Fender Tone Master Deluxe Reverb Review
What are the Fender Tone Master Amplifiers?
The Fender Tone Master Deluxe reverb is a digital modeling amplifier. While it looks and sounds almost identical to the tube amplifier, it most certainly isn’t. There are two new amplifiers in the Fender Tone Master range this Deluxe Reverb, and the Tone Master Twin Reverb.
My experience with the Tone Master Twin was nothing but sensational. The Twin really nailed the sound and feel of the heavy tube counterpart. This got me wondering how well the Deluxe reverb compared.
Before testing the amplifier for myself I had done some research on YouTube. I found a fantastic video by the very talented Andy Martin. He did a blind test A/B with the new digital modeling deluxe reverb versus the original and it was very tough to hear a difference. (video below)
Listening to audio on YouTube isn’t always a great representation of tone because most people are listening on their phones!
I really enjoy sharing my first impressions of a guitar amplifier on a YouTube live stream. The reason is that if something isn’t right it is very apparent. I have owned two different Fender Deluxe Reverb amplifiers and I knew what to expect on my first listen.
The Fender Tone Master Deluxe Reverb made me smile. From the moment I plugged in, I knew they really nailed the tone of the amplifier. Firstly, the amplifier sounded great. Secondly, it sounded almost identical to my old Fender ’65 Deluxe Reissue that I used for many years.
The Best Modeling Amplifier Range Ever?
This is the best modeling range of amplifiers I have ever used. On my Tone Master Twin Reverb review, I put a list of 8 reasons why this is the best modeling amplifier of all time. The same 8 reasons apply to this amplifier.
1. It sounds like the real deal.
The Mustang GT fell short when compared with any of the amps it was trying to reproduce. Fender really went downhill after the Mustang V2 amplifiers. Fender really got this right. The Fender Deluxe Reverb Tone Master amplifier recreates the full sound and feel of the real Deluxe Reverb!
Below is a great video from my friend Any Martin. He’s compared the original Deluxe Reverb versus the new Tone Master.
2. It’s lightweight and portable
While Deluxe Reverb amplifiers are not ‘that’ heavy some people will want a lighter option. This amplifier faithfully recreates the look of the Deluxe Reverb without the weight of the original or reissue amplifiers.
There are a few reasons why this amplifier is as light as it is.
- Lightweight Pine Cabinet
- A Neodynium N-12K Jensen Speaker
- Class-D power amplifier
- No Valves/Tubes or Massive Power Transformers
This is what innovation is. Making something sound great while keeping the weight down.
3. 3D Projection
Unlike the Fender GT series of amps that sounded like a cheap hi-fi speaker system the Tone Master series gets it right. This amplifier has a 3D projection only found in higher-end tube amps. Given, the Mustang V2 range had a great 3D projection too, but the Tone Master does it better.
4. Works with Pedals
The Deluxe Reverb is perhaps the #1 go-to amplifier for players who use pedals. With the pedals I have tried so far the new Tone Master Deluxe Reverb handles pedals no problems at all. I can’t believe this amplifier is a digital recreation!
5. Power Attenuation
On the back of the Deluxe Reverb is a power attenuation switch. This switch allows the amp to be “turned down” from full 22 watts to 12, 5, 1, 0.5, and 0.2 watts. This makes the amplifier perfect for any room. If you need a louder amplifier than 22-watts then get the Fender Twin. (Sweetwater link) It is much, much louder.
6. Loud enough to gig with?
Ah! This is the age-old question. I actually wrote a full detailed article about this and why this question is subjective. Check out my article regarding Deluxe Reverbs being loud enough to gig with.
7. IRS and a dedicated XLR Output
Want to go direct to a PA system without a microphone? The new amp has you covered. One of the standout features is the fact Fender added 2 REAL IR’s into the cab simulation. This is the first XLR out on the back of a modeling amplifier I would ACTUALLY use! I never like using XLR outputs to a mixer or PA system on most modeling amps. I always opted for a microphone because before now, they never sounded any good going direct to a PA.
8. No Option Paralysis
While the Tone Master series of amplifiers are technically modeling amplifiers, they don’t feel like it. This is a really good move on Fenders’ behalf. Guitarists want something that is functional, loud and reminds them of days gone by. This ticks a lot of the boxes for gigging musicians such as myself.
