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How long is a Tonemaster amp designed to last? FACTS ONLY.

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by guildguy516, Apr 7, 2021.

  1. guildguy516

    guildguy516 TDPRI Member

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    I am intrigued by the Fender Tone Master line, however, a serious concern of mine is their longevity. I am a gigging musician and have been playing several vintage amps for the past 15 years; they are used regularly and have required very minimal maintenance over the years - ALL electronics will need maintenance at some point in their operating life.

    My concern lies with the dependability of the the Tone Master amps, ironically, Fender markets that as the selling point of the amps. In one video they actually referenced how musicians take two tube amps to a gig in case one fails; I am no different...and I would still take two amps even if my main amp was a Tone Master.

    The vintage amps I play have already lasted a lifetime before me, they've proven themselves. I don't understand how a new piece of digital technology can out perform something that has been around half a century or longer. Won't the Tone Master amps still need their pots and jacks sprayed out every few years? So, how long are these Tone Master amps design to "last"? - it better last way longer than their 90 day limited warranty! And when one fails, can it be serviced or it is disposed of and another one purchased? Are the Tone Master amps made to be family heirlooms? Will it last for my lifetime and my children can grow up playing it or is it what's "cool" now?

    I am seeking factual information on the life expectancy of the Tone Master amps so please be objective with your responses and refrain from discussing your opinions about the amps. Thank you!
     
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  2. backporchmusic

    backporchmusic Poster Extraordinaire

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    You're looking for 'facts' which is likely something no one can provide, since companies generally do not disclose such info, if they even have it. 'Opinions' about how long they are "designed to last" will have to do.
     
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  3. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    You can't really determine the life expectancy of anything until enough statistical data have been collected.
     
  4. Dan German

    Dan German Doctor of Teleocity

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    Exactly. And that will actually only tell you how long they DO last, not how long they were designed to last.
     
  5. corliss1

    corliss1 Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    Yup - we'll let you know in 20-50 years.
     
  6. SnidelyWhiplash

    SnidelyWhiplash Friend of Leo's

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    Too soon to say...
     
  7. Ignatius

    Ignatius Tele-Afflicted

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    18 years, 7 months, 19 days, 11 hours, and 27 minutes. Exactly.
     
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  8. JRapp

    JRapp Tele-Holic

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    I assume they're built with similar components and methods as the rest of the Fender PCB stuff. From the 90s to now, we have some ideas about the common foibles inherent to these amps.
     
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  9. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    I have some practical experience that may help. Over the past 20 years of repairing electronics, the #1 issue with digital amps I've seen (Line 6, Behringer, Fender Cybertwin/G-Dec/Super Champ XD, etc.) is the digital rotary encoder. This control wearing out and failing is the number one reason digital amps die.

    These rotary encoders are non-robust design, originally used in test equipment. They do not stand up to the heavy use/abuse dished out by guitar players. And what makes this problem particularly frustrating is most makers including Fender use a proprietary SMT or PCB through-hole control that has no 'generic' replacement part. When it goes glitchy or breaks, the only way to repair it at the component level is to find the same model amp that died for another reason and cannibalize the part.

    That is why I no longer own one of these amps.
     
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  10. David C

    David C Tele-Meister

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    A few thoughts about reliability of electronics. Like everyone here, I have no data to back up the Fender Mean Time Between Failure calculations, nor do I have any information on that front. Components do have MTBF data available in some cases, but the actual data is calculated, not run to failure type of data so they are simply calculations. These numbers are calculated for some military and industrial applications because of the nature of the application requiring high reliability. The probably are not calculated for this Fender amp by Fender as it is consumer oriented.

    Having said that, I think you can rely on anecdotal evidence about electronics in general. To that end, most chips and electronic boards seem to last for several years if they make it past the first 30 to 60 days. Does that mean a new ToneMaster would last for the next 15 years? Who knows? I would say it is likely that it could.

    Will the jack and pot need cleaning? Likely it is the same pot as you already have, just a different form, so I would say yes, they will need some work.

    Most of the amps today are built on circuit boards, using commercially available components, and those parts are common if using tube amps or solid state components. I would have to believe the ToneMasters should deliver excellent service for years to come, based upon comparisons to other similar designed equipment, such as PA systems.
     
