The '65 Reissue is a gorgeous-sounding tube amp we think belongs in everyone's lineup--find out why, and find out how it compares to three other top tube amps.
Fender Twin Reverb Review
There’s not a more classic amp than the Fender Twin Reverb and lucky for you, if you don’t have the funds to afford a vintage reverb from the 60s, you can still get your hands on a ‘65 reissue. But, is the reissue still worth it?
We break down everything you need to know about Fender Twin, plus we give the reverb a close and thoughtful analysis to help you learn if it’s right for you.
What Makes the Fender Twin Reverb Unique?
Technology has come a long, long way since Leo Fender offered one of the first mass-market, affordable amps in 1952, but amazingly, that original tube guitar amp is still one of the most beloved, classic sounds available.
While solid-state diode and transistor amps are, admittedly, better in just about every other way (they’re cheaper, more practical, more reliable, and use less energy), they can’t compete in one aspect: sound.
Tube amps enjoy the rich, gorgeous benefits of even-order harmonics and can change their tone as you alter your dynamics--play softly, and you’ll get a clean sound, but start to wail on your strings, and you’ll get that fantastic distortion rock and roll is known for.
Among tube amps, there’s a classic: the Fender Twin Reverb. It long ago created the standard for tube amps; plus, it comes with a tremolo, a spring reverb, ample headroom, and great opportunities for pedals.
An Icon With a Standalone Sound
Legend has it that Leo Fender, creator of the guitars that practically drove the great rock-n-roll traditions of the 60s and 70s, never learned to play the guitar. Fender, who was originally an accountant, got his start as a radio repair guy after losing his job in the great depression.
He opened an electronics repair shop (mostly working on radios and the occasional amp that would wander in). When he noticed his customers needed amps that were more affordable than what was on the market at the time, he began to make his own.
Fender’s first amps were single-speaker (the Champ and the Deluxe); he created his Twin amp in the early 50s. Remarkably, this was just two years before he’d introduce his Stratocaster guitars. While the Champ and the Deluxe were designed for personal use, the Twin was louder.
It didn’t take long for them to become wilder popular, helping Fender set the bar for a big, clean sound--the sound that Fender amps are still known for today. Since then, the amp has seen a myriad of tweaks and outright redesigns.
The Twin in the 50s
The 50s are known as the tweed era thanks to the covering Leo put on his amps--tweed, which looked and felt a lot like the kind of fabric that covered luggage. These amps started at 25 watts and by the early 60s were producing as many as 80 watts.
The Tolex Decade
In the 60s, Leo sold his company to CBS, but not before he replaced his Twin’s covers with a material called Tolex, which came, at different times, in blonde, oxblood, or black. Black tolex covers (called “blackface”) also had a spring reverb tank and so were called the Twin Reverb. More than anything else, the Fender Twin Reverb solidified the amp maker’s reputation for an exceptionally clean sound.
The Twin Reverb II
Fender introduced the Twin Reverb II in 1982; it ran at 105 watts and was all black, like its predecessors. While many Twins from the 60s are impossible to get in good condition (unless you have deep, deep pockets), the Twin Reverb II is still possible to find at somewhat affordable prices. That is changing as we speak, however.
The Fender Twin Reverb has proved so iconic and popular over the years that Fender continues to reissue it; one of the best is the ‘65 Reissue, which came out in 1992. Also with blackface aesthetics, it replaces the old RCA design available on previous versions.
Famous Musicians Who Used the Fender Twin Reverb
The list of noteworthy musicians who have used a Fender Twin Reverb is long. Both George Harrison and John Lennon of the Beatles used the amp to record Abbey Road and Let It Be and to play the Rooftop Concert, one of their most famous concerts.
Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones is also known to have played Twin Reverbs, both blackface, and 50s tweed. If you decide to use a Fender Twin Reverb, here are a few other musicians whose company you’ll keep:
Why the Fender Twin Reverb?
- 85 watts of the purest, loudest, cleanest, most legendary guitar tone on the planet.
- Two 12” 8-ohm Jensen C-12K speakers offer incredible clarity and note separation.
- Legendary all-tube Fender reverb offers spacious ambience and surf-worthy splash and crash.
We already referenced the fact that you can find cheaper, more reliable, more practical amps than tube amps, and it’s also true that you can find cheaper tube amps than the Fender Twin Reverb, but when it comes to great sound, there’s a reason this is a classic.
While vintage Fender Twins will need maintenance (and you should also know a little about how the insides work before purchasing), Fender’s Reissues have made it fantastically easy to get a vintage sound, easily.
