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Warmer Tone on Matchless Lightning

MrSpud

Member
Messages
116
I recently gigged with my Lightning and found the tone a bit thin and harsh. The amp is known to be bright, but even with the bass up at 3:00 and the treble at 9:00, it still lacked warmth.

The amp is 1x12 reverb, stock with a Celestion G12H30 Anniversary speaker (Chinese Made) and all tubes are JJs. Any suggestions as to how to tame the brightness and get a thicker, warmer tone, without losing the Matchless magic, would be appreciated.
 

Mejis

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
835
Are you running it clean or dirty for the most part? My Matchless (C30) can sound a bit thin when it's set for totally clean - it sweetens up as the power section starts working a bit.

If I want warmer, totally clean sounds a clean boost with an EQ can help some. I run a TC Spark Booster in front of the amp with the gain low, level up, and treble/bass to taste. I can get a louder, more Fendery clean when it's dialed in right.
 

No457 Snowy

Senior Member
Messages
972
This may not apply to your setup but if you haven't already, try running the volume knob on the guitar rolled back to about 7 and then set the amp from there, sometimes that will take the hard edge off the tone and thicken it up a bit, you might have to turn the amp up a bit to compensate the volume loss and sometimes that helps the tone too. I used to run into the problem you describe with almost any amp I played but always used to run the knobs on my Strat on 10 all the time, always had problems with harsh brittle top end and blamed amps, speakers, you name it, it sounds so stupid but it took me years to figure this one simple thing out. It's worth a try.
 

lostpoet2

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,284
You might want to try a warmer speaker such as a Scumback H55. I like that speaker with my El84 Dr. Z, which can get pretty bright.
 

ekkybedmond

Member
Messages
1,938
There are threads a-plenty on his subject

Start tinkering with the bright-cap on the Volume-pot (ie LOWER the value of this cap). 180pF is way too high iyam. Mine is around 68pF, I think.
Change speaker to WGS Reaper 30, or a Reaper 65 (special order, same price).
 

BelgPJ

Member
Messages
581
My Indy runs bright and "brittle" unless master volume is high to fill out the preamp gain. I turn trebble down to about 9 / 10 o'clock (pup dependent), and ride the guitar volume / tone to vary textures

It's a loud 35W so needs an attenuator in the studio. I also found JJ's to work best for me after rolling tubes for months ..
 

ekkybedmond

Member
Messages
1,938
Also: keep in mind , that the tone controls are interactive. When you UP the bass, yout get less treble, and VV

I can't realy see the point in turning the treble almost down, as other poster mentions, you end up with no sound left (unless an Independent has another tone-stack than the Lightning).

Yomv of course
 

zacmac

Member
Messages
560
I went your route and discovered a Goodsell super 17. If you're looking for cleans the lightning is not the greatest but few amps sound better for dirty rythym work
 

Tone Meister

Member
Messages
3,266
... Any suggestions as to how to tame the brightness and get a thicker, warmer tone, without losing the Matchless magic, would be appreciated.
Changing the speaker is the least invasive and most effective way by a long shot. Ask 25 people and you'll get 25 different speaker suggestions, so brace yourself for that. C-Rex, Greenback, or a Swamp Thang. For what you're describing a simple speaker swap from the G12H-30 would be just the ticket.

My suggestion would be an Eminence Swamp Thang.
 

MrSpud

Member
Messages
116
Thanks for all the suggestions... before posting I did search for prior threads, and thought I'd ask for suggestions based on the specific Celestion Anniversary speaker currently in my Lightning.

I have tried rejiggering the tone controls and usually run the volume on my guitar down about midway. I also have the tone control on the guitar dialed way back. I have used a Lehle Sunday Driver (in bypass mode) as a clean boost and/or a Barber LTD-SR. The boost and overdrive pedals seem to make the problem worse, accentuating the brittleness. I have run the Master full up, and at gig-level volume when the amp starts to get to the point of breakup, the tone just gets harsh.

