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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. Gardo

    Gardo Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Throwaway in the sense that it's not likely to be repaired when it fails.
     
  2. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    OK guys, how about if everyone agree to this simple principle (most of us do already):
    Say: "I prefer this.."
    Rather than: "you are an idiot for preferring that..."
     
  3. Captdan61

    Captdan61 TDPRI Member

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    For anyone truly interested in a honest and direct comparison between the TM version of a DRRI and a current tube model of a DRRI i suggest watching the comparison dan & mick did on THAT PEDAL SHOW on youtube. Fair and honest. And the question should be less about. Does it sound just like a DRRI and more about. Does it have features that are useful to you as a player or gigging musician. And DO YOU LIKE THE WAY THEY SOUND? The 2nd guitar player in the band I play with bought the deluxe version of the TM. And after her retired his replacement just bought the twin version of the TM. Myself i will not be buying one.
     
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  4. shokunin_84

    shokunin_84 TDPRI Member

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    Honest opinion here from a regular dude who has been gigging, recording, playing at home, and buying/selling gear for over twenty years.

    I've owned a number of Fender valve amps: Hot Rod Deluxe, Blues Deluxe, Blues Jr, Custom Vibrolux (90's), and a 70's silverface Vibro Champ. I sold each and every one of them because I found something I didn't like about the sound under certain conditions. Aside from Fender amps, I've also owned (and sold) a Vox AC15 (handwired), Quilter Micro Pro Mach II, Quilter Aviator 2x10, Swart Space Tone 6v6se, Mesa Boogie Subway Rocket, and an Ampeg Reverberocket (90's). Again, I sold each and every one of them because there was something about the tone that just wasn't "right" to my ears.

    I recently bought a Tone Master Deluxe Reverb near the end of last year. Initially I loved it. The "power scaling" allowed me to have pretty consistent tone that wouldn't wake the kids up at night. The DI out was a life safer at a church gig. But, after hours of playing, I found I didn't really like the reverb or tremolo sound and it sometimes had a strange harshness when using overdrive pedals that I didn't love. So I was thinking about selling this one too and chalking it up to yet another failed endeavor in the search for "the sound in my head." And then I updated the firmware to the "no bright cap" version. Tremolo sounds better, reverb is more usable, and that weird top-end harshness is nowhere to be found. The amazing thing to me about this is that I'm pretty sure the "issues" I was having with harshness and reverb sound are present in the tube version of the DRRI and that some folks do the "bright cap mod" to remedy those issues. Having an amp modded by a trusted amp tech might normally take me a week (depending on their workload and turnaround time). But I was able to "mod" the Tone Master just by plugging it into my computer and dragging/dropping a firmware file into it. It took less than one minute. The best thing is that, if I want to go back to the original sound for any reason, I can just update it to the factor firmware. No driving it to the shop, waiting for the tech to be done, and no paying for repairs / upkeep. This, to me, is an absolute game changer.

    Will this be "the amp" that I keep forever? Maybe. Will I end up selling it in the search for "that sound"? Who knows? For right now, however, it is serving my needs. I can record direct with it and it sounds great (better than all the other amps I've owned listed above). I can crank it and it sounds great (again, better than any of the amps listed above). And it takes all my pedals (including fuzzes and overdrives) like a champ. Hell, I can even "mod" the damn thing in less than two minutes without ever having to open it up or take it to a repair shop. Honestly, after over twenty years of playing and buying and selling gear, this is the first amp (after the firmware update) with which I have no issues in terms of its basic sound. The next best step for me would be a "boutique" or handmade tube amp. But even then, I'll probably keep the Tone Master because it is so damn useful and to my ears sounds just great.
     
  5. pippoman

    pippoman Tele-Meister

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    Okay, you’re right. In a bedroom, my 1970 Vibrolux is king, hands down. In a live situation where getting set up and playing well without malfunctions are the most important things, my Quilter rules! This debate has been going on and on and nobody is gonna win because there are valid points on both sides. Having said that, if I was only in the market for a tube amp I’d get a DRRI. We warmed up for Paul Martin and his band and that’s what he was using. It sounded great! But so did my Quilter MicroPro.
     
  6. Andy ZZ

    Andy ZZ TDPRI Member

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    If I had $1000 and was in the market for a great amp, AND I was planning to gig with it (important qualifier) then:
    #1 Find a used SF Vibrolux Reverb. $1000 might not do it though, so...
    #2 Find a used Princeton Reverb and install a good Weber Ceramic 10 in there. It will be PLENTY loud enough for gigging. But, if not that....
    #3 Find a used SF Twin Reverb. The most requested amp for professional backline amps in the universe. With good pedals in front of it, It will do everything. Heavy though.
    Just an opinion from a guy who been gigging professionally since 1975, learning all the way.
    If you don't plan to gig with it, then anything you like will be fine, and you can change whenever you like.
    -az-
     
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  7. Mascis

    Mascis TDPRI Member

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    Sure... I was surprised at how light the Tone Master Twin was. The amp actually helped me develop perfect pitch.

    Perfect pitch being the ability to throw a Tone Master amp into a skip from 50 yards.
     
  8. pippoman

    pippoman Tele-Meister

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    You’ve got a point there Gardo. On the other hand, I have a friend who’s been gigging with a Peavey Special 112, a veritable sterile sounding boat anchor, that he bought new when they first came out. Of course, he uses a midi so sterility isn’t an issue, and it’s never given him any issues. I would say at least 20-25 years. I owned one for a minute and went back to my old Twin, then a ‘66 BF Princeton (no reverb) that I should’ve kept.
     
