Matchless Pheonix has landed......

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by shallbe, Jul 6, 2005.


  1. shallbe

    shallbe Deputy Plankspanker Gold Supporting Member

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    I recently bought a Matchless Phoenix head from another forum brother. I don't need another amp but couldn't pass it up because:

    1) I didn't have an el34 amp
    2) I love cathode-biased designs
    3) I didn't have an amp with an ef86 front end
    4) I dig Phil Jamison's work
    5) I've never owned a Matchless, but played/borrowed many
    6) It fit on my cab
    7) It lights up in RED!

    (OK, #5, 6 and 7 show you how my mind works during a fit of GAS). Anyway, I've spent many hours over the last week playing it at 16 ohms through my vertical Bob Burt 2x12 loaded with vintage blackback Celestion G12M25's. Guitars used were Historic Les Pauls, Anderson Cobra, Fender Strat and a Tele Custom. Here are my thoughts.

    The amp looks exactly like the control panel of an HC30. However, the controls operate/act a little differently. Channel one's volume has a slow taper, where the volume goes up in small increments as you increase it (cool!). Also, it stays clean until about noon, even with humbuckers. The tone is full, sweet and sensitive to picking nuances. Past noon, the breakup is just great, and neck pickup Strat tones are pure Hendrix heaven. Using a volume pedal, you can go from really clean to great bluesy overdrive with wonderful transition tones between. The tone controls are also a little more interactive than the C30 Matchless I've played, and provide a big range. The full, robust bottom of this channel just feels so good, and produces inspiring tone for chords or single note work.

    Channel two has the ef86----giving it more gain and midrange. The 6 position switch can make any guitar sound huge. In fact, the fattest settings are overwhelming with a Les Paul, (with my cab) but wonderful for adding serious heft to a Strat or Tele. This channel gets louder quicker, but is just as dynamic. At noon, it has serious classic rock crunch---past that it delivers fat, throat thumping gain. It cleans up VERY well, and with a volume pedal produced superb cleans to huge gain tones with the volume at 2:00. Lastly, there is no flub. The bottom end is tight and muscular, and the lead sounds are much more smooth than ragged, with nice harmonic overtones.

    The master also seems to work a little better than the C30's I've played. However, I much preferred the master with channel 2. It works well there. Unless the master is turned up (and not really subtracting much volume), it tends to add an upper end sheen that made channel one too spikey for me. Channel 2 with the 6 pos. switch and more mids can handle the added sheen fine. Thankfully, the master is defeatable, as I prefer it out of the path. Once I found "my" sound, the cut control was the only knob I adjusted when switching guitars. The Phoenix sounded equally fine with single coils, P-90's and humbuckers.

    I tried many pedals with it, and they sounded great (analog delay, tremelo, vibrato, univibe, wah and boost). I've yet to try an overdrive pedal with the amp.

    The amp has stock tubes, except for a Mullard ef86 and rectifier. It is 35 watts, but like my Constellation seems much louder than it's wattage when turned up. It is a very cool amp that has been inspiring to play. However, my ears need a break.
    :D
     
  2. JoeB63

    JoeB63 Supporting Member

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    That sounds like a really cool amp. But I wonder why they didn't spell it 'Phoenix,' like the bird or the city. ;)
     
  3. davebc

    davebc Member

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    Congrads shallby,
    I read some great reviews on the new Pheonix, really tweaked my interest.
     
  4. shallbe

    shallbe Deputy Plankspanker Gold Supporting Member

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    They may have spelled it that way, but it didn't look right to me, so I changed it. In fact, I'm calling the city to get them to join me in this new spelling.:D

    Seriously, thanks for the heads up. I edited/corrected it in the post where I could, but I could not change the title.
     
  5. 6AM

    6AM Supporting Member

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    Glad you like the amp. You're making me miss it! :(
     
  6. shallbe

    shallbe Deputy Plankspanker Gold Supporting Member

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    I do like it. Now I need to move a little gear to offset it. I got the cord today---thanks!
     
  7. illinimax

    illinimax Gold Supporting Member

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    Dang, that amp is giving me GAS. Thanks for sharing your experiences with it so far.
     
  8. Stonefree

    Stonefree Member

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    Hi,

    Have you had the chance to test it with pedals - od's, dist and fuzz??
    Cause I'm gas'ing for one and would like to know.

    Also, do you get more of a Marshall sound due to the EL34's, with or without pedals?
     
  9. shallbe

    shallbe Deputy Plankspanker Gold Supporting Member

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    I have tried it with several pedals, and it is a pedal slut. Everything has sounded good through both channels. A PE Germ works as a great boost or fuzz, and sounded really good with the amp. A Landgraff overdrive also sounded great, along with a Klon.

