Tone King Imperial Mk2 - Worth it or hype?

Tone King Imperial Mk2 - Worth it or hype?

  • Worth it

    Votes: 16 76.2%
  • Hype

    Votes: 5 23.8%

  • Total voters
    21

Milspec

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I will say right up front that I have not played any of the Tone King amps, but I have read all of the hype like yourself. Over the years I find that hype is often about half true at best. I believe Knopfler is a fan of the Tone King amps which says a lot in their favor, but I find it very rare for anything to live up to their hype completely.

It isn't a bad price for an amp with all that hype and obvious good tone, but there are others out there for less money that I would consider as well. I am still blown away by the Fralin VVT combo amp after going on 6 years of ownership and they can be had on the used market for half the price that you are considering on spending for the Tone King. Carr, Bruno....just so many good builders of amps these days to choose from that I normally ignore the hype as a variable to consider.

Don't get me wrong, I have looked at the Tone Kings myself and I have not found many complaints regarding their quality nor tone, I just don't think they stand all by themselves in the amp world. If you don't mind the money....go for it, but if the price concerns you, keep researching the market and you will end up happy.
 

MickM

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I will say right up front that I have not played any of the Tone King amps, but I have read all of the hype like yourself. Over the years I find that hype is often about half true at best. I believe Knopfler is a fan of the Tone King amps which says a lot in their favor, but I find it very rare for anything to live up to their hype completely.

It isn't a bad price for an amp with all that hype and obvious good tone, but there are others out there for less money that I would consider as well. I am still blown away by the Fralin VVT combo amp after going on 6 years of ownership and they can be had on the used market for half the price that you are considering on spending for the Tone King. Carr, Bruno....just so many good builders of amps these days to choose from that I normally ignore the hype as a variable to consider.

Don't get me wrong, I have looked at the Tone Kings myself and I have not found many complaints regarding their quality nor tone, I just don't think they stand all by themselves in the amp world. If you don't mind the money....go for it, but if the price concerns you, keep researching the market and you will end up happy.
You mentioned Hype 5 times regarding the Tone King. I would only say that after 29 years in production and use by basement players to touring pros, that the original "hype" turned into rock solid reputation many years ago.
 

Milspec

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You mentioned Hype 5 times regarding the Tone King. I would only say that after 29 years in production and use by basement players to touring pros, that the original "hype" turned into rock solid reputation many years ago.
I wasn't aware that I did, but let's face it, marketing is a major factor when selling an amp that most will have to purchase blind since they aren't sitting on the floor at most local shops. When somebody asks for opinions about something like an amp, the vast majority of responses will be by owners who love the item and nothing from people who didn't because few people like to admit they were wrong.

I have no doubt that they are great amps, Knopfler wouldn't use one if they weren't, but that doesn't mean they are the best option either for the money. All I said is that there are a lot of great amps out there today that are comparable for less money that deserve consideration when trying to make the decision. I love a custom shop guitar, but find an American Standard to be an excellent guitar as well and for 1/4 of the price so it would deserve consideration.

If the OP has the money to burn, might as well pull the trigger and let us know how it turns out. I just wanted to add a little Devil's Advocate to the content so that he hears some other opinions. That is a pretty expensive decision for most players.
 

getbent

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I wasn't aware that I did, but let's face it, marketing is a major factor when selling an amp that most will have to purchase blind since they aren't sitting on the floor at most local shops. When somebody asks for opinions about something like an amp, the vast majority of responses will be by owners who love the item and nothing from people who didn't because few people like to admit they were wrong.

I have no doubt that they are great amps, Knopfler wouldn't use one if they weren't, but that doesn't mean they are the best option either for the money. All I said is that there are a lot of great amps out there today that are comparable for less money that deserve consideration when trying to make the decision. I love a custom shop guitar, but find an American Standard to be an excellent guitar as well and for 1/4 of the price so it would deserve consideration.

If the OP has the money to burn, might as well pull the trigger and let us know how it turns out. I just wanted to add a little Devil's Advocate to the content so that he hears some other opinions. That is a pretty expensive decision for most players.
add away, but, you owe it to yourself to go play one... I think that if you do, your opinion will be... you know, informed.
 

CV Jee Beez

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No hype. The Tone King Imperial MKII is a great amp. Get it and never look back.

