Where to get an edumecation about TopHat amps?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by geoangus, Feb 10, 2008.


  1. geoangus

    geoangus Member

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    Great looking amps, but I don't know anything about them. Do they have their own "voice" or are they a boutique Marshall, Vox , ???

    For those playing thru them, what music styles do you guys play? Does this amp cover all ground? Are they best suited for Pauls and humbuckers, or do strats sound great with them too? Pedal friendly?

    Aside from their website, are there any other good sources to learn more about them? Feeling GAS big time, but not so impulsive this time around.
     
  2. FJTurner

    FJTurner Member

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    Check Cliff Cultieri's website: www.detroyallguitars.com

    He's a Top Hat dealer along with other high-end, boutique type stuff. Great to talk to on the phone. Well informed, been in the business a long time. I've done business with him and highly recommend him.
     
  3. Jay Strange

    Jay Strange Member

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    +1 with Cliff. He's a cool dude and certainly not shy:)
    He'll even play amps over the phone to you.Great player to boot.
     
  4. fuzzfan1

    fuzzfan1 Member

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    Check out the Top Hat Forum. Lots of knowledgeable peeps always willing to answer your questions. Cool site with cool people talking about cool amps! :)
     
  5. Free

    Free Member

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    TopHat amps are mainly in the Vox and Marshall (with some "tweed"-type tones thrown in) tone range - and in that scope, no other boutique maker exceeds them. You have other boutique companies like Two Rock (as a random example), etc who make wonderful on par amps too, but that is not the tonal nor philosophic realm of TopHat. And, great makers like Germino do a straight up classic Marshall thing extremely well, but TopHat does more of a Vox-Marshall hybrid tone on most of their models.

    TopHat amps have an elegant straightforward and rock-solid vintage simplicity about their designs. It's a somewhat unique Vox to Marshall niche, though their Vox/Marshall tone philosophy has been copied by other boutique companies during this last decade without surpasing what TopHat had already done and continues to do and improve upon.

    Importantly, Brian Gerhard is one of the coolest, most informed, yet humble guys in the industry. His technical insights are literally mind-expanding, if you ever talk with him. He's extremely confident about his designs and views on what he does and WHY he does it.

    P.S. Every TopHat model has the tonal variability suit every possible type of guitar with absolutely no preference in any direction at all. Unlike so many Strat-oriented boutique makers.

    -Mike
     
  6. geoangus

    geoangus Member

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    sorry, but I'm still confused. I understand they're an outstanding amp, fantastic build quality, but is their voice a hybrid of Marshall/Vox? I'm getting the impression it is a case of which model, some are Vox AC like and others Marshall Plexi. What I'm looking to avoid is a Boogie like tone that is neither Fender or Marshall, but uniquely Boogie. Not that that is a bad thing, it just wasn't what I was looking for.

    Oh, and by the way, for those with 2x12 Club Royale, how do they hold up in the mix? My drummer & bassist are pretty loud, would it keep up without breaking up too much?
     
  7. M I K E D.

    M I K E D. Supporting Member

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    I just got a CR 2x12 about 3 weeks ago and I am very happy; Demensional '3d' cleans at lower drive settings and a sweet chime to grind OD when pushed- the amp cleans up nicely when backing off the vol. on your guitar, Easily loud enough for small to medium club work but if you play w/ a hard hitting drummer or need tons o' clean headroom you may want to go for the King Royale or Ambassador

    One reason the amp is difficult to accurately describe w/o playing IMO is the feel... the tone stack is highy interactive which makes it possible to dial in BF fenderish to Vox to Marshall esque-while maintaining a harmonic richness that makes it its own beast.

    another reason for the hard to nail down sound is that there were many design changes from inception to present.

    A great amp...
     
  8. geoangus

    geoangus Member

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    M.I.K.E.D.
    How is the CR with pedals? Does it even need OD/Distorion boost? It would be great to have just modulation and delay pedals, maybe fuzz.

    Thanks,
     
  9. M I K E D.

    M I K E D. Supporting Member

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    Bad news - CR is very picky about pedals- they need to be " transparent " (read: no mid hump).

    I have tried a few now: Zendrive, Analogmn TS, Jetter GSR, Blackstone, Distortion Pro, to name a few and none sounded very good...

