Tone King Metropolitan gig review

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Dana Olsen, Feb 17, 2009.


  1. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

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    I gigged with the new Tone King Metropolitan last weekend, playing the straight and natural (GRIN) Cowboy music with The Bar Association up in Marin, in NorCal.

    First, the stats: The Metropolitan is Mark Bartel’s newest Tone King. It’s 4x6V6, 2 channel switcher 1x12” combo with reverb. No FX loop. Channel switching and reverb on/off on the footswitch. It’s housed in a really cool art deco inspired two tone (brown and beige) slant cab, and it looks really cool onstage.

    The Clean channel is everything you’ve come to expect from Tone King – stellar, huge voice, shimmering highs, very BF Fender-esque, sits very very well in the mix. Has a bright switch, Vol, Treble, Bass, and you can select low or high input sensitivity – I used the less sensitive (Normal) sensitivity. And the new Master Watt control, which I used all the way up for more max clean.

    The Tweed/ Gain Channel is much like Tone King amps of the past, BUT it features Mark’s new Master Watt control in the circuit. The controls are Volume/Gain, Tone, Mid-Bite, and Master. The reverb has only one knob, but it’s drive is attenuated in the Tweed channel, and the balance of the levels from channel to channel seem to me to be about right.

    As stellar as the clean channel was, the Tweed channel really shined. I was amazed at the Roots/ Americana, slightly gain-ey with just a little hair on the notes kinds of tones I could get with the Tele in that channel. I found it a little odd at first when playing the amp in my living room, but onstage the Tweed channel is totally RAD – I could get low growling sounds like an Alamo or Supro at the edge of breakup, tweed sounds, and wonderful mid-gain edge and that with the Vol at 5, tone at 6, mid-bite at 5-6, Master at 3 o’clock. There was PLENTY MORE GAIN ON TAP TOO, especially when you switch the input sensitivity to higher gain.

    There was no 'call' for much gain at this gig (this is a Honky Tonk and Twang type band) but it's worth noting that the Mid-bite knob is usable through the entire range of movement - turn the knob to 9, play, then turn it to 10, and you'll hear a difference. Same with the Treble knob. There are tons of cool tones that can be coaxed out of the Metro. And the speaker is still breaking in ....

    Tone King fans know that the Tweed channel tone controls aren’t the typical layout. There’s Vol, Tone, Mid-bite, and now Master. Once one gets used to the way the controls work, it’s really easy to get tons of Roots gain tones with the Metro. It will also do more “normal” gain sounds, but I was amazed at how much like an AC-15 I could make it sound – not quite as hollow as a real AC-15, or quite as gritty, but very remniscent of that tone. Oh, the amp seemed to love my BJF Pine Green Comp, Fulldrive II, and Maxon Analog delay.

    After gigging with the Metro, I have to say it’s even more versatile then I expected. It takes pedals great, though you may not need ‘em. Easy to hear in the mix, never overwhelming, light (42 lbs), looks great, and sounds great.

    That’s my review – ask me questions, I’ll tell no lies (GRIN - except about how many good looking women were hitting on me!)

    Thanks, Dana O.

    Disclosure: I worked this year at NAMM for Tone King demoing amps, and Mark left a Metropolitan with me to use, demo for folks, and review. As I stated in a previous thread on the subject, I'll probably make a ton of money for this, and get great gigs with maybe the Stones, or maybe Lucinda Williams or Brad Paisley, or perhaps playing second guitar for David Lindley, Oh, wait, he doesn't really play electric anymore ... well, SOMETHING good is bound to happen ... maybe I'll make gas money for the long drive to the gig anyway.
     
  2. Steve Snider

    Steve Snider Silver Supporting Member

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    Great review and from the little I heard of it at NAMM a damn fine amp indeed. Mark is such a great guy and builds awesome stuff for sure. You are the perfect player to coax the right stuff from that amp.
     
  3. fullerplast

    fullerplast Senior Member

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    Thanks for that review Dana. Looking forward to trying one soon.
     
  4. oldschoolguy

    oldschoolguy Member

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    Clips, clips we want clips. Pleeez. I'm almost willing to buy this sight un-heard, but not quite.
     
  5. james russell

    james russell Silver Supporting Member

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    Hey Dana,

    Thanks for the detailed report. Since I've got one on order I could have read another five or six paragraphs. My latest question...how is the clean headroom on the rhythm channel? Can it handle humbuckers and stay clean up to gigging volumes?

