Fender Princeton Chorus, Circa 1994


You can’t have a guitar page without some amps. So here’s mine.

This is my 1994 Fender Princeton Stereo Chorus. A real stereo chorus amp! Look at the schematic!

This is actually my second Fender Princeton Stereo Chorus. Both are early 90’s models with the black knobs. I still have the other one, but it needs a new volume pot.

I bought this one at Guitars on George a few years ago when they opened back up. I think it’s the same one my friend Brock owned, that he bought off my friend Reese. Or Reece. Whichever. I think I paid around $200 for it? I bought it because I was having issues with my other one.

The other one came from Campbell’s Music about 15 years ago. I paid less than $100 for it because the input jack was busted. $5 fix, and it was as good as new for 10 years or so. But then the volume control got old and started getting noisy.


This amp is alleged to be second only to the Roland Jazz Chorus. I don’t know about that. But I do know that I actually prefer these to my 1970 Fender Twin Reverb. A little. Sure, the Twin is way way way way WAY louder, but I don’t usually need to make the neighbor’s deaf. And their neighbors. And their neighbors.

The clean channel sounds very good for being pure solid state. It doesn’t even have any sort of gimmicky ‘tube sound’ tricks, like compressors or zener diodes. (There is a compressor, but that’s in the distortion channel). The classic Fender 6-6-6 setup works as well here as it does on a ‘proper’ Fender tube amp. You can almost pretend that this is a smooth little tube Princeton.

The distortion channel isn’t very good. I mean, Supernova recorded their first album with one (or maybe its big brother, the Ultimate Chorus), but they’re the only ones. There’s some good sounds to be had with the compression on and the gain turned all the way off. Fortunately, distortion pedals work a treat on the clean channel.


Around back, we see the Fender “Special Design” speakers. These are made by Eminence. Probably. Known for their big bottom end. A certain person I know complained that, although the amp has a lot of bass, it doesn’t “chunk” like a Marshall. Well, it’s a Fender! If you want to sound like Led Zeppelin, buy a Marshall! Or a Valco.


This is my current setup. MXR Distortion Plus, modded with an extra diode in the anti-parallel clipping section (for more second-order harmonics) going through a modified BBE Sonic Maximizer (I replaced the RCA jacks with 1/4″ jacks and wired it up for batteries).

I don’t use the Maximizer as an effect. I’m just trying to get a consistent tone. With most guitar amps, the treble decreases as the volume goes up and the bass decreases as the volume goes down. It’s only there so the amp sounds the same at any volume. An EQ pedal would be better, but mine is a noisy POS. Maybe I should hook up my Radio Shack 15 band stereo EQ again?


Condition: 10/10

– Basically like-new

Sound: 8/10

– Clean: 9/10 One of the best clean solid-state amps out there

– Distortion: 6/10 Usable. Keep the gain down.

Light, clean, cheap, and loud. You could play a garage or a small club with this. I have!

2014 Fender Jaguar


This guitar is what happens when a cherished guitar maker decides to throw away its brand equity.

First, some history.

In the 1980’s, Fender was on the ropes. CBS Instruments had pillaged the company and burned the brand to the ground. The only reason to buy a Fender over one of the excellent imported copies was the funny headstock shape and the name on the headstock.

In the late 1980’s, Fender’s employees saved their pennies and bought out the company, and then spent the next decade or so repairing their legacy. The name “Fender” on a guitar actually meant something again. Quality went up, features were refined, new models were brought out, etc.

In order to tap into the ‘beginner instrument’ market, Fender began its Squier line. Cheap, mediocre copies of their classic instruments, sold at the same price as their competitors. Why buy a Cort Strat copy when you could buy a Cort-made Squier with the authentic Fender headstock shape for the same price?

Well, those days are gone!

The Fender employees sold out to a bunch of weasels apparently intent on squeezing every last ounce of cash out of the name.


Calling this Chinese made lump a Fender is a disgrace. Why market this as a Fender instead of a Squier? Well, maybe they figure they can charge a few more dollars for it. Maybe they think it will sell better. While the Fender mystique lasts, that is. Forget about protecting your brand – screwing people is where it’s at!

It’s not as if this is a bad guitar, per se, it’s just that this is, for all intents and purposes, a Squier. It’s like Apple putting their name on a $100 LG smartphone and calling it the new iPhone.

The fret job was very poor. It’s the worst Squier I’ve ever had. I’ve become used to using a file or a claw hammer to drive down one or two high frets, but frets were high on about half the neck!

It plays well. Now that I’ve fixed it anyway. I like the profile of the neck. Similar to my green Squier Strat with the Jazzmaster pickup. The frets are a little small for leads but usable. The short scale really helps on the big bends so that makes up for some of it.


I like that this doesn’t feel quite like a typical copy. The mix of Fender and Gibson works well enough. Like a Firebird mated with a Jaguar. The switch and the volume control aren’t in the best location, but it’s OK. Easy to get to. Too easy – I keep hitting them.

