As a brand, Fender is up there with the best of them when it comes to clean amps, and one of their flagship models, the Fender ‘65 Twin Reverb Neo, is the perfect example as to why they’ve earned this reputation. Boasting enormous output, massive headroom and exceptional versatility, the ’65 Twin Reverb Neo is truly an amp to be reckoned with.
In this KillerGuitarRigs Review, we’ve taken a closer look at the Fender ‘65 Twin Reverb Neo, which was actually our Editor’s Choice in our roundup of the 7 best clean amps on the market. This is the highest honor we give to any product we review, and not something we award lightly.
If you’ve been in the market for a pro quality amp, and you want the perfect clean tones, you’re definitely going to want to keep on reading.
Fender ‘65 Twin Reverb Neo: Who Is This For?
The Fender ’65 Twin Reverb Neo is a high end amp, and it has the price tag to prove it!
For that reason we’d really recommend it more for experienced intermediate players as well as advanced guitarists and working musicians. Being an 85 watt all tube amp, it has an extraordinary amount of power, and likely too much for most at home use (without the use of an external attenuator – but more on that later).
Appearance / Features / Controls
Unlike the ‘65 reissue model, which is modeled after the classic Blackface design of that era, the Twin Reverb Neo boasts a unique wine red tolex covering and a tweed grille cloth.
It’s driven by Groove Tubes, who make some of the best vacuum tubes around. There are 4 12AX7s and 2 12AT7s in the preamp section, and 4 Groove Tube 6L6 tubes in the power section. With 10 tubes running this amp, it generates a massive 85 watts of class AB power, which is more than enough to handle anything from studio use to medium and large gigs.
It has a rock solid cabinet made from solid pine. The standard model uses birch plywood, which is much heavier. By using pine on the Neo, Fender has shaved the weight from 64lb to just 56lb.
Another upgrade on the Neo version of the Twin Reverb is the use of Celestion G12 Neo Creamback speakers.
It’s a 2 channel amp, with a normal (clean) output, and one for vibrato. Each channel had 2 individual inputs. Input 1 results in a full power signal, while input 2 provides less drive to the first tube, resulting in a signal that is reduced through all stages. This has the net result of more headroom and slightly less compression.
The first test we performed was something of a spot the difference between the clean channel and the vibrato channel. Ultimately, there wasn’t much of anything in it tonally, with the primary difference being that the vibrato channel had “vibrato” and reverb options. We think it’s a great time to point out the misnomer in the naming here, and the amp doesn’t actually have a vibrato effect, it’s actually tremolo (a rise and fall in volume). Interestingly, Fender refers to their vibrato bridge as a synchronized tremolo system, so there’s a good chance they mixed the two up at some point and never switched back.
The reason we gave this amp our Editor’s Choice award was, of course, because of its incredibly loud clean sound. It had stratospheric headroom, which meant we had gorgeous cleans at any volume.
The 3 band EQ gave us plenty of sound shaping ability, and the bright switch on the clean channel provided a hotter top end, giving it even more room to sparkle in the trebles.
If you’re looking for natural overdrive, then you’re looking in the wrong place. The Twin Reverb musters a little bit of crunch, but not until you’re hitting glass shattering volumes. If there’s anything this amp is missing, it’s a built in attenuator.
All that being said, while it doesn’t deliver much in the way of overdrive on its own, it does take pedals like a champ. With the right board, there’s no tones you can’t manage with this amp, from country to modern metal, it has enough power to handle anything you throw at it. In fact, we tested it with a Boss MT-2 Metal Zone, and between the 6L6 power, and the Celestion Creamback speakers, it delivered some amazing distorted tones that would rival any Marshall or Mesa.
Other Amps to Consider
The Fender ‘65 Twin Reverb Neo is a monster of an amp, but at over $2000, you might want to weigh up a few options before committing to buy your own. We’ve rounded up a couple of our favorite alternatives below to check out.
The Mesa/Boogie California Tweed 2:20 Combo is loaded with 6V6 tubes, offering some fantastic tweed type cleans. Its built in attenuator features 1W, 10W, and 20W power options, giving you tons of flexibility in terms of volume and tone. The amp has Normal and Low inputs, with the low input being the better of the 2 for clean sounds.. The amp is designed with a maintenance free fixed bias, making tube management a breeze, and it comes equipped with a Jensen Blackbird Alnico 40 speaker for incredible balance across the entire frequency range.
The Vox AC30C2X, is a versatile and powerful amp, offering 30 watts through its two 12 inch Celestion Alnico Blue speakers. It has two channels; normal and top boost, and features independent volume controls for each. Being a VOX, it’s capable of delivering some amazing chimney cleans, but it can also serve up some fantastic rock and roll crunch, too. It uses three 12AX7 preamp tubes and four EL84 power tubes, so while this amp provides excellent cleans, the tone still has a very British flavor.
Final Thoughts on the Fender ‘65 Twin Reverb Neo
We can’t recall ever hearing an amp with more pure cleans than the Fender ’65 Twin Reverb Neo. Being so powerful, it’s capable of absolutely insane volume while still avoiding even a hint of overdrive.
The best thing about this amp is how effortless it makes practically every genre. If you want great cleans, there’s almost no work involved whatsoever in dialing those in. Because of the incredible headroom, it also makes an amazing pedal platform, so no matter what you have in your signal chain, it’s going to sound just as you want it to when it leaves the speakers.
In all, this might just be the finest clean amplifier on sale today. If you’ve got the budget and you need the best, we can’t think of a better recommendation than this.