Well, I must admit to an almost morbid fascination with the Deluxe Reverb Reissue (DRRI) amps. I’ve owned three of them over the years. I say “morbid” because each of them has died (primarily related to blown tubes) at some critical point while I’ve been performing. Each time, I’ve sworn them off but like a phoenix rising from the ashes, I’ve come back because the sound of a Deluxe Reverb with its 6V6 power tubes and wonderful reverb hold a special appeal to me. I have found the Fender DRRI as it comes straight from the factory sounds pretty darn good for my playing style and even better with an upgraded speaker, but as with many things, there is plenty of room for improvement.
The first time I acquired a DRRI, I purchased it brand new at a yearly special sale at a local music store. I played it as my main amp for about 10 months until at a gig, one of the Sovtek 6V6 tubes failed and took out one of the 470-ohm/1-watt screen resistors.
So I took it to my amp tech, Rick, for servicing. It was my first look at the interior and under Rick’s instruction, I learned about the quality of the printed circuit board, the sometimes problematic wiring traces and the difficulty servicing it. As some of you may recall, at a point chronologically after my first DRRI amp, Rick performed a wonderful restoration of my 1971 Fender Princeton Reverb.
You can read that tale of transformation on the last tab of this website.
Rick patched up my DRRI and I played it for a little while but decided to start looking for better-built amps with a Deluxe Reverb vibe. I sold the DRRI to buy a Tone King Continental head and cab.
An opportunity to buy a used DRRI at a good price came along so I bought it. I upgraded to 6V6EH tubes and used the standard speaker. It too gave out at a gig due to a failed tube. I had it fixed but sold it within a couple of months, swearing them off as too unreliable.
Then Tom, a fellow I’d been playing music with for a number of years, left the area and asked if I wanted to buy his DRRI. It was in great shape and was too good a deal to pass up so I bought it and installed a Reverend All-Tone 12” speaker. Guess what, I was playing it about 9 months ago and had the same problem; at a high volume, one of the 6V6EHs failed and took out a screen resistor. My amp tech fixed it up by installing 1K/5W screen resistors and re-soldered some loose grounds and other components on the PCB board.
Vowing to do something about the amp, I got in contact with Mikey (Mike McGuirk) of MikeyMann Amplification. I’d been aware of Mikey’s work on DRRIs through his frequent posting on the newsgroup alt.guitar.amps. He’d done some nice work on his DRRI, gutting his amp and stuffing it with a Hoffman turret “PTP” (Point-To-Point) board and upgraded components. I’d exchanged quite a few bulletin board posts with him on the topic and liked what I’d read.
Of course many of you that are reading this would think I’d have been better off initially buying a Blackface or Silverface Deluxe Reverb. You’re probably right, considering I’m on my third DRRI. But when I first bought the DRRIs, I wasn’t as knowledgeable about tube amps as I am today and with just a little over $300 in the current DRRI, I’ve decided to try something new.
A recent sampling of sold eBay transactions revealed that original Blackface (pre 1968) Deluxe Reverbs had an average selling price of $1255. The downside of purchasing these amps is they often need $250 - $500 in restoration work and tubes and you are still left with an amp that has many 40-year-old components.
Read on and I think you’ll find that buying a used DRRI and getting a MikeyMann Amplification rebuild is a cost effective option to get the Deluxe Reverb sound we love using modern, reliable components that sound great and still have all the panache of a boutique amp. I wish I had done this the first time I bought a DRRI :>)