Tone King Imperial mkii vs Princeton 64 custom

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by Sinner1980, May 20, 2020.

  1. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Whoa Tele, there are no schematics for the Louis Electric amp’s, but if I had one in front of me I would guarantee that just as with any two channel Fender amp that Normal channel can be made to yield something much closer to a tweed/Marshall midrange...and have more gain...and have effects on it as well. However, that built-in attenuator in the TK is special. The OT that Bartel had built for that amp is built to accommodate the attenuator. There are windings in the secondary dedicated to that function in s9me way that I do not understand...but I see them in the schematic.
     
  2. Whoa Tele

    Whoa Tele Friend of Leo's

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    Maybe Lou has modified the normal channel. I do like the fact that you can use verb and trem on both channels. I'd love to own a Tone King but I could most likely only afforded the Gremlin unless I found a real good deal.while I know the Tone Kings are still rock solid high quality amps I do wish Mark was still involved with the company. Seems like a really nice fella. Take care
     
  3. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    How’s Tele, that Louis Elec. Deltone is In the same price range as an Imperial MKII. And...I suppose he has changed the amp a bit because the description says that the effects are only on one channel...just as in a stock deluxe reverb.
     
  4. Whoa Tele

    Whoa Tele Friend of Leo's

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    That's weird. Don't know why Lou would change it. I didn't pay full price for mine as it was on sale. How's the clean headroom on The Imperial? I'm into cleans and use pedals for OD? Thanks
     
  5. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    the MKII yields wonderful cleans. However, being that it is cathode biased and that the Deltone has the option of running 6L6s for more output, I have no doubt that through the same speaker theDeltone would be cleaner at a slightly higher volume. Note that a difference from 20 to 35 watts through the same speaker is a very slight difference. I prefer tube overdrive...never have I heard off-board effects do what tubes do. Ommv. The MKII has great versatility, ime, and I like onboard versatility.
     
  6. Whoa Tele

    Whoa Tele Friend of Leo's

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    Cool. Didn't know the TKing was cathode biased but it makes sense if one side is a 5E3 circuit. I bet its fun rolling different tubes through it.
     
  7. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Fwiw, a fixed biased 5E3 circuit is the basis for the last tweed Vibrolux and the 6G2 Princeton....these two later amps have a similar preamp to the 5E3 and both run a cathodyne PI. This PI and output was maintained through the BF/SF Princeton/Princeton Reverb line but with the AB763 preamp. This basic thing is the foundation for the Rivera era Super Champ amp.
     
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  8. Whoa Tele

    Whoa Tele Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks for the info Wally but I am caveman and am unfamiliar with your modern electrical circuits. I talk to Jim at Lil Dawg on a regular basis and I have to have him dumb it down for me. Take care
     
  9. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I was merely relating the lineage that links all Princeton/Princeton Reverb amps back to the 5F11 Vibrolux...and in some ways the 5E3. A 5F11 or a 6G2 Princeton will rip when pushed....it doesn’t get as soft as a 5E3 does when pushed.
     
  10. Jared Purdy

    Jared Purdy Friend of Leo's

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    I'm not going to get into terms like "superior" as I think it comes down to what you want to get out of it. Amps are tools, and we buy them based on several things, not least of which is do they do for us what we want then to do? For me, tone, features, including build quality, size and weight are the four most important things. I don't need many tonal features, so that helps to limit the choices.

    I have not played the Mk II, but I did play the first incarnation about ten years ago, and again two months ago and it wasn't a sound that got my attention. Most recently, it may have been the way the guy had it set up. I was there to try out a guitar and I didn't mess with the controls. He had the attenuator on and to my ears, it sounded really thin, so it may have had to do with his settings.

    I believe that Tone King was sold, and Mark Bartel is no longer the owner, if that makes any difference or not. A quick Google has two different sites with his name: Tone King uses his attenuators, and Bartel Amps is listed as his company. Here, and on The Gear Page, his amps have received rave reviews for many years. When I first got into electric guitars ten years ago, his name was only associated with Tone King. I'm not sure when he started Bartel Amps.

    I own the 64' hand wired and love it. It does what I need it to do. I play mostly in my house, don't use pedals and don't need the attenuator. From my inspection, I'd say the build quality is on the high end, though I've read reports (comments) from others (mostly here) that Fender cheaped out on some of the electronics. I know that many people here love to bash Fender, the same way Gibson and Martin get bashed. I'm the outlier in that regard.

    If in fact Fender did cheap out with some of the electronic components (presumably capacitors and resistors?), it doesn't translate into anything less than in terms of sound quality. I've opened it up and it looks a hell of a lot more professionally built than the 74' I had! The wiring "appears" to be nicely done, though I've also read complaints about the lead dress. Based on other amps that I've had, I can hear no anomalies from the amp. It's quiet, and emits no unusual sounds. Nothing inside the chassis looks sloppy, "cheap" or excessive. Qualifier: I'm not an electrician.

