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  1. #1

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    So about 2 weeks ago I acquired one of the new Fender Tone Masters, the Twin Reverb. I had read literally thousands of posts on various gear-oriented boards, watched demo videos, read reports and reviews... it was hard to decide between the TMDR and the TMTR. Fact is, though, I've always wanted a twin. I played one a few times years ago, and I always felt like I was trying to ride a horse that was just too fast for me. The weight of course was also an issue. After a lot of research, and going with a vendor with a good return policy, I ordered the Tone Master Twin Reverb.

    I have so far been just delighted with it. The tone is everything I remember loving about the Twin I played long ago. I can't do a side-by-side, and also I've learned that's really pointless. The "real" tube amps vary a lot among themselves and if I had, say, 3 real tube TRs and the TMTR, likely there would be 4 different sounds coming out. But I have to say, I'm really impressed.

    Most impressive to me are the two "extras" Fender added, in violation of their general plan to stick solely to duplicating the Twin Reverb's performance in a digital amp. They added an attenuator that dials the output power down in very rough half-increments: 85 watts, 40 watts, 22 watts, 12 watts, 5 watts, and 1 watt. So you can set up the front controls for "cranked" or whatever, and then control the output for the room you're playing in. That seems to work pretty well as far as I can tell. There is also an XLR balanced line out, with 3 settings. One is a straight, I suppose FRFR out. Then there is a setting with an IR profile for a Shure SM57 close up at the edge of the speaker center cone. The second IR profile is for a Royer Lbs R-121 studio ribbon microphone. You have a level control to shape the output signal. These extra tools strike me as incredibly useful and they work extremely well. Combined with the light weight (33 lbs) this amp is really an amazing tool.

    So for a clip... I wasn't sure what to do. I can't do a side-by-side with a "real tube" version. So I decided to do 2 runs through the same music, one using the XLR IR#1 and the other using XLR IR#2. I can't hear much difference, but it might be helpful to some. I also recorded a clip using the SM57 set up at the edge of the cone, and I could not separate it from the XLR IR#1 clip in terms of sound. They were totally indistinguishable except the "real" microphone picked up the sound of the dehumidifier switching on in my office!

    I'll be glad to answer whatever questions I can about this amp. I'm really happy with it and think many will find the Tone Masters to be a great solution for performance and recording.

    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

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  3. #2

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    Lawson, that was some great playing and great tone.

    I have two tube amps (a 1964 Fender Princeton and a 1988 Mesa 50 caliber) and your review is making me question why I am staying with 1980 and earlier technology in 2019.

    Food for thought.
    _____________________________________________
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger View Post
    Lawson, that was some great playing and great tone.

    I have two tube amps (a 1964 Fender Princeton and a 1988 Mesa 50 caliber) and your review is making me question why I am staying with 1980 and earlier technology in 2019.

    Food for thought.
    Thanks. I'm told the Tone Master Deluxe Reverb is also amazing, and even lighter (one speaker). I haven't had a chance to play one of those.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  5. #4

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    Wow! That's a Gibby through a Twin alright. The two #IR settings are great. I slightly prefer the first one, myself.I had a TR here at home (wouldn't transport it--too heavy) until about ten years ago. It was great when played with my ES-175.Classic signal chain, Lawson.

  6. #5

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    Nice job, LS! That's that sweet 175-through-a-Twin-Reverb tone I like to hear! Congratulations on your new amp, and play it in good health!

    And thanks for your informative and entertaining video!
    Best regards, k

  7. #6

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    Really nice sounding setup! Very legit tone.

  8. #7

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    I am glad you didn’t do an A/B test. Speaker alone can cause considerable variation. Thanks Lawson! How does it sound with bass and treble rolled all the way down? (This is supposed to be close to a flat frequency response on this tone stack.).

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by wzpgsr View Post
    How does it sound with bass and treble rolled all the way down? (This is supposed to be close to a flat frequency response on this tone stack.).
    Even with this new Tone Master series?

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greco View Post
    Even with this new Tone Master series?
    Good question. My guess would be "yes" because that mid-scooped tone stack is part of what Fender is known for. The earth would shift on its axis if they introduced a Bandaxall tone circuit!

