1973 Fender Princeton Reverb

CRAVE Guitars says…

Thumbs Up: Vintage hand wired valve tone, tremolo and reverb, loud for its proportions, aesthetics, practicality and versatility, size and weight

Thumbs Down: Some may hanker for a second channel, more power, bigger speaker(s) and more imposing looks

Decree: Fab, fab, fab. CRAVE Guitars’ favourite go‑to everyday amp

Model Description:

The Fender Princeton amp has a very long and esteemed history that goes back almost to the start of Fender, so its evolution is highly summarised here. The Princeton Amp was first introduced in 1946 as a very basic 3‑watt practice amp with no controls, shortly followed by the ‘tweed’ covered TV‑front cabinet which featured volume and tone controls. Essentially, the Princeton was a slightly upgraded Champ(ion) amp. The model was revamped by 1961 as a fundamentally new ‘brownface’ design, now incorporating a valve tremolo circuit. By 1963, the Princeton featured treble and bass tone controls and the line was expanded in 1964 to include the ‘blackface’ Princeton Reverb with 12 watts of power, a 10” speaker and built‑in valve driven reverb. In 1968, the black control panel was replaced by a silver one, heralding the ‘silverface’ nickname. A slight change in circuitry arrived in 1969 and a ‘boost’ switch was added to the volume control in 1977. Finally, the control panel reverted to black in 1980 before the Princeton was withdrawn by Fender in 1981. There have been various resurrections of the Princeton name since 1981, such as the Princeton Reverb II, the solid state Princeton Chorus, Princeton Recording Amp and the Princeton 650. Fender wisely went back to basics and reissued updated versions of the original Princeton Reverb in 2008 and 2013, which look similar to the originals but which utilise PCBs rather than being hand wired. The fundamentals of the Princeton were also famously used as the basis for the first Mesa Boogie amps from 1972. The Princeton was notably used by Mike Bloomfield and Brian Setzer. Although the Fender Princeton reissues are undoubtedly good amps, the original Princeton and Princeton Reverb amps are becoming highly prized as small stage and recording amps with vintage prices inexorably creeping up as a result.

Amplifier Description:

Here is one of those all‑time great little amps. This version is a CBS‑era ‘silverface’ Princeton Reverb from 1973. While many purists hanker after pre‑CBS tweed and blackface amps, there is a growing recognition that the silverface amps are just as good, including its bevy of valves and hand wired circuitry. The internal circuit itself remained virtually unchanged from the blackface anyway, so the differences are largely cosmetic. I can’t express how good these former ‘student’ amps are for general use. They have plenty of clean headroom, which makes them ideal as a platform for effects, potable enough for small performance, as well as producing great vintage valve tone for recording. It is amps like these that keep guitarists coming back for more of the antiquated archaic technology. You can probably tell that CRAVE Guitars is a sucker for these small Fender hand‑wired vintage silverface valve combos. This example is in superb condition for its age. It has been used but barely shows much wear as a result, probably having been well protected in its fitted heavy duty flight case. The mains transformer has been replaced for UK 240V mains voltage and the output transformer has been upgraded to a Fender Deluxe Reverb one (a common mod) to give it more headroom/volume without affecting the underlying tone. The handy footswitch is non‑original. As a guitarist, I am less fussy about necessary mods to old amps and if it makes them more reliable, safer and ergonomic to use without impacting on their overall sonic integrity, I can live with the pragmatism. The tones are, as you might expect, sublime and very typical of the breed – bright and clean – as well as being surprisingly loud for its diminutive form, 12 watts and 10” CTS speaker. The valve tremolo is subtle but luscious and the reverb is simply holy. Oh, and I think that it is really cute and cool too, making it very practical. OK, it’s not a 100‑watt, 2×12” Twin Reverb but then again, what else is? The big advantage over the Twin is that it is much smaller and lighter while exhibiting the same essential Fender tone. Classy low‑wattage amps are the new ‘big thing’ in the low volume 21st Century. What more could one really ask for? As far as I’m concerned, nothing at all.


  • Made in Fullerton, California, USA in 1973
  • Solid pine open-back cabinet covered in black tolex with top-mounted carrying handle and chrome hardware
  • Blue sparkle silver grill cloth with raised chrome and black Fender badge (with ‘tail’ and no ‘Made In USA’)
  • Single channel with 2x standard ¼” jack inputs (high, low)
  • Silver control panel with black text, blue logo and red jewel light
  • Front controls: Volume, Treble, Bass, Reverb, (vibrato) Speed and Intensity
  • Rear controls: On-off toggle switch, ground (not used)
  • All-valve, fixed bias Class AB push-pull, hand-wired circuitry (AB1270)
  • Valves: 5U4GB rectifier (x1), 6V6GT power amp (x2), 12AX7 pre‑amp (x2), 12AT7 pre‑amp (x1), 7025 pre‑amp (x1)
  • 12 watts RMS into 8 ohms output
  • Original CTS 1×10” speaker
  • Non‑original UK 240V power supply
  • Dimensions: 16”(h) x 20”(w) x 9 ½” (d)
  • Weight: 31lbs (14Kg)
  • Non‑original footswitch for reverb and vibrato
  • Non‑original fully fitted heavy duty flight case

Detail Gallery:

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