We have heard and stated countless times that tube amplifiers are wonderful. This opinion has been reinforced with various reasons and all of them seem to be close to reality. However, I am about to reecho many musicians and make a big statement: tube amplifiers shine extremely bright when used with jazz. This genre accommodates the warmth and sweetness of the valves in order to deliver spectacular results. And whom else could I turn to when in need of quality tube amplifier rather than Fender (I know, I am exaggerating, but I am sure you will understand why)? Their Hot Rod series creates a full spectrum of jazz amplifiers with all the sonic options one would dream of. But today I am going to be selective and pick out Blues Junior LTD, a small combo that can do whatever it takes to deliver the most amazing sound. Let’s get started, shall we?
I do not do this that often but this time I cannot help but start with the design of this amplifier. It is quite small and weighs way less than other combos out there. It has lacquered tweed covering with vintage grill cloth, chrome control panel with a jewel-like LED illuminator and a leather handle. This makes Fender Blues Junior LTD portable and convenient to utilize. More importantly, it packs 15 watts of punch that is paired with a single 12” Jensen C12N speaker. The valve is where the magic happens and here we have 7025, 12AX7A, ECC83, EL84 and 6BQ5 tubes in the preamp and output sections. These little components are the very reason why Fender sound is so legendary. The output tubes have stabilizer, which protects them from developing vibration and noise. Blues Junior LTD has an on-board Reverb, which is the only effect most jazz players utilize. It is basically cherry on top of a badass amplifier. It comes with the FAT boost functionality that can be switched on and off with a footswitch. This combo can be connected to the external speaker cabinet to extend its capabilities even further. It is also compatible with a foot controller to make your job easier and enable you to be in charge of your sound even on stage. Apart from these sockets, we also have an input dedicated to your instrument (duh). And that’s it. Even though Blues Junior LTD is not extremely versatile, it packs even the smallest features needed to create the perfect jazz composition.
When judging the control section of the amplifiers, I always try not to be too critical. The only thing you need here is for the knobs to respond and do what they are commanded to do. And when a combo does that perfectly, there is nothing else we could ask for. Yeah, sometimes we get a bit overboard and complain about the quality or the order of the encoders. But at the end of the day, the main thing is the accuracy and responsiveness.
Blues Junior LTD has a rather simplified front panel. What we have here are 6 knobs and a small button. Right after the input, you will see a Volume knob, which modifies the preamp gain and allows you to enter the distorted territory. It is followed by Bass, Middle and Treble knobs that equalize your tone to perfection. Master sets the overall level of the amplifier, making sure that every sound you create is well balanced and even. The last knob we have is the Reverb, which alters the volume of this effect. The one and only button labelled as FAT, is a preamp boost that allows you to enhance the amount of gain and add extra distortion. These rudimentary controls are everything you will need to dial in any desired sound.
When discussing the sound of Fender amplifiers, I always feel a bit weird and awkward. The reason for this is that their tone is discernible even to the beginner ear and stating the well-known facts is sometimes connected to a certain discomfort. With that being said, I am going to get those thoughts out of my head and continue praising the sound of Blues Junior LTD. I just can’t help it, since it is so authentic sonically and has the character of its own. The clean tones of Fender are definitely something to write home about. They have full and rich body to the point where it is really hard to dial in thin or just crappy sounds. The distortion you can get on this device is not crazy at all. But rather, it is a true valve overdrive that enhances the sonic qualities of your performance without overpowering it with too much girth. And when it comes to the Reverb, Blues Junior LTD offers the spring reverb that is so characteristic to the brand and has all the shapes and sizes of sweeps. Shortly, the sound of this amplifier is a true blessing for the ears, especially when you play with a jazz guitar.
When you see so many options on the market, no matter what brand you rely on, you will still have hard time picking out the perfect one. When this is the case, it is always better to go with something that will not disappoint no matter what. Blues Junior LTD falls under that category of amplifiers. Its loudness can be attenuated at bedroom volumes, but it is powerful enough to stand out in the mix when practicing with your band. On the whole, you cannot go wrong with Blues Junior LTD, since it is a staple that will bring to life all the notes you have in mind. Good luck!
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