    The difference between the IRs is interesting. The first to me sounded more like 50s Jimmy Rainey or Tal Farlow type tone, the second sounded a bit more like early 60s Jim Hall type tone. I liked both although for my own use might prefer the second.
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  11. #10

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    I don’t think the difference would be as earth shattering as a move from scooped to baxandall. But I have read anecdotes saying that some unexpected control settings are required to match tones when comparing tube variants to the Tone Masters. Same caveat as before applies: speakers, tube types, age, component value drift, etc. all can alter the tone of a tube amp. One size does not fit all.

  12. #11

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    Sounds great dude, congrats.

  13. #12

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    Nice Lawson and thanks for posting.
    Both sound great to me and pretty close to many twins I've played - with much variation between all of them. I have a small preference for n° 2 - to my ears it was slightly more rounded and less strident, particularly in the middle and upper registers - I imagine the difference would be imperceptible in a live situation......

    Lawson, your video is pushing me very strongly towards replacing my dead Princeton Recording with the Tone Master in it's Deluxe version with a singe 12" and valve equivalent 22w output (100w solid state) - I really don't need more.

    May I ask how you rate the attenuator? Although I play a lot of jazz, I also play blues where being just on or above the point of break-up where attack and pick angle makes a big difference to dynamic reactivity. This means with a Deluxe I would want volume around 5 or 6 which is too loud for many situations without attenuation. To your ears how close are the "attenuated sounds" to the originals? Are they the same quality at all 5 attenuated levels?

    On the weight side, this looks like "lumbago heaven" for older guys like me - the Twin being only 33lbs and the Deluxe 25lbs.
    Last edited by Ray175; 10-20-2019 at 03:37 PM. Reason: typo

  14. #13

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    Sounds like the real deal to my old ears!

  15. #14

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    Awesome, Lawson!

    This amp could be a future classic, like the JC-120.
    Build bridges, not walls.

  16. #15

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    Nice playing, both the guitar and amp sound great - but - it's the recording that sounds really, really terrific to me.

    Nice job!

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by wzpgsr View Post
    I am glad you didn’t do an A/B test. Speaker alone can cause considerable variation. Thanks Lawson! How does it sound with bass and treble rolled all the way down? (This is supposed to be close to a flat frequency response on this tone stack.).
    I’ll give that a check Monday when I’m back at the office where the TMTR lives.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by wzpgsr View Post
    I don’t think the difference would be as earth shattering as a move from scooped to baxandall. But I have read anecdotes saying that some unexpected control settings are required to match tones when comparing tube variants to the Tone Masters. Same caveat as before applies: speakers, tube types, age, component value drift, etc. all can alter the tone of a tube amp. One size does not fit all.
    Mainly what I hear is the taper of the pots is longer and less steep on the TMTR than on the tube TR. you can get the same sound but the knobs won’t be in exactly the same place.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  19. #18

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    too many variables...I have had several "twins" out side of the weight..they were (and to some still are) the go-to amp..now nice soft jazz can be had through many amps..but the twin in its day could just about break glass..and some eardrums..doing hard rock solos...and many country players didnt even know other amps existed..those super smooth chimey clear high notes and the Tele twang and tricks..

    todays sound technology ..including all attachments..can have you sounding like an acoustic on a les paul (which I love) and just about any altered sound you want short of a sound engineer in the studio..at a price many can afford..

    while Fender is saying this is a "real twin" ..SS tech has been around for decades now..welcome to the no tube needed world ..and dial in power - rheostat technology is not new ..

    yeah the weight and price will get you points ..but then your in a market where there are players far beyond the modest Fender "improvements"..

    This begs the question..being that Fender is having financial problems ..will it continue to produce both lines ..tube style and SS...that seems like car manufactures offering a carburetor and fuel injection on the same models today..

    yes there will be fans of both schools both saying they are the better sound..and it comes down to personal choice..some will say they can hear the difference and its no contest while others say it really dosent matter they just want an amp that is lighter and cost less..
    play well ...
    wolf

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone View Post
    I can't do a side-by-side, and also I've learned that's really pointless. The "real" tube amps vary a lot among themselves and if I had, say, 3 real tube TRs and the TMTR, likely there would be 4 different sounds coming out.
    That's a HUGE point that I think most people are missing, regarding "A vs B" type tests.

    Sounds great to me!

  21. #20

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    A Twin that weighs only 15.8 kgs!

    Always difficult to judge the sound and behavior of an amp thru a recording like this. The recording sounds good!

