Monday, May 23, 2016

Fender Blues Junior FSR in Cream Tolex

Who knows how many thousands of Fender Blues Juniors have been sold over the years now? Great smaller size combo amp with really nice sound that won't break your back getting in and out of the gig. Plus, it's not too big for around the house. They have that great "Fender" sound and they also won't break the bank. Well, I guess that about sums this one up. Well...except for the extra story that goes along with this one.

Seriously though, I have owned a couple of Blues Juniors in the past, and both have been excellent, trouble-free, great sounding amps. In another story on this here blog, I chronicled the story of a little Fender Bronco practice amp that looks a bit like a Blues Junior, but is solid state and nowhere the same amp. I kind of denigrated those amps and claimed you can find Blues Juniors for $250 on Craigslist, so why bother with the Bronco. Well, holy crap, not everyone (hardly anyone) agreed with me (I still stand by my opinion on that one), and I got ridiculed for saying you can find Blues Juniors for $250. Well, guess what mothereffers, I got this one for $250. And not only is it a Blues Junior for only $250, it's a Fender Special Run model in blonde or cream or tan (whatever you want to call it) tolex with the oxblood grill. In doing very unofficial research, this color combo of the Juniors seems to be the rarest of the classic Fender amp styles. I love the lacquered tweed buddy Rob has one and I've used it on a couple of recordings. And the regular tweed models are fine too, though not nearly as good looking in my humble opinion as the lacquered tweed. I've seen Sonic Blue and Seafoam Green and Red Sparkle and two-tone tolex, but those all seem to be some sort of special editions. And to be honest, even though Sonic Blue is my favorite Fender GUITAR color, it looks a little cheap to me on an amp. That's just me.

So, I'm browsing Craigslist one day, and there it was. I recently had a little change in job status, so while things are working themselves out, I shouldn't be spending extra money on guitar stuff at the moment. Unless, of course, the goal is to make some money from it. I saw this Blues Junior advertised for $275 or best offer. Wow, already a bargain at $275, but best offer?? Maybe I could get it for $250? I made the offer and he accepted. Boom! I knew that I could get more for it and make a little extra cash...but I also knew I would NOT want to give this amp up once I got it. I have a great Vox AC15CC1 that I really love...great tremolo and nice tone...the best model of all the Vox AC15 reissues by the way...and I knew I wasn't giving up the Vox. It has a road case and no issues and it's a keeper. But the Blues Junior at my buddy's house was speaking to me, and I knew once I got this Junior home, it would take some discipline to let it go.

Now here's the messed up part of the story and I am to blame for it. I met up with the guy selling the amp. He let me know that it worked perfectly and I could come in and play it. I had read that there were a couple of runs of FSR Blues Juniors that had had some issues with static and that it was a big problem. I very specifically asked the seller if there were any issues like this and he assured me this amp was perfect. I go to get the amp, we plugged it in very briefly to make sure it came on and that the knobs spun and that kind of stuff, but I did not sit with it for any extended period of time. I really just wanted to buy the amp at that price before he changed his mind. Got the amp home, plugged it in, and started jamming for a little bit. About ten minutes into said jam, it starts with some horrible static noises. Very obvious and unavoidably noticeable. I was mad. I knee-jerk reacted. I didn't test the amp in another outlet or give it another shot. I immediately fired off a text message to the seller and let him know there were issues that we talked about and I wanted a refund, no questions asked...I just didn't want to be stuck with a broken amp that was going to cost as much to fix as I was going to be profiting when I sold it. No answer from the seller. I tried again. No answer. My texts got more intense as a few days went by and he was ignoring me...I wouldn't say I was an absolute asshole but I was getting pissed off and I thought I had been ripped off. Finally I hear back and he lets me know that he plans to do nothing, claiming he has no idea what the problem is and it worked just fine.

I just let the amp sit for a week or two and then one day decided to try it out again, this time in a different part of the house. Plug it issues whatsoever. Oops. Now I feel bad. I take it to my buddy's house and try it issues. All good. I text the seller and apologize profusely, tail between my legs. He, rightfully so, never answered back. But the good news was, amp was fine and sounded great. I absolutely forced myself to list it on Craigslist with a price of $400. That's how much the cream tolex models have been going for on and Ebay, so I figured it was a safe number. And I wasn't going to just let it go for cheap...too nice an amp. Sure enough, after a day or two on Craigslist, I got a note from a guy wanting the amp. We hooked up, he Paypalled me the money on the spot and this cream tolex Blues Junior has a new home. The End.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Fender Acoustasonic DSP 30

Here's one that I recently let "get away" that am pretty ambivalent about. It's a Fender Acoustasonic DSP 30 acoustic guitar amplifier. Nothing wrong with it, but nothing exciting or stand-out about it either. Works just fine for what it's supposed to do, though I would say the sound quality was just marginal and it wasn't very loud for a 30-watt solid state amp. These have one input for an instrument and one input for a microphone, with the thought being that they would be great for small acoustic coffee house gigs or for band practice. To be honest, I don't think it would get loud enough for band practice if you have a drummer in the band. And the sound quality isn't going to make any true acoustic musician too excited. They look kind of cool with that vintage Fender brown tolex and the wheat colored grill. They have sort of an angled backside, like a floor monitor, so that you can set it down next to you and the sound will project out to your coffeehouse audience. Or I suppose you could use the amp as a personal acoustic guitar monitor on-stage. Again, not sure about the volume. It has some effects built-in...the standard reverbs and delays and chorus. They were fine. Everything about this amp is just "fine."

I've been playing a lot of acoustic gigs lately, and I have an Acoustic brand amp/PA that I use for the main sound source. I think Guitar Center bought the brand name Acoustic and put out some pretty useful little acoustic amps. One day they had some sort of crazy deal of the day for the 120-watt unit for $199 shipped. That's seriously insane in the membrane. I bought it...I wish I had bought two. Works perfectly, lots of power, clean and clear and I'm really happy. I think it's the AG-120 model. Well, the only thing that it lacks is more only has four. So, if you are playing with an acoustic trio, you probably run out of inputs. That's what happened to me. So, even though you'd think maybe someone else in our trio would get another amp for themselves or something, that never seems to be the case. So I found this Fender Acoustasonic on Craigslist and talked the guy down to $185. One of the guys in our trio only plays I figured he could plug into this and it would solve our problems. Unfortunately, it just never sounded that great.

So, I've got a kid who plays soccer and he wants to go on this big trip with his soccer club to England. Not a cheap trip. I started figuring out if I had any gear I could do without and this made the list. It would have been fine to keep it, but it's just not that amazing a piece of gear. I'm sure there are those of you out there who have one and like it and that's cool. Nothing wrong with them. Then again, just not that amazing either. I put mine back on Craigslist and tried to get what I paid for it. I'm usually pretty good at flipping gear for a profit, but I knew this one might be tough. Even at $185 I got no interest for quite awhile. I had offers for $100 and $125, but I just couldn't do it. Finally I told someone I'd meet them halfway at $150. They said take it or leave it at $135 and I figured I'd better take it. Take it in the shorts. Oh well, you can't win 'em all. So, if you are looking for a thumbs up or thumbs down on this piece of gear, I'd have to go "thumbs sideways." You're welcome.