Matchless Chieftain Owners help dial in tone


I have been reading various posts and only have found a few people mention the settings they use. I usually keep the master all the way up and the gain/volume around 9 o'clock (or 1/4 the way up). I play mainly rythym in a jam band with some leads. Sometimes it seems like the amp isn't cutting through enough and I don't want to make the volume much higher. I have been playing around with it and I backed the master off to about noon and the gain to about 11 o'clock. This seemed to help however, I really like the fattness off the bottom end with the master all the way up. Do you guys have any suggestions on settings?
I have been contemplating going back to my Deluxe Reverb reissue or trading it in for a Mesa or something along those lines. Help me out!


I use pedals...the good ones. At times, my Chieftain setting is similar as yours. For instance...

Vol: 9-10 o'clock, Master: 1-2 o'clock. I use Ethos Overdrive for gain and drive. For me, it's smooth but cutting. Ethos also has a wonderful clean channel I can utilize in this setting.

Vol: 11 o'clock, Master: 12 o'clock. I use Lizard Leg's Flying Dragon clean boost. It pushes the amp further and fattens up the sound, without increasing the overall volume by too much.

Guinness Lad

A Chieftain should obliterate a Deluxe Reverb, perhaps your tubes need help. I normally run mine like this - Gain 10, Bass 11, mids, 10, treble 1, brilliance 9 and master at 1.

For playing rhythm it's plenty loud, for solos and boosted stuff I use all kinds of things, Timmy, Ethos, Skreddy Screwdriver and I just got a ProAnalog Top Boost and Dumkudo.

Going from a Chieftain to a Deluxe reverb is a major backward move.


I agree your issue can be resolved by using the right pedals. Sounds like you're happy with the rhythm tone, just need a good boost up for solos. Too many good ones to mention, I'd look for one that's not transparent, but rather puts some emphasis on mids.

Also keep in mind how different things become when onstage with a band. Yesterday I helped my son dial in his Prosonic and BB pre amp at home, then at the gig last night, right out of the gate it was way too dark when placed in with the band mix. I then had him crank some more treble & mid, lower the bass, add some gain and bite on the amp and pedal until the lead tone ripped out good and loud...boom good to go. Same old story, what sounds right to you standing onstage or in your house can be a very different situation FOH.

Btw, I've heard Deluxe Reverbs time and again win battles on stage with bigger amps. Those things are voiced to cut through. That being said I'd never swap my Matchless for one.


Typical settings on my Chief heads (higher powered Chieftain w/4XEL34s, same preamp):

Volume/Gain: 1-2 oclock
Bass: 11-12 oclock
Mids: noon to 2 oclock, guitar dependent
Treble: 1 oclock
Brilliance: 11-12 oclock
Master: 11-12 oclock

I'm mostly a dirty player. These settings give me a huge overdriven tone. I get the cleans from the volume control on my guitar. The amp has always cut through well for me. I'll boost it with a pedal for leads. Favs include the KOT, Screwdriver, Clark Gainster, and Sunlion (using the Beano side).


Not to sound foolish but you guys are talking a out 12 as being noon on a clock. Right? Not like 12 as being dimed out like a fender. 1 would be one o'clock and not barely up correct.
Thanks for The help so far! These settings seem to help out a lot!

Rob Sharer

Do check out the tubes. Splash out for a NOS rectifier and phase inverter, at least.

Meanwhile, think about possibly using an always-on "boost" pedal. I use an Xotic RC booster with my Matchless; once I turned it on the first time, it never got stepped on again. It's not necessarily driving the amp harder, just making things bigger and more Hi-Fi, somehow. I've heard good things about the EP Booster for doing the same thing. Good luck,



Cantankerous Luddite
Gold Supporting Member
Yeah, I bet you need new EL34s. Those things eat them. You should get used to the feeling of "didn't I just do this?!??" every time you buy a new pair. :)

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