circuitry even the on-board effects. In the pre preamp section, we have a quartet of 12AX7 tubes and a couple of 12AT7s. The power amp has a pair of 6V6 tubes and a single 5AR4 rectifier tube.

Deluxe Reverb is a classic. This is what you expect to hear from a vintage or vintage-style Fender amp. It comes with a fair amount of headroom for a tube amp. However, when you push it, you can hear that organic icepick-like cracking.

With the right approach, you also get some versatility. In my experience, it worked really well with overdrives. You can even get some decent hard rock and blues rock tones with it this way.

Hot Rod Deluxe Vs Deluxe Reverb: How Do They Compare?

Sure, these are both Fender amps. However, there’s a significant difference between these two. Deluxe Reverb is a classic vintage-oriented Fender amp, apart from the cheaper Tone Master variant. Hot Rod Deluxe, on the other hand, is Fender’s simpler take a more versatile and somewhat cheaper tube amp.

First, let’s get one thing out of the way. Deluxe Reverb is a more expensive amp. And rightfully so. Here we have a classic Fender amp with the company’s classic tone. It’s almost as if you took one of those old amps from the 1960s.

Fender Deluxe Reverb brings that warm yet piercing overdriven tone when you push it. Whether you play a guitar with single-coils or humbuckers, you’ll always notice this amp’s character. Additionally, the amp’s reverb effect sounds genuine and spacious.

But despite its overall lower quality compared to Deluxe Reverb, Hot Rod Deluxe is still a great amp. What’s more, it’s technically more versatile. You could get some of those high-gain tones, even cover some modern metal stuff. Additionally, it’s also a 40-watt amp, which is more than enough for a smaller gig.

So we can have one simple conclusion here. Hot Rod Deluxe is a versatile workhorse tube-driven amp. It’s a jack-of-all-trades kind of deal. It’s not a super pro-level amp, but it’s not that far either. Meanwhile, Deluxe Reverb is a more blues-focused amp. It’s for specifically old-school tones.

Now, which one you should get is up to you. Hot Rod Deluxe is awesome for almost anyone. If you’re doing a variety of styles, live or in the studio, get this one. If you want something that’s classic Fender with warmth and organic overdrive, then get your hands on a Deluxe Reverb.

Playing Through Vintage Amps

Beginners or intermediate players might not be familiar with how vintage amps work. What’s more, some experienced players might immediately dismiss them since they can’t get tight metal tones with them. But the idea here is completely different.

Let’s take Deluxe Reverb or old Silverface Champ amps. They don’t have onboard distortion. The main way to get some dirt with it is to push the volume knob high. Some even go all the way to 10. This is how guitar players did it back in the day.

Technically, you’re pushing these amps over their limits. But that’s how tube amps are intended to work these days, especially those vintage-oriented ones like Deluxe Reverb. Now, you won’t get that high-gain modern distorted tone with them.

However, you’ll get some incredible bluesy vintage tones with that natural tube-driven crunch. If you don’t completely get what I’m saying, here’s a demo of an old Fender Champ. If you ever get the chance, play through one of these old Fender amps.

Vintage Fender Champ Tone - 1971 Fender Champ Amp @ Sunflower and Friends!

Hot Rod Deluxe Vs Deluxe Reverb: Conclusion

I hope this article has helped clarify some of the differences between these Fender amps!

And if you want to read more about Fender amp comparisons, check out:

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

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