    But to really know how the amp behaves on stage with a band, say with drummer, organ and sax, you have to play it on stage. The specs say it's 200W that simulates 85w.... this is a weird one for me - watts are watts in technical terms, so I really wonder how and what they are measuring then (the 'tube-watts' versus 'solid state watts' is a very old discussion that actually has nothing to do with real watts, but all the more with measuring methodes, speaker efficiency, clean watts cq power handling before distortion, interaction of speakers with output-transformers, etc.).

    I am curious though!

    The thing that hooks me to tube amps, is not the use of tubes, but the fact that tube amps need an output transformer. And the interaction of the output transformer and the speakers is what solid state amps and digital modeling amps are missing. It's relatively easy to model or emulatie a tube 'sound', but what makes playing tube-amps so preferable (to me at least) is the physical effect of the output-transformer (litterally under-dampening and influencing the travel of speaker-cone).

    So I am not a tube snob (I think/hope), but for a good 'feel' and response on stage, a solid state or digital amp needs to emulate the interaction of the speakers and output-transformer. Many manufacturers are doing so (retro-tone, transtube, current feedback, constant current drive... all kind of names for that), more or less succesfully. Award Session does a good job with their RetroTone circuit, so it can be done. So I am very curious how the Tone Master series score in that area!
    Last edited by Little Jay; 10-21-2019 at 07:38 AM.
    Jazz, Funk, Soul & Boogaloo: My group | Listen to Hip Jazz a Go Go! | Jazz, Soul, Blues: Eva La Voix

  22. #21

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    Thanks Lawson for a jazz tone example of the Tone Master amp.

    I ran the audio from your clip through ch 1 of my TMDR. Both your amp and my amp sounded great! haha...

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by archtopeddy View Post
    Thanks Lawson for a jazz tone example of the Tone Master amp.

    I ran the audio from your clip through ch 1 of my TMDR. Both your amp and my amp sounded great! haha...
    I would love too have a chance to play a TMDR. I always wanted a Deluxe Reverb amp. I got the TMTwin because it was just $100 more and... a Twin Reverb... But I love the DR model on my SuperChamp X2 so i suspect I'd love a real Deluxe Reverb, either tube or Tone Master.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  24. #23

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    Since this is a new amp, and in a way, a new kind of amp, I thought a post with a different guitar would be helpful. This is the same Bb Blues from the Raney/Aebersold set, but played with my 2015 Gibson L5ces. Many associate the "Big Gibson" with the "Big Fender" for the Big sound of jazz guitar. I was really happy to hear how the amp captures the more sophisticated tone of the L5ces over against the "thunk" of the ES175. The recording and YouTubing process wears that down a bit, but I think you can still hear the "L5-ish" quality of the L5ces in this clip.

    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  25. #24

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    That L-5CES looks a s sweet as it sounds! And the TMTR loudens it admirably. Thanks, LS!
    Best regards, k

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone View Post
    Since this is a new amp, and in a way, a new kind of amp, I thought a post with a different guitar would be helpful.
    Thanks very much for the YT clip.

    VERY impressive, wonderful, enjoyable, admirable and extremely enviable playing. Did I make my point?

  27. #26

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    Nicely played.
    Recordings capture the differences between L5 and ES 175 very well too. It's interesting however, ES 175 with the second microphone sounds closer to L5 than with the first microphone. L5 has more mellow highs, the second microphone also seems to mellow out ES 175 as well. My favorite is 175 with the second microphone then L5 then 175 with the first microphone.

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    Nicely played.
    Recordings capture the differences between L5 and ES 175 very well too. It's interesting however, ES 175 with the second microphone sounds closer to L5 than with the first microphone. L5 has more mellow highs, the second microphone also seems to mellow out ES 175 as well. My favorite is 175 with the second microphone then L5 then 175 with the first microphone.
    Much as I love the venerable SM57 I"m thinking I like the IR#2 option, the Ribbon microphone profile, better as well. I should try the L5 with the IR#2 profile.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  29. #28

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    This is one of those things that was fun to do but didn't end with very dramatic results. I have 3 amps here:

    Fender Tone Master Twin Reverb
    Fender Princeton Reverb Re-issue
    1965 Silvertone 1484

    This clip uses the same bop blues solo as before, but switches among the 3 amps, naturally without telling which is #1, #2, or #3. All amps were mic'd with a SHure SM57 close to the outer edge of center cone of the speaker.

