Fender Tone Master amps

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Jason Brock
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Fender Tone Master amps

Post by Jason Brock » Tue Oct 05, 2021 8:40 pm

Old news on guitar forums, but I didn't see a thread here.
I'm really interested in the Twin model as something clean and loud, but not as heavy as a tube amp. The emulation direct out on the back and power attenuator will be useful too. Just wondering if anyone here has tried them.


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Sleepfc
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Re: Fender Tone Master amps

Post by Sleepfc » Tue Oct 05, 2021 8:46 pm

I used to sell these when I worked at a guitar shop a a couple months ago. They’re great for the price, but if you’re used to the original tube sound they won’t quite have the same knock. Still a cool amp though

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Re: Fender Tone Master amps

Post by sduck » Tue Oct 05, 2021 9:24 pm

I've tried them. They don't sound like the originals. But they're pretty close, and if you're in a live situation where that kind of amp is what you need, and want to save a few dollars and a lot of weight, they're an excellent alternative.

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Jason Brock
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Re: Fender Tone Master amps

Post by Jason Brock » Tue Oct 05, 2021 9:26 pm

Thanks for the opinions. I've never owned any big tube amps, I just have one cheap 15w combo. I plan on keeping it to compare if I decide to get the Twin.

When I think about the way some people on guitar forums talk about tube amps, I usually picture a blues player bending one single sustained note while making a stinky cheese face. And that's not really my style. While I'm sure there is probably a noticeable difference, I also realize that some of my favorite bands have gotten excellent sounds out of solid state amps like a Jazz Chorus 120 or Gibson Lab L5. And I use a lot of pedals.

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Re: Fender Tone Master amps

Post by naturligfunktion » Fri Oct 08, 2021 3:38 am

I've heard great things about them. Mainly that they sound good, great price and - if you are gigging - are pretty light weight!

Haven't tried one though
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Re: Fender Tone Master amps

Post by minblue » Fri Oct 08, 2021 1:35 pm

I have two of the TM Twins, & use them in a stereo setup with line-outs direct to audio interface. I've played tube Twins all of my life, and although the Tone Masters aren't the real thing and never will be, it's honestly pretty damn hard for the unseasoned ear to tell the difference. Bottom line, I'm super happy with them!
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Jason Brock
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Re: Fender Tone Master amps

Post by Jason Brock » Fri Oct 08, 2021 1:42 pm

minblue wrote:
Fri Oct 08, 2021 1:35 pm
I have two of the TM Twins, & use them in a stereo setup with line-outs direct to audio interface.
Nice! have you tried the firmware update that changes the speaker/mic sim output to the Creambacks?
I've just bought a used one with the Neo Creamback speakers that come factory installed in the Blonde edition. I'll report back in a few days when it arrives. Glad to hear people are liking them.

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Re: Fender Tone Master amps

Post by minblue » Fri Oct 08, 2021 2:48 pm

Jason Brock wrote:
Fri Oct 08, 2021 1:42 pm
Nice! have you tried the firmware update that changes the speaker/mic sim output to the Creambacks?
Thanks!

Nope, haven't tried the creamback firmware yet, but definitely need to get around to giving it a whirl. I'd be interested to know what your experience is if you end up trying it, thanks.

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Re: Fender Tone Master amps

Post by Whatisvalis » Sun Oct 10, 2021 3:03 pm

I wrote these off initially but the praise seems hard to ignore.

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Re: Fender Tone Master amps

Post by BailyDread » Tue Oct 12, 2021 11:08 am

I've never liked the feel of digital modeling amps. Never played these Fenders but from demos IMO they don't sound so hot.

if clean, loud and easy to haul is what you're looking for, and you mainly want it as a pedal platform, I would go with the following rig:

https://www.fryette.com/power-station-o ... ed-ps-100/

this is a small tube reactive amplifier that is also a fully-equipped mono power amp. it's pretty light compared to a big bulky combo amp. you could put it in a backpack easily.

https://www.quilterlabs.com/index.php/p ... ckdock-15/

this is a full-sized 15 inch speaker cab that weighs less than 30 lbs. the 15 inch speaker sounds really nice... has a nice glistening top end but plenty of bottom without being farty.

I use a version of this rig w/ the 50 watt power station, and it's plenty loud, but the 100 would be a bit louder still. since the speaker can handle up to 300 watts, I'd imagine you could use this rig for a bass in a pinch, or if you wanted to play any full-range mono source REALLY LOUDLY you could do that.

if you really crank it, you can get some great sounding power tube distortion as well, but at that point it is like an unnatural presence in a room (in a good way, depending on your proclivities). it's like... violent. howls and feeds back like a fuckin banshee if you dump a bunch of gain in front of it. but before that point it will just be clean as a bell and as loud as a PA.

I run some pedals in front of mine and generally like to overdrive the input a bit with some extra level so that the feel is to my liking. You can use a preamp in front if you want, but it works just fine without. depending on the type of music you're playing, it might be better without (ex: if you're doing funky rhythm stuff, clean DI is typically the sound you'd hear on a record; this will get you there, but at great volume for keeping up with a loud bass amp in a show context).

