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Tech 21 Trademark 60 Review

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No pictures yet, sorry. I lost my camera charger.

 

A couple months ago I gave my little practice and teaching amp away to my cousin who moved up to Michigan from Florida with a guitar and no amp. I started looking for a good practice amp for my students to use at lessons and for me to use when I am just playing around at the apartment. Then I found an old, used TM-60 on craigslist about a month ago, and while its not really a practice amp, I decided to check it out. The seller said that there was something wrong with it; that it would occasionally lose sound completely, so he was selling it for 100 dollars. I thought it might be repairable, so I decided to take a look.

 

When I got to his house, the seller told me that he had turned it on and it died several times. I tried it anyway, but nothing out of the ordinary happened, and it sounded pretty good. Over a month later I still haven't had a problem with it, though I haven't run it for long at a high volume and will certainly try that before performing with it.

 

In case you have never played a tech 21 amp before, I'll give you the basics. The TM-60 is an analogue, solid state amplifier, meaning it doesn't use vacuum tubes, but also doesn't use any digital technology like Line 6.

 

Anyway, on to the review. I'll say it right out front: This amp is great. My other amp is an early 90's Peavey Classic 50 4x10, so while it isn't a Matchless or anything, I do have something pretty nice to compare it to.

 

Thinking back to when I first picked up the amp, I remember being struck by how small it looked. It has a twelve inch speaker, but little extra space in the cabinet. The guy who sold it to me had it sitting next to a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe, and while they both had speakers of the same size, the Fender looked much more impressive. Perhaps the extra space was needed for its tubes and whatnot, or maybe people are just drawn to larger amplifiers, prompting fender to increase its size. Possibly both. Picking it up, the TM-60 is incredibly light and easy to carry. It looks nice in it's black tolex and tan speaker cloth, though it never struck me as a great looking amplifier. It came with a black faux-leather cover, which looks nice.

 

The global controls include active treble and bass eq knobs, which have a larger effect on the sound than they would on most amps. A mid control would be nice, but isn't necessary. The reverb is quite good, though no sane player would ever need turn it beyond 12 o'clock. A boost control is also present.

 

Channel 1 features drive, punch, and level controls, with a "bite" switch. The punch control thickens the midrange and adds a nice growly Bassman-esque distortion. With this knob set to around ten o'clock, and the drive just around 2 or 3 o'clock (12 o'clock is essentially zero for this control), the amp gives a wonderful on-the-verge-of-breaking-up cranked clean Fender sound. Increasing the punch control pushes it more into Bassman territory, but I haven't used that sound much. The bite switch is an interesting control that brightens the sound, tightens the bass, and might add a little gain. It isn't a bad sound by any means, but I feel that it takes a little away from the depth and warmth this channel has to offer.

 

My Classic 50's clean channel tops it, but not by a whole lot.

 

Channel 2 features drive, growl, and level controls, as well as a "weep" switch. When engaged, this switch adds a tube-like sag to the sound and gives it a softer attack. This is great on lower drive levels, but when the drive is turned beyond 12 o'clock or so, the effect becomes too pronounced.

 

The growl control adjusts the channel's midrange, and I never turn it below 12 o'clock. Below that the sound becomes a little muddy and undefined. Above it, though, this channel sings. It might be a little dark for some humbucker-bearing guitars, but with my strat it is quite nice. While this channel is quite good, it is overshadowed by channel 1. Neither channel has quite enough distortion to play metal well, but that is fine by me as I have no real interest in the heavier music styles.

 

The TM-60 also features a XLR output so it can be run straight into a mixing board, with the amp used as a monitor. I haven't tried this yet, but I think it is a great idea.

 

The bottom line is this: There are some wonderful sounds to be had from this little tubeless combo. It won't replace your high end tube amp, but it can probably come pretty close to sounding as good, and nobody in the audience would ever be able to tell the difference. With its direct output, there is no need to mic it, and it sounds consistently good at almost any volume. Pretty impressive for an amp that weighs only little more than the cheapo Fender Frontman or Ibanez Toneblaster you learned on!

 

Sound: 9/10

Appearance: Who cares.

Durability: 10/10

Features: 9/10

Price: Maybe 6/10 if you buy it new. It does cost around $600. But for what I payed for it, easily 10/10.

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Thanks for the review. I always appreciate it when people make the effort to do this, and when I post a new guitar, I try to do this too. I played a TM 30 briefly - not long enough to form an impression, but I have had a Tech21 Leeds pedal for about a month - I liked it so much I got a Tech21 California and like that one even. Tech21 sure understands that analog technology.

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I tried a Trademark for the first time recently. It was a smaller model, but I agree 100% with your take on the sound. Very good. Not great, but better than most.

Easily the best sounding SS amp I've heard.

 

Nice review. Thanks.

 

EG

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I have a Tech 21 Trademark 30 that I use (at home) more than any of my other 24 or so amps.

 

Definitely some of my amps sound better, but for noodling around, it's hard to beat that amp.