    I have tried to equalize the volume levels so that mere loudness doesn't prejudice your listening, but I don't know how successful I was. Guitars are all panned to the center, the backing track is only on the right, so if you want to hear only the guitar, pan left.

    I don't intend this as a test, nor to ask which sounds "best" but just put it out there for your enjoyment and perhaps information.

    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  30. #29

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    Interesting! Having listened to that a couple of times, I think I like number two the best but I wasn't able to hazard a guess as to which was which.
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  31. #30

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    Lawson - your latest video gives more credence to the idea that tone is in the fingers.... Well done!
    Best regards, k

  32. #31

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    The most dramatic difference, to my ears, between the three was in the very first section. Based on this, here are my guesses:

    1 - Tone Master Twin Reverb
    2 - Princeton Reverb RI
    3 - Silvertone 1484

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74 View Post
    Lawson - your latest video gives more credence to the idea that tone is in the fingers.... Well done!
    For good or ill, it seems like whatever guitar I use, whatever amp, I still sound like me,

    I believe the "fingers" but I also think it's the ear. We tweak the controls and fret over the knobs until we think it's "right" and I think we are unconsciously moving whatever gear we play towards the sound in our heads that we like.

    I've started just leaving Tone/Volume on maybe 7-8, amp controls flat or 5'd, and just seeing what comes out. It's interesting!

    I have a 1960's Hagstrom-I that is my next "test" clip.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  34. #33

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    In person, how much difference or what do you think is the difference between the Tone Master and the Princeton?

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by DMgolf66 View Post
    In person, how much difference or what do you think is the difference between the Tone Master and the Princeton?
    Let me get back to you on that. I LOVE the PRRI. It also has a lot of "clean" and so it sounds a bit Twin Reverbish, but still it's a 6V6 amp and that's a specific sound. I would say at the moment the TMTR sounds smoother, less "look out, I'm about to break up!" whereas the PRRI stays clean but always has this hint (threat?) that it is about to break up. That's just off the top of my head, though. I'll play them today or tomorrow and get a more focused opinion on that.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  36. #35

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    Number 2. But, I have strong feeling that your playing would sound smooth and mellow using any amp. Good luck with the new amp and thanks for posting.

    Tony D.

  37. #36

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    Lawson, we gotta get some 50s tweed (or modern clone) into your hands!

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by wzpgsr View Post
    Lawson, we gotta get some 50s tweed (or modern clone) into your hands!
    Can’t beat 50s tweed!

    Fender Tone Master Twin Reverb-213f9a26-df84-4a08-a263-fc4f126a7e90-jpg

  39. #38

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    Heard and played a Tone Master Twin today with a 330, I was curious after reading this thread.Very good sounding, perhaps a little on the bright side. It's a swiss knife: it's light, playable at low and high volume without any problem for a large panel of styles (perfect for 80's english pop with the 330). It's not a valve amp but it "emulates" quite well that typical clear Fender sound. The owner paid 1000€, it seems reasonable if you are looking for that "no lumbago /no valve issues" amp.I prefer my homemade tweed Princeton but it's clearly apple vs oranges and I won't ask the twin to sound like something it's not made to sound like.

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by DMgolf66 View Post
    In person, how much difference or what do you think is the difference between the Tone Master and the Princeton?
    So I spent maybe an hour today with the PRRI and the TMTR literally side-by-side with an A-B switch. I got the volumes equal--put the TMTR on the 12 Watt attenuator setting, both volumes on about 6, B/T on about 5, mids on the twin at 5. They are different but it's hard to describe. The Twin has a very round fat kind of clean sound that just seems to breathe. The PRRI is beautiful, but seems to have a bit more edge, maybe little brighter, but it also seemed just a tad more crispy and present. This all could also just be settings. Neither was anything short of heart-melting beautiful to me, playing my Epiphone MiK Broadway to boot! I'd have killed for either sound.

    Then the PRRI had a tube start making a little noise, just a little microphonic. I am sure it's an easy fix, but I was reminded that likely that won't ever happen with the TMTR. Both amps, though, I love dearly. that Princeton has a mojo that is hard to describe. I wish I had more experience with tube amps so I could do it justice. The Twin has it too, but the sound is just bigger all around, even at the same volume.

