Fender Custom '68 Deluxe Reverb
These days it seems that Fender is offering almost as many "Deluxe" amps models as Strats, and each new seems more exciting than the last. I received the latest offering, the '68 Custom Deluxe Reverb, yesterday and have been playing it non-stop. For comparison, I set it next to a '74 mint Deluxe Reverb (Weber C12N speaker) and a Supersonic 22.
The '68 Custom is a beautiful amp, rockin the bright, cheerful 1st year silverface look that, IMHO, is dazzyling compared to the more sober blackface style. The "custom" aspects of the amp include tube reverb and vibrato on BOTH channels, a Bassman-like tone stack on what used to be the NORMAL channel and is now called the "CUSTOM" channel, slightly earlier gain onset, a Celestion speaker and (arguable)better touch sensitivity.
Except for cosmetics, the Silverface Deluxe Reverbs up until '76, changed very little compared to the Blackface models (2 capacitors) and are phenomenally good amps.
So, how does the '68 Custom compare to the original? First of all, there will be no argument that the CUSTOM channel is far more usable and exciting than the old NORMAL channel. Turn it up and listen to its tighter, tougher bass response and add on reverb and vibrato for great tones. On the '74, the NORMAL channel had less presence and gain compared to the VIBRATO channel and most players simply didn't use it (I take the V1 tube out).
On the '74, the VIBRATO channel has more lush reverb and sounds brighter than the '68 reissue. The '68 reissue has a tighter bass response compared to the '74. The '74 has a softer, compressed, bass attack with a clanky edge that gets flubbier with power chords as you turn up the volume. Most players reduce the bass to compensate for this, which is unneccessary on the '68 Custom.
While both channels on the '68 sound great, this is not a channel -switching amp and an A-B box will be needed if you want to switch channels (one clean, one dirty) during a gig. Remember, that in a non-master amp like this, more gain also means the amp will also be significantly louder so instead of channel switching, an overdrive pedal with a minimal volume boost might be more workable.
The Celestion speaker is excellent. Switching the speaker leads suggested that the speaker choices worked best in their respective models.
An alternative to both the '65 Blackface Reissue and the '68 Custom is the Supersonic 22 which is based on the DR. The Clean channel has 2 modes, Deluxe Reverb and Bassman, both of which sound great. The Gain channel sounds like the world's best Tube Screamer in a Deluxe Reverb, with dual cascading Gain controls and four band EQ. (IMHO, the Supersonic 22 because of its all tube build and versatility is the best DR- type amp tha Fender offers.)
PROS: The '68 Custom Deluxe Reverb offers TWO distinct and exceptionally good vibrato and reverb channels compared to the original and has a tighter bass response. Its a little less bright with less luster to the reverb compared to the original Silverface. It is an outstanding amp!
CONS: You can still find good condition, hand wired, USA made, original Silverface amps for a few hundred dollars more than this reissue.