Top Hat amps

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Doozy, May 3, 2016.

  1. Doozy

    Doozy Member

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    Looking into getting a Club Royale. What is the latest news? Not much talk about these amps. Very few dealers. Not available in Europe anymore. What happened? Is the quality still the same?
     
  2. jimmyj

    jimmyj Member

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    I bought my Club Royale new exactly 10 years ago. I can hardly use another amp because I'm so spoiled by it.

    The Tophat amps group on Facebook has a fair amount of action and the builder Brian Gerhard answers most questions asked there.
     
  3. Sigmund

    Sigmund Member

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    I've had a Super Deluxe 2x12" for probably five years now.
    Just a fantastic amp, super happy with it.
     
  4. Bobbyoso

    Bobbyoso Member

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    Have owned a shallow cab, ss rectified 1-12" Club Royale for ~8 years. I've paid more for amps, but never even tried one that works better for me. Plus, outside of a Dave Reeves-built Hiwatt, I've never seen internals and wiring this well done.

    Beautifully built, and incredible sounding, from clean to all-out mayhem, at the right volume for all of it. Plus, with the shallower cab and relatively smaller xformers the CRs of this vintage came with as compared to the latest iterations, it's not much of a deadlift. And I played in a band with a guy who bought a new one with the deep cab and ez81 rectifier after a couple months of his lusting after mine, the new ones are stellar as well, but a bit different. I'd own a "modern" one in a NY sec, but I will never get rid of my earlier one.

    If there's a drawback at all, it's just slightly picky with overdrives, altho Timmys and Small Frys sound phenomenal thru it. It's a Voxy/Marshally sound, so any OD which spikes the mids adds a bit too much of a good thing, IMO.

    There are good reasons Tophat/Brian have been around this long; the CR (any vintage) is a big one.
     
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  5. Kleio

    Kleio Supporting Member

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    I've owned two Club Royales and miss them both. Currently I'm playing a TopHat Ambassador and love it. Can't say enough good things about TopHat Amps.
     
  6. selim

    selim Member

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    The thing I really like about Top Hat amps is that they're super versatile yet have a relatively simple layout. I own an Emplexador and it's not hard to dial in all the Marshall tones I want without having to fiddle with unnecessary knobs and switches. Also I like that they don't try to make their Marshall sounding amp look like a Marshall knock off (with the black levant and gold piping) as most other boutique builders do. I like Top Hat's unique appearance. Very classy looking and amazingly well designed and constructed.
     
  7. Mr.Hanky

    Mr.Hanky Supporting Member

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  8. todaystomorrow

    todaystomorrow Member

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    They are certainly a good bargain used...sleeper amps around here because they haven't been the flavor of the month for over a decade... but I still love mine. Incredible build quality and sound. I have a King Royale, have a Prince Royale loaned out to a buddy also. My brother-in-law has a Club Royale. All still sounding great. The King Royale is a stout, loud and heavy amp... I don't take it everywhere but I consider it my number one amp and it sees the most action.
     
  9. e???

    e??? Member

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    The late-great Elliott Smith played them
     
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  10. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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    Still exquisitely crafted, great sounding amps.
     
  11. playthecray

    playthecray Supporting Member

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    I don't usually see a lot of them used. I would love to try one.



     
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  12. jimmyj

    jimmyj Member

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    Here's another thing I want to mention about a CR. The way it's voiced sits perfectly in a band mix, IMO. I saw them being used in a club twice before I bought mine and both times I just loved not only the tone but where it fit in the overall band. I feel that way while I'm playing mine and I've had 3 different friends that are good players sit in with my guitars and CR for a few tunes so I could go out front and listen. It always sounds just how I want a guitar to fit in.

    Here's a quote from an interview with Brian Gerhard the builder about his amps being used in studios in Nashville and LA.
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    Our reputation has always lived off performance and the number of studios—somewhat in Nashville, but certainly in L.A.—with Top Hat amplifiers in them. It’s been quite affirming, so we’re proud of that. I get confirmation all the time from guys at the Record Plant, Sunset Sound, and the big working studios where they’re still making records. At that level, the proof has to be in the performance with Mr. Microphone on them, making actual records and letting guys with great hands express themselves. That’s what engineers tend to love—that [amps] are easy to work with and user-friendly so that there’s no work involved. Instead of struggling to find the sweet spot at the right nano-inch around the voice coil, you can just put a good mic back a foot, turn it in towards the speaker, and you’re done.
    There I was at Sunset Sound with John Shanks [producer/guitarist who’s worked with Keith Urban, Bon Jovi, and Van Halen, among others], when the guy from the other room was having trouble getting a good sound. So John handed him his 1x12 Club Royale and the guy came back so happy with how easy it was to dial up a tone and hit the red button. Experiences like that make me grateful for getting to do what I love, day in and day out.
     
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  13. lgehrig4

    lgehrig4 Member

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    Great amps. Probably not much talk because they are one of the earlier boutiques and the talk is usually about the newer brands or models.

    I owned a Club Royale and 3 Emplexadors. All top notch.

    If you want to hear a real good recorded tone of the Club Royale listen to Anthony Gomes first 2 CDs (Blues in Technicolor & Unity). He used a Club Royale and Klon.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2016
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  14. Slideman

    Slideman Member

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    Great amp. An internal marvel of hand-wiring at its best. One of the best sounding amps for standing out in a crowded band mix. Put an EP booster, Timmy or Hotcake out front and with the volume on your guitar you can do anything. I've had mine since 2006.
     
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  15. dylheaven

    dylheaven Member

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    Top hats are awesome owned a couple ! cant go wrong
     
  16. Doozy

    Doozy Member

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    Thank's all. Picking up a used Club Royale next week
     
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  17. jrjones

    jrjones Supporting Member

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    Killer sounding amps, but as others have said, they've been around a while and aren't flavor of the week anymore.
     
  18. sickboy79

    sickboy79 Member

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    Nice! I can't speak for the Club Royal other than what I've read and heard. I'm sure it's amazing. I've owned a 2001 "block logo" Emplexador 50w head for about 13 years now. It's truly amazing. All the best Marshall tones one could want, immaculate build quality and aesthetics, and fantastic customer support. Top Hat amps are some of the best around.
     
  19. Doozy

    Doozy Member

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    I have now been playing the Club Royale for a couple of days. My first impression is that this is a great amp! The clean tones are not as good as my Matchless Chieftain's but the overdriven tones of this are much better and just perfect for my tastes. Also, with the right eq'ing is accepts all of my overdrives and fuzzes just fine.
     
  20. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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    That's where the CR really excels, those in between clean & dirty tones. Have fun!
     
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