EXCELLENT Customer Service Alert: Tone King

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by GenoBluzGtr, Jan 19, 2008.

  1. GenoBluzGtr

    GenoBluzGtr Supporting Member

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    I just had to post something.

    I spent a good portion of yesterday with Mark Bartel of Tone King Amps. First the customer service:
    I had traded for a Meteor II that arrived with some minor issues. A broken Reverb jack, two stripped out chassis nuts/bolts (not really stripped, but he nuts are pressed into the chassis and they came loose in shipment).

    The amp is over two years old, so it was out of warranty, but the seller (great guy by the way THANKS rholliday!!) agreed to foot the bill for any repairs necessary. I am the 3rd owner of this amp.

    I took the amp to Marks shop and spent the morning bugging the crap out of him while he worked. He is a great guy, very polite and professional and loves to discuss his amps.

    While there he fixed the chassis mounts (required some fabrication work, but it's a very tidy and permanent fix); replaced the broken RCA jack (solder work inside the chassis); found a screen grid resistor that was discolored/bubbled... it read as electronically sound, but he replaced it anyway; he also performed a modification or two in the circuit that brings the circuit up to date with the latest version (I believe it was something to balance the parallel voltage regulators... no real tonal differences, but a more stable/cooler running circuit that stays better balanced); and finally he did a complete checkup, all tubes checked, and power tubes biased. In all, about two hours of bench time, several parts and lots of time spent fabricating new mounting schemes on the chassis nuts/bolts.

    Despite some argument from me, he refused to accept any payment at all!! He loves his amps. He said the opportunity to see one come back in, all broken in and sounding great and getting to play through it was payment enough in this case. He mentioned that he builds them, plays them to test (while they are all new and stiff) and then boxes them and ships them out. Playing them after being out in the world is treat. (excellent player too, btw).

    All in all, I would have to say likely the best customer service I have seen. The manual for the amp states explicitly that the warranty is two years. This amp is beyond that. He didn't have to do anything for free. But it is obvious to me that his amps are his babies.

    Now for the amps and the man:
    Mark has been working in electronics since childhood. he spends his days alternately producing great amps, and experimenting with new designs and improvements. His cabinet work is exquisite. He has done extensive testing with different interior finishes, number of coats, etc.... his cabs are probably as big a part of the sound as the circuit/tubes/speakers. Just the mounting methods and baffle attachement methods took years of testing and development to arrive at the most pure tonality that can be derived. Amazing.

    So, yes, his amps are expensive. You do get alot. With the Meteor II you have a two channel, tube rectified, dual OT, amp with footswitchable channels and tremolo. You get Blackface Rhythm channel that is 40 or 20 watts. You get a Tweed to Plexi Channel (also 40 or 20 watts), a built in four knob reverb that is impossible to beat, Brownface era tremolo that is the deepest and swampiest I have ever heard, infinitely flexible voicing options, a perfectly tuned cabinet, a speaker that was designed and built around this amp, the list goes on forever. His amps are meant to be gigged. They are built to provide the best tones and most flexible sonic palettes available, but you are getting DECADES of work in each amp when you consider the amount of work he has put into making sure that each amp is the best it can be and THEN follows up with this kind of customer service.

    So if you're considering a boutique amp, make sure you don't overlook the Tone Kings. A little extra $$ is alot easier to accept if you know you're getting your money's worth.
     
  2. lv

    lv Supporting Member

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    Mark is easily one of the best out there in terms of customer service, as well as making a great amp.
     
  3. PopsDiesel

    PopsDiesel Supporting Member

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    Agreed, Mark and his amps are +1. I've gigged with my TK Mll about a half dozen times now and really find to be an "easy" amp use. It's lighweight, simple to dial in a great tone and really, really quiet.

    I've settled in on the lead/tweed side at the 20 watt setting, this covers all of my needs. I'm interested in an Imperial and thinking this might be a great amp for me provided it has enough headroom. I'm assuming that it has to be close (smaller tranny) in headroom to the Mll at 20 watts.

    Anyway, I feel the same way about Mark and Tone King; he's the best I've ever dealt with.
     
  4. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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    I picked up a Meteor II almost two years ago, and it still gives me a thrill to play it to this day. That is saying something, being the self-confessed gearwhore that I am!!!

    Another Mark Bartel story. I bought my first Tone King used, a late 90s Imperial, from a great Gear Pager. Just before he was ready to ship, he noticed that the tremolo was not working quite properly. Long story short, he shipped it to Mark, Mark fixed it 100% free of charge, and then Mark sent it to me. Nice, very nice!
     
