I Played The Fender Tone Master Amps Today

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Otis Fine, Sep 10, 2019.

  1. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Let's just put it this way.. DSP engineers are not a dime a dozen. I'm not a signal processing guy but I am a software engineer.

    I would say working on this amp would be a pretty fun/attractive project to have on your Resume. I would find it really fun to work on this kind of thing after a career of mostly enterprise software which is full of BS. (Though there are still lots of interesting problems for me around performance and fault tolerance.)

    So even though it's a pretty fun job as far as software/hardware/engineering go none of the guys who are going to do a great job at Fender on this are in any danger of having trouble finding a job. They are probably commanding salaries at Fender well into 6 figures. If Fender didn't want to pay that, well their modeling amps probably won't be that good. My guess is they do pay well cause they know it's worth it. Now how many guys/gals were required to work on this? I don't really know. The Fender reps have claimed this stuff took years to engineer. It does not take that many engineers working "years" to cost millions and millions of dollars in development cost. Then they have to figure out how many of these amps they think they can sell, and how many years the sales will continue to come in. They've gotta have a pretty nice test lab too to gather data to make the amp sound great, that stuff is not cheap either.

    That is why they are expensive. It's way too easy for people to take computerized stuff for granted. This stuff is *amazing* if you think about history. 1 of these amps probably has more electrical components in it than every single component Fender ever bought for the analog amps for most of their history. That amp has more processing power in it than the whole Apollo Space program.
     
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  2. Cerb

    Cerb Tele-Meister

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  3. Cerb

    Cerb Tele-Meister

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    My guess is that these first two, being popular models are experiments to test the market. If they turn out to be a success I think we'll see more of the classics in digital form. If they were clever about it, which I assume, they'll have a hardware platform and a code base that can be reused for future models.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019
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  4. Blrfl

    Blrfl Tele-Holic

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    This guy gets it.
     
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  5. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    So how do other companies do it, and why can't Fender figure it out?

    I don't buy that these amps are so amazingly special that it took Fender years to figure this crap out- a Kemper can profile your amp in minutes, once Fender worked out their process to model these amps it should have been reasonably simple to apply the same process to model other, very similar amps. Nobody's talking about making accurate, high-quality models of Voxes and Marshalls and Orange and Hiwatt and Ampeg, etc etc. Once you've worked out a blackface Deluxe model, you don't have to start from the drawing board to make a tweed.


    You are quite correct that the retail price of a product and the cost to produce it are not really related- Fender is in business to make a profit, and I don't begrudge them that.

    My point was that in a world populated with products in the same price bracket that offer vastly more functionality, couldn't Fender have harnessed their DSP to provide even a FEW simple options? Not enough to confuse the geezer crowd, but a simple voicing switch and/or the "sag" control from the Mustang series discretely added to the back panel? The damn thing's already digital, so that Rubicon's already been crossed. It just seems like an incredible waste of resources to build an amp that's capable of so much, and ask it to do so little.

    Maybe for low end stuff like the Mustangs, but the high end modelers on the market prove that you don't HAVE to compromise anything to get hundreds of great sounding sims in one package- that's a decision for the bean counters when they're determining price points, not a limitation of the hardware.

    So, when I mic my Deluxe and put it through PA cabinets it doesn't sound like a Deluxe anymore? In a modeling amp, everything after the DSP is basically a PA.

    And I wouldn't worry about the tube purists, they're not gonna buy the damn thing anyway.

    Thank you, this is what I was getting at.
     
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  6. LeicaBoss

    LeicaBoss Tele-Holic Gold Supporter

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    I use a HELIX and really like the modeling. What I can tell you is that I've never found an amplification scheme that felt or sounded particularly authentic to me. I don't know if it's accurate to suggest that what happens after the software is "just a PA" - because these new Fender amps really do feel right. I'm not convinced that they could have just added a Marshall Super Lead program and it would feel like a Marshall Stack. It's just not that simple.

    What Fender did here is pretty nicely use modeling to create an amp experience that does a pretty great job at sound and feel. I don't hold it against them for not going the "here's 20 amps through a PA" route.
     
