The BluesDeville 4x10 can be a great harp amp, unbeatable bang for the buck. It is quite a high voltage amp which can make it quite punchy & aggressive, but this helps it stay loud. If you are after a sweet, singing compressed tone, this probably isn't for you.
Dropping the preamp voltage to 160-170vdc on V1 would be a good move, as would rebiasing to 8-15mA per tube & increasing the series resistor feeding the volume pot from 100K to 430K to 570K (calms the amp down some).
I always seem to prefer 12AX7 in V1 & V2, so I feel V3 (phase inverter) is the best candidate for tube subs, but I wouldn't go lower than 12AT7 or 5751 as the 1W flameproof plate resistors that Fender use are not as sturdy as their 1W rating suggests.
The circuit is quite gainy, but the tone controls have a greater useable sweep than lots of other Fenders, you probably don't need to go too mad with the bass control, you might even end up running under "5" and still have plenty.
The link above is a pic I took of Kim's rig at Infinty Hall in Norfolk,Ct. Two DeVilles linked together with a Kinder AFB. Kim also has a Kinder Mid-Bass cut in there. He did some tube swaps,as mentioned by Mark.
Last Edited by on Jan 29, 2011 2:23 PM
if you get a blues junior I would buy a 90s model the later models are no good for harp unless you have a Kinder AFB+ & then they don't sound fat warm & round. neither a modern deville or pro jr makes a good harp amp far too much gain & voiced wrong for harp.
I've tried fender blues deville 2x12 couple of times, I never heard a good result. Too muddy and too clean. I didn't try it with harpattack. Maybe it'll be better, but per se it's far from perfect. ---------- Excuse my bad English. Click on my photo or my username for my music.
So it is better to take the pro junior fender amp?? because I am going to change the element of my bullet for a 99B86 - 99A86 - 99S556 or a low Z 99C86 (simply unique kustom mics) and What Im looking for is a fat tone a litle bit like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQWY8cgCnB0 And I just dont have the money for a bassman xD!
Personally I'd avoid the Deville at all costs. It's not an ideal harp amp without quite a lot of work. Even Kim Wilson had to use a Kinder AFB and tube swaps to tame the beast that is a Deville.
The Blues Jr is far inferior to the Pro Jr as a harp amp. If a current Fender amp is what you want then I'd suggest either a Pro Jr, Bassman LTD or a Princeton Reverb Reissue. The Princeton gets my vote as it is tonally far superior to any Pro Jr and is still light and portable enough. It has an incredible range of tones and is a tried and tested harp amp.
It is not a must for me to be in fender brand.. I am just looking for a good harmonica amp that can give me a fat tone and that is not a feedback monster. Also, I can buy me a bassman because I dont have the money so all the haro gear and stuff like that just cost too much =\
for the cupping and the acoustic tone, I can tell you that I am realy ok.. I know those thing I dont know Why peole always say that.. I am not a bad harp player xD.. but people who said that acoustic tone is the same that amplified.. I am not agree with this. Of course If your tone is shit acousticly it will be the same amplified.. but the mic and the amp do a BIG diffrence on the tone.. If I can get a pro junior with a jensen speaker for 350, is it a good deal ??
Blues Jr, Pro Jr, Deville? The 15W Fenders are not going to hold up on a typical stage, with an electric band...out of these 3 the DeVille wins hands down on output alone. Tone...? That's a different story (I wouldn't choose any of them based on the out of the box tone. The mods I outlined on the deville take less than an hour to install & parts cost less than $10...much less cost than an AFB or preamp!), but the Deville will be as loud as any amp with 2x6L6 for harp. No Gretsch will EVER come close.
A friend of mine has a 3x10" Blues Deluxe (same circuit as the Blues Deville, a little less power tube voltage), it is modded as I have previously described, tonally it is a monster...there are very few amps that sound as good (you name it, this guy has owned it, or played it).
