An ES335 and a burning blackface Super Reverb

Let’s explore the tone of the legendary blackface Super Reverb with the equally famous ES335 guitar. We’ll explain why this a killer combination and help you rediscover vintage guitar tone once again.


Semi-hollow-body humbucker guitars like the ES335 produce strong lower mids and loose, flabby lows. The signal is hot and strong (in watts) at the input of the amp and will cause breakup much sooner than with weaker single coil guitars. A humbucker is also louder than a single coil at a given volume setting, which is why Leo Fender created two inputs in most of his amps (he also had two channels, smooth and bright, sometimes reverb and non-reverb. Ahh so many options!… ). The high input 1 was meant for single coils and the low input 2 was meant for humbuckers. The low input 2 is dampened 3dB relative to input 1 by the extra 68K voltage divider resistor. The idea was that guitarists may want to swap single coils and humbuckers between songs and not having to adjust the volume on the amp. To this day we’ve never seen anybody use the Fender amps this way. But that’s a different story….

A hot guitar signal will cause more preamp distortion and less clean headroom than with single coils. Once the signal is distorted there is no way back to making it clean again. Many players have done simple amp mods to create more preamp gain like Pull V1, tremolo disconnect and 12ax7 phase inverter. All these are described in details on our web site These mods should be most valued by single coil players. The default humbucker tone in with a blackface Fender amp is raw enough with just the right amount of hair on it. It is in our opinion an incredible tone that should not be messed up with the use of any pedal effect. All you need is a little touch of natural spring reverb from the amp.

In fact, some ES335 players might experience they have too little clean headroom with smaller amps like the Deluxe and Princeton Reverb. This is why a big 40W amp is a good match. Personally we just love the tone of a humbucker played clean or slightly cranked. Sadly, few players dare to play this clean these days. Those who do are respected greatly for their old school, vintage vibe.

The strong mids and loose, flabby low end of an ES335 will not only cause trouble for the preamp section. The power amp section will also struggle in delivering enough current through filter the caps, tube rectifier and the power transformer. The amp will kneel in all possible manners when set beyond its sweet spot, resulting in a dirty sound, particularly in the low end. If you completly turn down the treble with the tone knob on your guitar you’ll hear clearly the farty lows. The amp simply cannot deliver a clean firm bass tone with enough attack. With low power, vintage style speakers you may also experience speaker breakup, resulting in an even more complex and totally broken tone. Listen to i.e. Elmore James’ “Dust my broom” and you’ll get the idea of speaker breakup. If you have vintage speakers with original paper cones you must be really careful with the bass and mid settings on your amp when playing an ES335. The speakers can easily be shot down in flames by an ES335 and a burning blackface Fender amp. A good thing with the Super Reverb is that the four ten inch speakers will divide the power equally and they are less likely to blow, onother reason why the Super Reverb pairs well with humbuckers. If you have moderns speakers with 30-50w each, you’ll have no trouble handling a dirty sound.


To balance a mellow ES335 tone you need sparkle. The Super Reverb has more than enough sparkle with its four tens. The bright sounding ab763 circuity with bright switch on both channels will allow the highest frequencies to pass through.

Check out Mike Andersen playing the blues to hear the tone we’re talking about:

Our own 2005 ES335 has been upgraded with a ’59 pickup set from Cream T Pickups, made in the woods of Norway. They were cleaner and not as muddy as the original humbuckers.

Deluxe Reverb race tune-up

We get a lot of questions about modding the Fender Deluxe Reverb to become a bigger amp with more power and clean headroom. It is a very popular amp and flexible since it can take both 6L6 and 6V6 power tubes. With 6L6 you’ll get 30+ watts compared to the original 22 watts. This mod is so simple it’s hardly called a mod. There are a few risks with this mod, though. The 6L6 will draw more filament current from the PT, which you could compensate for by pulling V1 and the V5 tremolo tube, if you’re not using tremolo. Also, you should use GZ34 as rectifier tube since it draws less current from the PT than a 5U4GB. Still you should check the temperature of the power transformer from time to time. Playing it for 5 hours will involve some risks. Now we’ve said that.

You won’t get full 40 watts and a big Vibroverb/Super Reverb/Pro Reverb tone from a Deluxe Reverb unless you install a bigger power transformer. To minimize sag and increase the bass tone, you should also have a bigger output transformer. There are also other things one should or could do with the filter caps and voltage divider resistors. Let’s take a closer look.

The bottom picture on the collage below shows the two 16µF filter caps of the deluxe reverb mounted in parallell, resulting in a 32µF capacitance. The super reverb has two 80µF capacitors in series, resulting in a 40µF total capacitance. Yes we know that capacitors in series and parallel is difficult to understand. Actually, it is simple. It works just the opposite way of resistors. An amp tech will also notice the lack of resistors in parallel with the filter caps in the deluxe reverb. This is why the Deluxe Reverb can be dangerous on the repair bench since the caps can hold 3-400 VDC over a longer period of time. In the Super Reverb those 220K resistors will make sure the caps are discharged in matter of seconds.

deluxe tuneup

The point is. In the deluxe reverb you may simply replace the 16µF caps with 20 µF caps, OR you may switch to the safer Super Reverb reverb design with two 80µF caps in series + resistors. You should also replace the voltage divider caps with 20µF caps to get more ompfh there. And you should replace the two 10K voltage divider resistors with 1K and 4.7K, just like the super reverb. This will increase the power handling in the preamp section, simply explained. road amps

We proudly present our road amps for 2015, available for hire in the Nordic countries. These amps are set up to operate under rough conditions and can play really loud if they have to. Most importantly with vintage gig amps is reliability. You do not want the fuse, tubes, speakers, reverb tank + cables and pots to fail, scratch or make unwanted noise. All amps have 6L6 bias set to a safe 33mA and with 12au7 reverb driver tubes for better reverb control. The speakers are modern, heavy duty speakers with military specs with vintage correct Fender tone (almost 🙂 ). All have working tremolo and reverb with footswitch, though very few use it. All amps are played weekly for longer periods of time to allow bugs and errors to be discovered and repaired, either tubes, caps or pots. The amps have solid baffles and tight cabinets with no loose screws or rattling parts.

road amps

From right to left:

– Our “Linda Ronstadt Deluxe Reverb”, a 71 silverface Deluxe Reverb that has been blackfaced in cosmetics and circuitry. It has 6L6 power tubes, upgrade transformers, diode rectifier and a mean 60s EVM12L speaker. It has a switchable negative feedback loop (see how it works) for a slight volume and treble boost. We recommend everyone to try the EVM12L in a Deluxe Reverb, either reissue or vintage amp. It has a liquid clear Dumble’ish clean tone to die for.

– A blackfaced 71 Vibrolux Reverb with a custom 10″ + 12″ baffle. It’s loaded with an ass-whopping Celestion Alnico Gold 12″ and light weight yet powerful and efficient Jensen Jet Series Tornado 10″. The speakers are loud, punchy and sparkling. Typically blackface, just more. The amp also has the negative feedback foot switch.

– A 66 Pro Reverb 2×12″, original except for the WGS speakers. The British voiced speakers will handle most pedals well since they smooth out the brightest treble frequencies.

– A 66 Super Reverb 4×10″, also original except for the 2x Jensen Jet Series Tornado 10″ and 2x Weber 10A125, both American voiced speakers. This amp is meant to be played on large stages and is bright and powerful.