Fender Tone Master Super-Reverb Amplifier Review
The latest Fender Tone Master amplifier has arrived! This article is a review of the Fender Tone Master Super-Reverb Amplifier. The Fender Super-Reverb is my favorite Fender amplifier of all time, so I was keen to check out this digital recreation.
I had this product on loan. Additionally, Fender did not pay me to write this review, and I didn’t get a free amplifier. Fender, like all other companies, has no input into my videos or written reviews. With that, let’s get into it!
What is the Fender Tone Master Series of Amplifiers?
The Fender tone master series of guitar amplifiers are faithful digital re-creations of their famous tube amps. The tone master lineup consists of the Twin-Reverb, Deluxe-Reverb, and now the Super-Reverb. I have reviewed both of the other amplifiers, so click the links above to learn more.
While the Tone Master amplifiers are digital modeling amplifiers, they are nothing like a Katana, Mustang, or Marshall Code. Instead, these amplifiers are cost-effective and lightweight alternatives to their tube counterparts.
Unlike the amplifiers mentioned above, the Tone Master amplifiers do not have a headphone socket or built-in effects. The Fender Tone Master design is functional and straightforward. These are versatile digital alternatives to the tube amps that are most of the way there tone-wise.
What is so Special About the Fender Tone Master Super-Reverb?
After owning the tube version of the Super-Reverb, I can tell you it weighs a tonne! The thing that makes these amplifiers so unique is firstly their weight. These are almost half of the importance of the original amplifier coming in at 36LBS vs. 65LBS of the original.
Do these amps sound Legitimate?
Secondly, the amplifiers sound good! They handle pedals very well and are loud and three-dimensional sound-wise. Unlike a lot of digital amps, the tone master amp range is very pedal-friendly. In a blind test between this new Tone Master and an original Super-Reverb, it is tough to tell the difference to the untrained ear.
The XLR output and Impulse Response Quality.
Thirdly, the XLR output sounds fantastic. This output is used for silent studio recordings with minimal effort. In my testing recording of the amplifier, the XLR outperformed the actual microphone I had in front of the speaker. Fender made this possible by loading in a Shure SM-57 and Royer 121 Ribbon Microphone impulse response into the amplifier. You can easily choose which IR you want to use thanks to the toggle switch on the back of the amplifier.
The Built-in Power Attenuation
Another benefit to the Fender Super-Reverb Tone Master amplifiers is that it has a built-in power attenuation. This allows you to get the best sound possible at any volume. The power settings go from 45 (full), 22, 12, 5, 1, 0.1 (lowest). At the lowest setting, the amplifier can be used in the most discrete situations without annoying the neighbors.
For live playing, I would suggest using it at 22-watts or 45-watts for the most grunt and output. The higher the power attenuation is, the easier it is to maintain a sense of clean-headroom.
Is it Loud Enough to Gig With?
Yes. The Tone Master Super-Reverb has a 200-watt power amplifier which equates to 45-watts of tube power. Under normal circumstances, this amp is loud enough. I gigged with a Tube super-reverb for years, and it was loud enough for most cases.
You can run a signal to a desk or PA system thanks to the XLR output on the back for rooms where this amplifier is not loud enough.
Is this Super-Reverb Tone Master better than the Twin or Deluxe Reverb?
The short answer is, it’s neither better nor worse – just different. The Fender Tone Master Super-Reverb is a replica of the Super-Reverb. You need to pick a Tone Master amplifier based on your sound preference and portability.
This is now my personal favorite of the three Tone Master amplifiers because the Super-Reverb is my favorite Fender amp ever. This doesn’t mean it’s better or worse than a Twin or Deluxe. Some people will prefer the tones of the Deluxe or Twin, and some will prefer the Super-Reverb.
My Video Review of the Fender Tone-Master Super-Reverb Amplifier
Another huge positive to the new Super-Reverb Tone Master is its 4×10″ speaker configuration. Fender has put in the legendary Jensen P10R speakers with Alnico magnets. Part of why this amplifier sounds so great is they kept the same speakers from their tube amps and put them in here.
I am a huge fan of these speakers and it’s part of the reason why a Super-Reverb sounds like it does. Unlike other digital modeling amplifiers, these are not Neodymium speakers. The trade-off is a little extra weight, but it’s worth it!
As far as speakers go, these are some of the best so you won’t need to upgrade anything. If you choose to upgrade a speaker check out Guitar Speaker Guide for more information.
