Guitar Amp Shopping in Hong Kong!

Hong Kong doesn’t have the mega music stores you can find in the U.S and Japan so you won’t be swimming in a sea of guitars and amplifiers but there’s still a fair amount of choice here.

Just over a year ago, I spent weeks searching for the right guitar amp and ended up with the Fender Super Champ X2. It’s a cool little tube amp that suited me just fine— until it stopped working just after the warranty expired. Fixing it will cost about the same as a new one so once again I’m shopping for a guitar amp in Hong Kong (one of my favourite pastimes if truth be told!)

On Monday I spent hours in the reigning king of Hong Kong music stores: Tom Lee Music Tsim Sha Tsui.

There’s always a sale on here so there are often a few good deals. British amps, particularly Vox, tend to be better value than American amps.

The best buy in store was the Vox AC15 Hand Wired at around $700 USD:

As much as I love Vox amps, I do prefer the sound signature of the Fender so might have to pass on this one.

In the Fender range, the 65′ Princeton Reverb (Reissue) stood out. Perfectly portable at 13kg and at 12 watts you can turn it up without bringing down the ceiling of your house on top of you. The sound this amp produces is bell-like, beautiful and instantly recognisable. It’s been used on so many hit records that you couldn’t even begin to compile a list:

For another $50 USD you can get a 65′ Deluxe Reverb. Another beautiful, iconic amp with considerably more headroom and a bigger (heavier) 12″ inch Jensen speaker:

They had other bigger Fender amps like the Twin — but at an ear-shattering 85 watts you can barely switch the thing on if you live in an apartment. It’s also 30+ kilos so basically an immovable object:

The shop also stocks lots of Mesa-boogie, Marshall, Boss and Blackstar:

I made the mistake of using this Fender Road Worn Telecaster to test some of the amps and had serious problems placing it back in the rack when leaving. It was an absolute beauty. Even looking at these pictures makes me happy:

So it’s looking like a battle between the Deluxe reverb and the Princeton. The superior tremolo circuit on the Princeton may end up swinging it — but who’s knows — it’s too close a race to call!

More guitar/amp shopping updates as they come to hand!

25 thoughts on “Guitar Amp Shopping in Hong Kong!

  1. If I wouldn’t have thin walls and sissies as neighbors, I’d purchase an amp again too. When it’s about amps, I am Fender guy too. Clear, distinctive and beautiful sounding amps. When I was in the stores in the past to test guitars, I always played Fender amps. I have a thing for them too. I like both too, Princeton and Deluxe too.

    Don’t show me pictures of yellow Telecasters and tell me the guitar was good… that can induce GAS 😀 I love them, especially in yellow or white. I love my MIM Standard Telecaster but I will sell it, not in the near future, but in the next years if I decide to upgrade to an MIA. My Tele is brown and I never got used to this color, so, if I ever upgrade, the next one will be white, yellow, maybe even other colors, but white and yellow is my favorite when it’s about a Telecaster.

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    1. The tele is the picture was a mim as well but the neck was a 50s soft v style neck. And because it was a relic it was sanded back in places which I love. One thing about teles I don’t get on with is the heavy vanish that tends to be on the maple necks. But this one felt ‘right’. I tried American teles as well- not much difference I could see or hear. I wouldn’t GAS over that aspect at all. The custom shop ones are a step up of course but they are about $4000 usd! I’m still considering getting that tele….perhaps it’s meant to be lol

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      1. In your picture, the Fender Road Worn Telecaster has a 3 saddle bridge. I think that is what most MIA’s have but I am no expert. I am very curious about how a 3 saddle bridge plays like.

        Apart from the color, I might be unhappy with my 6 saddle bridge. I can’t explain well in English, but it feels like the strings are held tight in the notches of the bridge and don’t have much space to move there, by design. In some situations, it is cool, especially when you play the “let the strings slap onto the fretboard” fingerpicking kind of style. Sounds super snappy or twangy. But for other styles it feels like the strings are clamped and I assume a 3 saddle bridge would give you much more sustain and a different sound. I heard some people like 3 saddle bridge, others prefer 6 saddle bridge. I have the suspicion that I might like a 3 saddle bridge more. But unless I test one in a store, it’s all just theory in my head.

        If I test it at some point and if I am right, I could purchase such a bridge. But as I am unhappy with the color of the guitar, I most likely would swap the guitar at some point anyway. I would use the resale price for that and add some Euros to get what I feel is right. I’m just not in a hurry, especially since my Tele is well set up and has no quality issues whatsoever. Generally, it’s a nice guitar, definitely not a bad one.