  7. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    So you don't think the Helix models sound authentic- fair enough, you're not alone.

    All the "sound" and "feel" in any modeling amp is created by the DSP. The amplification section is just there to make it loud, as cleanly as possible so as not to interfere with the work the DSP is doing. That's why modelers have a "cab sim defeat" option on the direct signal- so you can take off the corrective DSP that the sim uses to make the flat PA style amplification section sound like an old alnico Jensen or whatever. Class D power amps are cheap and easy to manufacture now, there's no point to reinvent the wheel and rework one to sound like a pair of 6v6s if you could do the same thing in the DSP algorithm you're already writing and leave the well established power amp alone.

    I have a Mustang I- it's fun but you'll never make an 8' speaker sound like a Plexi full stack. A 2x12 open back combo will be a lot closer, but you won't match the way a closed 4x12 projects sound. An open back 1x12" combo should be able to switch pretty convincingly between tweed and blackface deluxe sounds though.
     
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  8. bftfender

    bftfender Friend of Leo's

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    i enjoy this thread....players be players....whatever option they are given for the job....will get it done

    in time a/b comparisons will reveal truth..yet many will continue on with pages & pages of unjustified..never played the amps like always on here

    the land of i know it alls but too scared to post their playing...carry on...in the basement..mom's house..at whisper level so nothing works in its intended range

    or in the studio--clubs--festivals--tours where its real
     
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  9. OngoGablogian

    OngoGablogian TDPRI Member

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    I too was originally skeptical about these amps and stumbled upon this video with Tyler Bryant. Obviously this is somewhat biased since Sweetwater is in the business of selling music equipment, so it should be taken with a grain of salt. But, Tyler Bryant was using this amp in his set and had no idea. Definitely changed my mind...

     
  10. ataylor

    ataylor Tele-Meister

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    I'm really curious about these Tone Master amps. I've wanted to get a Fender amp for a while -- I'm an acoustic player that dabbles in electric and I've been content with my Vox Pathfinder 15R for a decade plus. It's a great little amp that punches way above its weight class and checks the warm Vox tone box for me, but I have become enamored with the idea of getting the Fender sound -- the beautiful trademark clean tones, the warm vibrato, lush reverb, and that slightly on-edge just-overdriven sound.

    Until just recently, I'd pretty much decided the 65 Princeton Reverb reissue was the one for me -- nice size, nice sound, and a nice complement to the Vox P15R visually and tonally.

    But now enter these Tone Master amps -- particularly the Deluxe Reverb. My favorite guitar and amp moment ever was about 12 years ago in the old Rudy's shop in NYC, where I plugged a thinline 69 Teleaster reissue into a 65 reissue Deluxe Reverb. If I hadn't been a poor college intern at the time, I'd have bought both on the spot. But in recent years, in comparison with the Princeton Reverb, the Deluxe Reverb seemed like maybe a tad too much power and a tad too big for my typical use in just playing and recording at home.

    The Tone Master version changes that a bit for me. The flexibility of having the built-in attenuator and the XLR out -- which has sounded pretty fantastic in all the clips I've seen -- are great options for both low-volume playing and recording. And the fact that this amp weighs a mere 22 pounds is amazing -- not that I wouldn't be able to handle the original, and not that this makes the actual physical dimensions of the amp more like something a little more home-use friendly like the Princeton or the Blues Junior or a little Champ, but it's a factor nonetheless. I also like the idea of the solid-wood cabinet.

    I've never had a tube amp, so don't care about tubes. If the amp sounds great, it sounds great. I like that these look great too, because I care about that. There are enough great options for guitars and amps and effects and such out there that I reserve the right to be picky about aesthetics. With all the other visual hallmarks of the classic amp intact, I can live with a little badge on the bottom right of the amp grill.

    Who knows, maybe I'll swing back to the idea of getting the 65 Princeton Reverb, or decide just to get a Blues Junior and add one or two of the new Fender pedals, or hey -- maybe the Champion 20 I'm giving my daughter for her birthday soon will scratch the Fender itch enough that I decide to wait a little longer. But as of right now, I'm leaning Tone Master Deluxe Reverb.
     
