1. Win a Broadcaster or one of 3 Teles! The annual Supporting Member Giveaway is on. To enter Click Here. To see all the prizes and full details Click Here. To view the thread about the giveaway Click Here.

$1,000--Tone Master or Tube?

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

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    12,116
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2013
    Location:
    near Arnold's
    Interesting. Thanks. As I think about it, it's really an analog SS amp issue that I've noticed. My JC40 is brilliant, sounds brilliant, brilliant dynamics. It would be all I need, BUT it is more resistant to feedback and I do use that a fair bit in our sound.

    But, my Roland Cube amps, which I assume are digital, seem to feedback more readily. My Cube X and Cube XL both do it at even reasonable/low band volumes. And even my MicroCube will do it a bit at talking volume on the right model. The engineers at Roland are both smart, practical and I bet they just designed that characteristic in to the models, to mimic how and when the tube counterpart would feedback musically? I've long thought Roland/Boss must have actual players/musicians in their design teams and process. Because they always seem to tune their stuff to stage and to nail what matters there. For me anyway.

    As an aside, to me this whole discussion is academic. I prefer the JC40 and to be honest my Cubes (which I got mint for right around $200 each) over just about any tube amp I've ever played. Only my 80s JCM800 112 combo tops them. And if I'm honest, it's not by much. Of course, it has nostalgia and fun factor. And it sounds amazing. The JCM is what I use for rehearsal almost exclusively. But if/when shows resume, I'll inevitably grab a Cube or the JC.

    The JCM weighs close to 60lbs and the transformers are so heavy it's quite unbalanced to carry. I can still do it. But when shows are going we often play small places with tricky load in/out. It has a great MV so I can get great sounds at any volume. But the JC and Cube are so good. And I don't really care if anything happens to them. And they are easy, easy lifts with balanced weight. Plus they (especially the Cubes) are so freaking loud I never have to worry under any circumstances about having less headroom than I would prefer.

    So to the OP, if I were me (and I am) I'd find a Cube X or XL and give that a whirl. All the models are really good. To me the secret if you like blues to rock tones is to go to the Classic Stack model, turn the Gain to 8-11 o'clock and then set the master to your desired level. And turn the Mids up well past 1/2. Super dynamic, edge of breakup to classic rock with the right hand/guitar volume. I think if more people explored the models and played with varying Gain levels and EQ settings, more people would fall in love with them. Or maybe not. Ha!
     
  2. nortally

    nortally TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    34
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2015
    Location:
    Albany, CA
    Case in point: Ten years ago, I picked up a Fender Sidekick Switcher for a song. This is a 35 watt 1x12 solid state amp manufactured in Japan.

    The bad: its surface mount jacks were on a breakout board that had come loose and pushed inside the cabinet. The owner sold it to me with a Monster Cable(!) hanging out of the opening. However, I was able to re-mount remount the inputs securely, although the LEDs showing the active channel are history.

    The good: The Sidekick Switcher is a beast. Did I mention that it has true spring reverb? And a two-button footswitch? Clean channel has tons of headroom. Lead channel will deliver some good grit once you learn how to work the tone stack (use the Mid control for gain). And it has a mode where both channels run in parallel with all controls active (admittedly more of a curiosity than useful). I've tried a couple of different speakers, but the stock Fender speaker is just fine.
     
  3. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Age:
    64
    Posts:
    17,796
    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2010
    Location:
    Western Connecticut
    Now you have.

    First, the ribbon cables on the reissues are very unpleasant to work with.

    Second, and the main reason I stick to SF Fenders over reissues, is that I had a longstanding problem with a RI Super. Bought new in ... 2003? After a year or so, it began failing. I wasn't doing any of my own work at that point, so would take it to the shop, and it would cost $80-$100 bench time (standard rates here) to diagnose and replace a single broken resistor. Either the component was physically broken in half, or the lead was broken at the PCB.

    This went on for YEARS. Each time you think it's fixed, and it works, for a long time. But then, always at the worst time, dead. Another simple fix. Another C-note. Another trip to the shop, and waiting without an amp.

    Finally, a new tech explained that he'd seen this a couple times before with these reissues. His theory was that the PCB, being robo-wave-soldered, had zero flexibility or play in the way the components were mounted. And the boards being mounted above the HOT tubes, would continually be subject to expansion/contraction stresses. He seems to have fixed the problem permanently by reflowing every single solder joint he could reach. (And that's another thing, reaching some of them is stupid hard compared to a hand-wired unit). After that, it worked for a few years without issue, until I sold it.

    I have no comment re the ToneMaster, not having played one. Except to say that it seems more like buying a big pedal. More or less black box electronics, possibly pretty much bombproof, but still an electronic device that will eventually fail and be 'too expensive' to fix. None of that is anything like my old SF amps, which I suspect will still be working fine when my grandkids are old. Plus, they're a joy to work on.

    To each their own. I'm set, thank you.
     