I was reminded of how good they are last week at Angel City Guitars. A Knaggs single pickup guitar straight in. Only good and pleasing tones.
 

klasaine

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As a guy that's been playing tube amps since 1976 and professionally since about 1979 and has had owned damn near every example of "the classic tube amps" including many of the oddballs and 'cheapo' sleeper classics, I can say unequivocally that the hype around Tone King amps is justified. Same goes for Matchless, Bad Cat, Swart, Blankenship, Carr, Victoria, Morgan and Fuchs and probably several other's that I haven't owned ;)

My Tone King is one I will never sell ... ever.
 
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pippoman

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As a guy that's been playing tube amps since 1976 and professionally since about 1979 and has had owned damn near every example of "the classic tube amps" including many of the oddballs and 'cheapo' sleeper classics, I can say unequivocally that the hype around Tone King amps is justified. Same goes for Matchless, Bad Cat, Swart, Blankenship, Morgan and Fuchs and probably several other's that I haven't owned ;)

My Tone King is one I will never sell ... ever.
I started with tube amps in the early 60s and can testify that, even though they were all hand wired, some even point to point (that’s not redundant btw; there is a difference) they weren’t all great amps. I had a Silvertone that gave me fits. Fender amps, from Champs to Twins, always sounded great to me. Yep, I’ve owned a bunch from Fender, Matchless, Vox, Marshall….you name it. But there’s something intriguing about a 36 pound combo that can cover the territory of a TK Imperial. They’re still hand wired to my knowledge and the reviews have been stellar overall.

I’m playing through a Quilter 200watt tone block for the past 5 or 6 years and I’ve sold all my tube amps (still missing my 1968 drip edge Vibrolux), so I’m seriously considering the Imperial and nothing I’ve read here has dissuaded me.
Quilter amps are great, but I still miss tubes. Sentimental perhaps? Nah.
 

Milspec

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add away, but, you owe it to yourself to go play one... I think that if you do, your opinion will be... you know, informed.
That is the problem that I referred to....they are not found in many locations, so that isn't possible. That means you have to take a gamble based on reviews which are ultimately biased.

We have all purchased something blind based on great reviews only to be underwhelmed with the purchase. I simply add a cautionary opinion to the process. An opinion based on walking into the same quagmire that the OP is about to do.

Sorry that offended you, it really shouldn't have.
 

getbent

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That is the problem that I referred to....they are not found in many locations, so that isn't possible. That means you have to take a gamble based on reviews which are ultimately biased.

We have all purchased something blind based on great reviews only to be underwhelmed with the purchase. I simply add a cautionary opinion to the process. An opinion based on walking into the same quagmire that the OP is about to do.

Sorry that offended you, it really shouldn't have.
I'm not offended in the least. We haven't all tried things based on reviews and been underwhelmed. You have. Are you really thinking with the membership of this site you need to provide a 'cautionary opinion' to protect the babes in the woods here?

I bought my tone king without having played one. I read voices that I trusted after reading them for a long time and it was just like those trusted voices said.

For me, I find voices I trust and, you know, trust them.

On one of your trips, find one and fire it up.
 

Tim S

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That is the problem that I referred to....they are not found in many locations, so that isn't possible. That means you have to take a gamble based on reviews which are ultimately biased.

We have all purchased something blind based on great reviews only to be underwhelmed with the purchase. I simply add a cautionary opinion to the process. An opinion based on walking into the same quagmire that the OP is about to do.

Sorry that offended you, it really shouldn't have.
People that have buyers regret end up eventually selling the amp. A lack of an amp in the used market (relative to their sales numbers of new units) is usually a good indicator of a “keeper”. Granted, there are always exceptions (inheritor doesn’t play, dire financial state, etc).

Not being able to find an amp model to try at a shop that sells them is usually a good indicator too. It means they don’t live on the sales floor long and no one is returning them.
 

pippoman

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That is the problem that I referred to....they are not found in many locations, so that isn't possible. That means you have to take a gamble based on reviews which are ultimately biased.

We have all purchased something blind based on great reviews only to be underwhelmed with the purchase. I simply add a cautionary opinion to the process. An opinion based on walking into the same quagmire that the OP is about to do.

Sorry that offended you, it really shouldn't have.
I for one wasn’t offended and wouldn’t be even if I owned one. Hey, I didn’t build them. I bought a used Matchless Spitfire, having never even heard one, and wasn’t just blown away, but great amp nonetheless. Same with a Goodsell Black Dog 50 - totally underwhelmed. Couldn’t sell it quickly enough. I’m hoping a Tone King will show up locally, but no luck so far. You’re right - the problem is they’re not easy to locate.
 

pippoman

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Are they still hand-wiring those things? Anybody know? Their site says they’re hand-built, but usually amp companies brag about their hand-WIRED offerings. It matters to me. I’m wondering if they’re using an amalgam of hand wired pots and PCB. What am I looking at here? It looks like modular boards. Not really a problem as long as they’re using good components.
 