    Thanks again,

    James
     
  6. Mastervolume

    Mastervolume Member

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    Mark makes a KILLER amp. Way over engineered. Killer tones for days......

    man I want one of these...
     
  7. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

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    How does it do with a 335? What about with a high output lap steel?

    Bryan
     
  8. big mike

    big mike Fixed Bias Moderator Staff Member

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    Very cool. Let me know when you're playing up round the bay area next Dana.
     
  9. Hatim

    Hatim Member

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    I have all the trust in the lead channnel, but has the rhythm channel enough thickness and fullness, specialy the b and thin e string? Having the Meteor I for 5 years now, that is still my main concern. I use the lead channel for solos only and the Rhythm channel for chords.

    Hans
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2009
  10. Frenster

    Frenster Put your Rock Face on!

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    I too was thoroughly impressed by the amp when I played it at NAMM. Truly beautiful cleans a la 6v6's, and the OD channel was friggin' smooth! I want one.

    I have no idea how I'll sneak it past the wife.
     
  11. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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    You crack me up, LOL! :D

    And regarding your "sales pitch" for the Metro......
    ............dude I am SOLD!! :RoCkIn
     
  12. Timbre Wolf

    Timbre Wolf GoldMember Supporter Gold Supporting Member

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    Yeah - me too. I'm sorry to have just missed this latest opportunity.

    :BEER - Thom
     
  13. Dave LaP

    Dave LaP Member

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    Yeah the rhythm channel tones are thicker if you want them that way. Mark also showed me how a small change in the tone setting can get you back to those Meteor/Comet type cleans. I like the new voicing better and can say this having owned a Comet a and tried out some Meteors.
     
  14. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

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    Hey Dave - I agree with this, the Metro is very dial-able and gets a surprising array of clean tones with only Treble, Bass, Vol, and a bright switch.

    Hey Bryan T and James - Plenty headroom on the clean channel for humbucker guitars. Plenty good for high output lap steel pickups. David Phillips, the wonderful steel player for Peter Rowan's New Free Mexican Air Force played through it for a bit last weekend on his lap steel AND pedal steel - sounded amazing, better actually than his Evans Steel amp w/ 15" JBL.

    Hey Hatim - I think the cleans are tremendous, as good or better than the Meteor II. Easy to hear the high strings, and the Bright switch works well. It is, in fact, thicker than past Tone Kings. The mids, and bass too, are stronger.

    Hey Oldschoolguy - I'm working on clips, but I haven't been able to record one that really sounds like the amp does just yet - it's a work in progress. It does sound great.

    Thanks folks for the interest. I have a pal who has a (rare) Tone King 1x12" extension cab that I borrowed. It's the same size box as the Metropolitan but is 'square' with a flat front panel, not slanted up in front like the TK combo amps are, with a Meteor II speaker, so you can stack the combo on top of it. The Metro with this extension cab plugged in (I'm calling it the Metro mini-stack) sounds excellent!

    Thanks, Dana O.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2009
  15. dividedsky

    dividedsky Member

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    I would love to hear this amp some time. The Meteor II clips are some of the best clean tones I've ever heard but even at half power it would be way too loud for me. The Metro seems to solve any problem I would have with the Meteor amps.
     
  16. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

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    ADDENDUM:

    I forgot to mention that with an independent Master Watt control on both channels, you can push the clean channel into some great breakup tones too - think old blues stuff, or as gain-ey as, say, Albert Collins.

    It's a great 'trick', and very effective - you just ride the guitar's vol knob a little, and work it (GRIN).

    Thanks, Dana O.
     
  17. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

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    I also forgot to mention that when I plugged in the extension 1x12" Tone King cab, I switched the output tap to 4 ohms.

    It was a bit louder, and seemed to have more headroom too. at 4 ohms.

    Thanks, Dana
     
  18. aaron1433

    aaron1433 Supporting Member

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    I've never played a Tone King. Which model is the cleanest?
     
  19. It's Time!

    It's Time! Senior Member

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    They're all clean.
     
  20. jcshirke

    jcshirke Silver Supporting Member

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    I'll let you know about the 335 once my Metro arrives. I expect it'll be fantastic.
     

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