Based on a ’62 Princeton that country artist Chris Stapleton has been using for years, and which carries a 12-inch speaker in place of the original 10, this new signature edition follows suit by sporting a 12-inch Eminence speaker in a solid-pine cabinet. The hand-wired circuit also mirrors the original via dual 6V6 output tubes running in fixed bias (a novel feature for a small Fender amp in the early ’60s), combined with a split-phase “cathodyne” phase inverter, which afforded the 6G2 a little more grind at lower volumes than its bigger brother, the brownface 6G3 Deluxe. The CS Edition Princeton features Schumacher transformers and Fender vintage-style “blue” tone caps, and the workmanship, done entirely in California, makes for a sturdy amp that’s easy to service. The protective metal cage around the power tubes is the only reminder that we can never go back to the JFK era.
The ’62 Princeton also looks awesome with its brown textured vinyl covering, brown front panel with dark-brown radio knobs and a stitched-leather handle. There’s also a brass plate on the back with Stapleton’s signature. Weighing in at just 34 pounds and measuring 19 inches wide, 16.5 inches tall and nine inches deep, this amp is an ideal grab-and-go tube rig.
The increased heft of a 12-inch speaker is worth it, too, as the ’62 sounds deliciously full and complex whether played cleanly or wound up to where the output tubes add their own sweatiness to the distortion brew. And this amp gets very aggressive in an old-Marshall kind of stringy/presence-y way when the volume is up to five or higher. Badass! Tested with a Reverend Gristlemaster and a new Gibson Anniversary Les Paul, the ’62 Princeton responded equally well to single-coils and humbuckers and was super easy to dial in with just little tweaks of the volume and tone knobs. The amp is loud enough to keep up with bass and drums and is very sensitive and responsive to both picking attack and guitar-volume changes.
The tremolo is a grid-bias type that changes the bias on the output tubes, essentially turning them on and off to produce volume modulation. It delivers smooth organic pulse over a wide range of speeds and sounds so cool when the volume is up enough for some added growl. The ’62 Princeton has a great sense of dimension, so the lack of reverb isn’t an issue. That said, adding some spring-style ’verb from a Source Audio Ventris pedal sure added to the fun of playing it. Distortion boxes from Amptweaker, Danelectro and MXR also sounded excellent with the Princeton whenever higher gain tones were needed.
A soulful amp that is ideal for so many applications, the ’62 Princeton Chris Stapleton Edition has everything that makes the original so happening, and then some. Bottom line: If an old-school-style Fender combo is calling out to you, don’t hesitate to pull the trigger on this one.
’62 Princeton Chris Stapleton Edition
PRICE $1,999 street, retro-style fabric cover included
CONTROLS Volume, tone, speed, intensity
TUBES Two 6V6s, two 12AX7s, 5Y3 rectifier
POWER 12 watts
EXTRAS Hand-wired circuit. Solid-pine cabinet. Tremolo footswitch included
SPEAKER Eminence 12" Special Design
WEIGHT 34 lbs
KUDOS A great sounding tube combo. 12" speaker is a welcome update