    My RC booster works much better and I suspect this beast would respond better to a Treble booster.

    Mild to medium OD is what the amp excels at and goes from 'clean to scream' w the vol. pot on yer guitar.

    Right now I'm just using an old Maxon ad9 for some slapback and I dont miss reverb at all.

    as far as Fuzz- from what Ive seen on the Top Hat forum everyone says fuzz boxes are the way to go with this amp...

    hope that helps!
     
  10. farlowhigh

    farlowhigh Member

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    The most popular Top Hat has been the Club Royale (uses 2 EL84s) and it is a cool mix of Vox and Marshall tones...there have been many versions of the Club Royale with some emphasizing the Vox side of the equation and most recently I think it is a more Marshally beast than it used to be...

    the Top Hat site has some useful info on it and the Top Hat forum is full of useful information and would probably tell you everything you want to know...Fatsoundguitars.com is a dealer where they have great descriptions of amps and Stu at Fat Sound Guitars is a big fan of Top Hat and very knowledgeable. He would be glad to answer questions about the voicing of the Top Hat amp models...

    In terms of the hybrid of Vox and Marshall, in my limited experience, it seems like the Top Hats can sound pretty Voxy in the clean to breakup tones but become more Marshally in their od sounds...

    I love my Top Hat Vanderbilt 33 as it has a Voxy preamp (same set of knobs and switches as the well reviewed Supreme 16) but uses 2 6L6 tubes instead of the more expected EL84s...very cool range of sounds as a result and you can really get Fendery, Marshally, and Voxy sounds depending on how you dial in the sound.

    Some Top Hat amps use the EF86 preamp tube (the Vanderbilt, the Supreme 16, etc) and that tends to yield a sound associated with Vox (as many famous Vox models used that as well).

    If you get a used Club Royale, definitely make sure you know what year it is and go to the Top Hat forum and ask around for how Marshally or Voxy that particular model is...

    great great amps and I doubt you would be disappointed...as long as you are looking for a rock amp that brings elements of Vox and Marshall together and have their own thing going as well...

    Teleplayer here on TGP has owned something like 9 or 10 Top Hats and he is a great resource of info about them...

    there are definitely a number of demo video clips on youtube and of course the best way would be to play one in a store and see how you like them...
     
  11. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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    1. depends on the model, Club Royale & Supreme 16 & King Royale, yes. Club Deluxe & Super Deluxe are Vox meets Tweed Fender. Emplexador is pure Marshall. Ambassador is Tweed meets BF Fender.

    2. TopHats do not sound like Boogies.

    3. If you need clean headroom, you'll want a model with more wattage. The CR excels at cranked amp sound at more moderate volumes.
     
  12. geoangus

    geoangus Member

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    sorry, you misunderstood my analogy that the Boogie MkIII doesn't really sound like a Fender or Marshall, but a Boogie. I wasn't trying to compare a Boogie to a TopHat.

    But thanks for your reply
     
  13. meterman

    meterman Member

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    Great amps, they are all I play any more and I've got three of them (Club Deluxe, King Royale, Emplex). Most models have Vox-based preamp channel(s) matched with various power tube configurations in Class A. Exceptions to this are the Ambassadors which are their most Fendery amp and the Emplexador which is a versatile Plexi-based design. Most of them are zero-negative-feedback designs with a fat complex midrange that sits great in a mix. Touch sensitive with a very smooth transition from clean to overdrive. Designed for medium gain overdrive tones when cranked, for higher gain tones they work best with boosts, fuzzes, and ODs without a mid hump or lots of compression. Model to choose depends on playing situation, headroom needs, etc. I rehearse with a 20w 1x12 and it's more than enough, and a 35w or 50w 2x12 for gigs as I like clean headroom for my style. Have gigged with a 20w 2x12 but I had a mic on it. Generally running Strats and semi-hollows with a fuzz, TIM, & delay playing rootsy stuff from jazzy jamband to crunchy rock. I chose TopHat after playing Vintage Fender & Marshall, Dr Z, Vox, Peavey....very versatile amps, , new twists on 'vintage' ideas & you can cop tweed/Vox/early Marshall tones from them but I would also say they do have their own voice, hard to describe except as an overall 'sweetness' or refinement in the voicing that I've found in all the TopHats I've played....top shelf build quality and customer service as well. Great values on the used market and a constant evolution of design in the new amps, upgrading three older models and releasing several new ones over the past two years....
     
