Review Demo – Fender Hot Rod DeVille Michael Landau 2×12
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Players who like pedals will love Fender’s new Hot Rod DeVille ML 212, a 60-watt, 6L6-powered 2×12 combo designed in collaboration with session ace Michael Landau. Design changes to satisfy Landau’s predilections make this a very different DeVille—and a fantastic platform for effects.
Hot Rod DeVille ML is part of Fender’s “Inspired By” series, a product family based on real-world modifications to Fender gear by pro players. Landau, a tone colorist, used a stock DeVille for years as a canvas for his pedals. But to Landau, master volume controls sound “artificial.” He’s also no fan of channel switching, contending that an EQ setting for one channel doesn’t always work for a second channel using the same tone circuit. So instead of switching between two channels, the ML 212 enables switching between two volume settings on a single channel.
Lacking master volume, the DeVille ML 212 recalls vintage Fender designs. Its dual 6L6 power section has been modified for extra headroom, and with 60 watts on tap, it has enough horsepower for any stage. There’s a bright switch for the first volume control, and a boost setting for the second volume. The included footswitch allows selection of each volume and the boost.. The speakers are 70-watt 12″ Celestion V-Types. Meanwhile, the amp’s internal variable bias control means it’s easy to re-bias the amp after swapping tubes.
I auditioned the ML 212 with a humbucker-equipped Fender Esquire reissue, a ’73 Strat, and a ’68 Les Paul Standard. I also set the ML 212 alongside my 1966 blackface Fender Twin Reverb with vintage Celestion speakers. As much as I love my Twin, the newcomer kicked its butt in versatility and tonal purity, though they tie for headroom and fast response. The ML 212 was quieter, too (though after 48 years of service, the Twin is entitled to a little sonic dyspepsia).
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