Recommend Me a Matchless for '90s Rock

Gas Hed

Member
Messages
1,250
So here's the deal, I get that Matchless are geared for edge of break up. But there is something about the look and pure/raw tone that comes out of them that makes me want one for a look and feel I'm after. That being '90s rock. I know I'll need a pedal or two to get those highly compressed STP type tones. But I feel like this path speaks to me. I'll take other suggestions though. If you folks think I can get that '90s tone, feel, look with another amp (no Mesa please) let me know!
 

El Rey

Double Platinum Member
Messages
2,231
Can’t go wrong with a C30. An Independence or a Clubman would work great also.

Right now prices on used Matchless amps are through the roof. Everything guitar related is priced up, but Matchless especially so.

Ain't that the truth. I can't touch any of mine for what I paid for em' 10 yrs ago. But it's anyone's guess what can be found as there are exceptions for sure. I use mine for everything. The Lightning is another favorite of mine. Matchless is another one of those "Hipsters love to hate on because they aren't cheap" brands. As much as I dig them, they can get a little farty in the lows eq'd wrong (although they are not the only ones).

hYftIOLl.jpg


I used to love hearing David Grissom live years ago thru a Clubman. Of course no way the YT does justice to live.



Of course not what the OP asks exactly but this guy gets use out the Clubman. At least he did back in the day.



Although here's some more that generate even more indifference and irreverence from that hipster crowd.

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And as I always say about it all, "to me and/or just my opinion".

However, we all know the glorious self effacing gear pundits don't need to make any reservations to their convictions on any of this since they already know everything. :eek:
 

gulliver

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
13,373
I was at an old friend's house last weekend and we compared my Matchless Lightning clone with his '70s Super Lead. It was surprising how well the Lighting kept up, but it didn't have the big iron hit for hard rock power chords. As much as I love the Lighting clone for chimey dirty cleans, I think you'll need a higher power version Matchless for STP.

Of course, check out the Bad Cads, I'm not familiar with the models, but they are a good source for Matchless tone at a lower price. Guitar Center used often has a good selection, if you want to buy used with a 45 day return policy.
 

ProfRhino

Member
Messages
9,882
A C30 or any other decent Vox circuit will get you there. :dunno
I would also check out other brands, including Vox - and going by your comment about volume, an 18W might be a better fit. :idea
important detail - what Matchless preamp are you talking about - EF86 or TopBoost ?

some Dr.Z models might also be worth a closer look, e.g. the Maz.
ymmv,
Rhino
 

bigfoamfinger

Member
Messages
2,274
Owned numerous Matchless’ and play similar style of music. Independence or Clubman. My Indy is my favorite amp I have, even over the Friedman’s. Tons of gain on tap

The C30s flubby low end will bother you in the long run for that style. Love that amp but it drove me nuts
 
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pjrhd28

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
5,003
I have the C30R head with a 1 x 12 cab and the Nighthawk combo. I had a Chieftain. I think for the tones you're describing, you'd be better suited to the EL-34 offerings- the Clubman, Chieftain, Independence, maybe the Phoenix or the Cobra. I think they're going to give you more oomph than the El-84 amps and tighter low end. Bigger and broader.

Love this demo. This is what the El-84 Matchless amps sound like when driven. That high end zing and chime though all of the tones. Just a beautiful, defined, chimey grind.



This one, too:




World class pedigree, super resale. They do exactly what they're suppose to very, very well. Steely, immediate attack, can get really bright really quick. Not cheap, but I don't think they're way out of line with their competitors. I'm glad I finally took the plunge- I had never played through one until I bought them.

I've listened to that Keltner demo about 5 times while I've been typing this. That's it- that's the Matchless El-84 tone. Those open chords.
 

ProfRhino

Member
Messages
9,882
I have the C30R head with a 1 x 12 cab and the Nighthawk combo. I had a Chieftain. I think for the tones you're describing, you'd be better suited to the EL-34 offerings- the Clubman, Chieftain, Independence, maybe the Phoenix or the Cobra. I think they're going to give you more oomph than the El-84 amps and tighter low end. Bigger and broader.