  14. Groovey Records

    Groovey Records Member

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    I've got the Supreme 16 Head pushing two Celestion Blues- The Supreme 16 (SS) is a two channel amp. Channel one is based on the early (59, 1960) Vox AC15 circuit with a EF 86 pre amp tube powered by Two EL 84 power tubes.

    VOX - Vox Tone not a Modern Vox or reissue Vox. This is where the pure unadulterated early AC15 Vox Tone lives. No a/b switch pure class A - not reconstituted or homoginized.

    The Second Channel uses the same EL 84 power section but Vi, V2. & PI are 12ax7's within the eq section This is the part of the SS that bears the signature Gerhard tone pallettes. Very adjustable, it is micro adjustment sensitive and interactive. Extremely versitile, cleans, chime, bell like with great note seperation yet single notes can sound chord like as well.

    Here the cleans can break up and be over driven it can be clean fendery and more driven. I wouldn't say Marshall type gain is fully present. It is just a more complex sound then Vox, Fender or Marshall combination describes.

    The other TopHat I have is an EmplexadorII. It is the Jack of all trades in a Box and Master of Many Marshall Sounds.

    Again more complex and interactive then Marshall yet still both feet firmly planted in the Marshall sound. Classic/Overdiven Master Volume, Fat/toggle, Boost/toggle, Hi input low input, gain, treble , mids, bass, and presence going left to right


    Brian Gerhard's Emplexador lets you do more with one Amp then Jim Marshall did with 3 of his. A bold thing to say,

    Thats the little I know. Cliff C is an encyclopedia of all top amps and sounds and has his finger on the cutting edge (owch). Most importantly his heart is there as well. Call Him or Email.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. sickboy79

    sickboy79 Member

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    Riffmeister knows his stuff. I picked up an Emplexador after hearing his a few years back! I also have heard a few others that are nothing short of outstanding. I can't say enough good things about Top Hat.
     
  16. geoangus

    geoangus Member

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    thanks all - there have been a few club royales on e-bay that have caught my eye. I've tried registering on tophat's forum, but I'm still waiting for my ID to be activated?

    I have personal issues with calling dealers for info when I have little likelihood of buying from them. Do you know if Cliff would be P.O.'d if I tried to ask some questions?
     
  17. ronw

    ronw Member

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    Cliff would be more than happy to talk with you about Tophat. He's a walking wealth of information. Although it wasn't a Tophat, Cliff helped me with my recent purchase. You cannot go wrong with him!

    BTW: I've owned a Super Deluxe (2x12), Club Royale (2x12), King Royale (head/cab), and the new MK II Club Royale (1x12 combo). They all sounded fantastic, and took pedals like a dream.
     
  18. frankencat

    frankencat Lex Luthier Gold Supporting Member

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    Brian is also pretty cool about answering questions.

    Emplexador owner here :)
     
  19. meterman

    meterman Member

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    We've had alot of problems with hackers & spammers at the TH forum so that's why the security had to be tightened, it's an inconvenience but the site content has been lost at least once....

    Cliff is very good to deal with and exceptionally knowledgeable and experienced. I'd send him an email with any questions, I'm sure he wouldn't mind answering if he has time. Stu at Fatsound also sells and knows TH amps, but Brian G. is the source, give him a call and prepare to be overwhelmed with information! :) The guy knows his business...
     
  20. geoangus

    geoangus Member

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    thanks everybody. The talent and knowledge of many here is way beyond me. I'm really lost when it comes to KNOWING what I want, I guess it has more to do with what I play. I'm no shred player, so the big gain amps just aren't right for me. I like OD & distortion, but haven't really ever used my guitar's volume control to take care of that for me. I hope TopHat is more what I'm looking for. FWIW, I'm a huge Beatles fan, enjoy butchering Cream era Clapton, like Tom Petty, Queen, Eagles, as well as REM, Toad the Wet Sprocket, dada, Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson and many other artists who probably wish I never heard their material. Okay, maybe I'm not that bad, but you won't see me touring anytime soon. Back to the point, am I looking at the wrong amp in a Club Royale?
     

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