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Milspec

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I for one wasn’t offended and wouldn’t be even if I owned one. Hey, I didn’t build them. I bought a used Matchless Spitfire, having never even heard one, and wasn’t just blown away, but great amp nonetheless. Same with a Goodsell Black Dog 50 - totally underwhelmed. Couldn’t sell it quickly enough. I’m hoping a Tone King will show up locally, but no luck so far. You’re right - the problem is they’re not easy to locate.
Sometimes they just pop up out of the blue. Some of my best gear fell into my lap like that over the years, as long as you keep your eyes open, they will come. Pretty much all the matchless amps have impressed me.
 

pippoman

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Sometimes they just pop up out of the blue. Some of my best gear fell into my lap like that over the years, as long as you keep your eyes open, they will come. Pretty much all the matchless amps have impressed me.
The Spitfire was impressive, don’t get me wrong; nothing negative to report. Maybe I should’ve spent more time with it? I simply wasn’t able to coax everything out of it I was wishing for, like a great tube overdriven snarl with the ability to back off my guitar volume for some nice cleans, but it lived up to its claims. I bought it barely used and broke even, so I consider that a plus. They hold their value because they’re a good solid build and I would have no qualms about trying another one, a different model maybe. I’m thinking the Tone King Imperial will be more to my particular liking, but it’s subjective in the end. I’m actually not unhappy with my Quilters, but I love me some 6V6 tube power. I’m in no hurry.
 

Joe M

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OK, I've read through 3 pages of mostly tremendous praise for the TK Imperial. Here's my take....I recently bought, and sold the third one of these amps I've had over the years. First one was an early model Mark I without the attenuator. Second, and third, most recent one's, were Mark II's. All brilliant sounding and looking and, from my limited knowledge, extremely well made. After trying them three different times, here's my conclusion....just not the amp for me. Never, ever could use the "tweed" side, way too fizzy to me. The clean, blackface-side, was what I was looking for, but, in the end, too clean and crisp. Very hi-fi sounding to me. If I fiddled with the knobs, I could get the amp to sound close to a Deluxe Reverb. Really liked the weight of the amp, why can't other manufacturers do the same?

Bottom line is, my Fender '64 Custom Deluxe Reverb is exactly what sound I'm looking for. Priced pretty much the same as the Tone King, and, I think, as well made. Wish it was 5 pounds lighter, like the TK, but I'm not doing any gigging anymore so it stays pretty much in one spot in my music room.

As usual, these comments are completely MHO and, with all due respect to Mark Knopfler and Get Bent, and all others who think the Imperial is THE amp to have.

If you want an amp, or a guitar, to sound like a Fender, buy a Fender.

Oh, and as a last comment, I have absolutely no affiliation with Fender, other than being a mod here on the greatest Fender Telecaster site in the world. :)
 

getbent

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OK, I've read through 3 pages of mostly tremendous praise for the TK Imperial. Here's my take....I recently bought, and sold the third one of these amps I've had over the years. First one was an early model Mark I without the attenuator. Second, and third, most recent one's, were Mark II's. All brilliant sounding and looking and, from my limited knowledge, extremely well made. After trying them three different times, here's my conclusion....just not the amp for me. Never, ever could use the "tweed" side, way too fizzy to me. The clean, blackface-side, was what I was looking for, but, in the end, too clean and crisp. Very hi-fi sounding to me. If I fiddled with the knobs, I could get the amp to sound close to a Deluxe Reverb. Really liked the weight of the amp, why can't other manufacturers do the same?

Bottom line is, my Fender '64 Custom Deluxe Reverb is exactly what sound I'm looking for. Priced pretty much the same as the Tone King, and, I think, as well made. Wish it was 5 pounds lighter, like the TK, but I'm not doing any gigging anymore so it stays pretty much in one spot in my music room.

As usual, these comments are completely MHO and, with all due respect to Mark Knopfler and Get Bent, and all others who think the Imperial is THE amp to have.

If you want an amp, or a guitar, to sound like a Fender, buy a Fender.

Oh, and as a last comment, I have absolutely no affiliation with Fender, other than being a mod here on the greatest Fender Telecaster site in the world. :)
I think totally fair and great commentary. It took me almost 2 years to learn how to use the tweed side. Over the years, it ended up being the side I played most. But, it took me some time to figure it out... it is power tool fo sho. I think fender deluxes are awesome.
 




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