  4. Recalcitrant

    Recalcitrant Tele-Meister

    Age:
    70
    Posts:
    108
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2017
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Apropos of very little, the last two times I saw Marty Stuart, Cousin Kenny was using matching PRs. TBH, I don’t know if he used them parallel or switched between. And while he didn’t sound bad (he’s Kenny Vaughn after all) I thought Marty sounded
    sweeter through his DR. The PR is an aggressive little amp!
     
  5. trxx

    trxx Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    42
    Posts:
    1,650
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2019
    Location:
    Between reality and imagination
    I have heard about and read about lots of reissue problems. I had two of them on the same day die when trying them out in a shop. Both were spanking new. A Twin and a Deluxe. It was mid morning and the shop was empty. I asked the sales guy if I could crank up the Twin mid way, and he was all for it. Kaput. He says that it probably just had a defective tube and points me toward trying the Deluxe. Same deal. Turned it up, and it went kaput. That got me to reading about and asking about the reissues. I wouldn't touch one any quicker than a Tone Master. Old blackfaces and silverfaces can be had for around the same money, sometimes less, sometimes more. My blackface Super Reverb cost me less than what I would have paid for a reissue. Same for my silverface Twin Reverb. And they are built much better and are serviceable. And no one complains about servicing old blackfaces and silverfaces.
     
    IMadeYouReadThis and nate70 like this.
  6. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

    Posts:
    11,828
    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2003
    Location:
    Near BWI Int'l
    I really wouldn't be surprised to learn that Roland/Boss is using the equivalent of agile software development, for all of those reasons. Two of the core concepts with agile are to include the customer in the process of the products (they call them solutions) that you're making, and to actually observe them interacting with current products.

    I don't have any Roland amps, but I did get a Boss Katana 50 last year. While it isn't a be all/end all amp for me, I'm very impressed by what it does, especially given what it cost. It's almost like Roland/Boss knew a lot of the features I wanted.

    ...Getting back to the whole agile method of running a business (because it's no longer just limited to software development), I imagine Fender is possibly trying to implement it in some ways, obviously probably more with their cutting edge tech stuff like the Tone Master amps. But it has to be the right culture that's properly embraced by the company, and I have a feeling that companies like Roland, Yamaha, etc. are probably way ahead of them. That's just a guess, though.
     
    MilwMark likes this.
  7. nate70

    nate70 TDPRI Member

    Age:
    50
    Posts:
    9
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2018
    Location:
    Athens, GA
    For a thousand dollars you can find a Silverface Fender and it will be a much better amp than any reissue or Tonemaster. This year I bought a silverface Princeton for under a grand. You can get a silverface Bandmaster head for around 700 and spend the remaining 300 for a custom made cab with speaker size of your choice. Then you would have a 40 watt combo that would sound way better than ani reissue or Tonemaster.
     
    noname_dragon, black_doug and Mascis like this.
  8. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

    Posts:
    11,828
    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2003
    Location:
    Near BWI Int'l
    What if you want a Twin Reverb that doesn't weigh a ton? What if you want to be able to power scale it? How about DI out? And if you're looking for something that sounds like a Twin Reverb but has no tubes to replace, how is an old SF one going to help with that?

    I love my old BF/SF Fenders, but I've admitted that they don't have features that the Tone Masters do. Just the thought of a 2X12 combo that's only 33 lbs, and has good sounding 'verb and vibrato, is something that I have to admit sounds seriously appealing, for some uses.

    Until the TM Twin Reverb was released, I could never imagine a TR being something that I could use with my current needs and situation. Chances are I might never end up getting one, but it's kind of cool to know that such a thing exists, if I ever change my mind.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2020
    chris m. likes this.
  9. archiestone

    archiestone TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    60
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2003
    Location:
    SF Bay Area, CA
    My only problem with the Tone Master is that it will be obsolete in 2 years as Fender will no doubt upgrade it's works and release a "Mark II" version and beyond (see Mustang or even Katana.)
    A real Dlx or Twin Reverb is timeless, period.
     
    Mascis and turfdoc like this.
  10. Fretts

    Fretts TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    62
    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2012
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    After 20 minutes with one at Guitar Center I could not find a single detail about the Tone Master that I did not like other than the speaker which of course was still brand new, tight and raw. I have a DRRI at home so I am familiar with what I'm listening for. It did everything just right.
     
    StevesBoogie, PBO Blues and MilwMark like this.
  11. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    12,116
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2013
    Location:
    near Arnold's
    Thank you for clearing that up.

    It must be nice to know what sounds and is objectively better.

    :rolleyes:
    As you have a crystal ball, can we also expect your accurate stock picks for two years hence?

    For a non-snarky answer, even if there is an updated version (and the update can’t be handled by firmware update, which seems unlikely), the current ones will only be “obsolete” for those who don’t know if they like what they are hearing and feeling from the amp. Those of us who just buy an amp because we like how it sounds and the dynamics will just keep right on playing them.
     
    PBO Blues and Askwhy like this.
  12. Askwhy

    Askwhy Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    375
    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2019
    Location:
    Utah
    LOL, no doubt! Guys that think they will be "obsolete" are computer OS and iPhone brainwashed. It will still work fine and will not be at risk for virus or bugs as it's not connected to anything. There are some decent arguments in favor of tube vs TM, but obsolescence is not one of them.
     
