Fender Tone Master Twin Reverb Review
Fender has officially released its Tone Master amplifier range. Is the hype justified? I think so! This is my full review of the Fender Tone Master Twin Reverb amplifier.
For the sake of transparency, Fender sent me the Twin Reverb Tone Master for review. I am not paid to say favorable things about any products you see on my site or on YouTube. I have been very critical of quite a few Fender products over the years.
What are the Fender Tone Master Amplifiers?
These new amplifiers are Fenders’ latest attempt at digital modeling amps. After the flop that was the Fender Mustang GT series of amplifiers, it’s great to see they finally hit a home run on this new range.
Fender has had a mixed track record with modeling amps. This is the first digital modeling amplifier that ticks all the boxes for me. This is leagues ahead of the Mustang GT range of amplifiers and combines all the things I love about Tube amps but without the weight.
8 Reasons this is the BEST Modeling Amp of all time
This is a big statement but I think it is the best modeling amplifier ever. There are a few reasons why I know this to be a fact.
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 Twin Tone Master amplifier recreates the full sound and feel of the 65 Twin.
2. It’s lightweight and portable
If you’ve ever tried to pick up a Fender Twin you will know how heavy they are. I owned a Twin amp and I only had it for about 4 months before I realized it was too much of a pain in the back to move around. The Fender Twin Tone Master comes in at 33lbs which is super light compared with the real Twin.
There are a few reasons why this amplifier is as light as it is.
- Lightweight Pine Cabinet
- Neodynium N-12K Jensen Speakers
- 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 Fender Twin is one of all-time favorite high headroom clean channels. For this reason, a Twin amplifier makes a great pedal platform. With the pedals I have tried so far the new Tone Master Twin 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 Twin is a power attenuation switch. This switch allows the amp to be “turned down” from full 85 watts to 40, 22, 5, and 1 watt. This makes the amplifier perfect for any room.
6. Loud enough to gig with?
Absolutely! I will be posting a live clip of this amplifier on my YouTube channel very soon so stay tuned. Running it at 85 watts is very loud. The reason why it is super-loud is that it’s a 200-watt Class D amp emulating 85 watts. High headroom clean tones at gig volume are very easy to dial in.
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.
Cleaner Sounds than the Original?
Another benefit I have noticed while testing this new Twin is how clean the amp tones are. In traditional tube amplifiers, you can experience a lot of rattles. This rattle is usually related to the Tubes or Tube sockets. The new Tone Master series Twin Reverb is a pleasure to play because there is none of this distracting rattle.
I have also noticed there’s no low-level hum when the amplifier is idle. This is another huge benefit I don’t hear people talking about. As a recording tool, this amp gets a 10/10.
Amplifier Build Quality
The first thing I noticed when I unboxed the Fender Twin was how much it looked like the original. Looks aside, the amp is built extremely well. Everything from the pine cabinet to the premium Fender grill cloth is intact. The front panel pots and standby switches all feel great to use and just like the original.
My only complaint is the power attenuation switch feels a little cheap. Unlike the power attenuation on the Boss Katana or Boss Nextone, the dial feels a bit too easy to move. If they had made the tension higher it would be hard to criticize anything about this amp.
Fender Tone Master Twin Reverb Amplifier Specifications
- Two Jensen N-12K neodymium speakers
- Normal and Vibrato channels, each with two inputs and Bright switches
- Rear-panel output power selector for full power and five attenuated settings
- Balanced XLR line output with impulse response (IR) cabinet simulations, level control, and ground switch
- Lightweight, resonant pine cabinet
- Power jewel illuminates in different colors for normal operation, warmup, and mute/silent mode
- A USB port for firmware upgrades
- Universal worldwide 100V – 240V operation
- Cover and two-button footswitch included
Could this be my #1 Gigging Amplifier?
Yes! I have been using a Fender Blues Deluxe as my main Fender amp now for quite some time. This new Fender Twin is actually lighter and louder and well, nicer sounding too. The fact it handles my pedals so well is another huge benefit.
Here is a sample of the Fender Tone Master Twin Reverb in the live mix
Better than the Peavey Bandit?
The Peavey Bandit is one of my all-time favorite solid-state amplifiers. The Bandit is not only loud, but it performs amazing at a live show. The Bandit is not a digital modeling amplifier so making the comparison might not be 100% fair. Most gigging musicians would take a Solid-State amp over a digital modeling amplifier for the sake of simplicity. I can honestly say I would take the Tone Master Twin over the beloved Bandit any day of the week.
The Tone Master Twin fills a lot more space on stage and it sounds massive behind you. Fender really nailed that Twin reverb low-end punch. The Peavey Bandit sounds big, but the Fender Tone Master sounds bigger.
Is the Fender Tone Master Twin better than the Mustang GT-200?
Anything ‘better’ is subjective. For the 8 reasons I stated above also applies to why the new series of amplifiers are way better than anything else on the market right now. I recently had a chance to test the BOSS Katana 100 MK2 2×12 and it was a solid amplifier. Amplifiers like the GT-200 and Katana MK2 are aimed at a different audience to this new Fender Tone Master amp.
The Fender Tone Master looks, acts, and feels like a regular tube amp without all of the built-in effects and options. If you already have several pedals you love then the Tone Master is the way to go. If you don’t have any effects pedals and you want an all-in-one option then go for the Katana or GT-200.
Is the Fender Tone Series Twin Reverb good for home use?
The Real deal tube Fender Twin is quite possibly the last amplifier I would ever suggest a home player buy. This new amp, however, is a much more home-friendly option. You would think that an 85watt 2×12 amp would be overkill. Having the option to either run it at 1 or 5 watts makes it perfect for home use and also for home recording.
Best Price Online for a Fender Tone Master Twin Reverb
Fender Tone Master Twin or Deluxe Reverb?
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.