  9. Spooky88

    Spooky88 TDPRI Member

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    DRRI, funny that I recommend this amp but I bought a 68 reissue and it's very cool. I'd use it live but I don't like foot pedals. I'm still using my 1992 MARSHALL JCM 900. 4502. Great amp, I've done alot of work to it and it constantly needs attention at this point. Direct to a tube amp definitely shows your shortcomings. Good luck!
     
  10. eddiewagner

    eddiewagner Poster Extraordinaire

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    It just won’t unzip. File not recognized. Well....
     
  11. Fotheringport

    Fotheringport TDPRI Member

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  12. Fotheringport

    Fotheringport TDPRI Member

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    [​IMG]
    ▪️Agreed ré Fender SS amps, but there are other brands of SS amps that are quite amazing quality, very versatile, portable but capable of volume for live use. I use nothing but Award Session Sessionette 75 amps and external gear. New or used, with upgrades available by Stewart Ward, sold with UK/EU specs, and US voltages too.
     
  13. Fotheringport

    Fotheringport TDPRI Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  14. CaptainSensible

    CaptainSensible Tele-Meister

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    If you want an amp that you’ll use primarily at home with the occasional excursion to play elsewhere, I don’t know why you’d pick a valve amp over the Tone Master. I’ve had two DRRIs and now I have a TMTR. I never felt like I was able to push the DRRIs beyond a low volume at home, and I didn’t want to invest in an attenuator. The TM does the trick for me, allowing me to get as close to a true Fender clean at home using an amp at a variety of volume levels. And when it leaves the house, it’s an easy lift.

    Was I struck by the seeming differences in the Pedal Show demo? Sure, but I also didn’t get the sense that they tried to spend a lot of time tweaking to get them to match. Seems they set them generally up the same and then complained they didn’t sound exactly the same.

    Anyway, if you’re just playing one amp and not constantly switching between two to see what sounds like what, you’ll probably not notice or care. When I’m playing my TM I’m not judging it against what my old DRRI sounded like because without it sat there with me, I can’t remember anyway.
     
  15. PBO Blues

    PBO Blues Tele-Holic

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    The instructions can be confusing. They say "Download and unzip the desired firmware version...", thereby implying two actions are to be taken. For many (like us Mac users) it's only one step as the download utility takes care of the unzip, though it might not be obvious. Unsure of that (or unfamiliar with those particular file formats), some might try to unzip the .img, with predictable results.

    If you have the .img, you're almost there. All you do is transfer it to the amp. No need to unzip it as it's already been done for you.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2020
  16. SuperflyPete

    SuperflyPete NEW MEMBER!

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    If it was my call, I’d get a 90’s 63’ blackface Vibrolux Reverb reissue. Those are the perfect amps. Gig volume, clean headroom to 6 if you keep stock, to 7 if you upgrade the speakers. Loud enough to gig, for sure, and breakup sounds that are melodic and rich with the overtones that make 70’s guitar sounds magical.

    If I had to get something else, I’d probably get the Tonemaster. I’m Super impressed by them, especially the responsiveness and touch sensitivity. I’ve owned faaaar too many amps, both solid state and tube, and I have to admit that if I’m being honest, even my venerable Lab L5 doesn’t respond to your play like a Twin does. The Tonemaster Deluxe Reverb I played feels right, and sounds right.
     
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  17. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    Of course when just generally comparing stuff, it makes sense to try/compare what a store may have. I'm not talking about that.

    When I say too weak to trust, I will honestly admit that it's that very thing that's happened to me in the past, on numerous occasions. I basically had some piece of gear in front of me (or in my hands) that sounded great, played great, felt great, and I didn't really find myself saying that it was missing anything. I literally had no need to try anything else in the store, but I lacked the willpower to not then compare that right piece of gear to something else in the store. 100% of the time, the next piece of gear, or any subsequent piece of gear, was not any better, ever.

    Personally, I wasted a bit of time over the years doing this. My time is possibly even more valuable than my money is, especially now. So in these situations, I don't think I was being a savvy shopper at all.

    I could be the only person who's been too weak to trust that I'd found the right piece of gear on multiple occasions, but I'm probably not.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2020
  18. Ignatius

    Ignatius Tele-Afflicted

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    A Princeton won’t hold together for gigs, depending on the gig/type of music/band/FOH support and what your needs are. Great amps and I want one, but there’s not much headroom.
     
  19. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    My take on the Pedal Show demo is they put both amps through their paces, tried to dial in sweet spots for both, at a range of volumes. They also did lots of knob tweaking to see how close they could get them, as well as a uniform speaker experiment. The tube version came out ahead as sounding and feeling better for their tastes, but they had lots of respect for the TM and particularly its light weight.
     
  20. Gardo

    Gardo Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    My everyday amp for home use is a 1995 Princeton Chorus SS. I get good cleans and no problems other than occasionally cleaning the pots. I also have a Fender Mustang amp. It failed so I opened it up to take a look at it. My first thought was “that’s it? You’ve got to be kidding.” The power switch was the problem so I was able to fix it ,otherwise it would have been done.
    Modern electronics are basically throwaways unless a new board is available but even then not always cost effective
     
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