Up until now, the Pro-Amp has never been reissued by Fender, and part of the reason may be that the Pro never reached the popularity of the Fullerton-based company’s other tweed hits like the Deluxe and Bassman. Stuck between those two icons of tone, the 1x15 Pro couldn’t compete with the grab ’n go convenience of its 1x12 sibling or the power of the 4x10 Bassman. Nevertheless, kudos to Fender for bringing back this classic in the guise of the ’57 Custom Pro-Amp. Now swinging an Eminence-made 15" speaker, it replicates the important details of the Eisenhower-era model in grand style via an original-style handwired 5E5A circuit, custom-made vintage-style Pure Vintage yellow capacitors, and Schumacher transformers. The tube complement consists of two 12AX7s and a 12AY7 in the preamp, a 5AR4 rectifier, and a pair of 6L6s. Cathode biasing (along with lower B+ voltage) means less power than two 6L6 tubes are capable of, but the advantages are that you can change power tubes without having to re-bias, and you can also crank the amp to higher levels without overpowering the stage. Neatly covered in lacquered tweed cloth, the ’57 Pro-Amp offers nice touches like an original-style brown logo plate, a chrome-plated panel with pointer-style knobs, rubber-clad power and standby switches, and a leather handle.
Weighing in at more than 50 lbs, this amp isn’t the easiest thing to lug to your gig, but once fired up and with a few twists of the controls, the ’57 Pro makes its case as an amp that would fit well in the backline of any blues rocker. The Mic inputs of this four-holer sounded a little unexciting, so opting for the #1 Instrument jack, and using a Gibson Les Paul reissue, a Teye Pistolero, and a John Page Ashburn with a trio of single-coils, the amp sounded extremely good. It has excellent headroom, a nice deep presentation with lots of low-end girth, and plenty of range on the Treble and Presence controls. With the Volume knob near halfway, the grind starts to come on and it’s a pretty badass and dynamically responsive sound on its own. Add a good distortion pedal and the ’57 Pro can push out whatever level of sustain is needed, with the 15" speaker ensuring a sweet delivery and excellent balance top-to-bottom with good low-end thump. This amp gets quite loud for 26 watts, and it will stand up better in a band than a tweed Deluxe.
Overall, I love how easy it is to get good tones from the ’57 Pro-Amp. As typical of amplifiers that Leo Fender came up with back in the day, it sounds right no matter what you plug into it. It’s cool that Fender has chosen to bring this amp back in its essentially original form, and it’s definitely worth auditioning if you’re a fan of tweed-era tone.
’57 CUSTOM PRO-AMP
PRICE $2,499 street
CONTROLS Mic Volume, Instrument Volume, Treble, Bass, Presence
POWER 26 watts
TUBES 1 x 12AY7, 2 x 12AX7, 2 x 6L6, 5AR4 rectifier
EXTRAS Vintage-style yellow capacitors and Schumacher transformers.
SPEAKER 15" Eminence Special Design with alnico magnet.
WEIGHT 51 lbs
KUDOS Big, girthy tone. Sweet look. A well-considered reissue of a ’50s classic.