The "EQ" on it is quite different from what you might find on a traditional guitar amp. In my opinion it's a lot more usable, especially with setting the sound "in the room" in different venues.

if you're like me and you like for your distortion tone to be REALLY distorted, running a distortion or fuzz in front of this gives a unique experience, since the transients are preserved more and conveyed at volume rather than squashed by the preamp. I hate blues guitar tones, and I hate scooped-mids squashed metal Marshall crap... you can hypothetically do both with this if you have the right pedals, but if you're going for a more unique tone, this can get you somewhere that traditional guitar amps can't. You can get some exceptionally crazy sounding grunge tones if you use a fuzz that gates when you slam into it. when I say "violent" I mean it, it's unlike anything else I've heard.

here are a few examples of distortion pedals in front of it with amp cranked (miced with a sm57):
https://soundcloud.com/user-409075029/pandemitone
https://soundcloud.com/user-409075029/jethighguitdem

It has an effects loop so you can run a reverb pedal if you like, or you can just have the reverb in your pedal chain into the input... there's a lot of flexibility.

another benefit of this: NO MORE ANNOYING COMBO AMP RATTLE. those things frequently rattle incessantly in my experience. IMO an amplifier does not belong in a speaker cabinet.

if you're using a lot of pedals, this would likely be a very cool pedal platform for you. I don't know why they aren't more frequently used, frankly.

they also offer stereo tube power amps if you wanted to go that route, or you could get two of the 50 watt power stations. they're pretty affordable on the used market. the quilter cabs are so light you could definitely haul both in one trip from the car.

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Jason Brock
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Re: Fender Tone Master amps

Post by Jason Brock » Wed Oct 13, 2021 1:08 pm

BailyDread wrote:
Tue Oct 12, 2021 11:08 am
https://www.fryette.com/power-station-o ... ed-ps-100/
this is a small tube reactive amplifier that is also a fully-equipped mono power amp. it's pretty light compared to a big bulky combo amp.
Hmm, interesting solution if you are just plugging directly into that, and not using it as a reactive load for some other tube head. I had also checked out the Quilter stuff. Their Tone Block 202 looks solid and sounded nice in demos.

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Jason Brock
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Re: Fender Tone Master amps

Post by Jason Brock » Wed Oct 13, 2021 2:22 pm

I decided to give the Tone Master Twin a solid try at home, not just for 20 minutes at a store. Had my first go with it last night and first impressions are really good. It sounds like a Fender to me, bottom line. Whether it sounds exactly like some other vintage Twin from whatever decade, I doubt it, but I really like the way this one sounds.

My hasty honeymoon review:

Loud and clean: Check. Edge of breakup starts around 5 to 6 on the channel volume knob, and the power attenuator switch on the back means that "5" can either be stage volume or about as loud as your TV at home.

Power attenuator: Speaking of that, I really think they could have made this a potentiometer instead of a six-way switch, to give you finer control. It's just adjusting the solid state power amp volume. The switch and power rating labels mostly seem like a gimmick. Anyway, I guess that's why there's a volume knob on my guitar.

Construction: The lightweight pine is unpainted/untreated on the inside. The two back panel braces do not seem to be wood at all, or very thin wood if they are. My guess would be tolex-covered pressboard. This makes it feel a little cheap, but all other sides except the back are solid wood and seem sturdy enough. I just wouldn't keep this thing in a damp basement.

Reverb and Tremolo: Sounds legit to me. I actually like to use tremolo a lot and having this on board was a selling point, so I can replace another pedal on my board. Reverb comes on strong in the early travel of the knob, though I think Fender fixed this with a firmware update that I need to download.

Noise: My 15w tube combo will hiss even at low volumes, but the Tone Master is nearly silent at home practice levels. Turn it up louder and you do get hiss, but much less than a real tube amp.

XLR Out: The cab/microphone sim sounds really good to me for clean tones. There is a Mute switch on the back that just cuts signal to the speakers, meaning you can record direct in silence or you can have that and the amp's speakers going at the same time. Cranking it up for overdrive got a little fizzy, but that's not why people choose a Fender Twin. I'll test this more with some drive pedals. I haven't even plugged any pedals in yet, I just wanted to test out the amp by itself first.

Channels: The base sound of the two channels is very similar. Maybe the Normal channel is just slightly thicker sounding, but not by much. The manual says the input impedance is different on the channels...I'll be trying out some keyboards on the Normal channel soon. I do like the idea of being able to plug more than one instrument in at a time and jam with one amp.

Overall: Bottom line is I really like the raw clean sound, and that's a great start. Testing with my favorite pedals will be the next step. The simplicity of the whole package was attractive to me, admittedly the aesthetics too - it looks like a Twin and does not have screens or menus. And it only weighs 33 lbs. So far so good.

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