Reliable, powerful and clean.
If you’ve played a backlined gig, or have researched affordable combo amps that pull out all the stops, chances are you’ve come across The Fender Hot Rod series. A favorite among musicians for light weight, big sound, and amiable price tags, the series has maintained its popularity among musicians since its debut in the mid-‘90s. As the hair metal of the ‘80s began to dissipate, musicians returned to analog tube amps for their massive power and incredible tone. With this demand, Fender created the Hot Rod Series in 1996, reinventing their classic clean sound. Today, according to the Fender website, the series can be found in more studios and stages than any other amp series in the world.
The most beloved of the series are the Hot Rod Deluxe IV and the Deville 212 IV. Each has a Normal, Drive, and More Drive Channel, and a two-button footswitch and cover. While the Deluxe is a 40-watt 1×12” combo, the Deville is a 60-watt 2×12” 60-watt combo. In other words, the main difference between the two is the overdrive sound and overall power: the Deluxe has a heavy overdrive with not as much power behind it, while the Deville can get loud as hell with a cleaner sound at a high volume.
We’ve rounded up some of our favorite Hot Rod devotees who use the Deluxe IV or the Deville 212 IV to craft their signature sounds:
Protégés of Janelle Monáe, St. Beauty is the musical project of Alexe Belle and Isis Valentino. In 2012, when the Atlanta-based R&B duo began writing songs together, Belle was looking for someone to play guitar on a song she had written—instead of outsource, Valentino offered herself up with the few chords she knew. Since then, St. Beauty has helped to sharpen Valentino’s guitar skills, adding a boost to live performances and leads to the duos soulful, vibrant music. She currently plays a ‘50s Fender Stratocaster (in Aztec Gold) paired with the Hot Rod Deluxe IV to get their atmospheric and melodic sound that Belle describes as “confetti.” St. Beauty has had two singles featured on seasons one and two of HBO’s Insecure, and this year they released Running to the Sun, their debut EP on Monáe’s Wondaland Arts Society record label.
Lindsey Jordan (Snail Mail)
Media darling Lindsey Jordan has taken the indie rock scene by storm. Snail Mail, her solo project that she started in 2015 when she was only 16 years old, is a bright glimpse into the prodigies potential. Beginning her career by taking guitar lessons with Mary Timony (of Helium and Ex-Hex), Jordan went on to release a self-recorded solo EP, Sticki, in 2015, the EP Habit on Sister Polygon Records in 2016, and her acclaimed debut album, Lush, on Matador Records this year. Backed by Alex Bass (fittingly, on bass), Ray Brown (drums), and Ian Eylanbekov (guitar), Jordan plays a ‘60s Fender Jaguar combined with a Deville 212 IV to get her potent, lead-driven sound. (You can read our interview with Jordan from this past June here.)
Melina Duterte (Jay Som)
The intimate music of Bay Area-based Melina Duterte, under the moniker Jay Som, has been revered by the New York Times and taken on tour with the likes of Mitski and The National. Duterte has been playing guitar since she was 8 years old, influenced by her mother’s singing and her fathers record collection from working as a DJ, and began writing her own songs at 12. The evolution of Duterte’s songs has resulted in her intimate, bedroom pop that she entirely performs and records herself at home. Live, she plays a ‘60s Fender Jaguar (in Surf Green) with a Deville 212 IV. Jay Som’s debut full-length album, Everybody Works, was released on Polyvinyl Records on March 10th, 2017.(Read our interview with Duterte from 2013 here.)
Sharon Van Etten
From songwriter, to actress, to mother, to studying to become a therapist, Sharon Van Etten does it all. The New York-based musician uses her tender voice and harmonious melodies with a ‘60s Fender Jaguar (in Sunburst) and a Deville 212 IV to craft her folk-leaning, emotive, and beautifully candid songs. Van Etten has released four full-length studio albums, and last year she released a remastered and remixed version of her 2009 debut album, Because I Was In Love. She has also appeared as a recurring character in the Netflix show The OA in 2016 and on episode six of the Twin Peaks series reboot on Showtime in 2017.