    The first channel is just gorgeous cleans to mild grit tones without pedals. One of the finer clean tones I've ever had, very full and rich. The second channel is a big time, classic rock Marshall-type tone. Perfect for hard rock riffs and bluesy leads. A boost or overdrive pedal sends it into the gainier solo tones, and it does not need much to get there.

    Using a volume pedal that runs both channels at once sounds really nice, because the amp cleans up so well. The master also works better to me if you are running both channels or just the gainier ef86 one. With the master engaged, I feel it detracts from channel one when used by itself, and is not needed on that one, IMO.

    I do feel this amp gets much more of a more Marshall feel, but the top end and response is sweeter than many good Marshalls I've played. Channel one with a Strat sounds like Hendrixy stuff to me, channel two (humbuckers, 6 pos. switch at halfway) reminds me of the Black Crowes, Free, etc. It is loud, but not too much. Both volume tapers are extremely gradual, so that is nice. Keep in mind, that I'm using it at 16 ohms with Blackbacks--both which will knock the volume down a bit.

    I have not tried it with an attenuator. Phil said it was not a good idea with this amp.
     
  10. Stonefree

    Stonefree Member

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    Thanks a lot!!

    The loudness issue got me thinking, since on the SC/DC30 you can use the halfpower switch, and not on this baby.
    I am looking at a combo, so maybe it will not be to loud, with the open back.

    Thanks again.

    Better start saving now...
     
  11. shallbe

    shallbe Deputy Plankspanker Gold Supporting Member

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    I was playing the amp a lot last night. I found I prefer the amp on the high gain input of the clean channel, and the low gain input of the ef86 channel.

    I don't think the head is too loud at all. It sounds like a big but not overly loud 35 watt amp. After comparing it again to the Constellation, the K30 is a good bit louder. Also, about the combo-----remember, the combos are wired for 4 ohms, so that will be a good bit louder than 16 ohms. You could rewire the existing speakers to 16 ohms and run the amp at 16 if you wanted less volume.
     
  12. Stonefree

    Stonefree Member

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    Thanks a lot for helpfull answers.:)
     
  13. Stonefree

    Stonefree Member

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    Phoenix in the house!
    It's everything you said, and more...
    Both channels are very good. So far I'm mostly on ch 1.
    And it's not to loud at all, at least on ch 1, perfect also for homeuse.
    Takes pedals well - yes very good with the Landgraff, also the OCD.
    This one will stay - at least for a long time.
    Very good cleans with buckers and p90's.

    Perfect for rock and blues...

    :dude :cool: :RoCkIn
     
  14. Gearopenia

    Gearopenia Supporting Member

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    Bringing this thead back from the dead. The way I it this amp together in my mind is like one channel is chieftain and one is clubman?
    Any owners agree that is true?
    Never played one but if that is the case I think I want one!
     
  15. EL34

    EL34 Silver Supporting Member

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    The Phoenix is the same as the C30 series, but with a pair of cathode biased EL34s instead of a quad of EL84s. Great amp!
     
  16. vds5000

    vds5000 Member

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    Bringing this back again...

    I used to own a D/C 30 (2000 model) and now I own a Phoenix (2007 model). The pre-amps and the controls may be the same with the 2 amps, but I'm finding the Phoenix much less harsh sounding. I'm also finding the MV works better on the Phoenix - you can get gainy tones at low volumes, which I couldn't do with the D/C 30.

    I almost gave up on Matchless after my D/C 30 experience. I'm glad I didn't!
     
  17. rburkard

    rburkard Gold Supporting Member

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    Congrats. I loved my Phoenix amps.
    Rene
     
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  18. LARRY GERSHON

    LARRY GERSHON Member

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    Are you kidding? My matchless hc30 made in 1994 is incredible, just one of the best gigging vox style amps out there, not quite as good as my 64 ac30 with top boost kit but really close and in some ways better with the ef86 channel, it is interesting but my buddy has an hc30 head, not sure what year and his does not sound near as good as mine, not sure why. Just my 2 cents, by the way i think the master volume works great.
     
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  19. Charlie_Pace

    Charlie_Pace Member

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    Don't see many people playing the Phoenix, and always ask myself why. It's the best amp I've owned yet, and the MV is stellar. I live in channel 2.

    Cheers!
     
  20. rburkard

    rburkard Gold Supporting Member

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    Both channesl are awesome and they can be set up nicely to complement each other as a rhythm/lead choise with a good a/b box like a Litle Lehle. No extra hum in this case. If you even use an additional treble boost, be it silicon or germanium, you have four different sounds at you fingertips.
    Below are two rough clips that show the meaner side of the sound possibilities that the Phoenix offers.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icbZ_41Qfw4
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7eTqFP_rTE
    Rene
     

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