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.
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’.
My favourite gigging amp is an original 1968 Deluxe Reverb that has an uprated speaker, reduced negative feedback and a small tweak to its tone–stack values, but I’ve been looking out for a Princeton to tweak up in a similar way for smaller gigs and recording.
Well, now I don’t need to, because that set of mods is exactly what Fender have incorporated in the models of their ‘68 Custom range!
Negative feedback is used to reduce noise and distortion, and also to help keep amplifier circuits stable, but most Fender tube amps are inherently stable anyway, so you can reduce the negative feedback all the way down to zero if you want, in order to benefit from a bit more gain and a more gradual transition into distortion, albeit at the expense of a little more noise.
The ‘68 Custom range has significantly reduced negative feedback, seemingly without rendering it at all noisy.
The tone circuitry of most mid– to late-’60s Fender amps has an inherent mid–range dip, which is ideal for the classic Fender-clean sound, but small tweaks to the circuit values here can keep more of the mid–range without losing the character.
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.