If you need an amp that can be used for a wide range of gigs and cover an equally wide range of sounds, the Fender Super-Sonic 22 could be just what you need.
The Fender Super-Sonic 22 guitar amplifier is another entry from the renowned guitar and amp maker in the competitive low-cost, low-wattage amplifier market. This is the company that gave us such beloved and time-honored amplifiers as the Hot Rod Deluxe and Deluxe Reverb. So, it’s a fair question to ask if the Super-Sonic 22 really adds anything to an already busy marketplace. Before taking a shot at the answer, let’s see what the amplifier packs under the hood.
As its name suggests, this is a dual channel 22W amplifier with a 50W Fender “Lighting Bolt” speaker made by Eminence. The first channel (Vintage) offers controls for volume, treble, and bass as well as a switch for normal/fat operation. The second channel (Burn) has controls for gain 1, gain 2, treble, bass, middle, and master volume. The reverb is available for both channels and offers a master level control.
The 40 lbs amplifier is powered by two 6V6 power amp tubes, three 12AX7 preamp tubes, and two 12AT7 tubes that power the spring reverb and effects loop. It’s available in either black or blonde vinyl. A 4-button footswitch and amplifier cover are included.
Being a fan of Fender’s Deluxe Reverb, I was most enthusiastic about the Vintage channel so I could give the clean sound a try. After all, this channel is actually based upon the voicing of a ’65 Deluxe Reverb, as you might guess from the control layout. Armed with a Fender Eric Johnson Stratocaster and an array of new and vintage effects pedals, the vintage channel is a pedal-lover’s dream. With the normal/fat switch in the normal position, you’re definitely in Deluxe Reverb territory. If you place the switch in the fat position, you’ll get a much warmer and, yes, fatter sound that gives more body to single coil pickups. Both normal and fat settings are incredibly useful, just useful. If you wished, you could kick the amp into fat mode for solos or just leave it on all the time if you need the thicker sound.
I was less optimistic about the Burn channel, but only because I know that Fender’s reputation with overdrive channels is not terribly consistent. They rule when it comes to clean sounds, no question about that. But Fender just isn’t known for making amps that can, well, burn. The Super-Sonic 22 may very well help change this reputation. The fact that Fender builds the channel with two gain knobs lets you know that they mean business. The first gain control increases the level of the actual distortion whereas the second gain control affects the thickness and, to my ears, the compression of the burn channel.
I was flat out amazed at the level and depth of overdrive and distortion available in this channel. In lower gain levels, around three or four, you can get some great AC/DC type sounds. Crank it up to five or six, and you’re in the thickest ZZ Top territory with super rich harmonics. As you go from seven and up, varying the relationship between the two gain controls, you can get tones that can compete with the hottest Mesa Boogies and Marshalls. I’ll go so far as to say that it’s the best overdrive and distortion sound I’ve ever heard in a Fender amp. Not too shabby.
Fender certainly cannot be accused of justing resting on their past accomplishments or designs. The Fender Super-Sonic 22 is evidence of that. This 22W powerhouse offers the best of both vintage and modern sounds. From classic Fender clean to full-tilt distortion, the amp can cover it all. While it’s not super cheap, it’s hardly expensive given the current crop of so-called “boutique” amps on the market. If you need an amp that can be used for a wide range of gigs and cover an equally wide range of sounds, the Fender Super-Sonic 22 could be just what you need.
Name of Gear: Fender Super-Sonic 22
List Price: $1,399.99
Manufacturer Info: Fender Musical Instruments; fender.com
Pros: Excellent clean tones; complex, versatile overdrive channel
Cons: None significant