The provided Jensen speakers have no issues handling the 200-watt digital power amplifier (45-watt tube equivalent) that a Super-Reverb is equipped with.
How well does the Super-Reverb handle pedals?
The Tone Master amplifiers handle pedals better than most digital modeling amps. While it does feel a little different from using the tube version of the Super-Reverb, it still sounds great. It will be fine if you like to use Overdrive, Distortion, Delay, or Modulation pedals.
Much like the original Fender Super-Reverb, the Tone Master has no effects loop, so you’ll be running your pedals into the front-end. I never had an issue doing this but if you are a die-hard effects loop player, then give this amp a miss.
The only thing that Tone Master amps struggle with is volume boost pedals. The advantage of a tube amp is how well you can push them over the edge of breakup. This one limitation is the one downside of this series of amps. Using volume boosts on their own is a fairly unpleasant experience when compared with the original super reverb.
For fans of SRV or blues/rock, you’ll be pleased to know that a Maxon OD-808 or Tube Screamer does work great! I much prefer using overdrives into this amp (even as a boost) over a clean boost. Mid-hump overdrive pedals shine with this digital amplifier.
Here is a new video I made showcasing a Fender Tone Master amplifier using pedals.
Is the Size of This Amplifier an Issue?
The Super-Reverb Tone Master is a big amplifier thanks to the 4×10″ speakers and the big cabinet. One of the issues I face with a Super-Reverb is how hard it is to get into my car. Due to the size, I have to put this on the backseat, which isn’t always ideal. If you own a larger car, you won’t have an issue storing it securely in the trunk/boot.
Longterm Repairs and Reliability
It’s a well-known fact that tube amps last forever with regular maintenance. There’s still plenty of amps in circulation that are over 50 years old that work fine. One of the biggest concerns with anything “digital” is longevity and reliability. The Fender Super-Reverb Tone Master is CPU-powered, which means it will age like any piece of technology.
With this concern, I reached out to my contact at Fender, who saiFendere all technology that requires CPUs, five years is like 20 years in the car industry. Will these amplifiers be reliable long-term, and will Fender support Fenders long into the future? Will parts be available ten years from now? If we learned anything from the Fender Mustang V2 series of amplifiers, this is uncertain waters.
Fender Tone Master Super-Reverb Specs
|Wattage||45W at 2ohms|
|Inputs||4 x 1/4″ (2 x Normal and 2 x Vibrato)|
|Outputs||1 x Balanced XLR with Ground Lift and Level Control|
|Speakers||4 x 10″ Jensen® P10R with Alnico Magnet|
|Controls||Normal Channel: Bright Switch, Volume, Treble, Bass
Vibrato Channel: Bright Switch, Volume, Treble, Middle, Bass, Reverb
Vibrato: Speed, Intensity
|Cabinet Construction||Lightweight Meranti Plywood with Lightweight Meranti Plywood|
|Dimensions||14.50 x 29.00 x 30.00 Inches|
Tilt-Back Legs, 2-Button Footswitch, ’65 Super Reverb® Cover – Black (P/N: 0041533000)
How to update the Fender Super-Reverb Tone Master Firmware
The firmware update process is handled from the USB port located under the amplifier head inside the cabinet. Unfortunately, the Fender has not Fendered a USB cable for the amplifier and will work with any Micro USB cable. I wish Fender would start using a USB-C for future amps as micro USB is now all but obsolete.
Where to Check for or download new Firmware?
To download any potential firmware updates for the Fender Tone Master Super-Reverb, please visit the Fender firmware website.
Fender Mustang GTX, Boss Katana, or Tone Master?
As popular as the Boss Katana and Mustang GTX amps are, they are designed for beginners and home users first and foremost. Both of those amplifiers offer loads of built-in effects and sound to help users dial in what they like.
The Tone Master amplifiers is designed to get “one good sound.” Without the tinkering and option paralysis. Live players will appreciate the simplicity of the Tone Master amps, whereas home players who may require a headphone socket and loads of effects will no doubt enjoy the Boss Katana or Mustang GTX.
The Tone Master amp is designed towards gigging musicians who already have a pedalboard sorted. Gigging musicians generally want a simple plug-and-play alternative to a standard digital modeling amplifier. Speaking from experience, I prefer the plug and play option of the Tone Master over the Katana or GTX amplifiers.
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