Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Fender Princeton Reverb Silverface
I'm pretty sure everyone should own a Princeton Reverb. I've owned at least two and maybe three...I've lost count. There is a good and a bad side to these amps though...they're really not loud enough to gig with, but they sound absolutely fantastic. I'd love to have one again just for recording purposes and I'll probably keep hoping that one day I'll come across one at the Swap Meet or at a Pawn Shop somewhere and the owner won't know how much it's worth. "What? That old '70s amp in the corner? Heck, I'd take $30 for it I guess." We can all dream can't we?
And what's the deal with pawn shops these days?
Do they all think that they can charge more for a guitar than it's worth? What happened? Pawn shops used to be places that you could find a good deal on a guitar for the simple reason that when you go pawn a guitar in the first place they give you about four nickels and a couple of dimes for it and act like they've done you a favor. So, they could sell them for a good price and still come out way ahead. At some point in about the late '80s all pawn shops decided that they were retail shops and started jacking up prices on crappy Squiers and Johnsons and other weird brands from Pakistan or somewhere. They've all got those little Gorilla practice amps too, don't they? I digress.
The last Princeton Reverb that I had, I traded away exactly because it just wasn't loud enough. I was in a band that was rehearsing in a small little rehearsal spot and I could just never hear myself over the Carvin half stack our other guitarist cranked through. And by the way, while I'm digressing, why won't people admit that Carvin makes some pretty darn good sounding gear for the money? Their amps have always sounded really good...they make a tweed called (I think) the Bel Air that sounds nice and their stacks always sound very crunchy...I'd rather have a Carvin half stack than a lot of those other non-Marshall brands that try to pull it off. And I will go on the record that their PA gear is unbeatable for gigging folks like you and I and extremely cost effective. This sounds like one of those sneaky blog ads or something but it's not. I just believe that Carvin should get some credit and I don't think you're going to find many folks willing to say it. Especially when they're supposed to be writing about Fender Princetons.
Okay, no more digressing. Fender made the Princeton way back in the '40s, but the Silverface version I have owned were made from '68 to '82 when Paul Rivera released the Princeton Reverb II. From what I remember and have barely researched just now, these put out about 12 watts, which is perfect for recording and fine if you don't mind micing the amp and not being able to hear yourself, but not really practical for most guitarists on stage. Over the years of this model they had lots of different specs and small variations on features. The last one I owned had a pull pot, amazing clean tone and beautiful reverb. Man, I'm talking myself into wanting another one even more as I write this.
The best part of this story though is how I eventually ended up trading it. There is a fairly well known guy in vintage circles named J.R. who owns Sunset Music in Idaho. However, before he moved to Idaho he ran a small guitar store in Encinitas, CA called Blue Ridge Guitars. He was always fair with me, so one day I decided I really wanted a Gibson ES-125 Cutaway he had that had suffered the classic neck/headstock repair, which dropped it's value but didn't change the way it sounded...amazing. He had been sitting on this guitar for awhile and it was worth approximately the same as my Princeton Reverb. I walked in with my amp and just said, "Hey, no one is buying that 125 and I don't have any extra cash to sweeten the deal...why don't we just trade straight up fair and square and you'll have an amp you can more easily sell and I'll have a guitar I want." This kind of bargaining never works. But for some reason J.R. saw the logic in my deal and shook his head and said, "Okay, let's do it." He asked if the amp worked fine and I said it did. We didn't even write up a receipt...the whole thing took less than 5 minutes and I was out the door with a pretty cool guitar.
So, thanks J.R. for a cool deal. Wish I had that amp back though.