Talk me out of the Fender Tone Master

WFPPthesound

Member
Messages
38
So my current rig is Helix floor into a Powercab Plus 112. Here’s where I’m at...
  • I feel like I fiddle with options inside the Helix more than I play. Not because it’s fun, but because “what if this amp sounds better? maybe buy some IR’s? Dual cabs?”
  • I don’t use multiple sounds as much as I think I do, I’ve always had clean, dirty, and lead with a board never consisting of more than Wah, OD, Chorus, and Delay.
  • Big peeve (might sound silly) I don’t like all the volume/gain stages that comes with a digital setup. Input gain, amp gain, amp master, channel master, output level. It’s annoying and another thing to F with
  • My worry with going back to standard amps was volume control in my apartment but the attenuation seems killer with the Tone Masters and I’d be getting gain from pedals anyway
So to those that have played them for a while...do you still enjoy them?

I play clean cleans, and hard rock distortion. Not a blues/country/jazz guy. I figured a small pedalboard with a TS style OD, Friedman BE-OD or Amptweaker for the main gain, MXR carbon Copy, and some chorus into the Fender and I’m good to go.
 

socalscott

Member
Messages
1,868
So I'll tell you about the Fryette Valvulator GP/DI 1 watt half rack head. It has 3 pre tubes, internal reactive-load and a very good analog cab/mic sim section. Intended for direct recording.
Re-amp with powered monitors, SS combo(set flat) or any pwr-amp section. Acoustic combo is to my liking. Very "amp in the room", btw.

Sparkle to Djent, 3 voicings and with the internal load, you can control the headroom. Game changer when you consider all it contains and its analog. Soon to be getting IR loading feature as well. Used is a pretty good value.
 

Rod

Tone is Paramount
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
22,070
So I'll tell you about the Fryette Valvulator GP/DI 1 watt half rack head. It has 3 pre tubes, internal reactive-load and a very good analog cab/mic sim section. Intended for direct recording.
Re-amp with powered monitors, SS combo(set flat) or any pwr-amp section. Acoustic combo is to my liking. Very "amp in the room", btw.

Sparkle to Djent, 3 voicings and with the internal load, you can control the headroom. Game changer when you consider all it contains and its analog. Soon to be getting IR loading feature as well. Used is a pretty good value.
I have one I use for recording and through monitors at home. An amazing piece of gear. All analog. No IR’s needed. Better by a landslide than the Kemper.. and why not, it’s real tubes and all analog....

 

stevieboy

Halfvaxed member
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
37,720
The first point made in the OP describes exactly why many of us like them. Don’t care about or want a ton of settings and options, and the associated time and effort required. Many do want all that stuff and the associated messing around with it all, and that’s fine and that’s why there are so many products that cater to them. The Tonemasters appeal to a different set of customers. And the weight, the power settings and how they function, and the XLR out all are big plusses.

Not for everybody, but then, what is?
 
Last edited:
Messages
1,040
Especially with the firmware update for the bright cap mod and reverb dial back.
Well, there's that: you're still in the world of firmware updates and waiting for algorithmic bugs to be sorted out.

Other than that, it depends on whether you already love the Tonemasters, or you love a Deluxe/Twin/etc. and want a Tonemaster for the flexibility and options. If it's #1, you've given the amp a thorough hearing and love it, then go for it. If it's #2, well, I've only heard the Deluxe Reverb Tonemaster in detail, but at higher volume and with more power-amp overdrive, it ... kinda doesn't really sound like a Deluxe Reverb? It's in the ballpark, clearly, and without hearing an A/B, I probably wouldn't have noticed, but I think the gain-saturation character of the TM is really quite different from your standard 1965 DR reissue. Not necessarily bad or good, just make sure you're buying the TM for itself, not because it's a more convenient version of the tube amp.
 

drri

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
459
I had both the 1st year Deluxe Reverb and the Twin. I no longer have them but the reason why doesn't apply to you (since you are already digital). I also used a HD500 "back in the day" so I'll use that as my point of reference....

What you hear on the YouTube videos is on point with what they sound like and what they can do. I personally wanted the cranked Fender tone at manageable levels and they did just that! I settled on the Twin cause I love that tone (and 2x12). Used on 5w cranked for rehearsals and 12w cranked for a few gigs I was able to do with it. I'm not a man of many tones so it was easy for me to augment just a few pedals to get the tones I wanted without having to tap dance. I believe I used the amp itself full volume for my OD tone, your standard boosts/OD's for solos, and when I needed that saturated tone, the Wampler Pinnacle. No tap dancing, very minimal board compared to some I've seen. Oh and not to mention the weight was awesome!!! 35lb Twin Combo with tilt back legs so no amp stand needed!

Now I know you don't like the option anxiety and that is also a reason I got rid of the HD500, tweaking more than I was playing. But with those units you can have the ability to have different patches on the fly without having to tap dance. Lots of flavor there as your core tone versus the Fender cleans you'll get with the Tonemasters.... So the lack of options my bother you if you change things per song a lot. However if what you hear online is the core tone you're looking for, go for it!

