Goodsell Super 17 vs. Matchless Spitfire vs. TopHat Club Royale

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by KLB, Mar 21, 2006.

  1. KLB

    KLB Member

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    I am searching for a two EL-84 amp to play clean to dirty using the volume control, mostly with a maple neck Strat and occasional OD pedal.

    I would appreciate comments from those of you who have owned and/or compared TWO or more of these amps:

    1.) Goodsell Super 17

    2.) Matchless Spitfire 15

    3.) TopHat Club Royale 20

    4.) Marshall 18w 1974x and clones?

    I have played the Goodsell Super 17 for a day at my house. I especially liked the clean to distortion transition and how it responds to pick attack. I was not impressed by the build quality for the first generation with the tiny chassis and found that it ran the tubes way too hard (16 watts idle dissipation for an EL-84!). The Mk2 version has the tubes and everything spread out more, so the reliability should be better. Head or combo form is available, as is reverb, a $300 option. These are local to Atlanta where I live, which is an advantage other than having to pay sales tax.

    The Matchless Spitfire 15 appears to be the prototype for the Goodsell Super 17. They have the same set of controls. Not sure of tonal differences as I have not played a Spitfire in 10 years. I suspect the Matchless has more headroom due to larger power and output transformers. On the other hand, part of the charm of the Goodsell may be due to output transformer saturation as the volume is increased. The appearance and build quality, imo, is superior to the Goodsell and the price is only a little more. I understand that most Matchless EL-84 amps run the tubes pretty hard, too. The current version is available as a head, small combo, or the larger 1x12 combo with reverb.

    The latest version of the TopHat Club Royale 20 appears to give the most bang for the buck. They have recently upgraded the transformers to larger, Heyboers. The rectifier is a 6CA4 now instead of 5AR4. Preamp tubes are TungSols, probably the best in new production. The treble/mid/bass EQ section allows for more adjustment than the other two amps, which have only a "tone" knob. However, this does not necessarily equate to better tone! Other features include a Fat-Off-Bright switch and Cut control for the power section. Appearance and build quality is on par with the Matchless. I like the top-mounted controls, which are easier to see and adjust when standing up. Apparently available as combo only. (I am aware of the upcoming Sweet 16 / Mini King Royale head.)

    Also, if you have compared and preferred some other two EL-84 amp, such as the Marshall 1974x or clone, please share your thoughts.


    THANK YOU!
     
  2. Ogre

    Ogre Member

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    We had a Goodsell combo at the shop to try out. I was not impressed. There was nothing compelling tone-wise about this amp. Clean was nothing special. Overdrive was ho-hum. I wanted to like it. I like the simplicity approach design-wise. Build quality was sketchy. The grill cloth sagged. I have heard other amps that are better. They are:
    Matchless Lightning
    DrZ Carmen Ghia
    Marshall PA20
    65Amps London
    Bad Cat Cub II
     
  3. BozoTone

    BozoTone Member

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    I guess, "All in the ears of the beholder". When I was out looking last year from March-May, I had set a price limit of $2000 for an amp. I listened to/played most everything in this price range, EXCEPT a TopHat (couldn't find one to demo). I tried to keep everything I listened to as close to "apples to apples" as I could (my guitar, me playing, EL84's, 1X12 combos or head with 1X12 cab, no reverb, and in the same shop/listening environment). I did listen to some EL34 and 6V6 amps also, again 1X12 format. The Super 17 stood way out to me for a lot of reasons, mainly it did not sound boxy...always sounded bigger than anything else. I went back and played 3 different Goodsells in this time period to make sure my memory wasn't playing tricks on me. I don't "play the paint", but my S17 looks very good. I know some of the earlier ones (mine is #43) had some asthetic issues, but have always had very good tone. My amp has the smallest chassis (AO35) and I haven't had any component failures. I did have one new EH EL84 go bad but that can be considered normal, and I run it hard. When directly compared to the Spitfire, again the Super 17 sounded bigger, richer, with much better inbetween break-up and smoother full saturation. I really like the new Mk.2 chassis...lots of real estate. The other amp I liked and considered was the Orange Rocker 30 which also has it's own unique voice. FWIIW.....
    BZT
     
  4. Don L

    Don L Member

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    I have a Reinhardt 18W combo and a 2x12 Club Royale from '01. Just briefly, the Reinhardt gives me more plexi tone whereas the CR is more chimy with Vox character.
     
