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Fender "Tweed" Deluxe, 1960

Fender "Tweed" Deluxe, 1960

First of all: I love Neil Young's guitar tone. Second of all: The Fender narrow-panel Deluxe 5E3 is considered by some as the best guitar amplifier ever made. Certainly there must be something special about this little beast - and not least because it happens to be (or having been at some point) the amp of choice for Neil Young, Don Felder, Billy Gibbons, Larry Carlton, Grant Green, Steve Cropper, Ronnie Wood, The Edge ... they must've done something right at Fender with this one. There are two channels and a total of only three controls here: mic volume, instrument volume and tone control common to both channels. Don't let the apparent simplicity fool you: there's quite a bit more to this amp's sound-shaping than the controls suggest.

It's amazing how the nature of this amp changes dramatically depending on what you throw at it and how you set the knobs. The tone is deep, balanced, sparkly - even spanky - at clean and mildly overdriven tones, yet it it transforms to a spongy-bass midrange-roar monster when pushed. And like good tube amps behave: all the variations in between are readily available. The power section sags like none other when the amp is on about 10 or louder. Yes, louder - remember: this one goes to 12! The two channels' volume controls are highly interactive also when only one channel is plugged in, so it might take a little experimentation to understand how this baby works and how to get the most out of it. Also worth noting is that the shared tone control affects the amount and flavour of distortion. Heck, in a good amp everything affects the distortion.

This amp came to me from a huge Neil Young fan, an englishman who seemed to have collected just about every gadget mr. Young has ever used. The amp has been re-tweeded back in the early 2000's for the most part. However, the back plates still have the original tweed. The transformers are original and the Jensen P12Q speaker seems period-correct. A Radiospares stepdown transformer has been attached to the bottom of the cabinet, allowing the usage of non-US mains voltage. One Astron capacitor has been replaced with a Mustard.

The circuitry inside a 5E3 is very, very simple indeed. The 5E3 is a non-negative feedback cathode-biased amp so it has something in common with another classic guitar amp, that is, a Vox AC30. The lack of negative feedback causes the amp to break up pretty early - which once was a sign of a beginner's amplifier. Who would've guessed back in the 50's that this particular amp model's inability to produce a loud undistorted sound was to become a key element in certain guitar players' tone?

The amp has been overhauled in September 2013. The electrolytic capacitors were replaced with Sprague Atoms: 16uF/475V filter caps and 25uF/25V cathode bypass caps.

Tube configuration

Serial numbers:

Chassis: D09327
Stamp inside cabinet bottom (next to V4 socket): JC (March 1960), A-D, A-I and a couple of other stamps beginning with "A-"
Tube chart: Production 44, no date code visible
Mains transformer: Triad 6452E
Output transformer: Schumacher 125A1A, 606007 (1960, week 7)
Speaker: 220025 (1960, week 25) / AO 21270 0 / P12Q C6577, 6577 (magnet shield), 3012A03-H1 (cone)
Potentiometers: 1 MEG AUDIO / 137 947 (CTS, 1959, week 47) / 3594

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