Fender Pro Junior IV SE 1x10 combo: What is it?
There are many articles of faith and debate surrounding guitar amplifier but nothing we have seen in the post-digital watershed – in which all tones are now on the table thanks to algorithmic audio engineering – has changed the fact that small compact tube combo amps are worth their weight in gold.
It’s a crowded market for a reason. Manufacturers are well aware of a sizeable cohort of players wanting tube amp response but at a wattage that is manageable – and by that we mean a power output that makes it viable for the home, small gigs, and the studio. A tube amp that would be welcome in polite society; all the tones, at a size and volume everyone can get down with.
Amps like the Fender’s entry-level Pro Junior IV SE are made for this. With 15-watts under the hood, there’s enough output to compete with all but the big-hitting drummers, and it’ll see you through a small gig, allowing you to drive the amp and find the sweet spots, but the voicing on this amplifier has also been configured to sound good at domesticated volumes and when dimed.
It similarly goes easy on your wallet. Pro Junior IV SE is a very affordable amplifier comparing favourably with its similarly powered and sized competitors – it is £160 cheaper than the lacquered tweed covered Pro Junior IV, though that comes with a Jensen P10R speaker, whereas the SE's is a Fender-designed Like the Mark IV Junior, it could not offer a more simple setup.
The control panel has dials for volume and tone and that’s your lot. Sharing space on that highly polished chrome front panel with the black chickenhead controls are the 1/4” input jack, a red jewel LED power indicator, and a switch to power the amp on or off. There is no standby switch. Inside you'll find a pair of 12AX7s in the preamp section, and a pair of Groove Tubes EL84s in the power amp.
Its cabinet has a narrow-panel vibe and is fashioned from particle board, and heck, you’ve got to hand it to Fender; this might be a budget-conscious amplifier but it looks the bee’s knees.
The black Tolex is contrasted nicely by that aged silver-sparkle grille cloth. The Fender badge on the front gives it the imprimatur of a storied legacy – when it comes to the proud lineage of the Fender amp, the apple has not fallen far from the tree.
Fender Pro Junior IV SE 1x10 combo: Performance and verdict
A 10kg, the Pro Series Junior IV SE is not quite rivalling the Tone Master series for weight. The 3/4” particle board that has been used for the cabinet, and of course the tube circuit and the attendant transformers, adds a little bulk. But it’s still over 4kg lighter than its 1x12 cousin, the ever-popular Blues Junior IV, and still registers comfortably in the portable bracket.
The two amps share quite a lot of DNA, from the particle board cabinet to the 12AX7/EL84 combination – the Blues Junior has 12AX7s to the Junior IV SE’s two – and the aesthetic, and there is a sense that this is a stripped-down and more affordable alternative to Fender’s best-seller.
Both score highly on value, but the tones the Pro Junior is capable of at this price, with this fuss-free operation, it’s hard to think of a better buy on the market.
Whether using single-coil or humbucking electric guitar pickups, there is little to no noise – good news for those who intend on putting a recording microphone in front of this, and good news for players putting pedals in front of it.
• Laney Cub-Super12
If you are looking for an affordable 1x12 tube combo, the Cub-Super12 is hard to beat. Its one-watt input makes it bedroom-friendly, while at 15 watts it is punchy and musical, with superb clean and drive tones.
• Fender Pro Junior IV
Equipped with the Jensen PR10 10" speaker, bedecked in a lacquered tweed that complements that chrome control panel beautifully, the Pro Junior will set you back an extra £160. It sounds exceptional, similarly blurring the line between US Tweed sounds and British tube grit.
• Fender Blues Junior IV
The sounds are top-drawer, comparing well against many so-called boutique amps costing four times the price. Factor in the compact dimensions and lightweight, and it’s easy to see why the Blues Junior remains a firm favourite.
The tones are on-point, quintessentially Fender, and challenge the price tag. You can take them from Telecaster country, heavy on the twang, and as the volume dial travels past the 6 o’clock point some heat and break-up give your tone a bit of growl.
What was just a minute ago a superb platform for honeyed blues guitar licks, precise and articulate country and jazz, is now exhibiting signs of being a well-voiced rock amp. As with the best Fender amps, the harder you lean on the volume the more the character of the amp changes. There’s some Tweedy rock bliss to be had on this, a tone that’s full of character. Just adjust the Tone control to season. Easy.
The volume is where the action is. Fender’s tweaks to the volume control have paid off. This is an amp whose controls could scarcely be more simple and yet it’s both precise and versatile, with usable tones all the way across the volume dial’s travel. Obviously, it is not a high-gain amplifier per se, but it nonetheless eats up overdrive and distortion pedals and the Fender 10” driver can handle things without going mushy.
At this price, it’s a no-brainer, and like the best cheap electric guitars on the market, it also makes a sound investment when you consider you could upgrade the speaker over time, perhaps installing a P10R at a later date. At 80 bucks not including installation, that's an attractive prospect, bringing it in line with its tweed-covered counterpart. Either way, this makes a convincing budget option for the pro and beginner alike.
MusicRadar verdict: A top-class budget tube combo that looks the part and has never sounded better.
Fender Pro Junior IV SE 1x10 combo: The web says
"This amp should tick all the boxes for many players, from beginners looking for a first amp that they can keep and grow with, to demanding professional guitarists. You can slot it into the tiniest space on the smallest of stages, while the low noise performance is great news for pedal users and studios."
Fender Pro Junior IV SE 1x10 combo: Hands-on demos
Fender Pro Junior IV SE 1x10 combo: Specifications
- ORIGIN: Mexico
- TYPE: Tube preamp, tube power amp
- OUTPUT: 15W RMS
- TUBES: 2x 12AX7, 2x EL84
- DIMENSIONS: 388 (w) x 222 (d) x 368mm (h)
- WEIGHT (kg/lb): 10.3/23
- CABINET: Particle board
- LOUDSPEAKERS: 1x10” Fender Special Design
- CHANNELS: 1
- CONTROLS: Volume, Tone
- FOOTSWITCH: None
- ADDITIONAL FEATURES: None
- OPTIONS: None
- CONTACT: Fender