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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. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Honestly, I can't remember. Under $800 new. If I ever get the itch for a BF/SF sound again, I'd grab that before a DRRI or even a SF/BF DR. And for sure way before a PR.
     
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  2. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    The last show I played with my TMDR was maybe 2 months before lockdown? Smallish room. Good acoustics. Maybe 60-70 people, which was packed in that space.

    I played the whole show on the 12w setting, with volume on 9. I had to ride my guitar volume way back to avoid being too loud. It sounded really, really good.

    The touring headliner also happened to use a Deluxe Reverb. A DRRI though. So his was "full volume" set to maybe 6. Also sounded great. After the show he made a point to find me, all excited that we were playing the "same" amp and to note how great mine sounded. They were good guys and I didn't want to do anything other than have a drink and enjoy the moment so I just nodded, thanked him and complemented him on his sound.
     
  3. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Poster Extraordinaire

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    Thanks! Will see what the future brings!
    But nothing for a while!

    (I bought an Epi SG, (2) little amps, and a few pedals this year- first time in years getting anything, I went nuts!- but all cheap)
     
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  4. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    Wow, I don't remember the DRRI having so much of a mid emphasis. Is it possible that they've changed things vs. DRRIs made years ago?

    I can see how those two guys would favor the DRRI for the extra mids, since they've never owned a DR, and seem to mainly play rock-based stuff.

    I had a '79 DR that I BF'ed, and it sounded a lot more like the TM. That's actually why I ended up using (and finally liking it with) an Emi Cannabis Rex, because the top end was just too bright otherwise.

    The video definitely shows how subjective it might be, regarding which of the two someone might favor.

    I really get into surf-based stuff quite a bit, and the DRRI just has too much midrange IMO to play that kind of stuff. I don't really play any country-based stuff, but I couldn't imagine using that DRRI for that, either.
     
  5. JIMMY JAZZMAN

    JIMMY JAZZMAN Tele-Meister

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    What about a Bugera V-22 head, Less than $400. Get a good 1x12 or 2x12 cab, and you're in business.
    They're as good as any SS amp with similar wattage. If its got to be a Fender, go Twin. There's
    not a bad note on that amp....
     
  6. David C

    David C TDPRI Member

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    I hear a lot of people saying the Fender Tone Masters are overpriced, but when you evaluate it, you get a pine cabinet, the speakers are neodymium, the amp comes with a built in attenuator, and it has an XLR output with two mic simulations. It includes a USB port to update the amp. If you want to build a tube amp equivalent, it will cost you that much money. If you bought a used Twin Reverb, you are out $800 to $900 before you tweak. Last time I checked, the Princetons were somewhere around $1100, so I don't know why people seem to think that Fender should sell their premier blackface amp for anything less than $1000. Try constructing that for $1000 bucks, you just can't. By the way, the amp weighs 34 pounds, so it is light as a feather.

    With the exception of the purists or those who want to tweak the circuits, I feel the tube amp sales volume is just getting too small for the manufacturers to continue holding on to it. Fender just released these ToneMasters and they are flying off the shelves. I suspect they sold a lot more of them because they are $450 less than the tube version. They also might not have captured the sale at all had they not had the Tone Master version.

    By the way, I suspect if you wait a year or so you are going to see a Princeton Tone Master that sells for somewhere around $750.
     
  7. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    Let's be thankful for all us old curmudgeons who hang onto our tube amps for years, like photographers who still shoot film, so that we have a reference standard to benchmark the digital era against. Without this we would have no more amp threads on TDPRI.
     
  8. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    @chris m. - I respect your contributions and viewpoint. But this caught my eye. When you think about it, why do we need a "benchmark" to compare against? (Even putting aside confirmation bias, the difficulty of doing blind tests, the extremely fleeting nature of sensory memory, etc.)

    An amp either makes great and useful sounds, with appropriate player dynamics, or it doesn't. I can tell that by playing it, and by listening to recordings of it done mic'd or just with iphones or whatever.

    What does a comparison actually add?
     
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  9. Durtdog

    Durtdog Poster Extraordinaire

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    The comparison was initiated by Fender and TM fans who said the TM amps sound JUST LIKE their tube counterparts, that no one could tell them apart.

    That has not proven to be true. You can call it confirmation bias. I can definitely tell the difference between TM and tube Fenders.

    I could happily gig the TM, it has good, usable sounds, but I don't prefer its sound over my DRRI
     
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  10. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    @Durtdog - Here is my take on that. I've owned WAAAYYY to many DRs over the years. Each of them sounded great. Each of them had their own unique sonic signature and dynamics. But each of them was still very much a "DR".

