For a player who wants a superior clean amplifier that is loud, powerful, and clear for effects pedals, the Fender Deville ML is a superior choice.
The Fender Hot Rod series of amplifiers is well known for being a platform for “pedal players,” i.e. guitarists who get their distorted and overdriven sound from pedals rather than from an amplifier’s built-in distortion tones. One such player is Michael Landau, who was known to use Fender Hot Rod DeVille amplifiers as his preferred backline solution. This love led to Fender and Landau joining forces and producing the Fender Deville ML. Let’s take a look at the specs and performance to see how this union has fared.
Unlike the normal Hot Rod Deville series, the ML model sports no internal overdrive channel. After all, this is an amp that was designed from the ground up with the pedal-based guitarist in mind. It’s rated a very conservative 60 watts with dual 12″ Celestion V-Type speakers. A devoted clean amp, it has two separate volume controls, with a bright switch for the first volume and a boost for the second. There is an effects loop and Fender spring reverb as standard equipment. A cover and two-button footswitch is included. For servicing, the amp contains an internal bias control. The weight is 61 lbs.
The first thing I noticed about the Deville ML is that this is one loud amp. Fender Devilles are known for their loud clean tones, and the ML incarnation is no exception. This is not a bedroom amp. In fact, it probably gets a bit too loud too fast, a sometime complaint about the standard Devilles as well. But you do want a pedal platform amp to have a solid loud clean tone and the Deville ML certainly delivers in that area. Having the heft to push that much power comes at a price though. The Deville ML is pretty hefty.
I tested the amp on a cover band gig with several different overdrives: a Fulltone OCD, Wampler Euphoria, Rockett Animal, and JHS Angry Charlie. The Deville ML allowed all the different characters of these various pedals to shine through nicely. I ran a couple of delays, one behind the overdrives and one through the effects loop, and they both sounded wonderful, with the loop-based delay being very quiet.
The cleans themselves are big and powerful, with a balanced sound – smooth highs, balanced mids, and well-rounded low end. Jazz guys might be comfortable using the amp on its own merits, though it certainly excels as a platform for your overdrive pedals. The two channel format works well for adding a little extra boost to solos when needed.
Although its weight and price point might be a turnoff for some, for a player who wants a superior clean amplifier that is loud, powerful, and clear for effects pedals, the Fender Deville ML is a superior choice. For a gigging guitarist with a working amp dolly, this could be a go-to amplifier.
Name of Gear: Fender Deville ML
List Price: $1099.99
Manufacturer Info: Fender Musical Instruments; fender.com
Pros: Loud; excellent platform for effects pedals