The Vintage Sound Vintage 20 is a slightly stepped up version of the Vintage 15. Like the Vintage 15, it's essentially an all hand-wired, all USA made, super-modified Fender Princeton Reverb. It's based on the "blackface" Fender Princeton Reverb (AA1164) used from 1964-1967, but with several major and significant upgrades (read more below).
The Vintage 20 has a considerable amount of warm, clean headroom, and noticeably more than a typical blackface Princeton Reverb. It will easily hold it's own again any Deluxe Reverb out there. Players from all genres LOVE this amp - from Blues, to Country, to Rock!
Blah, blah, blah... We could go on and on with "salesman speak" as we like to call it, but let's get right down to the interesting stuff that really matters.
Tell Us About the Upgrades!
1) The most obvious difference is the 12" speaker upgrade. The Princeton Reverb came with a 10" stock speaker, and many people modded them to replace the 10" baffle with a 12" so they could get a standard sized speaker in there. (more on the speaker we chose below)
2) The reverb circuit is vastly upgraded. The stock reverb on a Princeton was a small 9" pan spring reverb. The Vintage 20 uses a large 17" spring reverb pan that's the same size as the one used in the Twin Reverb! The reverb circuit also includes a very nifty reverb dwell control on the rear of the chassis for varying the decay time.
3) A "MIDDLE" tone control has been added that Princeton Reverb amps didn't have. This addition does nothing to hurt the integrity of the circuit or tone. The original Fender circuit actually had a "fixed mid" that was set permanently at 6.8k. Vintage Sound removed this resistor from the circuit and replaced it with a much more versatile 10k pot. You now have the ability to adjust this frequency range without compromising the original tone. If you want it to sound precisely like a blackface Princeton Reverb, just turn the port to around one o'clock on the dial and you're there. You want to scoop the mids a touch, pull back. Warm the tone a bit, turn up.
4) The addition of a Standby Switch. The original Princeton Reverb didn't have one. This one does.
5) The output transformer has been upgraded and beefed up to give you 20 watts (instead of 12 in a stock Princeton Reverb) so it has a good bit more clean headroom on tap than a vintage PR. This also allows you to change out the power tubes to 6L6's for a different tone and response. Overall, we recommend staying with 6V6 tubes, but the 6L6 tubes will deliver slightly more bass, but will be a bit more stiff in response. Stiffness isn't a bad thing if that's what you are going after, but the majority of people will prefer the slightly softer response of the 6V6 tubes. Naturally, your mileage may vary.
6) External Bias Points have been added so as to more easily bias the amp when you swap out tubes. This was previously an upcharge, but starting in 2017 these are now included on the Vintage 20. Nice!
So, as you can see, the Vintage 20 has lots of upgrades to the original Princeton Reverb circuit without adversely affecting the vintage tone. As well, all Vintage Sound amps are point-to-point hand-wired using top quality filter caps and electrolytics, carbon comp resistors, Orange Drop tone caps, solid core push back wire, and custom transformers that are hand wound in the USA.
A note about the original Princeton Reverb
A very good question we get asked from time to time is why all the upgrades? Didn't Leo Fender get it right back then? The answer to that is, "well, yes and no." We'll elaborate...
So, while the PR circuit is a fabulous one, let's not forget what was going on with Fender back then. The company had already been around a number of years and in 1964 it was being prepped to sell to CBS (which happened January of 1965). The Princeton Reverb was a student amp, and never was meant to be a major player among gigging or recording musicians. It was a practice amp with reverb. In order to make it a successful model financially, it had to be mass produced as cheaply as possible. Now, with that said, everything was built better back then. We didn't have printed circuit boards or cheap foreign labor to construct amps from, so even the "cheap stuff" was actually pretty darn decent. Still, it was mass produced to hit a price point. That meant leaving bells and whistles out of the design as much as possible. As luck would have it, the amp sounded great, and it has stood the test of time all these years. Because of this, it's very appealing to have a "decked out" version with all these great bells and whistles. Enter the Vintage 20!
Vintage 20 Specifications:
Wattage: 20 watts (or about 16 with a 5Y3 rectifier)
Preamp Tubes: 3 x 12AX7, 1 X 12AT7
Power Tubes: 2 x 6V6 (optional 6L6's can be used)
Rectifier: 1 x 5AR4 (optional 5Y3 can be used for slower, more saggy response)
Front Controls: Volume, Treble, Middle, Bass, Reverb, Speed, & Intensity.
Rear Controls: Dwell (for controlling the reverb decay time)
Effects: Large Pan, Tube Driven Spring Reverb, Tube Vibrato
Speaker: WGS G12C/S - 1 x 12" (read more about this speaker below)
Inputs: 2 Inputs
Auxiliary Input: RCA Footswitch Jack
Extension Speaker Jack: External Speaker Jack
Circuit Construction: All Point-to-Point, Hand-wired
Cabinet Construction: Dove-tail jointed solid pine w/Baltic Birch Plywood baffle and back panels
Pilot Light: Blue Amp Jewel
Combo Dimensions: 16" High x 19 7/8" Wide x 9 1/2" Deep (33 lbs)
Head Dimensions: 9 1/2" High x 19 7/8" Wide x 8 5/8" Deep (26 lbs)
Cab Dimensions: 18.5" High x 24" Wide x 10 1/2" Deep (30 lbs)
Why are we using the 12" WGS G12C/S speakers?
Very good question!
First, we'll address the size... You would be VERY hard pressed to find someone who prefers a 10" speaker in a Princeton Reverb over a 12". If Fender could go back, you could just about bet the farm they would have used a 12" speaker. It provides everything the 10 gives you, but with more mid and bottom end. We have never known anyone who went back to a 10" after modding their Fender Princeton Reverb.
Anyway, we chose the WGS G12C/S for several reasons. The G12C/S is essentially their take on the Jensen C12n, but with several refinements, such as a smoother top end, more touch sensitivity, and an overall warmer tone. The Princeton Reverb circuit can be quite sharp and trebly, particularly when distorted. The G12C/S addresses this very well with it's more rounded top end which is very noticeable on bright guitars like a Telecaster, etc. Furthermore, Warehouse Guitar Speakers are made here in the USA and not in China like most of today's Celestions. Added bonus!
This speaker works great with lower wattage amps in allowing a bit more clean headroom. When driven hard, the breakup you'll get with the Vintage Sound 15 will be all tube saturated overdrive and not distortion from the speaker. This speaker is based on the popular G12C, but with a smooth cone, felt dust cap, and just the right amount of edge treatment.
Many people feel the WGS G12C/S is the perfect speaker for a Princeton Reverb circuit amp. We absolutely agree!