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  1. #1

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    ... and was not impressed. I was so curious about these amps that maybe my expectations where exaggerated. I played them in the local store and was able to compare to a '65 Deluxe Reverb Reissue and a Hot Rod Deluxe. I used an Ibanez LGB30.
    1. They are indeed light – especially the Deluxe Reverb is a featherweight!
    2. They do not sound much like a tube amp IMHO. Clean tones lack the warmth and sparkle of the tube version and the breakup is different.
    3. Unfortunately the Deluxe Reverbs (digital and tube) break up to early for my taste and applications. The Twin has enough headroom IMHO.
    4. The Reverb of the Deluxe Reverbs is so long that I'd think it's not very usable in a jazz setting. I didn't bother to test the Twin's Reverb.


    Honestly if I had to decide between the Tone Master Deluxe and Twin, the Deluxe tube reissue and the Hot Rod I'd take the Hot Rod. To me it had the best clean tone of the bunch and enough headroom. The Ibanez was nice!

    All IMHO, YMMV of course.

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  3. #2

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    I have zero first hand experience with the tonemaster amps, but I expect that my opinion would mirror yours. For one thing I have never heard a neo speaker for guitar that I could tolerate. When I get to the point where weight of a typical tube combo is an issue. (not so far off I'm afraid), I'll go for separates. I'd much rather move a head and a small cab as oppossed to having modelling, neo, pcb, etc.

  4. #3

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    Interesting to read these opinions - just goes to show that what constitutes a good sound is essentially in the mind and ears of the listener. As an illustration, Lawson's recent posts and sound examples argue a point of view that is totally the opposite to what is expresssed here. I agree that the reverb is long on the Deluxe, but that was also the case on the originals (less so on the reissues) on which the ToneMaster is modeled. My only dissappointment is not being able to slow down the tremelo enough for my taste.

    What I think is worth remembering is that the same model amp can vary immensely from amp to amp - I can recall playing some twins and princetons that were not at all satisfactory to my ears, and not at all representative of the "typical" twin or princeton sound (if that exists !) .......

    From my point of view, the TMDR that I purchased gives me an excellent sound for all the types of music I play, the impuse response opportunities on the line out are tremendous, and the "attenuator" is a godsend for late night playing of blues with slight break-up; to be honest I would have difficulty A/B-ing the difference with a tube Deluxe, and I've played quite a few over the last 50 years.

    To each their own tastes....
    Last edited by Ray175; 01-29-2020 at 03:12 PM.

  5. #4

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    I'm curious to know what the output power level control was set at on the tested amp. Most stores set that at the lowest level and the sound is necessarily less impressive because you just aren't moving the air. Also, the "long" reverb ends up very proportional to the power setting and is especially good for direct out recording. Something complex is going on there and I'm not sure just what.

    Anyway, for the test reported here I am interested in the output level setting. I've played Twins, I own currently 4 tube amps including a vintage 1960's Silvertone and a Princeton Reverb Re-Issue. The TMTR sounds wonderful in that company.

  6. #5
    Today I traded my Vibrolux for a TMDR. I just don't want to lug around a heavy amp.
    The TMDR is perfectly useable for my Beatles Tribute band and also for my beginning jazz adventure. On full 22W, it has enough clean headroom. Much more than the DR. Depending on your pickups, it stay clean till 6, whereas the DR starts to break up around 4.
    The TMDR is light enough to carry in public transportation and that changes things for me.

  7. #6

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    What I noticed (and I could be wrong) is that people who didn't like Tonemasters don't seem to be too crazy about Fender blackface amps (even the tube ones) in the first place.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by wengr
    I have zero first hand experience with the tonemaster amps, but I expect that my opinion would mirror yours. For one thing I have never heard a neo speaker for guitar that I could tolerate. When I get to the point where weight of a typical tube combo is an issue. (not so far off I'm afraid), I'll go for separates. I'd much rather move a head and a small cab as oppossed to having modelling, neo, pcb, etc.
    Yep. the neo speakers are a deal-breaker for me. I gigged extensively with the same speaker they are using and it is indeed super light but IMO, it's nasally and mushy when turned up and comparing it to a celestion G12H-75, the celestion sounded better and held up better at loud volumes for both clean and dirty tones. Your ear will eventually get used to the sound of the jensens and normalize them but I did not like them at gig volume for rock or jazz or fusion.

    Honestly, for the extra 4lbs / each, I'd put up with the extra weight ...

