The Two Rock TS-1 also referred to as "Tone Secret" is a Dumble-style amp that was originally built to commemorate legendary luthier and close personal friend of Two-Rock, Taku Sakashta. In the same way as the other ultra high-end amps of the Californian brand, the TS-1 Tone Secret is an ultra organic amp offering unparalleled dynamics and sonic complexity. The TS-1 is a "cascading gain" type amp, so it will offer you the usual and amazing clean sounds of the brand and also a wide range of drives within the same box. So what is this pretty little monster? Well that's what we're going to see now!
The TS-1 is one of the brand's most iconic amps and it's an amp of superlatives! First thing, we will only talk here about the 100W version (splitable in 50W). For what? Quite simply because at Two-Rock, 100 always sounds better than 40 or 50W (transformers, power section, etc.) a very progressive volume and enormous dynamics, even at low volume. This is the case of the TS-1.
The amp is equipped with a 6L6 quartet for power and uses the same dimensions as the Classic Reverb and Traditional. Outside, it is beautiful, very beautiful. Ultra well finished, with a high quality tolex, an ultra thick aluminum chassis and front panel that exudes quality. Each knob is firm, perfectly made, we are on the very high end and you can see and feel it to the touch. Inside, from the point of the first order point, a work of art.
In front, there are people. The FET Gain controls the FET circuit. It consists of a single stage high-impedance preamp/buffer. It can therefore be used as a boost after 12:00 or as a buffer before that. It adds complexity and harmonics. Gain controls the quality of Gain sent and directly impacts the lead channel, with the two channels working in cascade. A 3-band EQ makes it possible to adjust the frequencies, this being assisted by 3 bright, mid, deep switches which make it possible to reinforce each dedicated frequency position. The mini EQ switch offers the possibility of accessing 2 totally different EQs. The first being lower medium, round and soft, the second being more punchy, higher pitched and modern. Next comes the second channel with an additional Gain control and a Master. Note a Bypass mini-mini-switch that bypasses the equalization stage and reinforces the Gain structure with more level, more drive, for a fluid and dense lead. Finally, there is a Presence control that will lighten the amp more or less depending on the guitar used.
Stratocaster, Les Paul and 335 in hand... we tried everything! Well we're not going to hide it... It's a big clacade! We start with the clean channel ... What a slap! (and two!) We are halfway between a Classic Reverb and a Sterling. It's more boomy and bassy than a Classic, but also a little less upright and compressed than the Sterling. We are really between the two, with of course the addition of channel 2 which in fact is not one, because it is an additional gain stage.
Let's talk about the clean channel: fan of pedals, big ultra FAT and dense clean sound? Welcome! That's where it happens! Suffice to say, headroom is available in abundance here, so know that this is an unforgiving amp. But no god it's good! Each note is like an earthquake (c)Dorothée 1989. It's ultra round, thick, it takes up a huge space in the mix, it goes through, the controls and the associated frequency ranges are ultra musical, it bends everything coming back very quickly... In short... It's a real bazooka of its kind. The pedals are metamorphosed, they sound more organic, more alive, more complex. Plug a big fat Les Paul in there and it's another world... In short, it's a crazy clean, like every time at Two-Rock.
For the Lead channel, don't have in mind a lowly JCM boosted way, that's not a "Dumble" (like many brands that have never played a Dumble try to make you believe) . Here, we have a thick drive, but not overloaded with gain. It's soft, velvety, fairly high mid while maintaining muted highs and a very round bottom. Think of an elegant blues-rock register. Du Robben Ford, Larry Carlton, John Mayer (Dead and Company). It's fluid, it works with a few pedals, without bad taste or tackiness. It's class and versatility, quite simply.
The problem with Two-Rock is that you would need them all! With this revisited Tone Secret, the brand is still laying down an atomic bomb inspired by the best planetary references of the genre. Yes it's a nice sum, yes it's worth a lot. But do we ask ourselves the question when we have one of the best amps in the world in our hands? It's up to you, we tell you, it's just ma-gni-fi-que!