To this day, Fender Stratocasters and Telecasters remain some of the most popular electric guitar lineups on the market, having been the go-to for many big-name artists such as Eric Clapton, David Gilmour, Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, and Prince.
But are you aware that there was a time when Fender amplifiers held the reins, alongside their six-stringers? We’re referring to the early 1960s, of course. There’s nothing quite like the sound of a Fender amp that was built before the year 1965.
Nowadays, Fender amps don’t hold nearly as much value as they did back in the ‘60s, but the Pro Junior IV begs to differ. Can this contemporary reincarnation channel the might and vigor of its antecedents? This in-depth Fender Pro Junior IV review attempts to answer that question.
Fender Pro Junior IV Review: At a Glance
For a portable amp, the Fender Pro Junior IV is a guitarist’s best friend. It does an excellent job at making your home practice and small gigs come to life.
- Solid and sturdy construction
- Simplistic vintage design
- Old-fashioned speaker cloth
- Simple two-knob control
- Crisp and punchy tone quality
- Compact and highly portable
- Not the most affordable amp
- Not the most vintage sounding
The Fender Pro Junior IV is a fairly compact amplifier that measures 17x17x10 inches, which makes it about suitcase-size. It’ll serve you well if you’re a traveling musician.
It’s built primarily from particleboard, so there’s really nothing out of the ordinary as far as build quality and design. Nonetheless, the amp is solid, secure, and sturdy.
Now, even though the design of the Pro Junior IV is nothing to write home about, we appreciate the fact that the logo they used is very much reminiscent of the 1950s logo. It’s more appealing than the logo found on the Mustang series, which is a big plus in our books.
The cabinet features a tweed layout, which, in our opinion, looks much better the older and the more worn out the amp gets, much like an acoustic guitar’s solid spruce top. This helps add to the whole vintage aspect that this amp is trying to channel.
The amplifier also features an old-fashioned grille cloth and a stitched leather handle that help round up this retro package beautifully.
Before we discuss the Pro Junior IV’s tonal qualities, it’s important to note that every amp from the same series sounds notably different from its previous iterations. To be more specific, with every update, the sound quality improves drastically.
That said, you must keep in mind that the Pro Junior IV is still a 15W amp powered by a 10-inch Jensen P10R speaker, so keep your expectations reasonable.
The Pro Junior IV combines a solid-state rectifier with 2x EL84 tubes and 2x 12AX7 tubes. The amp’s circuit is improved to deliver more punch and better tone than previous iterations.
One of the Pro Junior IV’s strongest attributes is that it maintains a tight bass response and excellent dynamics even at higher volumes, thanks to the improvements that the circuit has undergone.
The 10-inch Jensen speaker we alluded to earlier does an awesome job of coloring the sound. We also noticed that it works very well with single-coil setups.
If you’re going to buy this amp with live performances in mind, remember that it’s just a 15W amp, meaning it’s not powerful enough to project over large, open spaces and will have to be mic’d up.
The presence of EL34 tubes gives you the impression that this amp will sound just like a Fender amp from the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, but that’s not exactly true. Yes, it does share quite a few tonal qualities with classic Fender amps, but it’s still a contemporary amp, meaning it flaunts its fair share of digital flare.
All things considered, the Pro Junior IV’s sound strikes an admirable balance between the old and the new. It channels the sound of classic Fender amps but with a bit of a digital edge.
Having discussed the Pro Junior IV’s build and sound quality, let’s talk about its controls or lack thereof. This amp’s control panel isn’t as jam-packed with knobs and keys as most of today’s contemporary amps, which can be viewed as a pro or a con, depending on how you’re looking at it.
It can be viewed as a pro if you’re someone looking for an amp that recaptures the past. Older amplifiers didn’t feature a whole lot of control knobs the way amps today do, which, in our opinion, is quite charming and appealing. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” as stated by Leonardo da Vinci.
On the other hand, it can be viewed as a con if you’re someone who fancies being in full control of their amp sounds. If that’s the case, the Pro Junior IV isn’t the right choice for you.
The Pro Junior IV has only two control knobs, one for the volume and another for tone. Both knobs are placed on a chrome plate that offers a cool mirror effect. In addition, there’s an on/off switch and a neat light bulb indicator that adds to the amp’s aesthetic appeal.
So, does the Pro Junior IV successfully preserve the legacy of older Fender amps from the ‘50s and ‘60s? To some extent. It definitely looks like a vintage amplifier, but it doesn’t exactly sound like one. It shares some tonal characteristics here and there, but it still has a digital edge, which is to be expected.
Is it worth the money? Most definitely. Just because it doesn’t sound like it was built in the ‘50s or ‘60s doesn’t mean it’s a bad amp. It sounds great, actually. It’s also quite compact, making it an excellent traveling amp.
We would recommend the Pro Junior IV for virtually all purposes, apart from live performances. If you want to use it for live performances, you’ll have to mic it up. We hope you enjoyed this Fender Pro Junior IV review! If you’d like to see our thoughts on other amps be sure to check out our amps page!