Having to connect your phone or laptop to a guitar amplifier takes away from the experience of playing and enjoying the guitar. For this reason alone, Fender has created the ultimate modeling guitar amplifier.
Does it sound exactly the same as the Tube Amplifier?
The short answer is ‘sort of’. The Deluxe and the Twin Tone Master amplifiers used several amps as a reference point. To my ear, this has more top end frequency than my ’65 Deluxe Reverb Reissue. The thing with tube amps is, they can all vary slightly. Mine sounded quite dark once the volume got above 6. The Tone Master Deluxe has a bit more top which is great especially once the amplifier starts getting dirty.
This is not the sort of top-end frequency that will hurt your teeth either. This amp displays zero harshnesses in the higher frequency range.
Tone Master Deluxe Reverb Musical Genres
Like any great Fender amplifier, the Tone Master Deluxe is perfect for many styles of music. This would include country, surf-rock, blues, soul, funk, rock, and more. You have the option of keeping the amplifier clean and then using pedals or you can wind it up and get the tube-saturated tones of the gods.
Even though there are no tubes/valves in this amplifier, they’ve really nailed the feel and sound of the amplifier up loudly. Having the power attenuation switch allows that sort of dirty tone at any volume.
Amplifier Build Quality
The overall build quality of the Fender Tone Master amplifiers is fantastic. This Deluxe Reverb is no exception to that. The pine cabinet is light but sturdy, they’ve chosen a quality Jensen Neodymium speaker, the controls on the front feel great so it’s all good! Like I mentioned on my Twin review, the attenuation control feels a little cheap compared to everything else but otherwise, it’s perfect.
Fender Tone Master Deluxe Reverb Specs
- Type: Solid State with DSP
- Number of Channels: 2
- Total Power: 22W (variable down to 0.2W)
- Speaker Size: 1 x 12″ Jensen N-12K Neodymium
- Reverb: Yes
- Effects: Vibrato/Tremolo
- Amp Modeling: Deluxe Reverb Emulation
- EQ: Treble, Bass
- Inputs: 2 x 1/4″ (normal), 2 x 1/4″ (vibrato channel)
- Outputs: 1 x XLR (DI out)
- Footswitch I/O: 1 x 1/4″ (channel, reverb)
- Footswitch Included: Yes, 2-button footswitch
- Construction Material: Lightweight Solid Pine, Black Textured Vinyl
- Power Source: Standard IEC AC cable
- Height: 17″
- Width: 24.1″
- Depth: 9.28″
- Weight: 23 lbs.
Advantages over the Twin Reverb Tone Master Amplifier
The only real advantage of the Deluxe Reverb over the Twin is its size. If you are wanting a smaller and lighter amplifier that nailed the Deluxe Reverb tone, this is the choice.
Disadvantages of the Deluxe Reverb compared with the Twin Reverb Tone Master
A main disadvantage of the Deluxe Reverb is the power output. 22 watts isn’t loud enough for a lot of players. The Twin can be switched down to 22 watts so I feel that is the better choice for gigging musicians who require a lot of loud off-stage volume.
The XLR output makes direct to PA situations a breeze and in that sort of scenario, the Deluxe Reverb is a great choice.
Which Tone Master amplifier should You Buy?
I would approach this question from this perspective: What do you need? If you need a really loud amplifier then go for the Twin. If you don’t require as much volume or you are a home player only, then get the Deluxe Reverb. Sure, both amplifiers can be turned down to bedroom levels thanks to the attenuation, but the Twin is quite a bit larger in physical size.
I would also ask yourself which one do you personally like the sound of the best? For me, the Twin has that huge wall of clean tone that I love. The Twin stays louder and cleaner a lot longer over the Deluxe Reverb. These are considerations for you to make when deciding which one is best for your situation.
Here’s a new video (updated May 14, 2021) explaining the main difference between the Tone Master amplifiers. Both are great-sounding amplifiers.
Long Term Reliability?
No one knows for sure how reliable these amps are long term. I am also not aware of the serviceability factor either. When I opened the Mustang GT-100 amplifier I found very little inside it component-wise. I would assume the internals of this amplifier is very similar. If something goes wrong is the entire board replaced or just a component? My guess is the entire board would need to come out. These are questions that will be answered over the coming months and years.