Whether it's an old-fashioned typewriter input for tablet computers, digital cameras made to look like 35mm film classics, or custom e-bikes with a touch of vintage styling - retro-now is most definitely in. If you want a guitar amplifier to fit right in with all your nostalgia-oozing new tech, Fender's Pawn Shop Special models are here to help. The diminutive Greta is styled liked an old tabletop radio, and the more powerful Excelsior is described as one of the distinctive tube combo amps in the company's history.
Fender's two new Pawn Shop Special amps are said to harken back to the early days of electrified sound. A time when musicians just grabbed whatever was available to amplify their instruments and were often rewarded with wonderful tone thanks to the primitive nature of the equipment. The new amps look a bit like the kind of treasures you might stumble upon at a second-hand store or run-down pawnshop - hence the name.
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Leading the retro charge is the 13-watt Excelsior combo amp, with its distinctive E-grille design and brown textured vinyl covering. It features a 15-inch (381mm) Special Design speaker, bottom-loaded primary chassis and top-loaded control chassis and is powered by two 6V6 output tubes and two 12AX7 preamp tubes. All of which is said to offer "tones from polite to raw to raucous."
There are separate 6.3mm (0.25-inch) inputs for an instrument, a microphone and (a rather quaint) accordion, each featuring optimized circuitry. A tremolo circuit with speed control, a bright/dark tone switch, and an overall volume control also feature. An internal speaker disconnect allows users to plug Excelsior into an external speaker and route the output through that. This model carries a suggested retail price of US$399.99.
Bringing up the rear is the attractive Greta amp, with a single 12AT7 output tube and one 12AX7 preamp tube, a 4-inch (101.6mm) speaker and an output of just 2 watts. Its front and rear wood panels are finished in bright red, and there's golden metal to the top and sides. The front is home to a sweet analog VU meter to indicate clean to overload tone, with a pair of gold-colored volume and tone knobs underneath.
There's a 6.3mm instrument jack, a similarly-sized line out (to preamp with another amplifier, for instance), and a 3.5mm (0.137-inch) auxiliary input that gives users the option of playing music through the amp, either as backing tracks to play along to or just to play digital music from a media player through the vintage-looking beauty. Greta has a suggested retail of US$259.99.
The Greta amp is showcased in the following short demonstration video from Fender: