Sampson Era Matchless

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by 6120, Dec 29, 2005.


  1. 6120

    6120 Member

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    Just bought a Matchless Clubman that sound great. I am not sure what defines "Sampson Era". What years are sampson era and are they better. I am thinking about buying another one. Mine is a 94 clubman head and 2x12 cabinet. Also what years were the speakers made in England. Thank you.
     
  2. evhtone

    evhtone Member

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    The "Sampson Era" is a term used for the original incarnation of the Matchless company which included Mark Sampson. I believe anything made until around 1998 would be considered from that era. The company went under for a few years and was brought back to life, I think, around 2001?
     
  3. zadiqof

    zadiqof Member

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    96 seems to be the most desired year.. dunno why. I played a sampson era Chieftain when looking for a new amp and fell in love, the only issue was the $5000 price tag the jerk put on it. I ended up buying a brand new 04 model, and to be honest, it sounds just as good, if not better than the sampson era one did. Apparently theyre pumping out fewer items (spending more time on each product) and using the same exact methods as in the sampson era so dont be fooled by the elitist attraction to the sampson era.
     
  4. Kiwi

    Kiwi Silver Supporting Member

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    The topic has come up a lot here on the Gear Page: are the Sampson-era amps better than new Matchless? And the answer from this bunch - who normally can't agree on what day of the week it is! - consistently comes back:

    They sound the same. No point in paying a premium for a "Sampson-era" matchless, even though many sellers try to price them higher.

    Glad you dig the Clubman - it's a great amp.

    Kiwi
     
  5. Scott_F

    Scott_F Gold Supporting Member

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    +1 :BEER The Sampson era ones will just need a cap job sooner.
     
  6. GAT

    GAT Gold Supporting Member

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    Stu at Fat Sound told me he thinks the new ones have better quality control.
     
  7. bobeau

    bobeau Member

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    ???

    I just sold a near mint '96 Chieftian 2x10 for $1500 on eBay. Had like 700 views too. Rarely see a Chieftain sell for more than $2k in any config, Sampson era or not.

    Agreed on the whole Sampson era vs. new thing... the allure is one of collectibility down the road, like the whole pre-CBS Fender thing. AND Matchless seemed to be at the height of their popularity in the mid 90s so you're probably right about the rate of 'pump-out'. I had to wait 3 mos for my Chieftain to be built in the summer of '96. Of course they were much cheaper back then, believe the list was something like $2100 and I walked out the door just north of $1900.

     
  8. wordsonyou

    wordsonyou Member

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    This has been my experience too. The irony is that the 96 ones were the most inconsistent because of financial troubles and inconsistent sourcing of parts resulting in a wide disparity of tone in the same models according to sources of mine (Matchless dealers during the Sampson era).
     
  9. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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    for the collector, the Sampson era amps are better.....for the player it's a toss up
     
  10. bobeau

    bobeau Member

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    In this interview Sampson details the cause of financial woes taking place in '97... prior it sounds like the company was on a rocketship of growth.

    http://www.musicianshotline.com/archive/interviews/badcat_msampson.htm

     
  11. ToneKing

    ToneKing Member

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    I concur, I have an early production '93 clubman, just got it back from Phil. He done a complete cap job on it. Treated me good on it, though. My amp has the early tube config that I love, but I just played on a new '05 model w/verb that had that matchless magic going for it. I would/could be content with either old or new. I think the quality is the same and so is the tone. imo.
     
  12. 6120

    6120 Member

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    Thanks for the replys. I read the article linked in the post. Does the Matchless Clubman I have produce a Vox type sound? How would most people charcterise the sound relative to other amps. I have never heard a Vox, but I love my clubman and I would appreciate descriptions of the Clubman sound relative to other amps(similarities and differences)
     
  13. Kiwi

    Kiwi Silver Supporting Member

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    Well, a pal plugged his Strat into my Clubman, hit three chords loud, and said, "That's the greatest Marshall tone I've ever heard." The guy owns a '69 smallbox 50w (and three other Marshalls) and I regard him as my tone guru.

    I tend to think its mids are a bit scooped compared to the 50w Marshalls I've played, and the EF86 in the front end of the Clubman does its own thing, but it's not wrong. Clubman's got more clean headroom than the older Marshalls I've heard.

    For Vox flavors, you want the Matchless DC-30 (or any C-30 series amp). It has four EL84 power tubes and the clean channel was designed to be an uber-Vox AC30. It's got an upper-mid presence and ring and chime that is distinctly Vox-y. The DC-30's gain channel, though, is sheer grunt.

    Matchless amps tend to be voiced with a distinctive steely high-end presence, which some people don't care for. The Matchless 2x12 speakers are intentionally mismatched (one 25w, the other 30w) and that lends a 3-D effect to their sound.

    If you're curious about the Vox sound, try to play the new Vox AC-30 CC series amps and get a sense of what that sound is about.

    Welcome to the club, so to speak. Many other amps out there - try to play them all, to get a sense of the Marshall sound, the Fender sound, and the Vox sound. From there, it just depends on what you like.

    Kiwi
     
  14. 6120

    6120 Member

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    Thanks Kiwi, I am really loving this amp !!! Any advice on tubes?
     
  15. Kiwi

    Kiwi Silver Supporting Member

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    Well, you're in luck in one regard. The Clubman is cathode biased, so you do not have to re-bias after swapping power tubes. (And yes, the Matchless tech support folks told me that, in an e-mail.) Makes tube swaps easy.

    So ... you can spend a little more money and try different power and pre-amp tubes. You should be able to hear and feel the difference.

    Pre-amp: Be aware that the EF86 pre-amp tube is notorious for being microphonic. You can go NOS or not, depends on what you like. I personally am just fine with the stock Svetlana tube, after having tried Mullard, Telefunken, and Valvo brand EF86 tubes. Others swear by the old school tubes.

    EL34s are also a matter of taste. Many people think the "winged C" Svetlana power tubes are the best current tube, but others have their preferences. Old-stock Mullards are going to be expensive, but they deliver the goods.

    A couple of thoughts on tube swaps:

    - It's entirely possible that you can spend some dough on different tubes, spend a day swapping them around, and decide that you like it best with the tubes it came with. That's normal. That's where I ended up.

    - Budget some time for this experiment process ... 'cause that EF86 socket is really a pain to reach!

    Have fun -

    Kiwi
     

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