  11. Little Red Tele

    Little Red Tele Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    So I bought a Mustang III in 2013. A major selling point was the ability to log in to download patches, installed via a "Fender Fuse" app. The app stopped working on my Mac about 5 years ago, and Fender stopped supporting Fuse shortly after that in 2020. Before then, they updated the Mustang line with new products, new features. The amp worked fine until I sold it last month for not much. So I'd say 5 years is the life expectancy of these products, with a couple of years on either side for easy availability of support, parts, etc. Now, I also have a Princeton Reverb. I retubed the output tubes last month and I will likely die before it does.
     
  12. TeleJ717

    TeleJ717 TDPRI Member

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  13. ce24

    ce24 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Tube amps rule.
     
  14. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Poster Extraordinaire

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    What happens when a $899 iPhone fails? You buy another one, usually a new model.

    I think this is what Fender is counting on here since, as @Little Red Tele pointed out, they have a history of obsoleting their digital products. I think with reasonable care it would last longer than 5 years but it may be showing its age worse than a comparable tube amp.
     
  15. Mexitele Blues

    Mexitele Blues Tele-Afflicted

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    We know how reliable pots and jacks are. PCBs have proven themselves time and again. What's left is the processor.

    Our CNC router at work runs off of an air gapped PC, 15 years old, with Windows XP OS. I have no doubt that if we connected it to the internet, or tried to install Windows 10, that it would go up in smoke. As it is, it could run indefinitely. I would expect the same from a Tonemaster.
     
  16. gusfinley

    gusfinley Tele-Afflicted

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    The main problem that you encounter with digital amps is parts availability. DSP chips are updated fairly regularly as are many others. Eventually they stop making the old ones. Then the supply dries up and parts are no longer available.

    My company makes digital electronics and is looking to hire someone to try to find parts that are no longer manufactured so we can build more and keep the old line selling while the new model is coming to market.

    Fender doesn't want to repair your tonemaster. If it fails and is in warranty, they'll likely just send you a new one. If its out of warranty, they'll be happy to sell you another.

    Handwired tube amps are made of replaceable components. You can still get transformers, tubes, pots resistors and capacitors. It shouldn't take long to repair one of these with little more than a multimeter and a soldering iron.

    PCB amps are a little better but you can still have parts availability issues depending on the jacks, pots, etc that are used.
     
  17. Shango66

    Shango66 Friend of Leo's

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    According to Phil. Two years
     
  18. PCollen

    PCollen Friend of Leo's

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    No one can answer your question, as these Tonemester amps have not been on the market until recently..just at the beginning of the" learning curve. But I share your concern, and am not going to sell my low-cost, $229 Mustang III and buy one at 4x the cost.

    Theoretically...they should last forever. What is more relevant is the mean time between failure, whether or not you are willing to repair it if/when it does fail, and what kind of use/abuse you put it through.

    AND 90-day Limited Warranty ? :

    Effective January 1, 2017, all Fender® electronic products purchased new from an Authorized Fender Dealer are covered by a 2-year limited warranty that applies to the original purchaser only and are not transferable (with the exception of Fender Fortis powered speakers).

    Fender electronic products purchased new from an Authorized Fender Dealer prior to January 1, 2017 were, and continue to be, covered by a transferable 5-year limited warranty (USA and Canada only).
     
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  19. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I have one going bad on my G-DEC Jr. But does the Tonemaster use these??
     
  20. quadtele

    quadtele TDPRI Member

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    The Tonemasters look like they use ordinary potentiometers. Would have to take one apart to verify. Pots are cheaper (and per your statement more reliable) than encoders.

    The main issue with pots (over encoders) is that they don't offer endless rotation which is helpful when you are selecting values from a long list or are jumping to a preset. They are like an expression pedal. Encoders rarely have an "current" value built in that is equivalent to the "pointer" on a knob (and typically have some an external LED or a value display). Encoders usually provide a relative change (e..g, up/down one tick) and do not have an inherent position.

    I would worry about the capacitors dying. Would bet there are a number of these that are surface mounted ... a pain to replace, but not impossible.

    That said, the Tonemaster amp will be more reliable than the equivalent tube version. It will be rock solid until it's end of life which may be shorter per all the suggestions here. Another question is will they hold their value over the long term (assuming you think tube amps will continue to hold/increase in value).
     
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