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Matchless Lightning: Need to Tame the Brightness

teleluvver

Member
Messages
1,569
I have had a Matchless Lightning 1 x 12 (Celestion G12H30) for about a year-and-a-half. I gigged with it for a year solid, and it has been one of the better amps I've ever owned. I've always played Teles through it, and when I gigged I was in low volume situations 99% of the time, so I would mic it and all was well. However, lately I've been playing the amp at higher volumes, trying to find the sweet spots and experimenting with the interactive eq controls. Now these are not cranked volumes, just about what I would need in a bigger place (Master cranked, normal volume at about 9:30). There is a steely shrillness that I hear that i would like to tame down a bit. I want the Top Boost-inspired sound, but it needs some fine tuning.

For all of you who have/had experience with these amps, what say you? I have read that these amps have a bright cap (is it soldered to the volume pot like on a Deluxe Reverb?). Is this a solution or do you trade off something by clipping it? I figure that it's put there for a reason. Any other ideas, or is this just inherent in the circuit? Thanks for the feedback.

teleluvver (Phil)
 

GAT

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
18,945
I love my Lightning Reverb. Here's the way I've set mine up. I just put in a Scumback J75 speaker, 30 watter and that makes it even more creamy.

I'm using a Fender Masterbuilt Tele and a Gustavsson Fullerblaster (tele) and both sound killer through it.
 
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teleluvver

Member
Messages
1,569
Hey GAT,

My Lightning Reverb is not set up for an EF86; is this one of the mods? I thought that an EF86 required a completely different circuit.
 

GAT

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
18,945
Oops, sorry that was for my Clubman!!! Nevermind!

I did change the speaker and that smoothed it out a lot.

I'll edit my post so no one tries it!
 

fusionid

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,005
I have had a Matchless Lightning 1 x 12 (Celestion G12H30) for about a year-and-a-half. I gigged with it for a year solid, and it has been one of the better amps I've ever owned. I've always played Teles through it, and when I gigged I was in low volume situations 99% of the time, so I would mic it and all was well. However, lately I've been playing the amp at higher volumes, trying to find the sweet spots and experimenting with the interactive eq controls. Now these are not cranked volumes, just about what I would need in a bigger place (Master cranked, normal volume at about 9:30). There is a steely shrillness that I hear that i would like to tame down a bit. I want the Top Boost-inspired sound, but it needs some fine tuning.

For all of you who have/had experience with these amps, what say you? I have read that these amps have a bright cap (is it soldered to the volume pot like on a Deluxe Reverb?). Is this a solution or do you trade off something by clipping it? I figure that it's put there for a reason. Any other ideas, or is this just inherent in the circuit? Thanks for the feedback.

teleluvver (Phil)
Unsoldering the cap in the input volume fixes this problem. It does change the sound a bit though.

It should have a 180pf there. Some recommend using a 68pf. Alas, only you can tell what you prefer. While I dont own a matchless lightning, I have a clone and I am waiting on a push-pull potentiometer to be able to turn it on whenever I feel like I need it.

totally reversible so just remove it and see if it works for you. Remember, this amp is a variation of the Vox AC15. If you google treble cap mod for vox ac15, you will find tons of mod pages suggesting to clip this very cap on those amps...

A possible solution is a push-pull :banana



Although you might not want to do that on an original matchless
 
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Gearopenia

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,337
Speaker change? The g12h30 gets pretty trebly. Maybe a greenback? Of V30? Not speaking from experience, but the 12ax7 side of my DC30 is tame due to the g12m. (I assume)
 

GAT

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
18,945
Yes, I also tried a Greenback and that makes it more "woody".
 

ekkybedmond

Member
Messages
1,939
I have had a Matchless Lightning 1 x 12 (Celestion G12H30) for about a year-and-a-half. I gigged with it for a year solid, and it has been one of the better amps I've ever owned. I've always played Teles through it, and when I gigged I was in low volume situations 99% of the time, so I would mic it and all was well. However, lately I've been playing the amp at higher volumes, trying to find the sweet spots and experimenting with the interactive eq controls. Now these are not cranked volumes, just about what I would need in a bigger place (Master cranked, normal volume at about 9:30). There is a steely shrillness that I hear that i would like to tame down a bit. I want the Top Boost-inspired sound, but it needs some fine tuning.

For all of you who have/had experience with these amps, what say you? I have read that these amps have a bright cap (is it soldered to the volume pot like on a Deluxe Reverb?). Is this a solution or do you trade off something by clipping it? I figure that it's put there for a reason. Any other ideas, or is this just inherent in the circuit? Thanks for the feedback.

teleluvver (Phil)

Have you tried playing with both Normal Volume and Master.

Upping the Normal and adjusting the Master accordingly, darkens the sound IMHE
 

FFTT

Member
Messages
28,360
Scumback 12 75 HP 65 watter is fantastic.

If highs really bother you, an Emi-C-Rex is one of the best top end smoothing speakers
that also adds a lot of fullness.

Other than that, a Weber Blue Dog AlNiCo 15 or 30
or A Celestion Blue or Gold.

With a 15 watter and AlNCo's you want to match the amp power to the speaker
rating fairly closely, because an AlNiCo won't compress and sing properly
if it's not seeing enough power.
 

dass101

Member
Messages
152
I think the sweet spot with teles is around 11 o'clock on the gain knob, this should get you a less bright sound. There's no need to crank the MV, so I suggest you should experiment first with different Gain/MV settings.
Also, as has been said above, the 180 pF bright cap can be a little too much for some people, especially played through a G12H30, which kinda emphasizes the same frequencies as that bright cap value. So you can either reduce the bright cap to 100pF or a bit lower or install a Greenbach type of speaker, which IMO sounds better anyway with this type of amp.
 

rmconner80

Cantankerous Luddite
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,043
These amps really could use a Cut control.