I am hesitant to clip, or swap out, the Bright Cap, although this might be the easiest, most direct solution. I know I can always swap it back, but I'm just reluctant to modify the circuit, as built by Matchless. I believe Matchless is currently using modified Celestion Heritage G12H speakers. Would this be a warmer alternative, while still keeping my Lightning all-Matchless? Does anyone have experience with this speaker swap, or with a new(er) Lightning that came with the Heritage speaker?
 
Last edited:

Guinness Lad

Senior Member
Messages
15,860
The anniversary is a bright and somewhat scooped speaker. If you want highs and bass this speaker is your friend. I have found that most Matchless amps need less of both and the hated Vintage 30 is a great option.

Regarding the bright cap it should be a 180pf. Just remove one leg and fold it away from the components.
 

andersmv

Member
Messages
564
Should have bought a Spitfire.
I agree. This is one of the reasons I went with the spitfire circuit rather than the lightning. I wanted a brighter sounding amp but also wanted to easily warm it up a bit. With a spitfire, turn the tone down to around 9:00-10:00 and you have a really warm, almost muddy jazz sound.

I played a few lightnings and it just seemed to sound way too tight no matter what I did. I got it to sound darker but not really harmonically darker. Granted, a lot of people would choose the lightning because of that, it's a preference. I think the tone circuit drives the spitfire a lot harder than the EQ does on the lightning. On a spitfire you can plug a telecaster in, max out the volume and master, put the tone at 9:00, and you'll have a really warm, harmonically rich yet clean tone. You could get close to that with the lightning but this is why a lot of us like prefer the spitfire (or have both....).

I would suggest just setting your EQ on the lightning accordingly, drive it harder than you normally do, and turning the volume down on your guitar. You'll get some of that harmonic drive that might warm things up a bit, and a lot of guitars loose a bit of high end with the volume down.
 

mscotts

What?!
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,340
Change the speaker. That amp/your taste needs something other than a "H" magnet. Do some research and try a few. I'll bet you'll be surprised.....
 

flume

Double Platinum Member
Messages
6,951
Funny...I just got a Lightning from the Emporium here last week. Swapping around different speakers makes a difference for sure. Been spending lots of time with a Mather cab shown here, with a Mojotone Greyhound 12 installed. No way to tell without you trying it first hand, but shrill highs are something that kept me away from Matchless for a long time and they are definitely tamed here to my ears- this ES-295 refinished by Stike here at Rowyco Kustoms has Fralins and if unpleasant highs were going to stab me in the eardrums, this would be the rig to do it- but I'm getting lots of chime and sparkle which is great. Definitely have to reassess every guitar that plugs in though and rebalance the bass and treble and volumes:
 

hacinador

Member
Messages
765
Matchless and Bad Cat amps are maybe the worst for playing at home. They can be harsh, thin, stiff sounding, but they work so good with a band. Other amps have transformers that somewhat change your guitar signal, the signal is more compressed, highs can be attenuated, bass response can be muffled... Matchless and Bad Cat transformers are overbuilt and they give you a 'hifi' character, great presence, tight bass response. I have a Vox Heritage amp and Bad Cat Cub (very similar to Matchless Lightning). When I play at home the Vox is MUCH better amp, warmer and more natural sounding, Bad Cat is stiff, harsh, brittle, little weak sounding amp. When I play with a band my Vox can get lost in a mix sometimes, but my Bad Cat cut so well throw a band. I may like something between these two - more modern than my Vox and something more natural and more pleasant sounding than my Bad Cat :)
 

flume

Double Platinum Member
Messages
6,951
I havent played this Lightning with my band yet -in practice or in performance. So it's only been at home thus far. I would pick a lot of other amps to call the worst for playing at home before Matchless. I think I get the point; that they really sound good fired up loud and do have their own signature in a mix, but I don't agree that they have to sound bad at home alone. Pretty subjective grounds here - so need to lift legs and spray each other in a futile exchange.

One thing that is worth considering: I think a transparent amp like a Matchless invites a serious examination of your full signal chain. Yes, lowering volume on the guitar then pushing the amp up is a good strategy for finding new sounds; but do the pots you have suck balls? They might. Try a set of Emersons. Dont forget the little things like cables too. It all adds up.
 




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