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$1,000--Tone Master or Tube?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by IMadeYouReadThis, Oct 25, 2020.

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  1. IMadeYouReadThis

    IMadeYouReadThis Tele-Meister

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    I'm in the market for a better amp than my well-loved Vox Valvetronics, and am looking to spend about $1000. At that price point you can go the tube route and buy a Princeton Reverb, or solid state with the new Tone Master Twin Reverb. Two very different amplifiers.

    Going for clean volume the Twin would be the obvious choice, but Fender currently offers a PRRI model stock with a Celestion 10" Alnico Gold. I've heard great things about this combination, and supposedly the amp will stay cleaner for much longer.

    Which takes pedals better? Which one is more capable for bedroom levels, or band levels? If you were given $1000 for a Fender amp, would you go TM Twin or Tube Princeton? Why?
     
  2. Togman

    Togman Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Just out of interest, why are you only looking at Fender amps?
     
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  3. Gardo

    Gardo Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I would go Princeton . As nice as they are the TM seems like a throwaway
     
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  4. PoorNoodle

    PoorNoodle TDPRI Member

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    I used to own a 65 RI Twin. At the time I didn’t own an attenuator so I could never get the most out of it. And it weighed a ton. Sold it and did a shootout at the store a few years ago between a PRRI, 68 Princeton and a DR. Bought the PRRI. Recently swapped the speaker for a Jensen P10R-F (Alnico). Cranked with an attenuator is the best dirt I’ve ever played. And the clean are super sweet.

    If it was me I would go for a PRRI with the Celestion Gold...
     
  5. thunderbyrd

    thunderbyrd Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    tonemaster all the way, especially with the new speaker upgrade.
     
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  6. Sparky2

    Sparky2 Friend of Leo's

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  7. mkdaws32

    mkdaws32 Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

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    That’s a hard choice. I was pretty blown away by both of those amps. I don’t think you would regret either one. I will say, given the choice between a tube Twin and a Tonemaster Twin, I would take the Tonemaster. If they came out with a PRRI Tonemaster, I’d have to seriously look at that!
     
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  8. thunderbyrd

    thunderbyrd Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    ok, maybe i ought to say why. with the tmtr, you turn it down to 1.0, there's your bedroom amp. for gigging, you've got your selection of needed volume. stick your tube screamer or whatever in front of it.
    and it doesn't break your back.

    i've got the deluxe and i love it! look, i turn it on at 10 in the morning and turn it off about midnight and never a buzz or crackle. i never have to think about "wasting my tubes".

    but watch and get a used one. i do believe the tm's are overpriced, new.
     
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  9. fakeocaster

    fakeocaster Tele-Afflicted

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    Princeton . Sounds perfect , weighs half nothing and you can mic it up for bigger gigs whenever they happen
     
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  10. JRapp

    JRapp Tele-Meister

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    If those are the only choices (ugggh), I'm switching to ukulele.
     
  11. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Given the choice between the those two, and only those two, I’d totally go with the Twin.

    If I were going to buy only a Fender amp, and had $1k to spend, I’d buy a used tube Twin, and spend the leftover money making sure it was 100%. I’d never buy a Princeton Reverb.
     
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  12. Wildeman

    Wildeman Tele-Meister

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    A real Twin, tubes an all.
     
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  13. Sparky2

    Sparky2 Friend of Leo's

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  14. telepraise

    telepraise Tele-Afflicted

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    A few years back when I researched Princetons, I heard a few players rave about the matchup with a Celestion Gold. I ended up getting a PRRI SE with a 12" speaker. It's currently loaded with a Celestion Cream alnico which is terrific. The speaker is rated at 90 watts and 100db so there's tons of clean headroom. It also has the most beautiful breakup tone I've gotten yet. I have to use an OD pedal because at 4, it fills our large sanctuary gloriously. It weighs a little more than its original 33lbs but not it's not the big lugg of my DRRI.

    I love tubes obviously, but I've heard from so many die hard tube heads on here that the Tonemasters absolutely nail it and they're never going back. I guess you owe it to yourself to try out the new TM amps. Enjoy the journey!
     
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  15. cravenmonket

    cravenmonket Tele-Holic

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  16. eddiewagner

    eddiewagner Poster Extraordinaire

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  17. Drew617

    Drew617 Tele-Meister

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    I was going to apologize preemptively for bias - my own and what I anticipate from the forum - but I suppose anyone who might answer is biased and that's the point.

    Unless you absolutely need the TM's volume or headroom - and since you're asking I assume you don't know that you do - I answer Princeton. Either choice could turn out to be "wrong" later as your needs and preferences evolve. We know even a stock PRRI will retain value pretty well, but the Tonemaster is kind of an unknown that way.

    I think a Princeton does "band" volume but that could kinda mean anything to anybody. A Princeton with an efficient 12" will rattle your basement windows before it gets truly dirty, and you can mike anything onstage. They do have pretty unique breakup characteristics versus the other AB763 amps, I adore it and so do many others. All the same, you might want to be sure that works for you before spending on one.

    If you believe anything about the tone mojo in vacuum tubes, you might worry about what you're missing with a Tonemaster even if it's every bit as good as the equivalent tube amp. I don't own but have played the TM and they do seem very good, maybe 95% as good as a real Twin or Deluxe if I had to make a number up. I wouldn't buy one unless periodically moving an equivalent 50 lb amp was somehow a serious burden to me. It isn't.

    It's not really what you asked, but IMHO aside from Fender badges and similar tone stacks, a TM Twin and a PRRI are kinda apples vs. bowling balls, so I assume you have not zeroed in on an exact set of requirements. If you're after Fender BF/SF tone and willing to go used, some flexibility and possibly better options open up. Deluxes, Vibroluxes, or reissues of either if you liked the Princeton but are concerned about power and headroom. Probably better yet, a well-built clone from Allen, Mojotone, etc.

    Also Rivera clubsters-pubsters-chubsters, back to factory amps there but they're tanks, mostly louder-cleaner, and somewhat more flexible if you're not certain right now what you want.
     
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  18. IMadeYouReadThis

    IMadeYouReadThis Tele-Meister

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    That's basically what I narrowed it down to for the price point. I just like the sound of a blackface Fender!

    Note that the Twin has an "Attenuator" and some cool DI recording features. The weight is also a MAJOR selling point. These TM amps are meant for a specific market, and it's important to understand that. I will agree that the TM series is very overpriced, but still cheaper than actual tubes. Pure marketing genius. ;)
     
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  19. IMadeYouReadThis

    IMadeYouReadThis Tele-Meister

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    Have you had the chance to compare a Gold to the Cream? I'm interested.
     
  20. trxx

    trxx Tele-Afflicted

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    I wasn't given the money, but I bought a 1965 blackface Super Reverb for that. And I would most definitely do it again. It needed some minor work that I was able to do myself without knowing what i was really doing just by looking inside and finding some bad joints. I bought my 1974 (or is it a 1976? I forget now) Twin Reverb for $600 fully operational. Are they heavy amps? Yes. But they also sound nice and will be indefinitely serviceable.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2020
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