Just as a side note why I sold them both: After my honeymoon period was over (ironically because of the pandemic, no rehearsals/gigs) I started to hear the differences between the real tubes versus digital and couldn't get past it. I found myself going for tube amps. When I finally did start using them again they didn't have the same "it" factor they did have. Just based on your post I don't think this will apply to you.
 
Messages
685
So my current rig is Helix floor into a Powercab Plus 112. Here’s where I’m at...
  • I feel like I fiddle with options inside the Helix more than I play. Not because it’s fun, but because “what if this amp sounds better? maybe buy some IR’s? Dual cabs?”
  • I don’t use multiple sounds as much as I think I do, I’ve always had clean, dirty, and lead with a board never consisting of more than Wah, OD, Chorus, and Delay.
  • Big peeve (might sound silly) I don’t like all the volume/gain stages that comes with a digital setup. Input gain, amp gain, amp master, channel master, output level. It’s annoying and another thing to F with
  • My worry with going back to standard amps was volume control in my apartment but the attenuation seems killer with the Tone Masters and I’d be getting gain from pedals anyway
So to those that have played them for a while...do you still enjoy them?

I play clean cleans, and hard rock distortion. Not a blues/country/jazz guy. I figured a small pedalboard with a TS style OD, Friedman BE-OD or Amptweaker for the main gain, MXR carbon Copy, and some chorus into the Fender and I’m good to go.
I still love mine, though criminally underused at the moment. Bought for a slew of gigs that were meant to happen in 2020, but instead has become my main rehearsal amp at home, with some recording via DI. That attenuator is a wonderful thing. The best alternative to Kemper/Helix/Fractal option paralysis. Plus you have the bonus that your amplification doesn’t look like stolen life support machine from a hospital.
 

LaXu

Member
Messages
6,562
I play clean cleans, and hard rock distortion. Not a blues/country/jazz guy. I figured a small pedalboard with a TS style OD, Friedman BE-OD or Amptweaker for the main gain, MXR carbon Copy, and some chorus into the Fender and I’m good to go.
You would probably enjoy one of the BluGuitar Amp 1 units. Mercury for all your Marshall type tones with a very nice clean channel, Iridium if you want balls to the wall metal tones instead. Extremely simple to use. No gain pedals needed for gain as it has a clean boost/Tube Screamer built in and tons of gain on tap.

I feel like Fender could have easily made an all tube version of the Tonemaster that while more expensive, would have done the same things. Overall it being digital does not really have that much benefit and it does not seem to sound like the tube versions either, the Tonemaster seems to have far more midrange push.
 

Figaro

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
12,768
The Tonemaster amps sound good and close to the tube models at low to medium volumes. But not as close when you crank them up because their overdrive sounds different and not as good in my opinion. But they do work good with overdrive/distortion pedals so you may not need their overdrive. I think the reasons to get one is if you need/want a lighter version and an attenuator.
 

Gig Young

¡Advocate For Advocacy!
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
5,731
Donut do it.
Esp if you're thinking it's lt. weight magically absolves any tone inadequacies
 

briwinters

Member
Messages
808
From what I’ve read, this helped tremendously with overdrive/distortion pedals being usable in the vibrato channel. Is that your experience?
YES. Huge positive difference with the TMDR after the bright cap mod in how it takes overdrive pedals. Basically my amp went from being extremely finicky with drive pedals to taking all well, got rid of a lot of high frequency harshness. FYI the bright cap mod is only for the Deluxe Reverb....the Twin has a bright switch on the Vibrato channel, switching it off does the same thing. The reverb mod is super useful too but doesn’t effect how either amp takes drive pedals.

A lot of the reasons the OP sited were me before getting my TMDR.....had a Helix, felt like I was constantly fiddling with sounds rather then playing, live in a condo so I need a volume friendly solution. But some of my needs may be different.....was gigging very steadlly pre-COVID (and will go back to that ASAP), play lots of cleanish Blues/Jazz/Rock. i Think the ToneMaster amps are great gigging amps (because of weight, direct out with IRs features, attenuator, lack of tubes to go bad). And it’s a bonus to me that the attenuator makes it condo friendly. But if mine never left the house there may be better solutions for your needs, especially for high gain distortion. Something like the Strymon Iridium would probably be a lot simpler then the Helix, pair well with your Powercab and pedals and give some more amp flexibility then a ToneMaster.
 

J-W

Member
Messages
23
I love my tone master, but it’s a beast. It’s a heavy head, and at 100 watts, it’s really loud. The cleans are really forgiving, but it has no reverb, so you’ll need that externally. Since live volumes have come down, it’s really overkill for live shows, and too much for home use without an attenuator.

I do have to say, the boss tube amp expander has brought it back for me. And if you’re willing to use one, it has great clean and drive sounds in a really simple interface. But that’s a lot of cost to put together.

;)
 

ufguy73

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,722
I love my tone master, but it’s a beast. It’s a heavy head, and at 100 watts, it’s really loud. The cleans are really forgiving, but it has no reverb, so you’ll need that externally. Since live volumes have come down, it’s really overkill for live shows, and too much for home use without an attenuator.

I do have to say, the boss tube amp expander has brought it back for me. And if you’re willing to use one, it has great clean and drive sounds in a really simple interface. But that’s a lot of cost to put together.

;)
different ‘Tone Master’
 




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