  5. Phil M

    Phil M Member

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    There is a used CR 2x12 for $1100 in the emporium. I would be all over that if I didn't already have one. Hurry. I like it better than the Marshall and I would be willing to bet it built as good or better than all the amps in your list.
     
  6. meterman

    meterman Member

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    I used to own Super17 head #20 and I have two TopHat Clubs (Deluxe w/ 6V6 and Super Deluxe w/ 6L6) which have the same front end as the CR. I liked the Goodsell alot, it had a punchy, lively tone, very good string feel and some beautiful clean tones with a Strat. But I prefer my the TopHats for several reasons including more versatility, wider range of available tones, tighter bass response with humbucker guitars, overall 'refinement' of tone, and build quality.

    If you are interested in checking out my Club Deluxe or Super Deluxe let me know, I live in the Decatur area.
     
  7. Softpaw

    Softpaw Member

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    That was my amp not too long ago. It sounded GREAT. I only sold it because I also had a TopHat King Royale, and needed cash, and one had to go.

    I absolutely LOVE the el84 TopHats. They have chime, and voxiness, but they go into a Marshally grind also, depending on how they are set etc.

    The Club Royale, naturally, is much more volume-friendly than the King.

    Compared to the Marshall-styled 18 watt el 84 amps it's much sweeter on the top-end , as far as I am concerned, and has a much nicer jangly clean tone and the transition from clean, to semi-clean, to crunch is very gradual and smooth. The Marshall el84 designs, in contrast, are better for that plexi toothiness and snarl.

    For me, the TopHat Royales are the perfect blend of Vox chime and Marshall aggressiveness. You can't get a bad sound out of them. The boost switch is very useful btw.
     
  8. Don L

    Don L Member

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    Absolutely agree with the above.
     
  9. iluvstrats

    iluvstrats Member

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    Ken,

    You're welcome to take my Goodsell home with you while I'm in Germany.
     
  10. meterman

    meterman Member

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    This has been my experience with TopHat amps as well....
     
  11. Lil'Strat

    Lil'Strat Member

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    Wow, I guess Ogre got a hold of one that was left out in the rain. I sent one to a guy in CA last week, and he and his brother (who bought another one today) evidently obtained a different outcome - they did an extended personal shootout with a new Divided By 13/37 and a MAZ 38Sr - it would be neither polite nor believable for me to report the result, but they did submit their findings on Harmony Central complete with an e-mail link for those who go "say what?!?" when they read it...

    Anyway, sorry I didn't call back today... we can finish our discussion tomorrow, but by all means plan on riding shotgun to Nashvegas on Tuesday. As you can see by the girlie-girl screen name I am still having sign-on problems using my own name... maybe I'm paranoid, but I think somebody in control doesn't want me to reach out to the people...
     
  12. stephenT

    stephenT Silver Supporting Member

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    Seems we all look for something different, I saw a post by a fellow who was showing off a video of his Lollar tele pickups, though three pedals into an overdriven amp,....point is, I couldn't hear the pickups, his tone was all pedals and amp, like thousands of other guys.

    The Goodsell amps work so well for my playing because I want to hear ME come out the speakers, the nuances of my playing, not a oversaturated tone that flattens out one's personality. (Which was my take on the Bad Cat and "stiff" was my take on the Top Hat's clean tones).

    I've never played an amp that was as musical as the Goodsell, a pure connection that goes from clean to overdriven by just using the volume control on my guitar...with an ease that I don't have to think about, the amp's an extension of my guitar,...doesn't get flabby or unbalanced, it's very predictable,...crank and play.

    There are plenty of good amps out there, you've mentioned a few, there are not many great amps to my ears and I've got two of them, (Goodsell Delux 22 and my #0015 Clairmont Super 17)...my amp tonequest is over.
     
