My Ultimate Strat Amp!

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by shallbe, Aug 22, 2005.


  1. shallbe

    shallbe Deputy Plankspanker Gold Supporting Member

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    For all you Strat lovers out there, this may be of some interest.

    First, I'm not the biggest Strat guy----I've always had one or two, but have also looked for "that special one" for a long time (25 years! I've let some great ones get bought out from under me. I may have "my Strat" now after some tweaking). Anyway, the sound I was looking for in my head from a Strat I'm now getting from the Matchless Pheonix.

    The Pheonix is a cathode-biased 35 watt head, with two channels (like the C30 series). Powered by a pair of el34's, it is a very robust amp. I am running the two channels together with a jumper, getting a little dirt from the ef86 channel and the sweetness from channel one.

    The 6 position switch on the ef86 channel provides SO much bigness and depth that I only have it at the 4th position to get a huge, fat sound. The sweet clarity of this amp is pretty amazing. Not ice-picky at all, and on the other end, no flub. This amp is NOT a HC30 with el84's. It has a smoother sound, with much less breakup---volumes have to be near noon to get some crunch, and they have a very gradual taper (at 9:00, the amp is not loud at all. I was running channel one at 1:00 and channel 2 at 11:00). However, it never sounds "too clean" even when set completely clean due to the richness. It is a fat, vibey sound that just screams Hendrix to me.

    Blues, soulful R&B, rock--it's all there. I had a great time playing all afternoon. The only effects I used was an old Boss DM2 delay and a Dejavibe (had the Jimi and Robin Trower sounds really happening). At the end of the session, I plugged in a Landgraff DO and it sounded wonderful, very Neil Geraldo-ish. Very pedal friendly amp, FWIW. When turned up, it cleans up very well with the guitar volume, so much so it sounds like you are turning the amp down rather than cutting something from the guitar. It always sounds full, even with Strat volume on 3-4.

    It is not noisy either. For reference sake, I was using a 56 NOS Strat with Harmonic Design pickups into the Pheonix into a Bob Burt vert-cab loaded with 2 blackback Celestion G12M25's at 16 ohms.

    Those of you that think a Strat needs to be plugged into a Fender type amp to sound right would be suprised. The cleans are amazing, and it sounds so BIG. I was considering selling my tweaked Strat until I played it through this amp. Try one if you can. Phil Jamison really made a sweet amp here.
     
  2. Cranknfrank

    Cranknfrank Member

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    Yep,
    I play a Badcat Wildcat (EL34's, 40 watts, ef86, etc.) that is very similar to your amp. I play Strats and they sound great in this configuration. While I love my old Fender, Vox and Marshall amps, the Badcat is the most versatile with regard to clean and dirty tones. More folks should check out those amps....
     
  3. cvansickle

    cvansickle Member

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    My Mesa Blue Angel plays nice with my Strat.
     
  4. shallbe

    shallbe Deputy Plankspanker Gold Supporting Member

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    Ditto. I've played Strats through Supers, Twins, tweeds, Vox-type amps. All excellent tones, but this is somehow more satisfying. Mabe this isn't well known because there are not many amps like this out there?? (meaning cathode-biased el34 amps with two channels, one being an ef86). The Pheonix and Wildcat come to mind---is there a /13 amp that is similar? (the SJT37?) If so, that would make three. A small group considering what is on the market today.

    Strat players should take note if you are still looking for "the Strat sound in your head" like I was. I've always been more of a Les Paul and Tele player. Ergonomically, I love the Strat, but sonically it's been a challenge. The Pheonix delivers the clarity amd quack the Strat is known for, but with more of the punch of the guitars I'm used to.
     
  5. Cranknfrank

    Cranknfrank Member

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    Don't know about /13 making an amp with EL34-ef86 but I've heard great things about their amps. I've also tried the Badcat with 6L6's and it gave it a more "Fendery" high end, but I still prefer the EL34's in the amp. I'm sure the Phoenix sounds great as well. Matchless wasn't making that model when I bought the 'Cat in 2001.
     
  6. Leonc

    Leonc Wild Gear Hearder Gold Supporting Member

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    Congrats Steve, I bet that's a great tone.

    The SJT is somewhat similar but it doesn't use an EF86; I believe it uses a different pentode (5879), like many of Fred's other amps. I asked him why no EF86s at one point and he said it was because he's had a real hard time finding decent ones that didn't cost beaucoup $$$.
     
  7. Greggy

    Greggy Member

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    My favorite strat tones often involve an el34 equipped amp. Like my Rivera M60. Tends to smooth out the highs on the amps I've tried.
     
  8. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

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    IF you like EL34s and strats, you really should try out a JTM45/Bluesbreaker-very similar to what you're describing with perhaps a bit more hair available...
     
  9. shallbe

    shallbe Deputy Plankspanker Gold Supporting Member

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    Yes,.............

    I've played those, very nice. But there is something unique in tone and especially feel to me with a cathode-biased circuit. Not many of those designs around with the ef86 in the preamp.
     
  10. Greggy

    Greggy Member

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    Interesting. Never played one, yet.
     
  11. ROKY

    ROKY Member

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    Also try a Strat through a Hiwatt 50--particularly the later 2 input
    version with added preamp gain .

    That has become my ultimate Strat amp .
     
  12. nolenuttt

    nolenuttt Gold Supporting Member

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    Strat through a Germino-Any of them-Fat, Full, and juicy.....:)
     
  13. dankayaker

    dankayaker Supporting Member

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    Strat through a GainStar 15 is about as nice as I've heard so far . . . . . ..that Germino Club 40 is darn sweet also.
     
  14. nek

    nek Member

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    I always liked my strat with the 2nd channel of a Matchless. That has an ef86 front end, cathode biased output stage too, maybe a common theme?
     
  15. gregory70

    gregory70 Supporting Member

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    I like the sounds I get thru my Heritage Victory...
     

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