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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Gear »

Permalink Trying to decide between a Princeton or Deluxe - can you weigh in?

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Hey guys,

I'm looking to get a new app and am trying to decide between a Fender Princeton and Deluxe.

I'll be playing a) mostly at home and b) recording. I might play with others/gigs, but I don't know yet.

I play surf, of course, and also indie rock type music - everything from Mac DeMarco to Black Lips (i.e. bedroom indie to garage rock).

My brain says the Princeton would be the best bet because I realistically probably can't play too loudly and it'll get me there.

My brain also says the '65 Princeton because the '68 series is meant to be a bit noisy which might not be great for recording.

But I'm also considering the Deluxe because it's not that much bigger and is also a fantastic amp. I'm concerned about the volume vs playing at home. However, it seems a bit more versatile.

I also noticed there's a '68 Deluxe FSR out at the moment that has a pine cabinet and a G12 Neo Creamback speaker that is interesting. The '68 has it's dual channels, the pine reduces the weight by 3kg, and the creamback should (?) be a bit smoother. So that's an interesting one.

But I can't really decide what I should get. I've tried them all in store and they all sounded great. I'm looking for something that'll last me for X years (i.e. a long time), which is another pull to the '68 Deluxe FSR for versatility.

Basically, can anyone with a wiser head help me out please, thanks!

Good problem to have. For me personally I've played live with a Deluxe re-issue and I really like the deep sound of the Deluxe and the mid dial; it's as close to my 65 Twin as possible without the ear-blowing volume. But if you want a more traditional tone at lower volumes, then go with the Princeton. Bill, our rhythm player uses a Princeton which fits in mix well, but we usually have to eq it up when recording. (Althought, that could be our lack of recording expertise)

I think there have been a couple of SG forums on this either go to search and type "Princeton vs deluxe" or try this link
Forum Link
or maybe another stream non-SG101
Gretsch site

Best of luck. I'm sure the other SG101'ers will chime in shortly with a more indepth analysis!

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EQ it how so ArtS?

I find a Princeton with a 10 man EQ pedal, allowing you to dial in very specific tones, is more preferable than a Deluxe. I've had both.

Going smaller has made me want to explore even smaller with a vibro champ + an EQ.

But don't take my word for it.. I'm considering trading a 61 Showman for a 61 Blonde Twin. So I'm all over the place...

I had a '65 deluxe reissue and it's very clean and pretty loud (even at gigs). If I was to go into the blackface territory again, I'd personally look at the '68 Reissue Princeton. The cool thing with the '68 reissues is you get a blackface and bassman (tweed) voicing and the volume will be more reasonable. Speakers will have an effect too, volume and voicing wise. To me the Princeton will be warmer and the Deluxe will be glassier (especially the 65 reissue lines)

Over the (many, many) years I've had 4 each of both amps. For the mostly studio recording I am doing these days, this is "the one". Plenty loud to gig with without FOH in a medium size room and it is also a perfect studio amp if clean is your thing.

My take, FWIW.....A Princeton Reverb is Awesome, A Deluxe Reverb is Epic and a blackface Vibrolux Reverb is Life Changing. You just can't go wrong with any of them.


aka WoodyJ
The Mariners (1964-present)
HulaHounds (1996-present)
The Surge! (2004, 2011-2012)
X-Rays (1997-2004)
Various non-surf bands that actually made money (1977-1990)

My two main amps are the '65 Princeton and '65 Deluxe.
I prefer the Deluxe as to it's more versatile. It can still get pretty loud in a band setting and it has more headroom.

That said I'd miss my Princeton too. As far as playing at lower home volumes they both sound the same. You have to crank the Princeton up too if you want to get to nice "break up" tone and it's probably too loud for a bedroom at that point.

"as he stepped into the stealthy night air... little did he know the fire escape was not there"

Due mainly to their phase inverter differences, they break up somewhat differently. The Deluxe uses the same PI circuit as the larger BF Fenders, which is more hi-fi and balanced, compared to the Princeton which uses an older circuit that's more common in their smaller (and older) amps. Other factors being equal, the Princeton saturates more easily while the Deluxe stays cleaner to a higher output level. I would say that at a given volume level, the Princeton is better suited to getting distortion from the amp, while the Deluxe really loves OD/distortion pedals (is more "pedal-friendly")..

Well, FWIW, I just got a '68 Reissue Deluxe and I am in love with it.

derekirving wrote:

I had a '65 deluxe reissue and it's very clean and pretty loud (even at gigs). If I was to go into the blackface territory again, I'd personally look at the '68 Reissue Princeton.

^ This gets my vote.

Also, if you haven't done a bunch of home recording, a little tip I discovered to eliminate 'noise' 'hiss' whatever you want to call it:

For each track, record several seconds of the amp at idle, you're not playing, just sitting there, any effects you'll use are punched in, but you're NOT playing. THAT will be your baseline noise floor.

After you record whatever it is, you can go into your software to remove noise (or whatever that software calls it) and select that idle hiss portion of the track because your software is asking "Remove noise? Define noise." So highlight that and initially let THAT be the sample you want removed from your track; cleans the whole thing up.

Disclaimer: Huge '65 Princeton fan here, but the '68 Custom series gives you the traditional sound, plus that slight grunt of the Bassman style. They are nice.

SoCal ex-pat with a snow shovel

DISCLAIMER: The above is opinion/suggestion only & should not be used for mission planning/navigation, tweaking of instruments, beverage selection, or wardrobe choices.

I intended to buy a Limited Edition '65 Princeton Reverb with 1x12". There was a '65 Deluxe Reverb Reissue next to it, so I got to A/B them. The Deluxe sounded way better, so that's what I went with.

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