  13. allforroy

    allforroy Member

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    I have to, in the interest of great tone at reasonable prices, give a shout out for the Super 17. It is the most dynamic, LIVE, new amp I've heard, period. If you need multiple channels, instant single coil to humbucker accomodation, or just plain need a ton of knobs/options then it might not be for you. BUT, if you want a harmonicly rich, instantly usable, plenty loud and plenty portable, super fun amp, I think you can't go wrong with a 1x12. I've owned similarly appointed Matchless and Bad Cat's and there's a liveliness and airiness in the Super 17 that I found missing in those amps..a lack of boxiness, more 3 dimensional. And it's one of those amps where you really feel connected. For what it's worth!
     
  14. The Eristic

    The Eristic Member

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    There was a whole wall of Matchless stuff sitting next to my Super 17 when I bought it. All the Matchless' were a lot more "nasty" sounding (more gain, more sizzle, brighter, more speaker breakup, too), which could definitely be good for some people, but not for me. The Goodsell had more headroom than any of the other ~15 watters present, and was more full sounding and responsive than anything else, as well.

    Mine doesn't have the new chassis, unfortunately, and has had some problems with getting hot enough to burn my fingers a little, but after 9 months of daily use and weekly gigging, I've NEVER had any failures. I do want to have Richard move it to the new chassis, if possible, but the last few emails I've sent apparently haven't made it through. Guess I'll just have to call him or catch him at George's.
     
  15. jakins

    jakins Member

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    I would put in a vote for the Tophat because:

    First, the bang for the buck (i just picked up one for $850 that works perfectly). Second, the 212 format has a big sound dispersion, yet the amp is super light! It just sounds awesome...i have played the 1974x reissue and the spitfire...i liked the spitfire, and IMHO the marshall didnt come close to the tophat.
     
  16. clarkram

    clarkram Member

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    Ken, if you take Joe up on his offer let me know. I would really like to hear the Goodsell and I can bring my Constellation for you to check out. I had planned on a trip to BGE this week but the Komet arrived and killed those plans.

    clark
     
  17. Lil'Strat

    Lil'Strat Member

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    I haven't seen any e-mail... are you going to goodsell@hammondb3.net ? Or just use the link at www.goodsellamps.com . Anyway, you can't convert an original to a Mk2, for a bunch of technical and physical reasons; you'd have to trade the whole thing in and get a new one, which in your case would take a while longer if you wanted to stay with the 10s. I am building 5 2x10s in Marshall 18 cabs to take to the Dallas show, but that is still 3 weeks from now.

    It should be noted that over the last 18 months over 100 of the steel chassis models have been put in to service, and, outside of tubes, the failure rate has been zero. As in 0.0. Zero-point-zero, the lowest in Faber history. 7 years of college down the drain.
     
  18. BozoTone

    BozoTone Member

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    LOLOL. on Faber/Animal House...A 2x10 cab Richard???How cool!!!Have you found a 10" you like...watch how you answer that...LOL
    BZT
     
  19. Teleplayer

    Teleplayer Silver Supporting Member

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    Here's an example of the inside of a TopHat Club Royale Chassis:

    [​IMG]

    Here's my script logo King Royale chassis. This was built by Phil Jamison, when he was with TopHat "back in the day". Even in the old days, the build quality of Brian Gerhard's products was top shelf. The newer models are better - almost "clinical" in how well they are built/wired.

    [​IMG]

    I've gigged and recorded with TopHat amps since 1999 (been playing them since '98). Each one I have owned (I've had ten) has had great tone, and I have never had a problem with any of them.

    TopHat = HIGHLY recommended. Just my $0.02.
     
  20. ahab

    ahab Member

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    I have played the Marshall (on several rehersals and gigs) and the The Top Hat Club Royal. In my opinion the Top Hat slays the marshall. There is more projection, punch, grit and chime from the Top Hat...to me the Marshall always felt a bit lean/dead sounding. Also, I have gigged with my Club Royal for over a year now and it is by far the most user/gig friendly amp that I have played. Perfect volume and extremely responsive. I have the 2x12 combo and can't say enough good things about this amp.
    -Ahab
     

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