The Egnater Tourmaster is affordable and incredibly versatile, one of the best values in guitar amplifiers available today.
If you don’t know the name Bruce Egnater, you should. As the founder of the self-named Egnater amplifier company, Bruce is one of the few amp designers around who actually deserves the title guru. So, when he shifts the focus of his company to amplifiers made in China but designed by him, you can bet he has a darn good reason for doing so. It’s easy to see the “Made in China” label and think that Egnater has compromised quality for ease of production. Nothing could be further from the truth. Egnater’s management of the quality control of his new Chinese made amplifiers is nothing short of spectacular. If you need further convincing, look no further than the current Egnater flagship amplifier, the Tourmaster.
The Tourmaster is a four channel amplifier (yes, four), each channel sporting a unique voicing and independent tone controls. The first channel is called Clean/Vintage 1 and is the cleanest of the four channels, offering tones ranging from pristine Fender cleans to moderately clean JTM tones. The second channel is Clean/Vintage 2 and has a similar voicing to channel 1 though it offers more gain, so it can be pushed into a mild overdrive, suitable for blues and classic rock. Channel three is Overdrive 1 and offers even more gain. From classic AC/DC to Metallica, channel three offers a wide range of gain from classic rock to modern saturation. The contour control allows you to scoop the mids for modern metal or set it for a more classic Marshall sound. The last channel, Overdrive 2, offers the most gain of all four channels. From 80’s shred to fully scooped modern high gain, Overdrive 2 is designed to cover any tones needed for hard rock, shred, or metal.
Each channel features independent controls for volume, contour, treble, middle, bass, and gain, as well as a mini toggle switch for classic or modern voicing. The amp features master controls for volume, reverb, density, and presence. A unique feature of the Tourmaster series is the Power Grid, which allows you to set individual power output for each of the amplifier’s four channels. You can pick between full power and half power, the former allowing 25w, 50w, or 100w per channel, the latter allowing 10w, 25w, or 50w per channel. Clearly, the Egnater Tourmaster 4100 offers near unparalleled versatility, powered by eight 12AX7 preamp tubes and four 5881 power amp tubes.
I tested the head version with a matching 2×12 Tourmaster Cabinet, which allows for either open or closed back usage (the combo weighs nearly 100lbs). With so many different options, it would be easy to write a 20 page review of the Tourmaster, but I’ll just focus on the high points.
The first channel is extremely versatile. If you’re in Modern mode, this channel is capable of shimmering Fender cleans, not what we normally associate with the Egnater name, but also a tight, punchy clean, with the Classic setting engaged. Still, as hard as I tried, I couldn’t get the channel to break up. The headroom is impressive. Personally, my favorite channel is channel two, which is a clean channel as well, but capable of some grit when pushed. It also responds well to a variety of overdrive and distortion pedals. If I had to pick only one channel to gig with during a session, it would easily be channel two.
Channel three is reminiscent of the best crunchy Marshalls in the classic mode (think AC/DC) whereas switching it to modern mode hints at the best of 1980’s Mesa Boogies. The contour control is really useful on the overdrive channels and helps you nail in the nuanced overdrive you need. As you’d expect, channel four is pure insanity. Think souped up Marshalls and cranked Dual Rectifier tones for this channel. The contour control can definitely help you nail those scooped metal tones you’ve been hoping for. What’s perhaps most impressive about this channel is that even with the insane amounts of gain on top, every note is clear and distinct, whether you’re playing a Strat or a Les Paul.
Available to all channel’s is the unique power grid, which means you can get insanely saturated sounds at bedroom (and club) friendly volumes. You can vary the levels from channel to channel, so if you want gobs on headroom on channel 1 but want a more saturated tone on channel 4, it’s easily done. The amount of flexibility with the effects loops is impressive as well.
Honestly, the only downside to the amp is its weight. Even the head alone weighs 60 lbs, and unless you were born on the planet Krypton, you don’t want to even look at the combo, which is around 100 lbs. However, the sounds are pretty heavy as well. The made-in-China Egnater Tourmaster is a testimony both to current Chinese manufacturing quality and Egnater quality control. It’s affordable and incredibly versatile, one of the best values in guitar amplifiers available today.
Name of Gear: Egnater Tourmaster
List Price: $1,399.99
Manufacturer Info: Egnater Custom Amplification; egnateramps.com
Pros: Amazing array of tonal options and versatility
Cons: Relatively heavy