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Tone King Imperial vs Swart AST

jetsnation

Senior Member
Messages
1,297
I think I've settled on a Tone King Imperial, unfortunately I don't have the bucks just yet and I've been hoping to find something like it, but cheaper. I read all of the Tone King threads here and I'd say four or five tone King owners said that they narrowed their choices down to Tone King and Swart AST. This surprises me because they sound like much different amps to my ear. Let me first say that I have a hearing loss, so I'm certainly not the expert on amp sound. IMO though, the swart has a much warmer, honky tonk, hardcore blues sound, while the Imperial sounds brigher. I can imagine good SRV coming out of the Swart and a good Byrds tune (Mr. Tambourine Man) and maybe jazz coming out of the Imperial - and not not vice-a-versa.

Right now the two amps that are floating my boat are the Tone King Imperial and the Nolatone CL-15 chimey Limey, mainly for the highs.
They just seem to have less of a twang than the Swarts.
 

sublimeaudio

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,158
I've owned an Imperial in the past and now own a Swart AST MKII, and I agree that they are very different amps. The Swart has much more of a grindy, tweed-like tone than the TK, and it doesn't stay clean very far up the dial. The Imperial can get very loud and stay clean, and sounds much more like an old Fender blackface. The Imperial is brighter also. I would definitely gig with an Imperial, but would have reservations about doing it with the Swart due to the lack of clean headroom.

The Imperial also has the lead channel, which can get much more tweedish than the rhythm channel, although it get's really loud!

I liked the Imperial a lot, but my main reservation with it was that it definitely had the Fender scooped mid sound. If it had a mid eq control I probably would have kept it. And it's one of the lightest amps around.

I opted to go for the Tone King Meteor instead.
 

riffmeister

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
16,708
I have not played a Swart, but from everything I gather, and having owned an Imperial, I would agree with SA's assessment. The Imperial will do a great mid-scooped BF Fender sound on the clean channel (which can easily cop early SRV tones) and the lead channel with the mid bite turned up really smokes but is quite loud. Turn the mid bite down and it will be closer to a real Tweed amp sound.....clean with a bit of hair and less bass & more mids than the clean channel. The clean channel can easily be fattened up in the midrange with some clip by using a TS9 type OD pedal (Fulldrive is a good booteek example).....ride your guitar's vol control for clean to crunch. The Imperial is a bright amp if you set the treb/bass the way you would a BF Fender. The key here is to turn the treble control down (8-9 oclock) and maybe roll off on the guitar's tone control slightly. By doing that, a pretty rich/dark/clean sound can easily be had. But it still is fairly mid-scooped.

Best wishes in your Tone Quest! :)
 

Nolatone Ampworks

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
2,777
Right now the two amps that are floating my boat are the Tone King Imperial and the Nolatone CL-15 chimey Limey, mainly for the highs.
They just seem to have less of a twang than the Swarts.
I'll speak for the CL-15, if I were going for twang, I'd probably pick the 22 Tango over the CL-15, but then a lot of that has to do with guitar. If you think Brad Paisley's twang is nice, he's a big Vox type guy, so the CL15 certainly can twang if asked to. It's way different than the other amps you are talking about here, for what that's worth.
 

Crowder

Dang Twangler
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
19,087
I have a TK Imperial and agree with all posted so far. I has "just enough" clean headroom to practice with a drummer. I don't have any problem using pedals with mine, but I don't need them much. I use a ZVEX SHO and change the channels, and various combos of those give me everything I need. The drive channel is a bit loud compared to the clean, but it's a great channel for using all the time, and cleaning up with the volume knob, then cranking it up and adding a little boost pedal to get a great lead tone. On it's own it sounds a little bass-light, but as you crank it up the power tubes come on and the bass comes in there. It is definitely a tone that stands out in the mix.
 




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