Last Edited by on Jan 30, 2011 2:52 PM
"The 15W Fenders are not going to hold up on a typical stage, with an electric band"
Sorry but I disagree. I used a Pro Jr for years with a loud electric band and never had problems hearing it or being heard. Obviously I miced it up into the PA, but then I'd do that with any loud band no matter what size amp I was using. I now use a Princeton Reverb Reissue and use it in all kinds of situations and again never have problems with sound. I'd also say the Princeton has the best tone of any amp I've ever used.
Indeed the Pro Jr punches above it's weight, and any amp can be carefully mic'd up to stage volume, but the bigger amps will be more flexible tonally (with or without micing...the smaller amps simply run out of headroom earlier, smaller power supplies struggle to cope with low end at high volume) and many players prefer to monitor themselves via the on-stage amp sound...easier with a 4x10" cab.
I would also take the Princeton any day over the Pro/Blues Jr.
Sonny Boy Terry, who's on the HCH program this year, bought a new 4x10 tweed Deville in 1996 and has used it for over 2000 gigs since. It had the input jack/PC board issue common to Fenders of that era, so I put in metal jacks a few years back, and after ten years--the typical service interval--the main filter caps died, so I recapped it. The AC cord got yanked loose a couple times when patrons knocked the amp over & I finally knotted the cord inside the chassis. Some dead or broken tubes. He's never babied it, it looks ghastly, but it's really never failed him apart from that bad early jack design. It's in nearly all the videos of him on YouTube, sometimes miced, sometimes with a Harp Octave pedal or delay, usually a Piazza-style crystal but sometimes a CR GB, if you want to hear a 4x10 Deville with the ceramic Eminences. IIRC, Hash Brown has been using a 4x10 Deville as his gigging amp for the same reasons as SBT: sounds okay, gets loud, reliable, available at guitar store.
I think 5F6H is right, the stock 4x10 Deville is the most cost-effective thing you can buy at the average guitar store to deal with loud bands/jams unmiced; avoid the 2x12. With a decent mic, you really get a lot of output before feedback. Do the mods he suggests, or just put in a better 12AX7 input tube like a JJ ECC83S, and TAD 6L6WGC are nice main tubes if you running warmer bias (more like 30 ma); but don't spend a lot of effort trying to improve it, just accept the tonal limitations and go out and play the thing a lot. Probably more forgiving of tongueblockers (like SBT) due to strong low end projection, as Chris Jones says.
Pretty analogous to gapping Lee Oskars and tuning them 19 limit JI: a workhorse blues tool if you accept the limitations. Both the tweed and Hotrod 4x10 Devilles I've played all had the same strengths/weaknesses; even alnico vs. ceramic speakers doesn't make much difference.
FWIW, this is from Paul Oscher's backline requirements (as specified on his web site):
For Harmonica (I Use Two Amps) In Order Of Preference Fender Hot Rod Deville with two twelve inch speakers only or Fender Hot Rod Deluxe with one twelve inch speaker. Please do not provide the Fender Hot Rod Deville model with four 10 inch speakers.
Paul Oscher is best known for playing harp with the Muddy Waters band.
Interesting backline specs for Paul Oscher. He is one bad boy on harp.
First, guys, a good amp for harmonica is a good amp for harmonica. I generally avoid 12 inch speakers because historically, I have a problem with midrange feedback if the amp isn't miced playing a Texas blues bands. But up to that point I have usually been okay with the sound.
For my live album I recorded several years ago, I used H town Fess' Sonny Jr with an extention speaker on top of it, then I went back and did another session for the live album with my 1994-1995 Tweed Blues Deville with 4X10s and on the album I cannot tell a difference whatsoever. I assume that is because of the way I play.
Years ago I would go watch Kim Wilson and he used amp I cannot remember the brand for the life of me but it was popular at the time with an extension speaker and back then to me anyway, he sounded incredible.
I always have had my reasons professionally for using a Blues Deville 4X10 tweed. One is I play all the time in bars, beaches, festivals, and what not AND I do this professionally to make money. I had a 59 Bassman and sold it to buy something more reliable and versatile. If I played strickly Chicago style harmonica, a bassman is awesome but I had always felt with a the Deville, I could play more lines like a horn and maybe even rock hard when I want to.
