The Vaporizer has landed! One of Fender’s Pawn Shop Series, we were pretty much smitten with this amp even before we plugged it in. Featuring a very distinctive “space age” design, right down to the atomic logo, the Vaporizer is an all-tube 12-watt combo amp housing two 10” special design speakers. Outside of the retro good looks, this is your basic no-frills tone machine: two inputs (Normal and Bright) volume, tone and reverb controls. There are also two jewel light indicators, one for power and the other for the “Vaporizer” mode — more about that later! Available in three colors: Surf Green, Slate Blue and Rocket Red, the Vaporizer weighs in at 37lbs, pretty light for an all-tube, 2×10” combo.
We plugged a Telecaster outfitted with Joe Barden pickups into the normal channel on our Rocket Red model and were immediately impressed by the bright, clear tone the Vaporizer put out. Plenty of volume, too, from the 12-watts, though we would have to see if it would cut through our heavy-handed drummer on a gig. The reverb gets pretty swampy — great for those psycho-surf instrumentals. When we cranked it up, we started to get some nice little dirt out of the Bardens. In fact, we think the Vaporizer’s sweet spot is when you push the volume control just past halfway (especially on the Bright channel) giving us some real cool classic-rock raunch.
Step on the included wedge-style footswitch to launch the Vaporizer mode and step back! This puts everything to the max, over rides the volume and tone control and takes you straight into boosted, snarling lead tone. Not suitable for everything and somewhat surprising at first, but cool as heck and almost guaranteed to get you in trouble. Another unique feature of the Vaporizer is the reverb’s independent output. Turn the volume all the way down and the reverb all the way up for a wild and wet effect.
The Vaporizer certainly is an interesting little amp with plenty of attitude. While it may not be right for everyone, it will certainly appeal to fans of garage, surf, and punk rock.