Fender Hot Rod Deluxe: (recommendation)the latest vs older models


Active Member
Hi! I'm thinking of buying a fender hot rod deluxe, and I wonder if there are any big differences between the latest models and the former models when it comes to sound. There is a second hand limited edition python model for sale around here and it has a different speaker than the 2012-model... You get my point. please help me :cool:


Not Enough Prog
I can't tell you the differences but I've played several HRDs and they have been pretty consistent. Clean channel is great and the gain channel isn't bad either, but definitely benefits from a simple tone mod, or (if you are like me) by using pretty much no bass, as the low end is very loose.

HRDs are also the most popular combo amp of all time IIRC, and they aren't the cheapest available either, so Fender must be doing something right.


Does not have the same opinion!
There is hardly any difference between new and old Made in Mexico models. There is a huge difference between the Mexican models and the original Corona, CA made models, which are closer to the Blues Deluxe precedents, and the quality of these original models is still a huge step up from the already really good Mexican models.
The strong points of the HRDx are the simplicity of the design and the allround character, in that sense that it's one of the best amps to use pedals with. They are traditional US type combo amps, so they are loud and have waaay to much bass potential for European stone wall architecture with smaller rooms, as the bass really can creep up the walls, and sometimes it's a bit of a challenge to position it just right to get a good sound balance in a cellar or low ceiling small club when working without microphone and PA amplification, but that's just a matter of experience.
The older models are a bit louder and more traditional and neutral warm-sounding, the newer models have a bit of a harder treble spike and more compression.
The EQ is like Adji says, mostly a matter of treble/mid/presence controls, the bass is mostly set to a very low value, especially with good guitars that already put out a solid bass foundation. The EQ controls are also very interactive, also a matter of experience to set them up. One of the greatest advantages is that the amp sounds really good at low volume also, and at the present continental European 90 dB stage volume limit, it delivers sweet spot goodness already, but it can also do very loud, generally a few decibels louder than most 50 Watt amps.
My US HRDx has been my main amp for almost two decades now, has never been modded, tubes last a really long time, and has never ever failed me. I mostly don't use the gain channels, just the clean channel, which can also provide a really nice blues crunch. With a few dirt pedals, it's insanely versatile, because it always sounds very big and dimensional, and it has the most beautiful and deep sounding cleans if you like beefy sounds, especially with true single coils. There are two inputs, input 1 is the normal input with a higher input impedance for getting the most out of weaker output pickups, input 2 is a loop-through input for daisy chaining amps, and also acts as a lower impedance input for higher output pickups (which bleed more that way, so they sound softer/flatter and more compressed, which compensates for the really dynamic and hefty character of the amp, and makes them sound more "rock"). The effects loop works really well in comparison with other amps, but there is still a bit of loss, it's generally a good idea to put all effects in front of the amp and just use the clean channel. That is actually a very comfortable way to work, I just plug in the pedalboard, hook it up to the amp input, and I'm set up in less than 2 minutes and can carry everything from my car to the stage in one haul, while when I use my Marshall combos with pre- and post- effects, it takes about 10 minutes to hook everything up, set the gate levels if needed, balance the channels, etc...
The large reverb tank is legendary, and there is just nothing that compares to the dimensional boost you get with just a very slight touch of reverb from the long springs. It's just a really sensible, long lasting, low maintenance, general use amp with a less is more attitude, which is pretty much congruent with the entire Leo Fender spirit. The price pretty much hasn't changed for 25 years or so, so it's actually become a lot cheaper if you factor in monetary devaluation, and the resale value is very acceptable in comparison to other amps, so it's definitely a wise choice.
A lot of effect pedal builders use a HRDx as reference amp to finetune their effects, because it's the most popular tube amp by far in the world. They are also available everywhere, so if you play far from home you can most probably use a backline HRDx or have one rented, and as Adji said they are all pretty consistent, as long as you don't get one from the sad batches with Groove Tubes in them, which Fender has done for a couple of years. Fender branded tubes are made by Sovtek, which is basically Electro-Harmonics, a NY based American company, that has it's tubes made in the legendary Reflektor plant in Russia, which means best quality available in 6L6GC tubes. It's not exceptional to come across a HRDx that is 20 years old, has been gigged weekly, and still has the original power tubes in it. In fact, most HRDx's I come across in blues clubs have the factory tubes in them and are doing great.
I've must of played every single HRD model ever made, and I've never been able to tell the differance. Fucking amazing amps. Same thing with Blues Jr...


Preparing To Join Club 40
I don't own a HRD personally, but I do own an original US Blues Deluxe. Pretty much the template for the HRD, but has that classic Fender tweed look. It's a great amp, I haven't changed the valves yet.


Active Member
thanks a lot! I do in fact own a Blues Jr., and it's good, but to me it's not very versatile. and the only thing about the HRDx is its weight and carrying handle. Its sound just blows all the negative stuff away though!