AF’s Weblog

June 11, 2012

Fender Machete Review

To read the full detailed article with sound samples see:  Fender Machete Review

The Fender Machete represents a new direction for the manufacturer. It’s not like they want to start to making cutlery but rather they want to enter the heavy distortion world. This strategical decision caused many reactions in the guitar world. So, with mixed feelings I leave the sandy roads and whiskey smell of Mississippi to enter the country of tattooed, long-haired musicians.

A Weapon for the Strong!

Fender Machete

I receive the weapon under seal. It hardly fits the trunk of my car with the rear seats folded (for insiders, the JeyMobile looks a lot like the GarthMobile). I come to my place of destination and ask for help to take the cardboard box out of my car because it’s twice as large as me… Right after unpacking you’ll discover that the amp is much smaller than the box (big foam protections inside!) but still not lighter. The physical specs: 24.5″ x 11.5″ x 22″ and 71 lbs. The manufacturer had mercy on us and decided to add clipable casters so we won’t break our backs when transporting the amp. The two-color combo is protected by a black vinyl covering with white edging and a center stripe in the style of a roadster steering wheel. The front plate is made out of black steel and offers nice-looking, brushed-aluminum Telecaster knobs. The overall roadster look is faithful but it might not be everyone’s favorite.

Swiss-Army Knife or a Classic?

Fender Machete

Let’s have a brief tech talk. Under the hood you’ll find five 7025 tubes (also called 12AX7), a pair of 6L6GC and a 12″ Celestion Vintage 30 speaker that matches the roadster look perfectly. The front and rear panel are fully packed. The engine offers two separate channels with Gain, Volume, Bass, Mid, Treble, and Notch controls each. The front panel also includes three selectors: a 6dB pad (for active pickups), a channel switch and a speaker damping selector (damping is the interaction between power tubes and speaker). Finally, the amp offers one reverb for both channels. A small disappointment is that the reverb is not a tube but a digital one…

Fender Machete

On the rear you have Power and Standby switches, an effect loop with send and return level controls, a line output on XLR connector, MIDI in, footswitch connector, and a pair of speaker outs with impedance selector, as well as a pair of PA Mute (mutes the power amp) and Cab Emul (adds the speaker emulation to the line out) mini-switches. The included footswitch provides four options for channel selection, gain boost (ch.1), FX loop, and reverb. It is equipped with two connectors: one for the amp and a second one to chain an additional Machete footswitch (can be useful on large stages). Something tells me it’s time to plug my axe now.

Let’s take a closer look and a listen…

Happy?

Fender’s goal was to offer an aggressive sounding combo to the tattooed, hairy metal community and they have succeeded! The amp is sturdy, so it can be taken on stage and to the studio or stay at home. Moreover, it offers a wide range of clean sounds plus everything from crunch to heavy distortion, while the Notch control allows you to fine-tune your tone. Unfortunately, the amp’s street price of around $1,900 is quite high. Quality has a price, and if you like it, you’ll pay for it…

Advantages: 
  • The sound!
  • Both channels
  • Notch control
  • Reverb
  • FX loop
  • Damping control
  • Footswitch provided
Drawbacks:
  • Price
  • Weight

To read the full detailed article with sound samples see:  Fender Machete Review

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September 20, 2010

Fender Super-Sonic 22 Combo Review

In 2006, we saw the new Fender amps, dubbed Super-Sonic, with 60 watts under the hood and available in head or combo version. In 2010 we see a combo version of 22 Watts, sharing characteristics of its older brother. It sounds very clean and Fendery, with also saturated and high gain tones as well. Focus on the Super-Sonic Combo 22 today…

Fender Super-Sonic 22 Combo

Fender amps are known and recognized for their clean sounds, sometimes bright with models like the Vibrolux, sometimes warm and full with other references, like the famous Bassman.  But for heavily distorted sounds, the story is different, and guitarists are often forced to resort to overdrive or distortion pedals in order to saturate an amplifier lacking a real overdrive channel.  So we could have just stopped there and continued to adore the clean Fender amp sounds and happily connect our pedals to make some noise. But Fender wished otherwise, launching the Super-Sonic series, whose main goal is to offer both clean sounds worthy of their greatest signature amps, and overdriven sounds, very overdriven tones to please biggest fans of sturdier sounds.

The going fashion is to have low power (relative) tube amps.  Fender is spoiling us with a version a bit quieter than the previous 60 Watts. The Super-Sonic has 22 watts under the hood, and is available in two finishes, black or blonde (cream).  We received the black version for this review, but we would have preferred the iconic 1961 blond treatment, which matches better with the cream plastic knobs.  But it’s not too bad, the black version is still very nice…

We Unpack

Fender Super-Sonic 22 Combo

The combo is made of birch/maple plywood 1.9 cm thick and has the following measurements: 21.6 x 61 x 44.1 cm and measures 18.2 kg on the scale, which is quite reasonable without making a traveler’s amp out of it!  The look of the amp is very classic, with the old school script metal logo, the ivory ‘radio’ knobs and the large red LED on switch.  The grille cloth covering is black vinyl on the blond version, and gray on the black versions. The “Dog Bone” handle on the top of the amp is plastic, but looks very solid, and metal reinforcements are placed at the bottom four corners of the amp cabinet.   Everything looks good to handle things down the road and finish is impeccable.  In the box we are provided in addition to instructions, diagrams showing the guts of the amp. The latter, for sure will be the conversation topic at your next dinner party….guaranteed!   The icing on the cake: a nylon cover is provided to protect your precious from dust- classy!

Under the hood, we find no fewer than five lamps for preamp section:  three 12AX7 and two 12AT7, and two 6V6 power tubes for the amplification (modeled on the Deluxe Reverb). The lamps are protected by a gate at the back of the amp, just above the 12 inches (31 cm) speaker, a “Lightning Bolt” model by Eminence.

Let’s see what the Super-Sonic offers us now in terms of settings and connections …

Conclusion

For about $1400, Fender offers us a 22 Watts all tube amp of flawless quality.  The look is very successful and it has ample power to play quietly in groups.   The clean sounds are typically Fender for our delight, the crunch sounds are not standing still, and we have a real distorted channel, to top it all off.   Add to that an effects loop, Fender long-spring Reverb by Accutronics®, robust and complete pedals and a protective cover, and you get a receiver complete and flawless.  We only lament the price and weight, both a bit high for a 22 Watts. But when you get this sound, we are ready to make such concessions!

Fender Super-Sonic 22 Combo
Advantages:
  • Quality Manufacturing
  • Successful Look
  • Available in two finishes
  • Signature Fender clean sounds
  • Some very interesting crunch tones
  • A true saturated channel, ready to rock
  • Accutronics spring reverb
  • Adequate power for group play
  • Boost on the clean channel
  • Pedal 4 switches very robustly
  • Eminence Speakers

Drawbacks:

  • A 22 Watts at $1400
  • Moderately heavy and bulky for a 22 Watt
  • Not suitable for extreme metal
  • Heavily saturated tube distortion and sustain

To read the full detailed articles with sound samples see:  Fender Super-Sonic 22 Review

January 29, 2010

[NAMM 2010] Fender Rumble™ Bass Amps

Watch this and other videos/news from NAMM 2010 here.

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