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Fender Tone Master Deluxe Reverb (And Twin) Review

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WazmeisterWazmeister Frets: 7467
edited September 2020 in Amps
It's a question that has been asked many times, all across the world;

"Do you remember where you were when JFK was shot ?"

And people often seem to be able to pinpoint where exactly they were at the time. Not so Jim Royle, and his answer remains legendary...

" I don't know where the bloody hell I was...
but wherever I was - there's a bloody good chance our immersion heater was on..."


In a spurious and tenuous link, I want to ask "do you remember where you were when you first tried a modelled amp ?"

For me, it was in Apple Logic, when I played their version of the Deluxe Reverb, and hence went on to discover that I loved those Blackface tones. This in turn translated into an amp journey that took in Carrs, Tone Kings, Fenders, Redplates (my personal BF favourite - anyone know of a CDS2 for sale ????).

Anyway, as a 53 year old, I now play in a band that rehearses in the same room (a church Sunday school building) where it all started for me as a 14 year old !!! These days, though, I stomp up those stairs to the first floor a wee bit slower, with more gear and heavier loads than before ! And now there is a Stannah Chair lift that gets in the way of all carriage we make (we are, after all, getting older)... this will become relevant a little bit later into this review...

Still, the feeling of nostalgia is powerful and I'm grateful for it...





My main live/rehearsal amp is the superb Matchless Nighthawk. I love owning this, I love the way it looks, and naturally the way it sounds. An incredible 3D, room filling sound. It needs to be loud, and my only criticism is the stepped click EQ section of the amp. This is easily resolved with a good EQ, and they don't come much better than the Chase Bliss Automaton.

The Tone Masters


So, I reckon I first became aware of these watching Rhett Shull's YT video. Also, our own @chrisv produced an excellent one. I like Chris' video; always informative, great sounds, down to earth...

I tried them out recently when I tried a couple fo guitar shops, whilst researching neck types and styles on a forthcoming planned Telecaster purchase. I ended up with a CS 70th Anniversary Broadcaster - which is simply a stunning guitar. Research paid off; it's the best neck Ive ever played....




Anyway, there are two currently produced (well, 4 with the new blondes) - the Deluxe Reverb (1x12) and the Twin Reverb (2x12). Both look from the front, identical to their valve counterparts. Because these are not valve, they are 'modellers' of the Fender sound housed in their own (lighter) cabs with real speakers. They are, imho, dirt cheap - about £799 and £999 respectively (blondes about £50-100 more).

Both have reverb and vibrato on the Twin. Both come with Fender livery in black/blonde,a Fender cover, and strong robust outer packaging. 

I tried a Blonde DR and a black Twin, at roughly the same time. The blonde (darker than in the above photo) is one of my favourite looking amps ever.

There is a mini USB underneath the chassis, and I did the new upload (better verb, vintage tones) and it was easy and worked as described.

In Use... 


So, I took both along to our rehearsal on Tuesday night this week. Dead easy to carry up stairs (even past the Stannah !), and tried them in a band context. They were both superb home amps - the reverb is very good actually, and I usually use pedal verb.

They are both loud, and the knobs are well set up, and the EQ is excellent.

With all modellers, (the Kemper reigning supremely for me) there is a difference in feel and projection live. It's inevitable. The warmth is not like a valve amp, BUT these are the best Ive used. They genuinely sounded and acted like their valve counterparts. In fact, they both probably held out a bit more before break up than the 'real' Fenders I've used.

The weight of these Tone Masters is naturally an attraction; many of the YT videos have majored on this point - the 
Deluxe Reverb (DR) can be lifted by one finger ! It is indeed lighter than a pink gecko...

The line out at the rear of the amp is superb; I plumbed it straight into our PA, and it worked effortlessly. It has a Fender volume knob fitted to it, helping to control that line level out. Ideal, and much missed by me since I sold the Carr Mercury V. There is a simple off-cab sim1-cab sim 2 option. Love it, and no need to be trying 673 IRs.

This amp can get loud; the attenuator/output power options are effective, and 'stepped' just right. At rehearsal with a full band (loud drummer, bass and 2nd guitar), I never had it at the full 22w setting. One big concern was that it wouldn't be loud enough or cut through the mix live. I can assure you that this is definitely not a problem. 

However, the attenuator/output power knob is flimsy to touch. I would have preferred it stiffer and more robust, as the nun said to the Bishop...


So, in a band context ???


I preferred the DR straight away. Don't get me wrong the Twin is superb; sounds AND acts like a Twin; I did consider buying both but quickly came to my senses.