    The TMDR is very much a DR. And has differences from any tube DR unit. Just like any tube DR will sound different from ay other tube DR unit. My impression is that with the TMDR, people recoil and say "oh no, it's not exact". But when presented with the same variance between any two tube DR's, they just shrug and say "yeah, any two units will have differences."

    Further, I'm only a few minutes into That Pedal Show's demo. But about 6 minutes in, Mick literally notes that pot tolerances and other variances will make it sound different, but we'll just set all the knobs in the same place. Then the tube DR is clearly louder when they a/b them. Well, duh, they will sound different. And louder always sounds better. I don't know much about mic'ing but I also wonder if having the tube DR set louder accounts for the perception of extra midrange in the recording?

    And at various points he says something like "we could play with knobs all day" to get them closer . . . but then they don't. ? Finally, they keep going on and on, seemingly sincerely, about how the TMDR sounds lovely, and feels lovely to play.

    What more do they want? I just don't get it. So far, that video just to me shows that any two amp unit, even of an identical model, will have differences. And that a/b'ing two amps with the knobs pointed the same places is not a useful a/b. And that because of this pointless a/b, even though they seem to be legitimately surprised about how great the TMDR sounds and how great it feels to play, they revert to tubes.
     
  11. trxx

    trxx Tele-Afflicted

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    And they adjusted down the lows and highs to try and bring the mids forward. But it didn't work. And then they tried rolling the highs all the way down, but it still had too much going on up top.

    To date, it is the most real world and fairest comparison I have seen with a Tone Master. I appreciate that they didn't do any shilling here.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2020
  12. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Also, while I'm on it, I think the real difference between the stock DRRI and the TMDR is the speaker. As often with two of the "same" amp. People slag the DRRI Jensen but I quite like it - because it has more midrange than many traditional SF/BF DR speakers, to my ear. I
     
  13. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    And, while I'm rambling, when I owned a stock DRRI and a TMDR at the same time (don't ask), I had to run the treble on my TMDR typically 1-2 "numbers" higher than on my DRRI to achieve the same overall brightness. The opposite of the two units they demo'd. Go figure.
     
  14. Durtdog

    Durtdog Poster Extraordinaire

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    I don't understand why folks feel they have to justify their choice by saying there's no difference in the sound/feel. If there is a difference, so what? Why the need to prove it's "just as good as" or the same as the tube amp? It's totally different. To chalk it up to "confirmation bias" is somewhat disingenuous, as is saying all amps will sound a little different...of course they will.

    It's a modeling amp that sounds and feels like a modeling amp. No amount of rationalization will change that.
     
  15. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I don't feel the need to justify anything. I don't own either one. The DR sound just doesn't work for me, nice as it is. Or more accurately, and amp without a MV or mid knob doesn't work for me.

    But I completely disagree that "it sounds and feels like a modeling amp". I don't know what that means.

    But the TMDR sounds and feels like a DR. Period. I've owned enough of them to know. I've used them live tons. I recorded our last album on the studio's '73 SFDR and then recorded the same tracks through their JCM800 combo. The TMDR was actually my favorite DR I ever owned, nudging out by a hair a '73 SFDR chassis that someone had blackfaced and put in a reissue cab. That one had a liveliness and midrange I'd never found in a DR. Until that darn TMDR.

    I'm not justifying anything. You can think whatever you like of course.
     
  16. trxx

    trxx Tele-Afflicted

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    Also in That Pedal Show's comparison, the reverb on the Tone Master sounded weak. That is also common with digital spring reverb simulations, just like the recessed mids is common to modelers.
     
  17. Mike M

    Mike M Tele-Meister

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    I believe they did that before the Firmware update. The Update was a gamechanger, removing the bright cap (for better pedal usage) but it made the reverb great.

    Before the update, you couldn't turn the dial past 3, now its usable all the way up to 8 or 9.
     
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  18. backporchmusic

    backporchmusic Friend of Leo's

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    The big question is: if they make a Princeton version, will it still be farty with humbuckers or at higher volumes? Or will they finally figure that out?
     
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  19. Durtdog

    Durtdog Poster Extraordinaire

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    I think we just have different opinions on this.

    From my limited experience with the TM, it sounds and feels like a modeling amp. And that's fine.

    I have a Mustang modeling amp that I gig semi regularly. I also gig a DRRI. I've played mostly Fender amps for 45 years or so, ss and tube. Just different sounds, and I use and appreciate them each for what they are.
     
  20. rstaaf

    rstaaf Tele-Holic Gold Supporter

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    First thing I did with my TMDR, big difference. Couldn't be happier with this purchase. May not be a tube DR, but it is as close as I need to get...

    20201024_031615814_iOS.jpg 20201024_031624855_iOS.jpg
     
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