Last July I decided I needed a guitar amp specifically for recording, rather than dragging my practice amp backwards and forwards between home and our practise space. Mainly, it had to be small, i.e. quiet, as recording at home, volume is more of a disadvantage than an advantage. After looking around on the net, I decided on a Fender Pro Junior, not least because of Nels Cline's love for them. Perfect - small (10 watts,) no reverb (again, not particularly useful for recording,) valves, reasonably priced (250 quid). Looking around on Ebay they seemed to be selling second had for close to the price of a new amp so I decided I may as well buy one new -- less hassle I figured.
I placed an order with gak.co.uk as they were the cheapest I could find. Three days later I was informed it was going to be a month and a half before I recieved it, no indication that they didn't have them in stock when I placed the order. Fuck that I thought, I'll cancel. Sent them an email and forgot about it. Two weeks later, after looking around a few places and finding nobody who actually had any in stock, I'd not heard anything from GAK. Bad customer service I figured, but I've come this far, might as well wait.
A month and a half later, I recieved the amp. I'd finished any recording I needed it for, so I plugged it in -- seemed to work -- and left it for a time I needed it. That time came last December; switched on the amp and after a few minutes christ did it distort, even with the volume down at 1. Looked in the back and one of the valves was glowing bright red, far too hot. I ordered a new set of valves. They arrived a few days later but didn't solve the problem so I organised with GAK to send it back, as it was still under warranty.
Due to my laziness and lack of urgent need (again!) for the amp, I only got round to sending it back last month. Returned to me within 1 week with the following note:
Replaced faulty valve.
Fixed dry joints on PCB.
So there was the problem! Fender don't bother to test for dry joints before they send an amp out to a customer. Also, after reading around on the internet, you need to take out the top-middle screw on the backplate, otherwise it buzzes like fuck. This isn't just a problem with mine, it's a design fault in all of them. At this point you have to wonder how Fender got anywhere without actually testing ANYTHING.
Moral: just buy things from Ebay, it's easier, they've been through all this for you and you might save 50 quid.
Anyway, I now have the working thing and it sounds great. Only problem is, it's LOUD. I put it next to an old 60w solid-state amp I have here, and the Pro-Junior is far louder, though it starts to distort earlier (and the distortion sounds niiiice, though I'm not sure my neighbours will be able to put up with the volume for long at that level.)
Now I just have to learn to play the fecking guitar.
- Steven J. Kirk