  13. Gurmanator

    Gurmanator TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    22
    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2013
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    There are so many external factors that influence the perfect playing experience, the room and location among them. Sometime you can coax a very tactile response from an amp that sounds/feels totally different the next stage you use it on. As much as I love my tube heads and combos, I know what happens when they take a dive. I have had it happen at venues big and small over a 40+ year career. The newest generation of digital amps get quite close but never all the way. They are useable dependable tools and very versatile. It’s not a matter of either/or unless you can only own one amp. If you are in that category,
    may I suggest you get the DRRI. It just works. Have an inexpensive back up solution that will get you through a gig and not hate your sound. Your tube amp will likely go down sometime. It’s a fact of life. There are pedalboards you can DI with and digital/ss combos that are gigable for under $300. Have your cake and be prepared with an option in the trunk.
     
    Mascis likes this.
  14. Chikubi

    Chikubi Tele-Meister

    Age:
    51
    Posts:
    180
    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Location:
    PA
    Because if you're using Safari to browse and download you probably have the "Open 'safe' files after download" option checked and it's auto-unzipping the .zip file for you, so you're just getting the .img file from the get go. The actual DL from Fender is indeed a .zip file.

    For a security tip, you should turn that option off and open all files manually, including archives. It's under the General tab in the prefs for Safari. Too easy for nasty things to be snuck in when you have no control over what files get opened after download. Also eliminates any chance you have to scan those files first before opening them should you want to do so.
     
    PBO Blues likes this.
  15. Justinofhudson

    Justinofhudson NEW MEMBER!

    Age:
    46
    Posts:
    1
    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2017
    Location:
    Amherst, ny
    So I just recently went through this(kind of). I wanted a forever amp that I could get used to and learn. So I tried the tonemaster DR and I just didn’t like it as much as I thought I would, something was wrong I can’t explain. I wanted to love it but instead I bought a Tweed 65 DRRI with the Alnico (Btw 100% Princeton or any RI easier to work on then Tonemaster) of course the problem was I couldn’t play loud enough to sound great or quiet enough to be able to practice in my house at night. So I decided to get Blues Jr for practice. I changed the speaker to Webber Ferromax turned the master vol up to 9 and was soo happy I almost immediately decided to sell my DRRI because I couldn’t think of a place that I play where I couldn’t mic this amp to be plenty enough power and sound. If I had more money I would have kept the DRRI but don’t think I would have used it too much. So I vote you get a nice Blues Jr buyWebber Ferromax for the headroom all will be great :)
     
    superjam144 and IMadeYouReadThis like this.
  16. PBO Blues

    PBO Blues Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    858
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2016
    Location:
    Chatham County, NC
    Oh Lord, don't open up that can o' worms. You'll get just as many (probably more) folks here ragging on the Blues Jr as you do a TM. If it ain't a vintage Tweed/BF/SF, apparently, it's crap. ;)
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2020
  17. trxx

    trxx Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    42
    Posts:
    1,650
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2019
    Location:
    Between reality and imagination
    Heavy combo amps can be split up with a new head cab. An attenuator or PPIMV can be added if needed. DI can be added if wanted, but ewwww. Just use a microphone.
     
    Mascis likes this.
  18. RCinMempho

    RCinMempho Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,109
    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2003
    Location:
    Maryville, TN
    Is Diet Coke as good as Coke? Is light beer as good as regular?

    The TM's are copies. They will always be copies. How many Les Paul copies are out there? How many are desirable 25 years later?

    Enjoy playing your TM's. No reason not to do so. But don't kid yourself, there will be more Deluxe and Twin copies out next year right beside the new Les Paul copies.

    This is why people are telling you they won't hold their value, and they are right.
     
    Mascis likes this.
  19. Davecan

    Davecan TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    7
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2011
    Location:
    Cedar grove, nj
    Im not on here too much, but here's my 2 cents.... I have a PRRI and love it - put a Celestian G10 Gold in, Dr Z attenuator and upgraded the tubes... sounds incredible, better than any digital amps I've owned or tried.

    BUT - I have not tried the Tone Masters yet, so I can't speak about them - However, I think that the idea is wonderful especially if, like me, you hate digging through endless digital menus to find the amp, speaker and tone combo you like....

    As with guitars, ideally you will have the opportunity to try them side by side and see which you like better.
     
  20. Chikubi

    Chikubi Tele-Meister

    Age:
    51
    Posts:
    180
    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Location:
    PA
    Yeah, but that's not unique to the Tone Masters. I mean, HotRod Deluxe IV, Blues Junior IV, Pro Junior IV and so on. There's always going to be something new around the bend eventually, whether tube, digital, or analog SS. The only thing that matters is does the one you have currently still do what it does well enough for your needs and are you happy with it? If so, then no need to worry about whatever new comes along. And if the new one is truly significantly better, then there's no shame in making the change then, is there?
     
    archiestone and PBO Blues like this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.