Love this demo. This is what the El-84 Matchless amps sound like when driven. That high end zing and chime though all of the tones. Just a beautiful, defined, chimey grind.



This one, too:




World class pedigree, super resale. They do exactly what they're suppose to very, very well. Steely, immediate attack, can get really bright really quick. Not cheap, but I don't think they're way out of line with their competitors. I'm glad I finally took the plunge- I had never played through one until I bought them.

I've listened to that Keltner demo about 5 times while I've been typing this. That's it- that's the Matchless El-84 tone. Those open chords.

dig that Nighthawk clip - classic indeed ! :love:
but allow me to add a twist of my own - that's the EF86 / EL84 tone.
Matchless is a prime example, but ime it's the circuit more than the brand.
my AC30 H2 does a wonderful take on that (at higher volume, it's 4x EL84), there are Zs, Morgans, BadCats, Hayseeds, you name it.
playing myself, I like mixing it with a TB channel even better - EF86 for midrange grind, TB to add clarity and clear punch.
Alnico speakers further enhance that chime.
all my PUs are roughly vintage ballpark - personally, I can't confirm flubbyness, I don't hear it in the clips either ... :dunno
the EL34 powered Matchless (etc) amps are things of beauty as well, but quite a bit louder still.

and make no mistake, these gorgeous tones are largely power amp driven, a rolled down MV or a pedal (for the base tone) will nuke the magic. o_O
boosts or light ODs are fair game though for a lead boost.
for most people, re-amping with a PS-2 or similar will be key to rocking these great amps in a real world scenario. The perfect amount of natural crunch, at your volume of choice ! :idea

all ime, imho, ymmv,
Rhino
 

pjrhd28

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
5,003
dig that Nighthawk clip - classic indeed ! :love:
but allow me to add a twist of my own - that's the EF86 / EL84 tone.
Matchless is a prime example, but ime it's the circuit more than the brand.
my AC30 H2 does a wonderful take on that (at higher volume, it's 4x EL84), there are Zs, Morgans, BadCats, Hayseeds, you name it.
playing myself, I like mixing it with a TB channel even better - EF86 for midrange grind, TB to add clarity and clear punch.
Alnico speakers further enhance that chime.
all my PUs are roughly vintage ballpark - personally, I can't confirm flubbyness, I don't hear it in the clips either ... :dunno
the EL34 powered Matchless (etc) amps are things of beauty as well, but quite a bit louder still.

and make no mistake, these gorgeous tones are largely power amp driven, a rolled down MV or a pedal (for the base tone) will nuke the magic. o_O
boosts or light ODs are fair game though for a lead boost.
for most people, re-amping with a PS-2 or similar will be key to rocking these great amps in a real world scenario. The perfect amount of natural crunch, at your volume of choice ! :idea

all ime, imho, ymmv,
Rhino


Can't argue with any of that-

I have never played the other El-84/ EF 86 amps mentioned, but I'm sure that the basic circuit provides a lot of the magic. And you're right- that's the EF 86 grind in that Keltner clip- I also have the C-30 and the TB channel is different- it's not as narly or gritty. Like you said, the TB circuit has more punch- more oomph.

And as tough as it is to admit, the louder the better. The MV on the Nighthawk and C-30's are solid, but the optimal tone is as wide open as you can stand it. On the Keltner clip, it looks like he has both the channel and master volumes at about 1 o clock and based on my experience, the guitar has got to be above 8 based on that grind. That's pretty loud.

I have to try the PS-2 some day. I've used other (less expensive) forms of volume management but it seems like something (other than just volume) gets lost. Best I ever had was a THD with a Vibro King- it really worked well.
 

Radar

Member
Messages
2,546
So here's the deal, I get that Matchless are geared for edge of break up. But there is something about the look and pure/raw tone that comes out of them that makes me want one for a look and feel I'm after. That being '90s rock. I know I'll need a pedal or two to get those highly compressed STP type tones. But I feel like this path speaks to me. I'll take other suggestions though. If you folks think I can get that '90s tone, feel, look with another amp (no Mesa please) let me know!