The real strength is how they respond to pedals, and riding the pots on the guitar. The DR was used for most of the night, and it cleaned up amazingly; I mean really well. Just using the CB Automaton as the sole pedal, and the Broadcaster, I could get all manner of tones I need live. The band commented how good the DR sounded, and thats praise indeed from our lot !

Our drummer is loud, and I never felt the DR was being overwhelmed or lost. 

It never farted out, like a DR can. Break up was natural and involving.

I'm delighted. 

Maybe in the future I’ll yearn for a real DR again, or hanker for hand aired tones and ownership. Until then, this seems an ideal solution. Not a menu or screen in sight, and my back, knuckles and knees will be thankful =)

The next step is a two amp set-up with the Matchless !

Highly recommended.







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Comments




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  • WazmeisterWazmeister Frets: 7467
    edited September 2020

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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 61007
    Does the annoying little Tone Master metal badge on the lower corner of the grille come off easily?

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • ICBM said:
    Does the annoying little Tone Master metal badge on the lower corner of the grille come off easily?
    It will do, I promise... ;)
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  • Thanks for the detailed review.  Really interested in one of these as a different flavour from my Quilter. in fact I'm pretty sure I'd have bought one by now but for the suspension of gigs/rehearsals. I only use practice amps at home and no point buying a new amp just now.
    “To a man with a hammer every problem looks like a nail.”
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  • monquixotemonquixote Frets: 15353
    tFB Trader
    Great review.

    I'd have one if I was still gigging.
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  • Looks amazing! This is something I've wanted for so long - digital amps done right.

    Does anyone remember the Fender metal head? I vaguely remember it being a 400 watt nu metal amp. That had a nice clean channel, wonder whether they're repairable and cheap... 

    Anyway, the DR would be perfect for me. Maybe one day :) 
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  • Wisdom awarded for a spot on review. I’m loving my DR too, they really are great amps. 
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  • High praise indeed considering all the Stella amps you have owned...now I’m intrigued
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  • Nice review. I’m really hoping for a TM 5e3 and/or 6g3 to keep my TMDR company.

    Longer game still...here’s hoping some other amps get skin in the game. Marshall dropping a 1962 or Vox an AC30 which could be attenuated down and didn’t weigh a metric shit-ton would be dream territory.
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  • Thanks Warren. Counting 3 happy owners here, with valued opinions dispelling any concern about volume or cutting through. These amps are winners aren't they. 
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  • Great review again! Out of interest, what made you get the DR over the Twin? Tone? Volume? Size? Something else? I’m very interested in these when I get my next amp an fancied the Twin, mainly for the 2x12 at an easy to carry weight and the ability to attenuate it easily so probably ok at home and gigs
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  • You should write for a guitar mag! This really gives a feel for what living with the amp is like. Really informative. 
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  • mgawmgaw Frets: 4329
    off to buy one now, great review Warren 
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  • I was already pretty convinced but now I think I’m 100% there. Good to hear another positive write up from someone with a varied history of great gear.
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  • Great review again! Out of interest, what made you get the DR over the Twin? Tone? Volume? Size? Something else? I’m very interested in these when I get my next amp an fancied the Twin, mainly for the 2x12 at an easy to carry weight and the ability to attenuate it easily so probably ok at home and gigs
    Good question Mark...

    I thought I’d prefer the Twin; extra speaker, still lightweight, mids control... and it was delightful and had that Twin sound.

    In the end, the DR hinted at more break up and is lighter still, cheaper and looks gorgeous in blonde !

    The Tein is highly recommended though 
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  • p90foolp90fool Frets: 24788
    Great review, and very tempting if I didn't have a personal ban on gear and vehicles I can't fix myself these days. 

    That's no reflection on the product though, it sounds great.
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  • TrudeTrude Frets: 862
    I would've probably gone for the Deluxe too, but GV had a Twin for £740 so I jumped on it (this was a few months back). No regrets so far, and it has a nice mild breakup of its own. I also like having tilt-back legs.

    Like someone else said, I really hope Vox come up with something similar. A lightweight AC30 would be a dream come true.
    Some of the gear, some idea

    Trading feedback here
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  • Great review again! Out of interest, what made you get the DR over the Twin? Tone? Volume? Size? Something else? I’m very interested in these when I get my next amp an fancied the Twin, mainly for the 2x12 at an easy to carry weight and the ability to attenuate it easily so probably ok at home and gigs
    Good question Mark...

    I thought I’d prefer the Twin; extra speaker, still lightweight, mids control... and it was delightful and had that Twin sound.

    In the end, the DR hinted at more break up and is lighter still, cheaper and looks gorgeous in blonde !

    The Tein is highly recommended though 
    Thanks Waz....oh ‘eck....both are very tempting!
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  • GrahamGGrahamG Frets: 79
    edited September 2020
    Deleted
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