  5. Wayne

    Wayne Member

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    I had a similar experience with Mark when selling a Tone King Continental to another fellow. Mark put it in perfect shape for the gent, much like your amp. I had a chance to visit Mark at his old shop in Baltimore for a little bit as part of the exchange and thoroughly enjoyed meeting him. Definitely, first rate customer service!
     
  6. jb70

    jb70 Member

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    i got my m2 1x12 combo from lark street music in nj in october of 2006. i've done at least 130 gigs with it since then and it has never disappointed me. i've done everything from small duo gigs with a singer/keyboard player to playing at the empire state games in new york for over 17,000 people (outdoors) and this amp always kills! between the amp, my sadowsky custom tele, and my pedalboard (filled with barber pedals, a buddah wah, tc chorus, and a boss dd20) i've stumbled upon a magical combination that works amazingly well for my soul/r&b band. i remember contacting mark before i got the amp and he answered back very quickly and seemed like a really cool guy. i actually still have the original tubes that came with this thing. haha!! it's probably time to change them but the amp still sounds amazing. the honeymoon with this amp is looong over and she's a keeper!
     
  7. GTRJohnny

    GTRJohnny Member

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    I was amazed to see this thread. I had emailed for info several times a while back and still have not heard back. I am even local to the company. In contrast, emails to two other makers were returned same or next day - during Christmas!!

    Maybe my emails were bounced. I was thinking I was totally blown off...
     
  8. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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    Something seems wrong, were you using the right email address?

    I've emailed Mark a number of times and response times have never been more than a day or two.
     
  9. GenoBluzGtr

    GenoBluzGtr Supporting Member

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    I can almost guarantee that Mark won't "not respond" to a customer's email.

    When I started dealing with him, it was a cold email out of the blue and like I said, I wasn't even 'really' a customer, I acquired the amp 3rd hand. He responded to me within a few hours. We then emailed frequently over the next few days detailing the issues and problems.

    he even provided me with his cell phone in case I needed help finding the location and couldn't get through on his shop phone.
     
  10. PopsDiesel

    PopsDiesel Supporting Member

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    GTRJohnny, I agree with the others, there must be some form of miscommunication going on. Mark has always been stellar; I suggest giving him a call. ​

     
  11. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

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    I've always received quick responses from Tone King, and I think Mark's Customer Service is second to none in the business.

    Try calling Mark - the number is on the website - and leave a message. The only answer I can think of is that for some reason, he didn't receive your email, or it's getting caught in "Spam Filters" along the way.

    Please try him again, I know he'd be dismayed that he had an opportunity to educate a potential customer on his great amps.

    Thanks, Dana O.
     
  12. landru64

    landru64 Member

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    i've posted my story elsewhere, but +1. mark's attention to detail and concern for the customer is almost unprecedented in my experience.
     
  13. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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    I just heard from someone off-line about another unbelievably good customer service story regarding Mark Bartel. I'll let him relate the story after it's taken place in a couple of weeks. ;)
     
  14. GTRJohnny

    GTRJohnny Member

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    I will try calling him. I used the "mail@toneking.com" posted on his site. His amps look extremely cool. I'm guessing my email got filtered, based on what everyone is saying. Glad you posted your experiences...
     
  15. PopsDiesel

    PopsDiesel Supporting Member

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    riff.......SHHHHHHHHHHHH;)
     
  16. GTRJohnny

    GTRJohnny Member

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    CORRECTION. I was able to contact him, and the emails were missed by accident. I have to agree with what has been posted here, he seems quite gracious. I'm thankful to you guys for posting this, because it was an honest mistake. Thanks again... :AOK
     
  17. Champlifier

    Champlifier Supporting Member

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    +1 for Mark Bartel & Tone King amps.
    About a year ago I received a used Imperial, with a problem likely caused by shipping, and he was extremely helpful.
     
  18. GTRJohnny

    GTRJohnny Member

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    To add to my previous post. I was invited by Mark to stop over and check out some cabinets at the Tone King Workshop the other day. Of course, I jumped at the invite. Mark is a truly nice guy and I really appreciated the time and tones. He has designed the biggest sounding small amp I have ever heard. :) And, he really puts the time into making his amps sound "just right" from the ground up. Quite cool...
     
  19. stratotonedude

    stratotonedude Senior Member

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    I can also vouch for Mark Bartel's excellent customer service. After moving to Beltsville, MD from Charleston, South Carolina my Meteor II was blowing fuses. It was probably from getting banged around a little bit in a Uhaul truck that it was traveling in. But I took it to Mark's shop and I was out of there within an hour. The Meteor II is working just fine now.
     

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