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TopHat Supreme 16 - Played One At Make 'n Music Yesterday

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Teleplayer, Jul 30, 2006.

  1. Teleplayer

    Teleplayer Silver Supporting Member

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    Guys, I have been playing TopHat amps for gigging and recording purposes since the end of 1998. I have owned ten different TopHats, and have enjoyed each one of them. Never, ever had a problem with one of Brian's amps on stage, in the studio, or at home - and they have always delivered the goods for my style and type of playing.

    I've seen the company grow from a very small boutique shop, into a company that has been around for more than ten years now - and has sold (if I recall correctly) well in excess of a thousand units. Not bad, considering TopHat rarely - if ever - advertisies in any of the industry rags. Brian and his company have managed to build a pretty loyal following, mainly through word-of-mouth, great tone, and stellar build quality.

    When the Supreme 16 was announced a few months back (a cool thing for TopHat users), I stayed away from the hype - preferring to let my own ears determine whether or not I liked the amp. When I found out a couple days ago that there were a couple Supreme 16's at Make 'n Music, I called Teddy. He said yesterday that the store was sort of quiet, and invited me down to put the amp through its paces. I've known Teddy for years, and he knows I have been a TopHat user for a long time.

    So I went to the store, and Teddy set me up in their largest listening/demo room. I played a cream/black Supreme 16 head through a 65 Amps open back bottom loaded with a G12H30 and Celestion Blue. This is close to the same speaker configuration as TopHat's 2x12 cabinet that is made specifically for the S16 (TopHat's is open back and loaded with a Heritage H and Blue).

    I played both sides of the amp - the full e.q. side as well as the EF86 side. Spent about 45 minuted with the amp. It was just me, my 3 pickup Suhr T and the S16.

    Guys, I was shocked. I mean absolutely shocked. It was, literally, one of the absolute best sounding amps I have ever played through in my 30 years of messing around with guitar. I hate using cliches - but the harmonic richness and bloom with this amp is stellar. At about 1/3 volume (Gain set at about 3 o' clock), chords and single notes just blossomed....and tailed off into beautiful harmonics. Just fantastic overall sound.

    Some of you may have heard about the amp being about 15 watts. Do NOT let that fool you. At about`1/2 volume, the amps was really loud - easily usable for gigging - especially if you are being mic'd at a larger venue.

    Anyway, I can see why Brian Gerhard - and cats like Cliff C and Stu - are singing the praises of this amp. I could go on for hours about it, but I have already taken enough of your time.

    Just a great, great amp IMHO. And as usual, Teddy and the boys at Make 'n Music were extremely gracious hosts. Kudos to Brian G., and "thank you" to Teddy.
     
  2. mprvise

    mprvise Member

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    Thanks for the review. :AOK I'm hoping my local Top Hat dealer will get one of these in so I can demo as well. Not at all in the market for another EL84 amp right now, but you never know...

    BTW - I own a Club Royale - love it! :dude
     
  3. Teleplayer

    Teleplayer Silver Supporting Member

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    I think you will dig the S16 when you get a chance to play one. Fantastic amp.
     
  4. tfunster

    tfunster Gold Supporting Member

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    Hey Teleplayer:

    Can you get Club Royale sounds out of the 16??
     
  5. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

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    A Big PLUS ONE, Teleman. I played one at Rockers Guitars in SF a few weeks ago.

    There was a guy there trying one out. I asked if I could play through it a bit when he was done, and he handed me the guitar.

    What a great amp - I'm a big fan of Tophat, and I think this was the best sounding Tophat I've ever heard. Amazing detail and touch sensitivity - it sounded like a brand new Vintage amp, like the best Vox amp ever, but it's built better.

    The guy bought the amp and invitied me over to play with it. I'm definitely going to take him up on it.

    Brian Gerhard hit one out of the park with this amp, IMHO.

    Dana O.
     
  6. Teleplayer

    Teleplayer Silver Supporting Member

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    I've owned five Club Royales - of all shapes and varieties. However, I have not played through the most recent CR - which includes Heyboer transformers and the EZ81 rectifier tube (somewhat like the Supreme 16).

    I have spoken with Brian G. pretty extensively about this exact issue though, as he understands my love affair with the CR since 1998. If I recall correctly, these are some of his thoughts.....

    The Supreme 16 is based very heavily on the Vox AC15 circuit. Even with the transformer and rectifier changes, the CR is still based heavily on the Vox AC30 Top Boost circuit.

    The CR gets its low end from the power section. The Supreme gets it from the Preamp.

