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Most upsides have a downside, a compromise or a fee. Tube amplifiers provide classic tones that are now not only nostalgic but so deeply ingrained in the sounds we seek that it’s difficult to use anything else. Even the most accurate, practical, and precise amplifier emulators are still in a constant pursuit of that ‘classic tube tone’. Where they struggle, however, is that they’re built and designed to emulate hundreds or thousands of amps, cabs, and effects, as well as the rooms you may want to play them in.
Fender’s Tone Master series of amplifiers aim to emulate some of their most famous amplifiers, using monstrous processing power to focus on emulating one signal chain in exacting, unparalleled detail. Their most recent addition is the Tone Master Super Reverb, a 4×10” combo amplifier featuring dual ‘Normal’ inputs and dual ‘Vibrato’ inputs.
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The Tone Master Super Reverb is a combo amplifier featuring four 10” Jensen P10R speakers with Alnico magnets. It’s important to note that the speakers are 10”, so they don’t sound quite the same as a more standard 12” speaker. Smaller speakers roll off the low end in a subtle way, and these Jensens in particular really help the Super Reverb to sing. Originally an all-tube circuit, the Super Reverb was known for its guts and low-mid punch, and the 10” speakers prevent it from becoming overwhelming or muddy.
The cabinet is covered in classic black textured vinyl, and the sparkling silver grille for those classic Fender looks. This combo amplifier as a whole weighs about 16kg, approximately half the weight of the original. Two channels are available, one with access to a dirtier signal and the other with reverb and tremolo available, meticulously tuned to be vintage-correct for this particular model of Super Reverb. Both effects can be pushed to their limits or subtly layered over your playing. As if the weight, price, and classic good looks weren’t enough, it’s important to remember that the Tone Master Super Reverb is solid-state so it can be played at a variety of volumes without sacrificing quality of tone, i.e. there’s no tubes that need to be pushed to their limits.
On the back panel you have access to a selectable ‘Output Power’ control, ranging from 0.5W (barely bedroom volume depending on how much you like your neighbours) all the way up to the full 45W, well and truly loud enough to gig. You can also run the amp silently, and record or monitor via the ‘Balanced Line Out’ with your choice of two cabinet simulations, or none at all if you want to use your own. There’s a handy ground lift and an XLR out to get the signal to where it goin’!
Even compared to all-tube Fender amplifiers, the Tone Master Super Reverb really shines. While being a digital amplifier per se, the Super Reverb from the Tone Master series does away with all the digital distortion and fizz that digital amps can introduce, as well as giving the body, saturation and subtle attenuation that we love tube amps for. What’s more, carting the Tone Master Super Reverb is a breeze as there’s no actual tubes on board, so for all you who are committed to retaining that tube tone no matter the cost (sore arms pre-gig, regular maintenance and a few minutes of standby before you can start playing), the Tone Master series as a whole are for you.
The onboard vibrato and reverb can be as dreamy or as subtle as you like, thanks to Fender’s super powerful processors dedicated to precisely replicating the famed reverb that gives this amp its name. The reverb, an accurate convolution reverb of the original amp’s tank, can move from subtle stabs of space behind a note to wide, dreamy and wet reverb. Black panel Fender amps are some of the most sought after for their distinctly beefy, 60s rock sound. While earlier amps were designed with jangly rock ‘n’ roll guitar in mind, the growing hard rock and blues scenes screamed for something more. If the pre-amp circuit weren’t enough, four Jensen Alnico speakers push a huge, albeit controlled, amount of low mid energy out of the cabinet.
The biggest compliment a solid-state amplifier can receive is how well it compares to its tube counterparts, and the technology Fender have harnessed, refined and utilised to make the Tone Master series what it is, is what really makes the difference. Accurately replicating the imperfections (that make them oh, so perfect) of reverb tanks and tremolo units is no mean feat, as they’re effects that’ve shaped and influenced countless songs and tunes, Fender’s commitment to the cause, and the lengths they’ve gone to harness the sheer processing power is hard to believe, yet here we are discussing them because they’ve done it.
The Fender Tone Master Super Reverb is half the weight and a fraction of the cost of an all-tube Super Reverb, with no sacrifice in quality or construction. The back panel debuts some super handy recording, monitoring, and power options for the modern player, while the front panel handles recreating the classic tones that’ll fool even the most discerning vintage spec-head. What’s more, there’s an entire range of Tone Masters to try, but not all are quite as good looking as the almighty Super Reverb, with four speakers packed behind that sparkling silver grille.
For more information or to enquire, head to Fender Australia.