  9. #8
    Not surprised. Reminds me of the hype about the Quilter. Tried it, played through it on a gig, heard others play through one and it all sounded the same. Brittle, harsh.
    Just get a Princeton Reverb and tube it up with some NOS and be done with it.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  10. #9

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    I tried the TM Deluxe reverb and really liked it.
    Next to it was a Deluxe Reverb RI, I had a play through that as well.

    I actually preferred the sound of the TM. It had a slightly fatter sound. Maybe the different speaker accounts for that? The reverb on the TM is a bit more exaggerated than the RI. I've played a few Fender amps where the reverb control is really sensitive.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by jzucker

    Honestly, for the extra 4lbs / each, I'd put up with the extra weight ...
    Exactly, it's not like they are EV or something heavy.
    I get it. I use neo for bass gigs. With a 410 neo Bergantino cab I went from 102 lbs to 50lbs. With some tweaking I can get a usable tone.

    But on guitar I'll pass.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    I'm curious to know what the output power level control was set at on the tested amp.
    I made sure to set it to full 'cause I wanted to see if the amp has enough headroom for my applications.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    What I noticed (and I could be wrong) is that people who didn't like Tonemasters don't seem to be too crazy about Fender blackface amps (even the tube ones) in the first place.
    True in my case. Though I liked the Deluxe Reverb Reissue better I'd still prefer the Hot Rod. I guess common wisdom says otherwise. The scooped tone and wooly bass of the blackface sound design seems not to work too well for me. I've played them on stage and it was OK but generally I seem to feel better with more mids and a tighter bass (if I get to play a backline hotrod I set the bass control to zero).
    BTW I also had the opportunity to play the new handwired Princeton Reverb (not in the same room though) and liked the tone. But a princeton would cut it only for the quietest gigs IMHO – and 2.300 € would be a hefty price for a practice amp.

  14. #13

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    The Jensens in the ToneMasters were developed in close cooperation with Fender and are different, twangier I'm told, from the Tornado 12 Classics that J. Zucker initially praised. Those, in turn, can be found in Fender's George Benson signatures. Having never been able to afford or lug any of the originals (but forced to sell my HRDL after the first of four surgical operations on my limbs and back), I'm no expert of the Fender tone and its variations. I believe part of the Twin Reverb's charisma is in the dynamics rather than voice. After all, its line of evolution includes changes in circuitry, tubes and speakers, so it's a little ambiguous for a reference.

    Given how many jazz guitarists - contemporary and of days of yore - are/were perfectly happy with SS amps, there's no absolute truth. With a tube factory in China down for an indefinite period, there's currently only two operative plants in the whole world, one in Russia and one in Slovakia. It's hard to see a sustainable future for this antiquated, however dear, technology. In LA last week, I was struck by the parallel existence of roaring V8's and Teslas. Not difficult to predict which way the world is headed.

  15. #14

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    This discussion will probably go on forever and a day ... no end in sight since it is such a subjective, intangible and personal topic.
    I was very lucky to have seen Kenny Burrell in concert TWICE , many years ago (one with the Benny Golson All Stars and a Trio gig) where he was playing through a Twin RI with the large group and a Roland Jazz Chorus 120 with the trio. The Twin sounded awful but it did not seem to faze him at all. At the trio gig (lower volume, small-ish Jazz Club stage) the sound was just fine and the often reported cold + sterile tone of the Roland amp was absent.
    A Deluxe Reverb or anything smaller would have def. been too weak though to cover the wide dynamic range of the group.

    Personally I'm not a big fan of the Blackface-type amp for getting the old-school jazz guitar tone. I prefer a SS amp for that, sometimes with the help of some outboard gear. The tube stuff however is my choice (if I have a choice at the given time) for anything involving overdrive or for copping the sweet clean tones a la Carlton/Ford/etc. When I'm playing/practicing at home at living room levels I really don't care since no amp/speaker "delivers" the goods when not pushed beyond a certain - higher - volume level. The modellers are the clear winners in these situations.
    Go figure.

  16. #15

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    To me, the beauty of the blackface circuit is the clarity. You also have a good tight bass which gives some depth and dimension to the clarity without muddying it up.
    Say tweed amps are cool too, but if you compare a tweed amp with a blackface side to side, tweeds sound muddy.

    It's an internet cliche but blackface amps are good pedal platforms and have many good sounds in them with pedals even for cleans. I use an EQ pedal and Tubescreamer with my DR. EQ with bass and low mids turned up going into the Tubescreamer. That puts some of the bass TS cuts but also compresses the bass and softens the attack. So you get mids and a softer bass a bit like tweed amps but still have better clarity.