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  11. Alter

    Alter Tele-Meister

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    That's just advertising though, Sweetwater sells these amps, Tyler Bryant endorses them.. it's product promotion.
     
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  12. Durtdog

    Durtdog Poster Extraordinaire

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    No amount of demos, testimonials or logical arguments are going to convince me that these are great amps.

    There are great players here on TDPRI who I highly respect and they sound great...but the gear they use just doesn't work for me.

    I'm going to have to try it for myself.
     
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  13. TeleTex82

    TeleTex82 Friend of Leo's

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    Man this was an awesome read! Perhaps the most in depth assessment of the BCA and it's place in the current crop of DSP amps. I am definitely going to be checking in on your blog on the regular.
     
  14. OngoGablogian

    OngoGablogian TDPRI Member

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    Exactly, that’s why I mentioned take it should be taken with a grain of salt. I’m fully aware it’s advertising.

    Being in the market for a new amp it at least gives me some sort of validation and curiosity to try it out with my own ears before discounting the possibility of it playing well.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019
  15. raysachs

    raysachs Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Hey, what's wrong with being a mediocre player (at best) in the basement of your mom's house, or in the office / man-cave of your condo as a retiree? That what a lot of us ARE now, that how some of us play, and we need amps that sound good in those contexts too. I play through a Blues Cube Hot, I mostly play it on 5 watts and I'm not moving a lot of air, so I don't get the whole rumble in my belly part of the experience. And because of really good attenuation, it still SOUNDS good, even if you don't feel it as deeply in your bones. And based on the few times I've cranked it up, it ALSO sounds as good or better than a number of tube amps I had when I was young and playing out a lot.

    I've very rarely posted any of my playing - I'm nothing to write home about but I have a blast with it. And my opinion about these amps is that they serve a very real purpose and they're incredibly versatile and serve various needs for a number of players. And for players who like having a roomful of amps in a small cabinet, there are those other modelers to fill that role too. Whether the Tone Master Deluxe is exactly as good as the actual tube deluxe at gigging volumes no longer matters to me. But my experience playing out when I was a kid tells me that you just wanted a good basic sound - you weren't really into the wormhole of chasing tone when you were trying to get a roomful of people up outta their seats and dancing. I'd have loved to have had amps like this when I WAS playing out. I remember hauling an ungodly heavy peavy combo with a couple of 12's in it around in my VW Beetle in the late '70s - the car sagged under it.
     
  16. The Angle

    The Angle Tele-Holic

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    That's a fantastically informative read. Thanks for posting the link.
     
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  17. LeicaBoss

    LeicaBoss Tele-Holic Gold Supporter

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    I'll clarify. Helix models and real amps sound virtually indistinguishable... When recorded.
    The feel is different, though in person and amplified.

    The DSP is by far not the only element of that. Not by a mile. If you ever heard a bunch of supposedly "flat response" power speakers - they sound dramatically different. "Simple"class D amps are not so simple.

    That Fender did such a good job making an amp that sounds and feels so good is really admirable.
     
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  18. Chester Burnett

    Chester Burnett Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

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    The Helix Powercab does a great job with the amp in the room part of the equation.
     
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  19. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    A working Kemper setup costs what, 3-4X what these Fenders cost?

    And it can't actually do what these Fenders do AFAICT. The Kemper could profile a DRRI/TRRI in a few minutes and then you'd get a sound that was somewhat close to that amp with the dials on those exact settings. If you want the Kemper to sound like what that DRRI/TRRI sounds like with different settings it can't necessarily do that without another profile getting made.

    The Fender you pull it out of the box and use it.. it doesn't even mention if you can hook it to a computer at all. The Kemper is computer time.

    They're not the same thing.
     
  20. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

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    What do you guys think of this?

    If (big if!) you're interested in the Tone Master Deluxe to begin with, would a knob on the back that lets you choose "tweed deluxe/brown deluxe/black deluxe" be a good thing or a bad thing? Would it make it more or less desirable as an amp?
     
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