Vintage Oddity: Rare Tweed Fender Deluxe Owned by Henry Gross
My friend and expert amplifier repair/restoration man Larry Rodgers got a most unusual vintage tweed Fender Deluxe into his shop recently. He knows how I like to “geek out” on things like this so he sent me up an email with some pics. Not only is this amp rare (possibly the only one ever…?) but it is owned by Henry Gross. If you don’t know Henry you might remember his hit song “Shannon” from the 70’s. Henry is a super cool guy and loves vintage guitars and amps as well as being one heckuva songwriter and player. In this short interview with Henry he tells us a little bit about this rare gem. There is also a short commentary from Larry about it. How rare is this amp…?
300guitars: Hi there Henry. Thanks for taking the time to tell us about your very unique tweed Fender Deluxe amplifier! First of all what year was the amp built?
Henry Gross: Larry Rodgers told me it was built in 1961. I’m not an expert on amps though.
300guitars: When and how did you acquire the amp?
Henry Gross: It seems like I’ve had it forever. I can’t really say for sure but I’ve had it at least since the early seventies because I had it when my amps and guitars were stored in Brooklyn.
300guitars: What makes your tweed Fender Deluxe so unique as compared to regular production Deluxe amps of the era?
Henry Gross: I have a standard tweed Deluxe as well and it’s a spectacular sounding amp. This larger size cabinet Deluxe just seems to push more air. It sounds bigger and seems to stay clean at a higher volume. I’ve owned dozens of amps of every variety over the years. I only keep the ones that bark! This 1961 Deluxe has been on nearly every recording I’ve made with electric guitar in the past twenty years. I used it extensively on my seventies recordings as well.
300guitars: Is it all original…including the speaker?
Henry Gross: The speaker is original. I thought It was blown so I replaced it with a new Jensen P12-R. That one inexplicably blew out with almost no use. It was off their limited warranty so I trashed it. Larry checked the original and found that he could repair it with a glue or paste that he painted around the circumference. The speaker is good as new again. Let’s hear it for the amazing Larry Rogers!!!! He’s the best!
Here is a quote from Larry Rodgers about Henry’s amp: “Henry Gross came to my shop with his Tweed Deluxe and I noticed it was taller than a standard Deluxe. I checked the date and it turns out to be March 1961. The cabinet size is 20 wide x 18 tall rather than the usual 16” tall. Also there is a typed label above the tube chart noting that when ordering a cover to order Deluxe #2 cover. The amp also sounds different than your usual Deluxe. More open and large and less compressed. Henry used this amp in 1976 on his hit song “Shannon” and has used it ever since. Henry worked with the Beach Boys and many other people. Attached are some pics. I have never seen another Deluxe like this and Fender never made another box of that size for any other amp”.
300guitars: Is this an amp that you use a lot or just one that you play from time to time?
Henry Gross: Since 1991 or so I’ve had my own record label, Zelda Records. This amp is on at least 95% of the songs I cut with electric guitar. You put a 57 on it & go. The only pedal I use is a stomp box compressor, usually an MXR Dynacomp but sometimes an old Roland. I have a million pedals but most of them try to make the sound my tweed Fenders make so what’s the point. All those pedals make your guitar sound tiny anyway. I’ve seen guitarists show up for sessions in Nashville with more outboard gear than they had at the old Record Plant in New York in the 70’s!!!!
And the guitar sounded like Plink, Plink! A great sounding amp needs nothing more than a great song and a good player! I’m reminded of an encounter I’m told happened to the late, great Chet Atkins. Someone heard him play and said: Man, that guitar sounds great. Legend has it Chet stopped playing and asked: “How does it sound now?”
300guitars: Which guitars do you mostly play through it?
Henry Gross: I have a collection of guitars that make whatever sound I need. My songwriting has always been eclectic so I use Fenders, Gibsons, Rickenbackers, Epiphones, Martins and Maui Music Ukuleles made by my dear friend Peter Lieberman. I have no interest in sports, cars, clothes, whatever! I love vintage guitars and amps. The sound they make inspires me to get up every day and write the best songs I can so I have material worthy of them.
300guitars: Do you use any effects with it?
Henry Gross: I used vintage effects on the “I’m Hearing Things” CD I recorded myself, in my home studio in Nashville, in 2001. I used Ibanez TS-808’s and old flangers, choruses but sparingly. Since then I’ve been recording in FT. Myers, FL with John Mclane at his, appropriately named, “Last Gasp” studio. He and I do the records together. John plays nearly every instrument that exists incredibly well. We rarely use pedals unless we want a classic Fuzz or Wah.
300guitars: Is this one of those special amps that you could never replace?
Henry Gross: Given the uncertain nature of society today I try to separate my ability to create from possessions of any kind under the theory that a Steinway never wrote a concerto. Having said that, My 1964 Gibson Hummingbird, which I bought used around that time for $50.00 is an instrument I don’t want to contemplate losing. This amp is in that category but somehow if I’m forced into a “Sophie’s Choice” moment- a guitar, that fits perfectly in my hand is somehow more a part of me.
300guitars: Are there any newer amps that you favor these days?
Henry Gross: Nope! John has a 70’s Yamaha transistor amp that’s worth about fifty dollars that makes a slide sound on a par with Duane Allman’s with my ’65 Epiphone Casino. Go figure. I had a bunch of ’58 & ’59 Les Pauls in the 70’s and none of them made that sound! It’s the combination. One guy divorces her & you love her for the rest of your life!
300guitars: Thanks a lot Henry for taking the time to tell us about your super rare Fender tweed Deluxe Amp..!!!!
Henry Gross: Thanks for listening to me rant! I could talk about guitars & amps all night… but then my wife would take up with the Gardner! Love & health to all! If anyone wants to contact me or check out my music, new and old, my website is www.henrygross.com. Contact: [email protected]