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      2. I didn’t know the first thing about telecaster bridges — had to look it up. Looks like the originals all had 3-saddle bridges. So you’ve got a newer bridge with adjustable parts for each string? I’m not quite sure how this would affect the sound. I can’t imagine it would be noticeable? Though perhaps there is some sympathetic resonanace that might take place between neighbouring strings. Not sure. you could always swap it out. Telecasters are good like, pretty uncomplicated.
        It’s interested how we bond with guitars. Sometimes there’s just something that niggles us. It’s quite rare to find a guitar that seems perfect. Playing that tele in the shop was so enjoyable that I was thinking it was pretty close, but in honesty it was as much the amp which has to be about the best mass-produced amp ever made (to my little ears anyway!)

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      3. Yes, each string is adjustable with mine. And it’s generally said that the advantage of 6 saddles is that you can nail intonation with each string. It’s said the advantage of 3 saddle bridge is much more sustain. I’m not sure how true that is. I’ve seen two factions in forums with different standpoints arguing about that. But somehow it makes sense to me. You’re right, 3 saddle bridge is the most common with Telecasters but I’ve also seen MIA’s with 6 saddles, and now with your post, also a MIM with 3 saddles. Here is how my bridge looks like, it’s a photo of my Telecaster…

        Ironically, all my other guitars as the Les Paul’s, for example, have six notches too. But the notches are not as deep as the ones of the Telecaster bridge. I am not sure if it’s a placebo because I heard about 3 saddle bridges, but the strings on my Telecaster feel a lot more sticky and definitely don’t ring as long as the ones on my Les Paul’s. I’d say, it’s about notch depth. The Telecaster notches are deeper, by design. With that said, I could see why some people believe 3 saddle Telecaster bridges are said to give you more sustain.

        I could live with my Telecaster, because as we said, the bridge could be changed if I’d want to. But I was never able to bond with the brown color. But it sounds more dramatic than it is. I’m not in a hurry to replace the guitar because apart from “matter of taste” things, it has zero quality issues.

        I can imagine how you felt in the store. Guitar stores are dangerous places if you have money to spend. 🙂 Playing a very nice Telecaster with a very nice Fender amp is certainly not something you’d forget when you leave the store 🙂

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      4. I had a look at the tele bridges while in the shop the other day. Most had the 3 saddles. One thing I noticed though is that due to the design the 1st E string (thin) sits a little high. every tele I’ve tried I notice it — and it’s not completely obvious to me how you could set it down without changing the B string as well. I’m sure there’s a way around it but it struck me as a little strange.
        The roadworn MIM I was playing is very much a 52′ which is why I liked the neck so much. Switching to other teles usually meant a much fatter ‘C’ shape neck. That soft ‘V’ was beautiful to play and because it was sanded (relic’ed) you could feel the wood. A lovely playing experience.

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      5. I am not sure either but since each saddle has a pair of strings, I see why people talk about intonation issues and the string height problem. I’d like to take a look too but I think the stores in our city only have G&L Telecaster’s, if at all, but maybe they have 3 saddle bridges too. Next year I might check some Gibson Les Paul’s in Hamburg at a much large store than what we have in our city. I am pretty sure I will grab and test all kinds of guitars, including Telecasters. I’m curious about these 3 saddle bridges.

        I think my MIM Standard Telecaster has a modern C shape neck, and yeah, it’s a bit rounder and fatter. My Fender Classic ’50s Stratocaster has a soft V shape neck. I got used to all kinds of necks but honestly, if all my guitars would disappear and I would only have money for one guitar, it most likely would be one with a V shape neck. So, I can see why you liked it. I always liked flatter necks anyway.

        This will also be an interesting part if I check some Gibson Les Paul’s. I’ve read there are those with 50’s fat neck, and others with 60’s flat neck.

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      6. Some people say G&L are better than Fender! I’ve heard that a few times — or at least not worse. I would be happy to buy g&l given that Leo fender worked for them and reckons they were the best instruments he made so there’s that…don’t think I’ve ever even played one.

        To be honest, I get a bit overwhelmed when people start discussing the details of all the neck variations…I much prefer to pick it up and just have a play. Generally it’s always the slightly wider necks I go for, preferably maple.

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      7. I played some G&L’s and they’re really good. No question. But there is more behind the story why smaller guitar stores don’t have Fender and Gibson guitars anymore and why they rather have guitars like Hagstrom, G&L, Vintage and so on. Both companies decided to only work with larger stores, that’s what one of the store clerks said. They need to spend a certain sum on the guitars, otherwise, they won’t get them. Not sure about the sum anymore, but I think it was in the 10-40k Euro range to become Fender or Gibson licensed reseller. Not sure if he did exaggerate but he also mentioned something like “Out of 10 Gibson guitars, we had to send 7 back because of horrible quality issues” and stories like that. There are 3 popular stores here in our small city, they’re absolutely Gibson and Fender haters.

