Floor modellers who need their own degree course to crack the manual…pedals with more knobs than your local hardware store…these days it can often feel like we spend more time tweaking and fiddling than playing. With the Pro Jr IV SE, Fender says he wants to help you get back to the basics of making a racket.
This limited edition version of the famous tiny Pro Jr combo swaps out the Jensen P10R for a special edition 10-inch speaker designed by Fender. A modified volume circuit offers a more gradual breakup curve, while a new look eliminates the tweed, bringing back the aged silver grille and black wrap of some of Fender’s most popular recent combos. All of this is £170 cheaper than the standard Pro Jr IV.
The chipboard cabinet makes this amp heavy for its size, but with that you get an overall feel of solidity and durability. At the top we have a beautiful mirrored plate for the control panel – a simple design with two chicken head knobs for volume and tone, plus a quarter-inch input, an on/off switch and the classic Fender jewel light.
Going into the guts of this 15-Watter we find the tried and tested pairing of two EL84 power tubes and two 12AX7 preamp tubes. They are mounted on damping stabilizers to help minimize vibration and microphonics, with the idea of improving the longevity of the amplifier. As you would expect in this price range, the valves are PCB mounted, but everything feels solid and well made.
Plugging in our favorite Tele and turning up the volume to a cautious 3 with the tone at 5, we’re squarely in classic Fender clean territory. It’s bright and cutting, but never harsh, even with the famous Tele twang (and the guitar’s tone control wide open). It’s the kind of sound that instantly calls for a little percussion to mince chicken, delivering an articulate whip that’s simple yet inspiring. And even at this volume setting, the Pro Jr IV SE is loud, letting you know right from the start that this isn’t a quiet practice amp.
By cranking the volume up even further, we start to get that beloved breakup around the 6-7 mark with our single coils, the grain coming a little earlier when using an HSS-equipped Stratocaster. Fender has improved the SE’s overdrive for a tighter bass and it certainly feels very controlled without a hint of ‘woofiness’, even at full volume. Here we enter the realm of hard rock, and almost certainly cause some noise complaints along the way. But we wouldn’t know, because despite its size, there’s no way you’re going to hear someone banging on your front door at this blaring volume.
There’s only one other knob to adjust, and the tone control offers a wide range of sounds within its full range of travel. Turn it to 1 for a shade that’s all wool sweater, offering a thick hue that’s muted but not completely lifeless; pop it on the other end and you’ve got yourself an overdose of triple goodness that’ll have bandmates checking to make sure their earplugs still work.
If you’re not in the situation where you can crank your amp to the max, then fear not, because the Pro Jr IV SE takes the pedals like a champ. Adding a bit of reverb in the signal path gives us a lovely ambiance, encouraging spacious arpeggios and slow-strummed open chords. You can grab the amp’s natural saturation sooner with the addition of a Klon-type boost, or just punch it straight into the stratosphere with the addition of some fuzz.
You might think such a small feature set would hold you back, but the reality is far from it. The available combinations of the Pro Jr IV SE’s volume and tone knobs, in collusion with those on your guitar, mean you can dial in an unlimited variety of sounds that will hit the spot, whether you’re into Brent Mason or Brent Hinds. Add that tonal diversity to this amp’s relatively low cost, and you’ve got a great value rig.
- PRICE £399
- DESCRIPTION Single channel valve combo, made in Mexico
- RATED POWER 15W
- VALVES 2x 12AX7, 2x EL84
- CONTROL PANEL Guitar input, volume, tone
- SPEAKER 1x 10″ special fender design
- DIMENSIONS 387x368x222mm
- WEIGHT 11.74kg/25.9lbs
- CONTACT mudguard.com