As an owner of 2 Matchless amplifiers and 1 more on order, I can't say for sure they are geared towards edge of breakup or solely for 90s rock. They may or may not be, but I never figured they were geared towards any specific use or genre. Basically, Matchless amps are known for being overly bright with very clear treble. Lowering the treble on the amp doesn't attenuate the brightness much at all. They are super bright no matter what. That's their charm, and I like it because I am a live player and not a studio player, and they are the best at cutting through the mix. I play a Lightning and Spitfire in stereo, with a Laurel Canyon coming soon to replace the Spitfire most likely.

If you're interested in the sound, here's a half hour noodling session I just recorded today. The amps are isolated and turned up in another room. SM57s on both amps. The Lightning (left) is plugged through the Matchless 1x12 and the Spitfire (right) is a small box combo, which influences the sound probably more than the amp itself. Side note: the recording has a terrible 60 hz buzz for the first 20 minutes because it was raining outside. Happens on bad days in my house, though luckily I never have that live.

Sorry for the ramble, not sure if this helps you. I am a Matchless junkie and I don't always have the opportunity to talk about them since they are not TGP's bread and butter.

 
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ericb

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
10,808
As an owner of 2 Matchless amplifiers and 1 more on order, I can't say for sure they are geared towards edge of breakup or solely for 90s rock. They may or may not be, but I never figured they were geared towards any specific use or genre. Basically, Matchless amps are known for being overly bright with very clear treble. Lowering the treble on the amp doesn't attenuate the brightness much at all. They are super bright no matter what. That's their charm, and I like it because I am a live player and not a studio player, and they are the best at cutting through the mix. I play a Lightning and Spitfire in stereo, with a Laurel Canyon coming soon to replace the Spitfire most likely.

If you're interested in the sound, here's a half hour noodling session I just recorded today. The amps are isolated and turned up in another room. SM57s on both amps. The Lightning is plugged through the Matchless 1x12 and the Spitfire is a small box combo, which influences the sound probably more than the amp itself. Also, the recording has a terrible 60 hz buzz for the first 20 minutes because it was raining outside. Happens on bad days in my house, though luckily I never have that live.

Sorry for the ramble, not sure if this helps you. Just wanted to talk about my amps since I am a Matchless junkie and I don't always have that opportunity since they are not TGP's bread and butter.



Great post and great playing/tones! Love it! I have about 25 amps and have never owned a Matchless, BUT I've seen and heard them used in concerts by various style guitarists/bands from the Counting Crows to Jeff Pevar/Blue Floyd to Ian Moore to many others. . For the OP, what kinds of 90's ROCk are you talking about? For most of the 90's rock I play I wouldn't recommend any Matchless (other than perhaps the Independence, but that's so rare and expensive) BUT for other types such as Toad the Wet Sprocket, Blue Rodeo, the Cure, REM,etc .. . definitely would sound great with most Matchlesses (Matchli?) .... For STP , I get that sound in spades with my Splawns, Demeters, Marshalls,etc but they use Demeters and Vox AC30's mostly. . .Anyway, I used to LOVE seeing Ian Moore cranking blues/rock thru his Matchless amps (saw him probably 8 times) but his style was quite a bit different than the Counting Crows DC30 sound..etc . Hope you get that dream Matchless if you so decide. .

Eric
 

sickboy79

Member
Messages
13,891
Clubman, C-30, or Chieftain would fit the bill nicely. All 3 have wonderful overdriven tones when pushed. To my ear, the Clubman has the most drive available of the 3. Each has their own voice too.
 

Gas Hed

Member
Messages
1,250
If you're interested in the sound, here's a half hour noodling session I just recorded today.

