Ask any guitarist what brand they’d recommend when it comes to amps with a ton of headroom for immaculate cleans at room-filling volumes, and 99 times out of 100, they’ll say Fender. Yes, there are other great clean amps out there, but with models like the Fender Pro Jr IV, it’s hard to argue against going with the Fender.
The Pro Jr IV was our top pick in our roundups of the best clean amps that take pedals well and the best small tube amps (and got a mention in our roundup of the best Fender amps). Not only did it offer amazing performance, but it looked great. And to top things off, it retails at a surprisingly affordable price point.
In this KillerGuitarRigs Review, we got the chance to spend a little extra time with this amp we loved so much. Below, you’ll find much more detail about who we think it’s best suited to, its appearance and features, and of course its tones and performance.
If you’ve been looking for a reasonably priced all-tube combo with pro-level performance, you’ll definitely want to keep on reading!
Who Is This For?
The Fender Pro Jr IV is a great choice for players who want a compact, high-quality amp that excels at delivering pristine clean tones. It has 15 watts of all-tube power, which ensures plenty of volume, enough to keep up with a set of acoustic drums if necessary. Its portability and compact size make it perfect for practicing at home, jamming with a band, or even gigging at smaller venues.
In addition, it’s small size and simple control set will also appeal to newer players. It may be more expensive than the typical beginner amp, but its sound quality and tonal diversity provide tons of room for growth.
Appearance / Features / Controls
The Fender Pro Jr IV came in a classic tweed covering. This iconic design is instantly recognizable as a Fender and we thought it looked fantastic. It had a compact and (relatively for a tube amp) lightweight design, tipping the scales at just over 22lb. Fender fitted this model with their ‘50s-era grille cloth, which looked fantastic paired with the lacquered tweed.
The cab was made from particle board, which really helps to keep the cost down. And with such a small amp, any tonal benefits from a solid-wood cabinet would be imperceptible – we didn’t find it to be detrimental at all.
In terms of controls, the Pro Jr IV has a simple 2-knob setup with volume and tone controls. The volume acted as a master volume control, while the tone took care of all the EQ. The lower the tone setting, the more emphasis on the bottom-end frequencies. And of course, the higher we set it, the more treble we got.
This control layout may be limiting for some musicians who want the ability to manipulate their sound a bit more, but if you just need a simple rig, we think the Pro Jr IV is a great option.
It had two 12AX7 preamp tubes and driving the power section were two EL84 power tubes, generating a total of 15 watts. On top of this, it even had a solid-state rectifier, which tightened up the tones and did a lot to reduce the sag usually found on these smaller tube amps.
One of the standout features of the Pro Jr IV was the Jensen P10R speaker. This Jensen is known for its particularly wide frequency response, which is rare in 10” speakers from any brand.
Performance / Sound
When played with a clean signal, we found the Pro Jr IV to be a rock-solid performer. Its massive headroom ensured we got amazing tone. At low volume, we found that it retained its detail, which isn’t always easy to do with a tube amp. We worked our way through the volume range and found that even with the knob set to 12 o’clock, there wasn’t even a hint of breakup and yet, it was already deafeningly loud.
It wasn’t until we got to 2 o’clock that we got any real crunch – which incidentally was beautifully organic and overall very ear-pleasing (as long as we were far enough away from the amp!). The real issue here is that if you do want an overdriven tone, it’s not exactly an amp you can easily use at home without seriously disturbing your neighbors. We think an attenuator or a gain control in addition to the master volume would have really been helpful.
Where we think this amp really came alive was with pedals. We tested it with a Tube Screamer and got the grit we were looking for at lower volumes. At higher volumes, it absolutely wailed.
We also incorporated a JHS Color Box V2 (one of our favorite preamp pedals) into the signal chain and that’s where the real magic happened. The limited tonal control on the amp panel was solved for, and we were able to dial in some truly amazing tone. So if you’re concerned about the lack of sound shaping, don’t be – even with a cheap pre-amp pedal, you’ll be able to truly open the taps on this amp.
Other Amps to Consider
We absolutely love the Fender Pro Jr IV, but if you’d like to check out some alternatives before making a purchase, we truly get it. With that in mind, here are a couple of our favorite alternative options to the Fender Pro Jr IV that we think you might also be interested in.
The VOX AC10C1 is a compact amp from VOX’s AC series. Just like the bigger models, it still delivers the classic VOX sound, just in a more portable and affordable package. The AC10 is a 10-watt amp and is driven by a pair of 12AX7 preamp tubes and a pair of EL84 power tubes, helping it to serve up everything from the legendary VOX chime to a gnarly overdriven tone. Like the Fender, it’s stage- and studio-ready, and has a much bigger punch than you’d expect for just having 10 watts on tap.
We’re big fans of the Supro Delta King 12 at KGR, and for good reason. It’s one of the best-looking and most versatile all-tube combos on the market, and can deliver a huge range of tones. It features a master volume control that will allow for crunchy and distorted tones, even at bedroom levels, especially with the Pigtronix FAT high-gain mode engaged. It features a real spring reverb, which makes it a surf-rock weapon. And with 15 Class A watts available, it’s got more than enough power to handle live performances.
Final Thoughts on the Fender Pro Jr IV
In all, we thought the Fender Pro Jr IV was a fantastic little amp. It looks amazing and really delivers pro-level performance at what is a truly reasonable price. It’s responsive, it handles the entire frequency range well, and its clean tones are everything you’d expect from a Fender amp. Like we mentioned, when paired with a well curated pedal board, including at least an overdrive and a preamp pedal, there’s practically nothing you couldn’t do with the Pro Jr IV.