If you’re purchasing the Fender ‘65 Twin Reverb, here’s what you can expect:
If you’re new to amps and electric guitars, a lot of these terms might not mean much to you. Here, more simply, is what the Fender Twin Reverb’s features will mean for you:
Options When it Comes to Pickups
Pickups are magnets wrapped by wire (or coils of wire) inside your guitar; they are how the sound is captured and sent to the amp. There are two kinds of pickups: humbucking and single-coil.
Single-coil pickups are the originals. The sound they create tends to be clear and glassy-toned, and so they’re often favored for softer music or music that’s very melodic. Humbucking pickups were developed later to counter the annoying hum that used to be heard when playing “hard” on single-coil pickups. Humbucking pickups are, therefore, often favored for heavy metal or hard rock.
Some guitars today even come with both kinds of pickups and can simply be adjusted with the flick of a switch.
You should carefully consider the kinds of pickups you have and prefer before purchasing an amp; in the case of the Fender Twin Reverb, you’ll be able to handle both kinds smoothly. Whether you’re playing rollicking ballads from the 60s or chest-rattling, tooth-jarring heavy-metal licks, the Fender can handle both the noise (it is a satisfying loud amp) and the quiet.
One of the Best Pedal Platforms
Pedals are often used between your guitar and your amp (though they can come at any stage), and there are about as many different pedals as there are people. That is to say; pedals can do everything from applying effects to boosting volume to applying reverb to looping your music.
Just like with an amp, each pedal will have a different sound. There’s no right or wrong pedal or amp or combination of the two--it’s all about what you like. That said, some amps simply don’t pair well with some pedals because of how their signals are translated. With the Fender Twin Reverb, however, this is rarely the case, which is why it’s such a popular choice when musicians are looking for a pedal-optimized amp.
Speakers change the sound of your music as much as the amp itself, and the speakers on the Fender Twin Reverb come in a popular size, are heavy-duty, and contribute hugely towards those pristine cleans and aggressive overdrive the Reissue is known for.
How Does the Fender Twin Reverb Compare to the Competition?
By now, you probably have a pretty clear idea of whether or not the Fender Twin Reverb is something you’re interested in. To give you an even clearer picture, let’s compare it to a few other tube amps to see what you think:
The Vox AC30C2X is another classic tube amp that’s extremely similar to the Fender Twin Reverb. Made by a British company, the AC30 was also created and introduced in the 50s. While specs are nearly identical, most people feel like the Vox is superior when it comes to distortion. Plus, its master volume knob is separate, so it’s easy to get that great breakup sound without turning up the volume too high.
On the other hand, the Fender Twin Reverb is superior when it comes to using pedals and layering sound. This two amps also cost about the same. Our recommendation for you? Try them both for yourself!
We love the Fender Blues Junior IV for two reasons: it’s about half the price of the full-size Reverb and about half the weight. So, whether you are looking for something supremely easy to lug around to shows or you want something that’s more affordable, the Junior is a great option over the Reverb.
Your sound won’t be quite as classic, but many musicians prefer some of the Blues Junior’s updates: a tweaked preamp for “larger tonality,” lows that stay full even as the amp turns up, and a sound that’s much fuller than its size would have you believe. Again, the bottom line is that you need to try these amps for yourself, but we think the Blues Junior is worth comparing to the more classic Reverb.
We also wanted to compare the Fender Twin Reverb to another high-end amp, which is why we’re looking at the Mesa. While the Fender Blues Junior might be a budget choice, the Triple Crown TC-50 certainly is not, but it is a professional-quality amp. Because of that, musicians will enjoy what some reviewers consider are some of the best tones on the market.
You’ll get way more options with the Mesa than you will with the Reverb, including a Drive mode that will get you extra grain, an extra channel, and reverb level controls for each channel. You will not, however, get vibrator and distortion.
Depending on the deals you can find at the time of purchase, you’ll likely find both amps at similar price points; again, it comes down to the sound. Which do you love more?
Who the Fender Twin Reverb is For
You’ve noticed by now that the Fender Twin Reverb is not a cheap amp. A lot of people would be tempted, then, to call this an amp for more advanced players. We beg to differ and feel that if you have the budget for it, this amp almost certainly has a place in your gear arsenal, no matter how experienced or brand-new you are. Thanks to its amazing sound and fantastic history, his is truly one of those unique amps that are perfect for any level of player
The Bottom Line on the Fender Twin Reverb
You already understand how subjective gear is--most of the time, it simply boils down to personal preference. That said, there’s a lot to love about the Fender Twin Reverb, not the least of which is its classic tube amp sound.
If you’ve got classic guitars--or you’ve got a deep love for the classic guitar sound from the 60s--you can’t go wrong with the Fender Twin Reverb. Beautiful tones, rich, clean sound, and a volume that will blow your socks off make it a winner, even if it didn’t have such a celebrated history.