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Monday, December 10, 2012

Tone King Amplifier Company Imperial, ...(Review)

Reviewed By: Jac Harrison
Purchased from: Manufacturer
Street Price: $1,995.00 USD + Shipping 

The Tone King Amplifier Company is the manufacturer of boutique, hand-crafted, all-tube guitar amplifiers based out of Baltimore, MD.

This Imperial model is powered by (4) 12AX7 and (1) 12AT7 preamp tubes, (2) 6V6 output tubes with a 5AR4 rectifier tube pushed through (1) 12” speaker at 20 watts. The front panel controls features (2) channels -- (1) clean/rhythm with volume, treble, bass controls and (1) lead with volume, tone, bite controls with reverb and tremolo on each that are controllable via included foot switch.

Amp Casing: 
Dovetail jointed birch with solid pine baffle board
22"(w) x 10"(d) x 19"(h)
30 lbs


Guitar used:
Tone King Amplifiers have a great reputation for making well built amplifiers.  I only got to use this for about 2 hours while visiting the GTR store in Edison NJ. 

I had only heard good things about Tone King Amps but never had the chance to play one -- so I was excited when Adam from the GTR store set me up with one for the guitar demos in his store. To start with, the amp has simplistic beauty -- like you would find in a vintage amp. I find that some boutique manufacturers go overboard with the "bling" and the relicing making the amps look cheap and not time era correct, but this was done nice and true to the 50'- 60's time era. The chicken head knobs were a nice touch as I find them easy to use on stage opposed to dials that you need a flashlight to get your settings. But it all comes down to the tone, not how the amp looks.

This amp has a wonderful spongy broken in sound that I can only describe as an old  "blackface" that was hot rodded to give her a louder, bolder voice. Her lightweight construction is a gigging musicians dream at 30 lbs and is less than half the weight of my Bogner. I felt that this amp was an excellent example of that American built sound of the 50's and 60's that we all are always looking for.

My advice:

If you are an American vintage "blackface" or "tweed" player you need to play this amp.

Buy the Amplifier in this review

Tone King Amplifier Company, Inc.
Box 38 Bldg 45-2A
4401 Eastern Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21224
Posted 12/2012