My first suggestion is to get comfortable with using your guitar's tone knob - it will take a lot of the edge off by just rolling it down by maybe 20-30%, but it will still have plenty of bite and twang.

My second suggestion is to get comfortable with using your guitar's volume knob. :)

Here's what I mean. As you turn up the amp Volume, the treble bypass cap on the Volume has less and less effect. What this means is you can turn the volume and master up to represent the dirtiest, loudest sound you may use in your set. You may only use this for a couple bars a song, perhaps for leads. Then you roll your guitar volume back a bit for your 'normal' sound, and spend most of the set on that tone. It will get a bit cleaner, and maybe even a bit fatter, once you knock a dB or three off. And it should be less bright due to the loading of the pickups and the fact that you opened up the volume a bit more. It's strange but I find that some of the coolest guitar tones I get these days are with my guitar volume backed off just a bit.

Also, these amps actually darken a bit when turned up, and the G12H30 also darkens as it gets pushed. To me, this volume / tone is what Sampson and Perrotta had in mind when the voiced the amp. That said, it means the other settings are bright, and since a lot of people can't turn them up this loud, the vast majority of experience with this amp is that it just has a little too much steeliness in the sound.

Modding the bright cap or removing it is a good suggestion although I'm not a fan of modding amps like this. But if it comes down to it and the above doesn't work, give it a try.

Investigating a darker speaker is another good idea if the above don't pan out.
 

hunter

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,176
I put a Weber alnico Silver Bell in mine. Knocks down the highs. Sounds good.

hunter
 

Cottage

Member
Messages
1,490
I had a Spitfire not long ago, and I found the tone control to be more effective on that amp than any I had ever played. Of course, I played it dimed most of the time and adjusted things from my guitar volume. I noted that the high end was much less obnoxious when controlled this way. I miss that amp and wish I'd never gotten rid of it...I hate GAS.
 

davebc

Member
Messages
4,299
The interactive thing always threw me with my Lightning 2-10.

What happens when yo try to dial it out with the Treble Knob?

The other thing that seems odd is usually running these amps louder with the Master cranked up inherently tames any shill highs.

Have you experimented with different tubes. I ran straight nos Mullards in mine. The Valvo's sounded so amazing I saved them.

But in my experience Matchless amps (DC 30, Lightning) were easily most sensitive to tube changes over anything else I ever owned..
 

dass101

Member
Messages
152
The tubes won't change the general vocing of the amp/speaker combination. We're talking about a very bright amp and a very bright speaker here.
IMO these amps were made to be played very loud, with a good amount of crunch. This way the extreme brightness turns into your biggest friend, and you get touch sensitivity and cut like no other.
Backing up the treble knob to 9 o'clock helps, because the way this tone stack works it adds mids when you lower the tone knobs.
The speaker switch to a Greenback or similar one should tame any extreme brightness and bring a lot more woody tone. Do not remove the bright cap altogether, you will kill the signature tone of the amp. Reducing the cap will help, but not as drastic as the speaker change.
 

teleluvver

Member
Messages
1,569
I was thinking speaker change myself, and several suggestions here point in that direction. I like the sound of Greenbacks, but looking on Celestion's website, they have 2 versions: the Classic and the Heritage. When comparing the specs, the only difference I see is that the Heritage is rated at 20w vs the Classic that's rated at 25 (Heritage sensitivity is at 96 bd, Classic is at 98db). Anybody try both or have an opinion?
 

FFTT

Member
Messages
28,360
Many builders of small amps use a brighter ceramic speaker to add some clean headroom
or to help keep the pricing of their amps competitive.

Very few builders are going to risk pricing themselves out of the market, pre loading
their cabs with a speaker costing $200+ each.

This holds true for vintage amps as well as new production amps.

No one speaker will be ideal for every guitar, every genre or every volume
requirement.
 

gtrnstuff

Member
Messages
2,523
I solved it by putting a 3-way rotary in place of the master, which I never used.
1. Stock
2. Stock with no bright cap
3. No bright cap with additional cap in parallel with treble cap in tone stack to lower the effective frequency.

I second what another poster said: it sounds great turned up, with the bright cap.
I second what another other poster said: Spitfire tone control is much more usable to tame highs.

Good advice re: trying different speakers above, too.
 

jbt7764

Member
Messages
1,192
Call us at 714-630-0101. Put the Badcat speaker in there. I guarantee you will like it and it will fix the problem. If you don't, I'll take it back no questions.
John
 
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Fireball XL5

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,938
I was thinking speaker change myself, and several suggestions here point in that direction. I like the sound of Greenbacks, but looking on Celestion's website, they have 2 versions: the Classic and the Heritage. When comparing the specs, the only difference I see is that the Heritage is rated at 20w vs the Classic that's rated at 25 (Heritage sensitivity is at 96 bd, Classic is at 98db). Anybody try both or have an opinion?
Both speakers are actually rated at 25 watts. This has been verified by Celestion. They only use the 20 watt labeling for historical accuracy.

Tonally, both are great sounding speakers. Alike in many ways, yet different in others. The greatest difference is how they behave/respond due to their respective efficiency ratings with the Heritage G12M (at 96 db.) being significantly tamer in volume from the Classic RI G12M.

A search here of Heritage G12M vs. Classic Standard RI G12M should yield a plethora of info/opinions/comments/comparisons from guys who have owned both.
 




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