    The CR is made specifically as a combo. The Supreme 16 is made specifically to be a head/bottom type of rig.

    The CR still puts out 18-20 watts. The Supreme puts out about 15 watts. However, the Supreme 16 I played yesterday was a pretty damn loud 15 watts IMHO.

    Hope this helps. I can not compare the Supreme 16 with the current CR circuit. I could compare it to pretty much every other variation of CR that has existed - and would gladly do so through PM if you are interested (I don't want to waste everybody else's reading time here).
     
  7. Teleplayer

    Teleplayer Silver Supporting Member

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    Dana - I completely agree that Brian hit one out of the park with this rig. If you get the chance to go over to that cat's house - do it. Take an hour or so and put the amp through its paces (especially through a 2x12) with yor own guitar. It is a great, great piece of gear.
     
  8. KLB

    KLB Member

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    I spoke with Brian a few weeks before the first Supreme 16 were shipped and placed an order with Cliff C for a head and 1x12 cab. I've not owned a Top Hat before. I have tried several EL84 amps over the years but always wound up selling them because I found the upper mids too strident with a Strat. Not with this amp. The Supreme 16 is among the best amps I've played, certainly my favorite 2-EL84 amp so far. Perhaps part of this is due to the Celestion Blue, which Brian thinks was improved to sound like original 60's speakers when the Heritage series came out. With a single Blue, it is comfortably loud when cranked, but I can enjoy sitting near the amp without blowing out my ears.

    Each channel offers fabulous tone. However, you must try both channels at once! There a couple of ways that I set the tone controls when doing this:

    One, is to use the EQ channel as the foundation tone with Mids around 11:00 and Treble around 1:00, then dial in juicy upper Mids from the EF86 channel set to "bright", which rolls off bass on that channel. The EF86 tends to breakup before the EQ channel, however, I can set the gain and master on the EQ channel to balance the breakup point with the EF86 channel. The EQ channel adds sparkle to the EF86 channel. Combining the channels increases the available gain, so the individual channel volumes don't have to be as loud. This approach is cool with use an ABY box, with the EF86 combined to the EQ channel for solos.

    The other way is to set the EF86 channel to "fat", then roll off the bass on the EQ channel, turn the mids around 12:00 and set the treble around 2:00-3:00 and use the EQ channel just to add brilliance to the EF86 channel when needed, such as when playing combined Strat pickups or a neck HB pickup by itself. With an ABY, the EQ channel adds extra bite and presence when needed.

    I wish the amp had a 16-ohm tap for use with a 4x12 or series-wired 2x12.

    - Ken
     
  9. Teleplayer

    Teleplayer Silver Supporting Member

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    Ken -

    Nice post; good inofrmation about using both channels. Have you played your S16 through a 2x12 bottom yet?
     
  10. tfunster

    tfunster Gold Supporting Member

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    Thanx for the info. I guess I'll just have to go down to Rocker Guitars in SF and play one!!!
     
  11. roadjunkie

    roadjunkie Member

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    http://www.tophatamps.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2990&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=45

    Scroll down halfway to the pictures and see if that helps you out.
     
  12. procos

    procos Supporting Member

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    Did you buy it?
     
  13. Teleplayer

    Teleplayer Silver Supporting Member

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    Very, very, very soon.......... Let's just say that I am this/close.
     
  14. procos

    procos Supporting Member

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    Cool. Those amps look awesome.

    Chuck
     
  15. Teleplayer

    Teleplayer Silver Supporting Member

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    Next time you are in Chi-town, put one through its paces at Make 'n. Give yourself plenty of time to fire it up and play around with it. You'll like it.
     
  16. Teleplayer

    Teleplayer Silver Supporting Member

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    Just got word back from "the man" himself. TopHat has actually sold around 2,000 units. Not exactly chopped liver....

    :AOK
     
  17. KLB

    KLB Member

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  18. r9player

    r9player Silver Supporting Member

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    What about clean sound and headroom?
     
  19. TNJ

    TNJ Gold Supporting Member

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    Clean headroom is a huge issue for me.
    How loud with a 212 and pristine clean?
    S.
    j
     
  20. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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    It is a Fantastic Amp!

    Cleans on the full EQ channel are pretty good for an 18W amp as long as you keep the mids turned down. Sounds pretty Fendery to me (with a little hair around the edges).

    The EF86 channel is the gain channel.....it RAWKS!!

    If you want to hear how the amp sounds, check here:

    http://www.tophatamps.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3204

    .
     

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