The finish is good for a low end guitar. I like the dark sunburst. Probably hiding cheap-ass wood but I don’t believe it’s plywood. The bridge and tailpiece are quite acceptable. The electronics work, it doesn’t squeal much, the cheap P-90 copies sound like cheap P-90s.


This is the only guitar I have with a flat top and a Gibson style bridge, so I decided to put the Fishman Triple Play on it. It is a wireless guitar Midi interface.

This thing works a treat. The tracking is excellent, provided you clean up your playing. If you’re looking to play guitar and Midi at once, the guitar will suffer. You will need to play very stiffly. Slurring notes together, shambodically bashing away, strumming all 6 strings and muting 5 of them with your left hand won’t do. Clean and precise.

The software works well enough. The built-in instruments work better than any of the free VST plugins I tried. I guess they have too much CPU load – they are laggy no matter how I set them up.

Basically, it is easier learning to clean up your playing to work with this thing than it is to learn a completely new instrument.

The only failing is that although it is wireless, you still need to plug your guitar into your PC’s sound card if you want to use the included guitar effects. Why can’t I plug my guitar directly into this box? A 16 bit 44.1KHz data stream would present negligible bandwidth demands.

SUMMARY: (guitar)

Condition: 9/10

– Cosmetics: 9/10 About what you expect from an imported Chinese guitar

– Working order: 9/10 Now that I fixed the frets, no big problems

Playability: 8/10

– Rhythm Playabiliy: 9/10

– Lead Playability: 7/10 The frets are a little small for shredding

Sound: 7/10

– Bridge: 7/10 Sounds like a cheap P-90

– Neck: 7/10 Also sounds like a cheap P-90!

Mutton dressed as lamb. Fender is destroying their brand by releasing this as a Fender instead of a Squier

SUMMARY: (Fishman Triple Play)

Route the guitar’s signal through the wireless Midi device and I’d recommend it to anyone. As it is, it’s better than the Roland’s I’ve tried, but more for novelty than actual use

1999 DeArmond M75t


Note: this will be my last major update for a few weeks. Vacation beckons!

Guild was acquired by Fender in the late 1990s. They decided to bring out a DeArmond line of cheaper Guilds, alà Squier. Instead of calling them Squiers, they used the DeArmond brand name, which Fender had the rights to. Read all about it here!

The M75t was the top of the line model of the Korean made range. At least, it was the most expensive. It has a Bigsby copy tremolo bridge and USA made DeArmond 2k pickups. The body is maple on top of some cheap Asian mahogany-sound alike. This guitar is very heavy. They rectified this with the next model, the semi-hollow M77t.

I bought this guitar at the Pied Piper in Huntington WV in January 2002. This model was discontinued by then, and had damaged knobs, but they didn’t give me a discount on it. Fargin’ bastages. I put on the Earnhart sticker myself. I’m not a fan. It just looks good.


The tremolo doesn’t stay in tune. It probably needs a graphite nut, but installing those requires effort, so I swapped in a roller bridge instead. Same post spacing – it just drops in! It came from Guitar Fetish, my favorite “el cheapo” guitar parts store. Well, it stays in tune a little better, that’s for sure. It’s also slightly brighter, with a touch more sustain. Decide for yourself if that’s a good thing.


This is a picture of the headstock. Yay, it’s a headstock.

The guitar plays like a Les Paul. It has the 12″ Gibson fretboard radius and close string spacing which doesn’t agree with my long skinny fingers. It’s also fat front to back, which can hurt my thumb after long playing sessions. I usually just play power chords with this guitar to limit finger pain. If you like Gibsons, you’ll like this.

This is my go-to guitar for Sex Pistols raunch and Brian Setzer twang. Also excellent for surf. There isn’t a single genre that this guitar couldn’t do. It has a lot of character, but not so much that it loses versatility.

The bridge pickup has some P90 snarl and bite, but it still has that DeArmond twang. The neck pickup is fat – downright chunky – but chords sound ill-defined with distortion. Of course, there’s massive twang in the in-between position.


Condition: 9/10

– Cosmetics: 8/10 (some visible pick marks on the pickguard)

– Working order: 10/10 (perfect)

Playability: 7/10

– Rhythm Playabiliy: 7/10 (if you like Gibsons, make that 10/10)

– Lead Playability: 7/10 (ditto)

Sound: 9/10

– Bridge: 10/10 (twangy and midrangey)

– Both: 10/10 (twang city)

– Neck: 8/10 (fat, a little muddy)

One of my favorites. Reliable and versatile. I’ve played shows with this.

Err, Yes

I don’t have my camera with me, so I was going to start by using some photos I already had of my guitars, maybe some from my old site, maybe some that I took for the Couch, but they are all HORRIBLE.

Instead, here is a picture of LBJ holding a beagle by the ears.


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