Thursday, February 18, 2016

Fender Sidekick Reverb 25 Amp

Okay, here's a great little amp for an absolute steal that can be used in so many ways. Although we all (most?) long for that great tube sound, sometimes a little solid state practice amp will save the day. Or at least give you a lightweight alternative for band practice. Back in the 1980s, when Fender amps had taken a hit for being pretty marginal after the CBS years, Paul Rivera came in and designed some fantastic amps, from top to bottom. My favorite of all of these was the 1983 Concert amp he designed. But some of the most overlooked was the line of Sidekick amps that Fender introduced for the budget conscious musician. There was the Sidekick Reverb 25, the Sidekick Reverb 35 and there was the Sidekick Switcher (another excellent amp!) and there were a few more. There were some Sidekick bass amps as well, though I have not heard good things about those like I have the guitar amps.

A friend of mine owns a Fender Sidekick Switcher, and I found one just like it on Craigslist for a great price...I think I paid $80 or something. Somehow due to finances, I had ended up without a good, gig-worthy amp...or so I thought. I got asked to play in a friend's wedding band one weekend, so I took a chance and just brought the Sidekick Switcher. It was fantastic. Pulled through like a champ. Plenty loud, great reverb, handled pedals well, and I loved the fact that it didn't break my back setting up for the gig. I kind of got on the bandwagon of the Sidekick amps at this point and decided to keep an eye out for a good deal on any of the others.

Sure enough, not too long afterwards, this Fender Sidekick Reverb 25 shows up on Craigslist for a great deal...the guy was literally moving the next day and needed a few extra bucks. It was actually kind of late at night, but when I emailed him, he said come on over. He dug around through his packing boxes and there was the amp, in great shape, with original footswitch and everything. I gave him some cash and headed home. Once I got home, I plugged it in and checked it out. There was a little bit of a rattle noise and I thought maybe the speaker needed to be tightened down.

I looked in the back and there was just some stuff inside...a cheap tuner, a small chord, some random pieces of metal, and a pick holder. After removing the "extras," I gave it another try and it was great. No rattle. Nice clean sound, with a Gain and a Master Volume to go along with the regular Volume knob...so you can dial up a pretty convincing crunch sound. I've even heard of metal guys using these amps in the studio for the crunchy sound...I'm sure they tell everyone they're playing through giant Marshall stacks, but I've heard over and over about guys using small practice amps in the studio with great results.

One of the differences between the Sidekick Reverb 25 and the Sidekick Switcher I mentioned is that that the Switcher has a 12" speaker and the Reverb 25 has a 10" speaker. So it's even slightly smaller in size by comparison...but still with plenty of good sound. Super easy to throw in the back seat of the car and head to band practice. It's also got a headphone jack on the back for playing around the house, and a speaker out as well. This little amp can get pretty loud on its own, so I'm curious how it would sound out to a cabinet. Never tried it.

I just put both my Sidekick Switcher and the Reverb 25 up on Craigslist, and we'll see if anyone is as excited about these as I am. I can see having something like this if you are a full-time gigging musician as an emergency back-up and it wouldn't take up much space at all.

Great sound for the money, excellent little amp. Thanks Fender!