I take care of the the amp but again, I use it all the time, leave it a van for days at a time. I am sure Hash Brown feels the same way. He works all the time, he is extremely talented at guitar and harmonica and he is probably not rich so a Blues Deville will normally do the job.
That said, I use the Hod Hod Deville's on festivals because they are always sitting around. I can make them work but they aren't as warm to me as my early nineties Tweed Blues Deville.
The worst experience I find is trying a new amp on the fly at festivals tweaking the settings, getting a monitor mix for the harp etc. That is the benefit of specifying on a rider something I know what it sounds like and is commonly on the market for guitar and perhaps harmonica and seen at festivals.
For a small amp I really like the Fender Pro Junior with the ten inch speaker. I am sure it sounds good for studio sessions and on stage with a mic in front of it. Not so much for the Blues Junior. But I can imagine a player making that amp work.
When the first 4-10 Blues DeVilles came out, using the same Eminence made alnico magnet speakers that the Bassman RI's were using at the time, I thought they sounded a lot more like a real Bassman than the reissue actually did and they're terrific but because of the reverb circuit, it makes the amp a lot heavier to lift around than a Bassman for obvious reasons.
The Hot Rod versions have too mauch crap to deal with and I'm old school plug in and play and don't give me no BS kind player.
I sue Pro Juniors for low volume gigs and studio stuff and they're awesome for that stuff and they're more like a Bassman at 1/4 the volume, and since I mainly gig with stand up bass rather than electric, I can get into gigs where electric bass tends to make things far too loud.
I guess Paul Oscher finally got rid of that big Guild Thunderbird amp that he had when he was with Muddy at a time when Muddy had an endorsement deal with Guild, and that was a pretty good harp amp. ---------- Sincerely, Barbeque Bob Maglinte Boston, MA http://www.barbequebob.com CD available at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bbmaglinte
I have a Blues deville tweed 4x10! gigged it out of the box!! for 7 years never changed a tube and it NEVER let me down great amp still have it!! not used for 2 years but i cant bring myself to part with it.....great amp!
@SBT --- That sounds like the time period when Kim was using Mesa Boogie amps for harp, and I've never really cared for them because they usually took too much time to mess with the controls and I don't have patience for that, being old school plug in and play type. ---------- Sincerely, Barbeque Bob Maglinte Boston, MA http://www.barbequebob.com CD available at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bbmaglinte
Sugar Blue usually uses Mesa Boogies (Mark series). I read an interview where Sugar Blue and John Popper were sitting around talking harp and both said they prefer Mesa Boogies and disliked Fenders. FWIW.
I had the opportunity to do a side-by-side with a BDV 4x10 and a Super Sonny at HarveyHarp's house the other day.
After some knob-tweaking and experimenting between channels, it was sounded decent. He has re-tubed it to different values(I forget which), but has the stock alnicos in it. Absolutely loud as hell, but compared to the Super Sonny(an unfair comparison, I know), it has very little bottom end, and it doesn't sound or feel like the speakers are working too hard. You can feel the bass and see the speakers working on the SS(I was about 5 feet away and could feel my pants moving with the bass!), whereas I had the bass dimed on the BDV, and it's not even close.
Johnny Sansone happened to drop by while I was doing this, and made the suggestion of playing thru an EQ pedal and starting flat, but increasing the lower slides to boost the bass. Would this really work? ---------- Todd
Last Edited by on Apr 26, 2011 11:41 AM
BBQ Bob: Yes, the Mesa Boogie w/ the extension speaker. Kim used them in the late eighties. I will add, I heard Greg Izor playing through my funky old Blues Deville rig at the Texas Harmonica Festival and he killed it. it had a lot more bite than his bassman but I think I appreciated the edge he had. It was pretty intense. I like the bas mans, the pro juniors and the an early nineties Deville with 4x10s.
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