That really is beautiful! Thanks for sharing. I have no idea how you got such a vibrant sound recorded like that! If you tell me it really is the amp doing all the work there then my GAS is going to double. Curious what your thoughts are on pushing effects without a loop? Were you running pedals in the front of the amp on that recording? The delays and reverbs were outstanding.
 

cardinal

Member
Messages
5,649
The one that says Vox on it. I thought the DC30 sounded very unpleasant once overdriving. The clips I've heard of the other Matchless amps have that same, uncompressed sound to them. Great for clean-ish stuff but a big do-not-like for me once really overdriving.
 

gulliver

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
13,373
As an owner of 2 Matchless amplifiers and 1 more on order, I can't say for sure they are geared towards edge of breakup or solely for 90s rock. They may or may not be, but I never figured they were geared towards any specific use or genre. Basically, Matchless amps are known for being overly bright with very clear treble. Lowering the treble on the amp doesn't attenuate the brightness much at all. They are super bright no matter what. That's their charm, and I like it because I am a live player and not a studio player, and they are the best at cutting through the mix. I play a Lightning and Spitfire in stereo, with a Laurel Canyon coming soon to replace the Spitfire most likely.

If you're interested in the sound, here's a half hour noodling session I just recorded today. The amps are isolated and turned up in another room. SM57s on both amps. The Lightning (left) is plugged through the Matchless 1x12 and the Spitfire (right) is a small box combo, which influences the sound probably more than the amp itself. Side note: the recording has a terrible 60 hz buzz for the first 20 minutes because it was raining outside. Happens on bad days in my house, though luckily I never have that live.

Sorry for the ramble, not sure if this helps you. I am a Matchless junkie and I don't always have the opportunity to talk about them since they are not TGP's bread and butter.



Interesting delays, what effects pedal(s) are you using?
 

ProfRhino

Member
Messages
9,882
The one that says Vox on it. I thought the DC30 sounded very unpleasant once overdriving. The clips I've heard of the other Matchless amps have that same, uncompressed sound to them. Great for clean-ish stuff but a big do-not-like for me once really overdriving.
once you played a DC30 (or any other Vox style circuit) at loud stage volume with a band, this impression is likely to change, big time ! :dude
they got some of the sweetest OD you're likely to find anywhere, but it comes from the power tubes. :dunno

tl;dr :
Voxes don't have MVs, period, even if they seem to have one ! :p

lol,
Rhino
 

Radar

Member
Messages
2,546
That really is beautiful! Thanks for sharing. I have no idea how you got such a vibrant sound recorded like that! If you tell me it really is the amp doing all the work there then my GAS is going to double. Curious what your thoughts are on pushing effects without a loop? Were you running pedals in the front of the amp on that recording? The delays and reverbs were outstanding.

Thank you. I am not sure anymore if the vibrant sound is from my amps alone, it probably has more to do with the stereo effects. But I do remember the first day with my Lightning, the high-end was so clear it was almost like upgrading from cassette tape to CD. But that could have been the fault of any amp/speaker combination I was using before.

I get all my drives from pedals, so no loop for me. Both amps are set to 10:30 on the input volume and I'm plugged into the low input, so I highly doubt I'm ever clipping the preamp. My board is entirely in front of the amp.

Interesting delays, what effects pedal(s) are you using?

This my entire signal chain:

Dunlop DPV3 > Korg mini tuner > nano pog > Cali76 CD (always on for cleans) > Centura (always on tone booster) > Timmy v2 > 1995 Rat 2 > DC-2w (stereo wiring from this point on) > Timeline > BigSky

Almost all of my delay presets use the Digital engine. I tested every parameter and discovered the only settings that add stereo width are modulation and smear, otherwise it is a mono delay. I settled on 0% speed, 100% depth, and 25% smear on almost all of my delays, save for I think one setting that I left in mono.
 

Dr. Diabeetus

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
470
I'm going to second the Clubman recommendation for that style of guitar sound.

I spent a long time doing research and playing amps for that 90's rock "thing" and it was by far the best for me personally.

You could absolutely make an independence or phoenix work, as well. But at least IME, the clubman (especially at gigging volume) does this hybrid of cranked plexi crunch and chimey vox that just screams 90's rock. The DC30 can get you there probably too; but personally I think it's a little too flubby in the low end once you get rock levels of gain going.


Someday I'll have to sell all my gear and/or croak; but until that day, my 93 clubman is staying with me.
 




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