Why do we need a ‘68 model of this classic amp when Fender already have a ‘65 in the range?
We tend to select guitar amps to cover in Sound On Sound because they either use new technology or are particularly suitable for recording in a typical project–studio setup.
Well, this one uses unashamedly old technology, albeit with a bit of a twist, but it certainly scores very heavily on the latter point.
The amps of the new cosmetic era eventually came to be referred to as ‘silverface’ models, to differentiate them from blackfaces, but the amps of late ’67 and ‘68 and early ’69 make up a unique sub–set known as the ‘drip–edge’ models.
The name is derived from the profile of the aluminium angle used to trim the baffle, which looks like roof flashing used to keep rain water away from walls.
Fender’s reinvention of their amp range also resulted in a number of significant changes to the circuitry, most, if not all, of which are regarded by players as having been detrimental to the performance of the amps.
The smaller models, such as the Deluxe and Princeton, however, came through this round of changes almost entirely unscathed, so an early ‘silverface’ is often very close to being a blackface with different cosmetics.
Where, then, does that leave our new ‘68 Custom Princeton Reverb?
The clue is in the word ‘Custom’: what Fender have created here is not another reissue with a different livery, it is a ‘reissue’ with mods, which makes it not a reissue at all, and Fender don’t class it as such.
The amps of the ‘68 Custom range (there’s a Deluxe and a Twin, as well) all feature as standard some of the key modifications that amp techs and tech–savvy players have been making to Fender amps over the decades to make them better at roles other than classic ‘Fender clean’.
The ‘65 Princeton Reverb reissue has gone on to become a best seller that, apart from its PCB–based circuitry, represents quite a faithful recreation of its highly regarded predecessor.
So why would they choose to reissue a ‘68 model as well?
The 1967/68 period was when the new owners of Fender swept away the classic ‘blackface’ control panels across the range, replacing them with a new and eye–catching silver livery.
Many models also received an aluminium trim around the speaker baffle to complete the ‘silver’ overhaul, although this element was soon dropped (you won’t find any of these dating beyond 1969).