This amp seems to be a staple, whether it’s live venues, rehearsal spaces, or music stores. What leads so many guitar players to the same amplifier? At $799 brand new, with older models often selling from anywhere between $400 and $500, the Hot Rod Deluxe surely sits in an affordable price range. As far as power is concerned, 40 Watts is more than enough juice to get through a typical bar gig with even the most aggressive of drummers. If you have the pleasure of playing a larger stage and will be mic’ing the cabinet for the night, you’ll barely need to push your volume past 3 to reach a comfortable stage volume. When design is considered, this durable and resonant 1x12 Combo is incredibly simple. Since the clean channel is just your stock Fender clean sound that so many guitarists mark as a point of reference for tone, it is an excellent starting point. With modern players often using a slew of guitar pedals, buffers and effects of all sorts, this amplifier acts as an excellent “clean slate” or foundation for a player to craft their sound on top of.
So is it the value point? With this Fender, you actually get a lot of bang for your buck. This is one of the most reasonably priced tube amps that has enough power to reach that sweet spot of break-up and still have enough headroom to run clean and loud. It’s versatile enough that one hundred different guitarists could bring their pedalboards up and use this amp and each be able to dial in their sound. In this current climate of guitarists defining more of their sound by what they’re stepping on throughout the show than the amp that's blowing all the air, this amp happens to fit the bill well enough. Fewer and fewer guys are lugging around Marshall half stacks these days, and more and more guys are buying boutique “Marshall-in-a-box Replicas.” After all, don’t we all want to be able to have those marshall dirt tones, but still get the Fender cleans as well? This seems to be the best and most cost effective way to do it. While we’re talking about pedals, among the community of Pedal-heads Fender has a certain reputation for “taking pedals” very well. Now what does that mean to the average player? It means that the depth of tone and the headroom on these combo amps tend to facilitate distortion pedals to really shine, rather than fizzle out or shriek. Part of that is because classic Fender cleans have a nice ceiling to them, but part of me thinks that it's just because this amp is everywhere.
If this amp can be found in rehearsal spots from Dare in Deer Park to Astoria Soundworks in Queens; from venues like the local Amityville Music Hall to the Legendary New York City staple The Bitter End; from music stores from the biggest box stores down to the smallest little shops; who is to say that the guys creating these kinds of pedals aren’t testing their pedals in the shop with an amp as simple and versatile as the Hot Rod Deluxe.
Leo Fender began making instruments for the working musician, and made many notable efforts to keep costs down. As much as the Stratocaster can be viewed by a Fender fan as the “Working Man’s Guitar,” surely the Hot Rod Deluxe can be viewed just the same as the “Working Man’s Amp.”