Fender Princeton Recording-Amp

February 16, 2007

The built-in compressor and overdrive add to the Recording-Amp’s flexibility, and both can be activated using the included footswitch or front-panel buttons (which include LEDs to indicate on/off status). These solid-state effects function much like their stompbox equivalents, so it’s like having a MXR Dyna Comp compressor and a Boss DS-1 distortion built right in.

After playing the Recording-Amp with a variety of guitars, it was apparent that this is no standard Princeton. The classic sonic signature is there, but the Recording-Amp is considerably tighter and louder than a late-’60s Princeton Reverb that we used for comparison. Part of this is due to the new amp having a solid-state rectifier, instead of the tube rectifier found in the older model. For gigs, I found it easy to obtain just the right loudness by cranking the Recording-Amp’s volume up to 6 with the TIPA control wide open (which bypasses its circuitry). As a result, I didn’t need the built-in overdrive—there was more than enough fat grind on tap when I turned up my Les Paul.

For practice sessions, the TIPA control can deliver the feeling of playing the amp full bore. Even when raging at a level quiet enough to talk over, the touch sensitivity and ability to go from clean to scream by adjusting your guitar volume remains essentially unchanged. It still feels like you’re working the amp hard, and being able to get that abundance of rich harmonics from the overdriven output tubes is so cool. This amp is hard to beat for super-sustaining slide work—especially with some added gain from the overdrive section and a little compression.

During testing, however, the overdrive function developed an annoying hum after a few weeks, and the huge Power Attenuator knob was severed by a door jamb as I carried the amp to a gig. Those annoyances aside, the Recording-Amp absolutely fills the bill for those who want a small tube combo with excellent reverb that’s ideal for recording and small gigs. Princeton fans might be weirded out by the modded look of the Recording-Amp, but from a performance standpoint, this amp rules.

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