        Like really, absolutely anti Fender and Gibson. I still think I have nothing to do with their issues. They either get what I want as a customer, or I purchase in the next biggest city or online. They’d only be interesting for me if I ever am in the market for Hagstrom, G&L and so on… which could happen, but it’s not now. I don’t like how they talk with customers… one of them literally told me “Fender is crap, do your research” and I thought “WTF dude? Talking like that is the sure-fire recipe to make me want to leave the store asap”. I also thought “It must be depressing if you work 8 hours in a store you only 2 customers walk in during the day” but if they talk like that, it’s no wonder. The store is mostly empty.

        You named it. It’s about taking the guitar to find out if it feels right in your hands if your ears enjoy the pickups and the whole experience together. Since I have a small collection of guitars, I just noticed that “the feel” is not as important to me anymore. I just got used to different guitar bodies, necks, weights and so on. I was different before that, and neck type and other questions really stressed me. Not today anymore. If I play it long enough, I might be able to form a relationship with any guitar sooner or later. It just clicks sooner with some guitars and later with others. I just wish I would think the same about colors… I hope I get over this too in the future..

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      8. I would love to find some shops like that! Everything here is Fender and just a few other brands. In HK people seem to buy custom shop as often as anything else apparently. There’s tonnes of them in the stores — and they are all like 3-4K USD. Too rich for my blood. and why would you bother. for the same money you could get a piece of history….something like a 70s strat or something.
        An update to my tele shopping — I was thinking about the roadworn tele a lot and went in to try a final time and then probably buy….but you guessed it, SOLD. A pity!
        Still planning a trip to Japan to try some different guitars, the choice and second hand market here are limited and I don’t feel comfortable buying unseen unless it’s an irresistible bargain. In saying that I may bid on a Yamaha Revstar 502 with P90s tonight. They look like terrific value. Have you seen them?

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      9. Oh, that’s sad that you couldn’t get the guitar anymore. Maybe you can ask a store near you to order that exact guitar and see if the quality is equal. My stores would say “Meh, we don’t do that”. 😦 But we have online stores like Thomann with money back guaranty if something is wrong with the order, which is the only reason I’d purchase online if there is no other way.

        I do agree with what you said about guitar prices. There is a limit for me too. Life has enough costs and guitars are not my only hobby. That’s also why I went with both, a MIM Strat and MIM Tele. First I wanted an MIA Strat but then realized I could get a MIM Strat and MIM Tele for the money I saved. I didn’t regret that. They’re absolutely fine. I don’t even want to upgrade pickups. It’s all fine.

        I’ve seen the Yamaha Revstar 502 on YouTube but not in any local store. I hope you make a nice deal. I’d like to play P90’s too. I have no hands-on experience with P90’s. I almost bid on a Gibson Les Paul Studio this year with P90’s but as it had no neck bindings, I gave the idea up.

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      10. That money back set up is awesome. Dangerous for some though no doubt.
        Yes a shame about the tele. There’s no more here either. The guy in the shop said they don’t bring too many in as it would effect custom shop sales!

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  2. I owned a Princeton in the 90s until it got ripped off…best chorus I ever had.
    I have a small Vox practice amp…great little amp for recording. A vintage Twin Reverb is what I really want but they are crazy high.

    I always go vintage in old music shops…if they have been around since the 70s they are pretty damn durable. The one I play is a 1960’s Kustom…200 watts. Not a problem yet after years.

    Good luck Jeremy.

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    1. Did that Princeton have red knobs? I remember that run in the 90s. I used a ‘pro 185’ loud as all hell but not the greatest sound. Think most of them were solid state though I could be wrong on that. That kustom amp must be something.

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      1. Yes it had red knobs! Great chorus man… better than any box.
        The Kustom is clear as hell and won’t break. That was the complaint about them… if you want over drive you have to use a box.

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      2. Yes they do…I dont’ know much about the new ones though.
        I always liked Fogerty’s sound…that is why I tried them…many don’t like the padding…they don’t have that anymore.

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  3. My personal choice was the Fender Blues Junior III. I needed something lightweight to get to the gigs and with the Blues Junior mic’d up it sounds fantastic. Prior I was lugging a Peavey Classic 50 212 to my gigs. The amp got heavier as I got older. Not sure I can get used to the modeling amps either.

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