The Tone King Imperial | 20 Watt 1×12

Debuting in 1993, the Tone King Imperial was created to deliver the classic sound of Fender Blackface and Tweed amps, and then bring that sound to a new level.

Mark Bartel, founder of Tone King, makes each amp by hand out of his shop in Baltimore, MD. His commitment to high caliber craftsmanship is evident in all of the woodworking, upholstery, chasis assembly and wiring operations which he does himself. To ensure the signature sound that these amps are known for, Mark chooses to work intimately with American producers to produce custom-made transformers and speakers.

The Tone King Imperial is a singular design that does not just regurgitate a specific vintage tube amp circuit, but rather attempts to produce the subtle tonal characteristics of broken-in vintage amps acquired only after years of usage and maturation.

The rhythm input authentically serves up a classic blackface tone, reminisciant of a Deluxe or Princeton Reverb, but when cranked also has a fat tweed deluxe character. You get both a sparkling clean sound and the growling drive that these amps are known for, with an enhanced ability to express the timber and dynamics of the notes with your own personal attack and fingering.

The Lead input features "Mid-Bite" control which makes this 3 control amp a good deal more flexible than you'd anticipate. When you leave the Mid-Bite completely off, the amp sounds very much like a tweed deluxe. When playing clean, the woody reverberance of the cabinet, the lively 5AR4 rectifer tube, and the touch-sensitive cathode-biased output work in concert to deliver the raw midrange top end, and loose feel of a real worn-in tweed deluxe; The sound is classic memphis style honky-tonk or blues rhythm on a telecaster.

As you dig in harder, you will notice the rounded top end start to produce a stinging tone. Turn it up, and the sound gets thicker and fuller as compression from the cathode-biased output dampens the pick attack as individual notes and chords sing with sustain and growl. When you really crank up the Mid-Bite, you hit a midrange hight-point and at the same time the bottom end gets more tight, which results in a British-style crunch.

For that authentic 1960's spring reverb, the Tone King's reverb circuit employs the equivalent 12AT7 and 12AX7 tubes, and two-spring long-format pan. It employs a vintage tremolo circuit (controlled via footswitch) which produces the effect by inflecting the bias stream of the output tubes. Like the opto-coupler method used in blackface amps, this type of tremolo produces the most gradual, fluid, and roundest sound.

This amp sports 20 watts of power and a single 12 inch speaker.

For more information visit http://www.toneking.com/index.html

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January 2, 2009
Posted in Boutique Amps,Tone King Amps — David @ 6:14 pm

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