    I doubt that helps you much! Kind of vague, and when I play them again tomorrow, it'll all seem different I guess. But that's my initial impression playing them both side-by-side.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  41. #40

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    My Deluxe Reverb started blowing fuses out of the blue. Probably the rectifier tube is dying. I might need to use it at a gig next week. Now I don't know whether to replace the tube or the amp altogether with a TM DR

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    My Deluxe Reverb started blowing fuses out of the blue. Probably the rectifier tube is dying. I might need to use it at a gig next week. Now I don't know whether to replace the tube or the amp altogether with a TM DR
    Just curious to know how spent much time you have spent playing through a TM DR?
    Please understand that I'm not questioning your thinking in any way...it just seems like it must/might be a very tough decision to make.

  43. #42

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    Your DR should be an easy fix.

  44. #43

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    Yes it is. I'm not completely serious. When something like this happens, it makes you wonder though ...
    Last edited by Tal_175; 10-26-2019 at 07:42 PM.

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    My Deluxe Reverb started blowing fuses out of the blue. Probably the rectifier tube is dying. I might need to use it at a gig next week. Now I don't know whether to replace the tube or the amp altogether with a TM DR
    My Mesa Mark V did the same thing a while back and was exactly the problem. A new rectifier tube and I was back in business.

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by wzpgsr View Post
    1 - Tone Master Twin Reverb
    2 - Princeton Reverb RI
    3 - Silvertone 1484
    This is exactly the same guess I had.

  47. #46

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    Whoa I forgot about posting the "reveals" for each amp.

    #1 is the SILVERTONE 1484 played through 2 10" speakers
    #2 is the Tone Master Twin Reverb
    #3 is the Princeton Reverb Re-Issue Sweetwater special edition (12" CR speaker).
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by HCarlH View Post
    My Mesa Mark V did the same thing a while back and was exactly the problem. A new rectifier tube and I was back in business.
    Yeah, I confirmed that it was the rectifier tube by temporarily replacing the rectifier tube with one from another amp. More often than not a new Fender tube amp will have a bad tube shortly after the warranty expires. I bought 4 new Fender tube amps in my life. 3 of the 4 times there was a tube failure within a year of the purchase.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 10-28-2019 at 03:42 PM.

  49. #48

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    I continue to A/B my TMTR and my PRRI. Both do sound exquisite. The differences between them can't be set out as better or worse, good or not as good. But I do hear differences. Likely it's the aboriginal 6L6 vs. 6V6 differences. The Twin just has a fatter, rounder sound that strikes me as the tone that the other solid state jazz amps are trying to match. Even the Polytone was trying to sound like a classic tube jazz amp, and the Twin sound really strikes me as the sound that the other amps are trying to match, often in the process of course producing their own wonderful sounds even if they don't duplicate the Twin. Even turned low, even on the 0.5 Watt attenuation, this TMTR just sounds BIG. Not loud, BIG. It's a wave you ride on.

    The Princeton is also wonderful, but the tone is not the same fat/round sound. It's rich for sure, but it creates the impression of being brighter, maybe lower in the mids (?). I keep trying to record these two amps in a way that captures what I'm hearing. Since I have a wireless rig, I set the amps up and walk all around the room to listen to them so it isn't just sitting in front of the speakers. The Princeton has a little more brass. I'd almost say it has a more "british" sound than the Twin, but I can't really say for sure because I haven't got much experience with those amps.

    I wish I had a better descriptive vocabulary for tone, but so far this is the best I can do.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  50. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone View Post
    I continue to A/B my TMTR and my PRRI. Both do sound exquisite. The differences between them can't be set out as better or worse, good or not as good. But I do hear differences. Likely it's the aboriginal 6L6 vs. 6V6 differences. The Twin just has a fatter, rounder sound that strikes me as the tone that the other solid state jazz amps are trying to match.
    I wonder what companies like Quilter and Henriksen are thinking about how the Fender TM's will affect their sales. Henriksen just released a tube preamp version for more tube-like sound. Quilters whole mojo has been Fender in a light package. Not only Fender TM's are more like the real thing but they are cheaper than both Quilter and Henriksen amps. Is this the end of companies like Quilter?

  51. #50

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    Lawson, there will also be a tonal difference due to the lack of a rectifier tube in your new TMTR vs. the rectified Princeton Reverb.
    Or have the engineers at Fender figured a way to simulate rectifier 'sag' into their circuitry?

    Either way, your favorable review has me seriously wondering if this is my next gigging amp.