Is the Fender Deluxe Reverb Loud Enough to Gig With?

Is the Fender Deluxe Reverb Loud Enough to Gig With?

Is the Fender Deluxe Reverb loud enough to get with?  I see this question come up time and time again on Internet forums from potential buyers. I’ve now owned two of these amplifiers I can give you my honest opinions of how I think it held up in different rooms and scenarios.

Which Two Deluxe Amplifiers did I Own?

  • Fender ’65 Deluxe Reverb (Made in the USA).
  • Fender ’68 Custom Deluxe Reverb (Made in Mexico).

The question really isn’t “Is the Fender Deluxe Reverb amplifier enough to gig with?” The question should be “how well does the Deluxe Reverb handle a really loud gig?”

Is it loud enough to gig with is a completely open-ended question that really nobody can answer properly? Framing it in the right context is essential for getting a helpful answer.

65 Fender Deluxe Reverb Amplifier
Buy it on Sweetwater

Small Gigs

I consider a small gig is anytime you have to be very cautious of your volume.  This would include playing at a low key restaurant or cafe, for example.  For this type of environment depending on the setup, the Fender Deluxe Reverb might actually be too loud.  You can, of course, control the volume using pedals or the amp volume control.

Medium Gigs

I play a lot of these types of gigs.  These are gigs where volume is less of a concern and you might be able to wind the amp up to about halfway on the volume.  A gig like this is a bar or club where people might be there to have a drink or dance.  These rooms usually don’t have the guitar amp mic’d up either.  If you’re able to get the master volume up to 4-5 on the amplifier you’ll be in Fender Deluxe Reverb Heaven.  From my experience, this is where the amp tone is at its best and where the amp is also at it’s loudest.  If you require a volume kick from here I suggest you use pedals and not turn the volume up any further.  These sorts of rooms in a “Medium Gigs” situation would hold roughly 50 people.

Larger Rooms without Mic’ing the Amplifier

This is the Achilles heel of the amplifier.  A Fender Deluxe Reverb is rated at 22 watts and is loaded with 6V6 power tubes.  Because of the low watt headroom, you won’t be getting too much more out of the amp past halfway on the volume.

I once played in a rather large room with my ’65 Deluxe Reverb on 10 and it sounded horrible.  The reason is a low headroom amplifier doesn’t get louder past the sweet spot, it just gets more distorted.  This sort of “Overdriven Amp Tone” is what a lot of players like but to me it lost all note definition. Playing in a larger room without using a microphone in front of the amp is asking for problems.  Because the room was so big (200+ people), the amp didn’t even sound loud out the front.  I kid you not.  All I ended up with was an over-saturated sound that wasn’t very nice.  In this sort of situation opt for a Fender Blues Deluxe or Hot Rod Deluxe.  Anything with a pair of 6L6 output tubes will do a much better job.  40 watts is the minimum for these types of rooms.

Larger Rooms Where you are Mic’d Up.

If you mic’d up in a room should have any problems with volume and this will allow you to run the Deluxe Reverb at your favorite settings.  You’ll be loud enough that you can hear yourself on stage and you can also run the amplifier at a point where it’s not overexerting itself and getting fizzy.  In this type of situation, the Fender deluxe reverb is easily loud enough to get over a loud acoustic drum kit.  If you’re unable to hear yourself ask the sound guy to bring you up in the foldback speaker monitors.  My suggestion with this amplifier is it works best under 6 on the master volume.  Anywhere over that and it starts to struggle.

68 Custom Deluxe Reverb

How does the 65 Deluxe compare with the 68 Custom Deluxe?

I had a chance to own the 65 deluxe Reverb alongside the 68 Custom Deluxe Reverb amplifier.  I owned both of these amplifiers at exactly the same point in time so I had a good chance to compare them both.  If you’re looking for the clean headroom my suggestion would be to go for the 65 deluxe reverb.  If you like an amplifier that gets dirty faster than I would suggest going to the ’68 custom deluxe reverb. When I first purchased the ’68 I thought I was in heaven I really loved it but I ended up opting for the ’65 because it felt like it stays clean longer.

Another small side note is the 68 custom deluxe had a lot more white noise.  I found this slightly distracting that was one of the reasons why I sold the amplifier.  The white noise was only prominent when you were playing but if you didn’t have your amplifier on standby it was very noticeable.  I feel like the build quality of the 68 custom deluxe reverb wasn’t as good as the USA made 65 deluxe reverb.

My suggestion is if you’re deciding between them both definitely try them and if you can compare them side-by-side that is always the best option when choosing a new amplifier.

My final thoughts about the Deluxe Reverb

The Fender deluxe reverb is one of the most recorded amplifiers in the history of music.  What makes this amplifier so special is the clean tone.  This amplifier doesn’t actually have a dedicated distortion channel but what is great about it is how well it works with pedals.  You should have no problems running this amplifier in the context of a live mix with the exception of a big room without any help from the PA system.

Louder Alternatives?

If you’re looking for a louder alternative try the Fender Hot rod deluxe or Fender Blues Deluxe.  A 22-watt amplifier like the Fender Deluxe Reverb only has so much volume. A Deluxe Reverb does not come close to the “oomph” of a Hot Rod.  The Hot Rod Deluxe is actually a less expensive amplifier than the Deluxe Reverb. Some of the advantages of it are, it’s louder and you get two channels. I spent a good deal of time writing an article about the Hot Rod Deluxe and how loud it actually is.  Feel free to check it out.  While the Hot Rod might not have the “niceness” of the Deluxe Reverb amplifier it sure is a great live amp when lots of volumes are essential.  Amplifiers like the Hot Rod Deluxe have 6L6 output tubes.  This makes the amp fatter and thicker tone-wise.  Having the extra power on hand is always a good thing.  I would always rather have too much, than not enough.  Food for thought.