    The parts of the chassis that are not visible (inside the cabinet) are not finished in high gloss, but does it need to be? It's finished in that classic, Fender way. The same way it was fifty years ago. The cabinet is solid pine, appears to be very well built, it's got an excellent Jensen alNico speaker (unlike many people I've seen on these forms, I'm a big fan of Italian made speakers. They are amongst the best in the world) and it has the sound that the PR is renowned for. The reverb is fantastic, as is the the tremolo. I love the size and weight. And, unlike the PRRI or the 74' that I had, the speaker doesn't flab out at higher volumes. It's got great natural overdrive.

    I've had other good amps, including the Swart AST Master MK II (two of them), the MESA Lonestar Speical (two of them) and an original, stock 74 PR (and the 65 PRRI) and I've auditioned countless others. The Imperial is a lot more amp than the PR, so it depends what you need it to do for you. I'm good with 12 watts, a small cab, reverb, and no attenuator. I'm guessing that the 64' is a lot less money in the US than the Tone King Imperial as well, but that doesn't appear to be an issue for you this time around. Buy them both!
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2020
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  11. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Mark Bartel did sell Tone King some years back. From what I hear, the quality of the TK amps has not suffered. Bartel started Bartel Amps sometime after that.
    We all have our own ears, but the TK IMperial is based on two particular Fender preamps. Bartel, imho, is a very gifted electronics engineer, and what he did with those two preamps and the rest of that amp is to my ears a wonder.
    As for modern Jensen’s, they are nothing like the vintage USA-made a Jensens, ime. I just replaced a Modern P12 Jensen in a Ltd Ed Deluxe Reverb RI with an Emi Alessandro ceramic 64. The owner is loving an amp that he did not like prior to the change. The modern Alnico Jensen’s have no bottom end, a dull high end and muddy midrange. The owner heard it, I heard it....it is real. At the same time I had that in, I had two other DRRI in. One had already had the P12 pulled in favor of a Warehouse Veteran, which is a great speaker. The other DRRI had a Creamback ceramic Celestion, that Celestion sounded just like the P12...odd but true. Weak lows, dull highs and a muddy, inarticulate midrange. Fender seems to be using a marketing ploy of using logos to sell products. I don’t play logos. There are so many great sounding speakers that are made in the USA and that are less expensive than modern Jensens and Celestions that imho it does not make either audio or economic sense to look overseas to buy logos to sell amps. Ommv.....
    And yes....the TK Imperial MKII that I had for my playing pleasure for a couple of months had a Celestion in it...that would have been one thing I would have changed about the amp. Sadly, the deal did not come to fruition. I liked that amp.
     
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  12. Jared Purdy

    Jared Purdy Friend of Leo's

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    I currently play with a Custom Shop Strat (2011 Deluxe) and a Custom Shop 2019 Les Paul R9. Pretty different sounding guitars. I find with the Les Paul, I have to dial the bass down to 3/10 because there is so much bottom end. On the Strat, it's fine at 4 or 5/10. I've had the stock PRRI, a PRRI with a 10" Celestion Gold in it, and a stock 74' Silver Face PR. None of them - to my ears - come close to sounding as nice as the 64'.

    Swapping speakers is a nearly endless game, that can get costly unless you have the chance to audition them first, and that is not usually the case. I hear no muddiness in the 64' at all. Not with the Strat or with the Les Paul. If anything, it breaks up with the Les Paul in a way that I was not expecting, in a good, surprising way. I won't be rushing out to replace the speaker anytime soon, as I have no issues with it - unlike the PRRI that I had, with the stock speaker and the Celestion Gold. I just could not get a tone from that amp that I was happy with. I'll be very interested to hear from the OP if he has a chance to play both and to hear what his impressions are. To do that right, they really need to be A/B'd.
     
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  13. Jared Purdy

    Jared Purdy Friend of Leo's

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  14. NashvilleDeluxe

    NashvilleDeluxe Tele-Afflicted

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    If you're buying used, also consider the Tone King Sky King.

    It has the Imperial going on in Pentode mode, but has TWO attenuators out back (one rhythm, one lead). Records a true sound at very low volume levels. It also has switchable Ultralinear mode for a totally old-school, chewy sound. And you'll have more headroom, at 35 watts.

    I love mine so much that I sold all my Fender-esque amps and instead have a couple of cabs with different speaker sizes/types loaded. Play this through an Eminence Legend 12", and you'll salute the flag, it's so 'Merican. And I'm from Canada.
     
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  15. Jared Purdy

    Jared Purdy Friend of Leo's

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    No, Not considering buying it. I just posted it for those interested. Not sure what it would go for in the USA, and that likely depends on the state and the city.
     
  16. bcorig

    bcorig Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Not really but they are different Amps. The Tone King will give you different Fender voicings. I lust for one but not ready to drop those bucks. Consequently I’ll stick to my Blues Jr. IV about which I learn more and more everyday.
     
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  17. NashvilleDeluxe

    NashvilleDeluxe Tele-Afflicted

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    I was responding to the OP, Jared. Still good to see a fellow Canadian on here, though.
     
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