Review: Fender Vaporizer Amplifier - Pawn Shop Special

The essence of the 50s garage rock era in a beautiful little combo package   08-Aug-14


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The Fender Vaporizer channels the very essence of 50s and 60s garage rock through a medium-sized 2x10 tube combo, with all the quirkiness of a B-Movie from the same era.

All the usual cliches about single channel tube amps apply at first glance, it's 'no frills', you can 'plug in and play', you need to 'crank it up' to overdrive the tubes.

But actually, this amp is smarter than your average single channel tube combo. It has a truly stunning spring reverb, and it comes with a footswitch - the sole purpose of which is to turn the volume, tone and reverb up to 11. This is called Vaporizer mode, and it sounds like the front row of a Hendrix gig.

It has yet another trick up its sleeve; if you turn the volume all the way down, and the reverb all the way up, you get a washed out, distant warble which will undoubtedly start cropping up on indie EPs everywhere.

The Fender Vaporizer is an amplifier that doesn't require much explanation, excluding the little quirks listed above, it is a simple amplifier with two main functions:

  • It has a beautiful clean tone which belongs to the same sonic family as the Fender Twin and the Fender Princeton, it lies somewhere between the two. Turn the reverb knob around two 10 o'clock and the volume up to 8 o'clock and you have a truly special clean tone, full of character, with so much headroom to play with before it begins to break.
  • It has a gnarly overdrive sound, it's verging on trashy, and I mean this in a very positive way. It's hard to find a garage overdrive sound which is useable, but the Vaporizer offers just that.
Spec: 2x10 custom designed Fender Vaporizer speakers; 2x12AX7 pre-amp tubes; 2xEL84s power tubes; footswitch; spring reverb; speaker out.
Verdict: If you're into single channel tube amps, you should absolutely add this to your collection. It's not the most versatile amp you'll ever own, but it's got oh-so-much character.
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