 

I like that you can really get a lot of different tones out them. Really about the only weakness on the TM30 is headroom on cleans and some of my other amps have more "presence". But it's become my number one because I almost always reach for a guitar when I watching the TV. I do both. Watch a little, play a little, watch a little, play a little. Sometimes it drives my wife a bit nuts if she's trying to watch/hear the TV too, but for me it's a fairly blissful way to spend leisure time when otherwise just watching the tube or wanking on my favorite riffages wouldn't seem fulfilling. But the point is, in that mode of guitar playing, it gives me great comfort that I'm not burning up tube-life in the process, PLUS it's really deliver some great tones for the money.

 

I like the TM30 to the point that it does indeed make purchasing a TM60 tempting.

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My TM10 is my go-to amp anytime I want to quickly record a part, using the XLR out. Tech 21 simply makes the best solid-state amps out there, IMO. Very close to tube amp behavior, and a seemingly inexhaustible array of tones to be had.

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I have a TM60 and agree would like more presence. the controls are not intuitive or all that logical even. Hope you got the manual with it!

That said, can get some fantastic tones out of it. Amps got balls to the walls. Never tried it at a gig, as a little tweak on those knobs can make a big difference in the sound. For those willing to do the time to master the beast, it is worth it.

I got mine just before I moved to Asia, but I just couldn't pass it up. I only get to play it when I visit. Wah!

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I've been using a TM-60 in a 4 piece band. Country rock, blues, swing thing. Nice volume and good tones with my Tele or Parker, but it is NOT intuitive at all. All that weep, growl, bite and moan stuff doesn't help while I'm trying to dial something in.

The fact that some of the controls are active and others not requires me to RTFM (again, and yes, again).

If the control plate had a graphic showing 1- 10 linear or a "0" center with a + or - 5 on either side, I'd know at a glance how to approach an on the fly adjustment. Yes I know I own the amp and its my responsibility to understand how it works, AND my time is usually taken up with learning songs, practice and driving to and fro, so WHY make sound adjustments more complex than needed on what is a very fun amp to play. (and light too!)

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I've had a TM10 since about 2000, and just about a month ago I bought a used TM60 from a CL listing. I am a big fan of Tech 21 stuff -- to me it's like having tube tones in a bullet-proof package. I feel like I haven't played the TM60 enough yet to fully evaluate it, but one thing I will say: I have yet to find a tone on channel 1 I DON'T like, and have been having a bit of trouble finding a tone I really like on channel 2. There are a bunch of sites that have user settings for the TM10/30 and the SansAmp GT2 (on which they're based) such as http://milaa.tripod.com/SansAmpGT2/indexGT2.html and http://www.cstone.net/~halouis/tm10/index.html?all but I have yet to find a similar site for the TM60. Anybody out there have a lead?

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Owned one for several years, great great solid state amp. Here's a clue if the problem of cutting in and out occurs. There has been issues with the effects loop jacks getting dirty or somehow losing the signal. If you hear it sporadically cutting out just take a short cable and take it from the effects send back into the effects return. Cleared up the problem for me. You may also be able to just clean the jack.

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I used a TM60 for years. I just sold it recently though. It is a good sounding amp & the features like the direct out, volume boost, footswitchable effects loop & lightweight make it a nice gig amp.

 

I replaced it with the Fender Mustang III. I think the Mustang sounds better & I won't need any stompboxes for gigs. An even more convenient gig amp, being the same weight & no extra pedals, power supplies, cables, etc. to run. I hope it has similar reliability.

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I agree with all that's been said here. Good amp. A little confusing to set-up, but worth the effort. I've been gigging with a TM60 and a Power Engine 60 with good results. I run wah and OD in front of the TM60, out of the F/X loop to delay then Hardwire TR-7 Tremolo/Rotary, split the return to TM60 and PE60. The Rotary and uni-vibe settings on the TR-7 sound really good in stereo.

As far as tube vs. S.S. the OP said it all "nobody in the audience would ever be able to tell the difference" IMHO.

Both of mine have the older Tech-21 speakers as opposed to the newer models with Celestions. Does anyone know if this makes a difference?

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Owned one for several years, great great solid state amp. Here's a clue if the problem of cutting in and out occurs. There has been issues with the effects loop jacks getting dirty or somehow losing the signal. If you hear it sporadically cutting out just take a short cable and take it from the effects send back into the effects return. Cleared up the problem for me. You may also be able to just clean the jack.

 

I did some research and found out about this as well. The problem the seller described was a little different.

 

To the post about the speakers, mine has the old one. The new ones come with the celestion 70/80s (I think). I don't know what sort of difference this makes.

 

Glad you guys appreciated the review. I like the feedback. If there are any questions, feel free to ask.

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I've been a Tech 21 fanboy for a little while now, dumping a recently bought Vox amp because it just doesn't take my pedals as well as my little Sansamp Blonde. If I didn't already have the Blonde, though, I'd sure as hell try to nab a TM60 or similar.

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I set up an ampless rig for use at church several years ago with a SansAmp Tri A.C. at the heart and never looked back. I still haven't really dialed in EXACTLY the Marshall sound I want (with a Keeley DS-1, ZVex Distortron and Barber Direct Drive in the chain), but for clean sounds I never have any concerns. What I hear in my in-ears actually sounds better than directly into my Twin Amp. Tech21 has really discovered some analog magic.

 

D

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