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How could I prefer a Matchless over my vintage Vox?

Discussion in 'Glowing Bottle Tube Amp Forum' started by CV Jee Beez, Nov 29, 2018.

  1. CV Jee Beez

    CV Jee Beez Tele-Holic

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    I haven't been using my 64 AC30 too much. At home, it's too loud. I don't take it to gigs or band practice because the Variac seems like a nuisance to take along and I don't plug directly into the wall.

    In a sense, I've become the custodian of it.

    I went to GC Hollywood to try out some LP's and plugged into a Matchless DC30 just because I'd never heard one. Instantly, i loved it. The tone I had idealized in my mind was real in that amp. I'll spare you the weird adjectives.

    I thought I was crazy to want anew amp over my 60's amp and re-tubed my AC30 just to make sure. It's confirmed. I would rather have the Matchless.

    If you feel the same way, it's OK!
     
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  2. Milspec

    Milspec Poster Extraordinaire

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    The matchless amps are good ones...very well built and clean wiring. Many feel the same way as you, it doesn't surprise me on bit. What does confuse me though is the decision to us a variac all the time with your AC30? You will have to help me on that one, if the amp is in good mechanical condition, it shouldn't need the variac to bring it up to power. I must be missing something.
     
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  3. DougM

    DougM Poster Extraordinaire

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    The Matchless is basically a deluxe tweaked hot rod version of an AC30, so it's not really a surprise that you like it more.
     
  4. CV Jee Beez

    CV Jee Beez Tele-Holic

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    Older AC30's were set up to run on 115V. Currently wall voltages where I live are 118-122. Plugging straight in produces abit more noise so I knock down th ewall voltage to 110V. Seems to be best for the amp. My buddy has an old AC15 and he runs it in the 90's.
     
  5. JD0x0

    JD0x0 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Maybe because a Matchless DC30 is a 'Booteek' AC30 clone.

    Also worth noting, your vintage amp may need servicing and that vintage amps don't have any 'magic' in them that would make them inherently sound better than new amps. ;)
     
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  6. gusfinley

    gusfinley Tele-Afflicted

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    Well, you mentioned two amps: AC30 and DC30. But:

    - Which model of AC30 do you have? Brilliant, Normal, Bass - does it have the top boost?

    - Which channel do you normally play on the AC30?

    - Which channel of the DC30 where you playing?

    - Which speakers do you play with the AC30?

    - Which speakers where you playing through with the DC30?

    - Which guitar do you use with the AC30?

    - Which guitar did you play through the DC30?

    - What setting do you use on the AC30?

    - Which settings did you use on the DC30?

    The amps are a sum of their parts: from your hands to the room they are played in. There are a lot of variables in play.

    I do have some suggestions, but we need a little more information first.
     
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  7. CV Jee Beez

    CV Jee Beez Tele-Holic

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    It was just my ears. My amp is in tip top shape. I service it as needed and have been on top of it since I bought it.
     
  8. CV Jee Beez

    CV Jee Beez Tele-Holic

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    Thanks for offering but mainly amazed at the thought of it. I'm usually pretty good about knowing what I want so suggestions or advice aren't in great demand. I know if I like a piece of gear inside of 30 seconds. I go back and listen a 2nd time just to make sure my 2nd thought matches my first.

    My AC30 is a copper panel integrated top boost.

    I usually play on the Normal Channel or jump the Vib/Trem ww/ the Normal. The Top Boost is killer but, too lousd for my band and too loud for a wife and 3 year old.

    I played on both the 12AX7 and EF86 channels of the Matchless with the stock mismatched Matchless Celestions.

    I used teles, strats, and LPS in both amps.

    Whew, i feel like i just finished an interrogation!
     
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  9. Milspec

    Milspec Poster Extraordinaire

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    This is interesting, but not sure if you really are getting any benefit from using the variac. Wall voltage isn't constant and fluctuates as does the Variac so I don't think you really get any linear setting....maybe it is needed on a vintage Brit amp, I am not an expert on such things.
     
  10. gusfinley

    gusfinley Tele-Afflicted

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    That helps a bit to know the background. It sounds like you worked out both amps well.

    You mentioned that you don't use your top boost, but this a major difference with the Matchless. The Matchless "Top Boost" has the "corrected" tone stack with the 10K "Mid" resistor in series with the bass control instead of in parallel with it. This is also true of the Vox "Custom" series amplifiers. This correct the mid-cut effects that happens with the treble and bass at max on the AC30 TB.

    The Matchless also has paralleled triodes on its input.

    .01uF Couplers to the phase inverter on the Matchless vs .1uF couplers on the AC30. This might lead to less mud and a clearer tone on the Matchless.
     
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  11. John E

    John E Friend of Leo's

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    Honestly, I never met a Matchless that I didn't love.
     
  12. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    I had the Matchless Clubman. El34's. I disliked it immensely. Bright bright BRIGHT and sterile. There was one setting that I loved though. That setting was too loud to play anywhere. Fortunately, I got my $ back out of it.
    But to each his own!
     
  13. kelnet

    kelnet Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Does choosing a setting disable the volume control?
     
  14. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    Hah! basically yes. The amp sounded like a SS amp at lower settings.
     
  15. kelnet

    kelnet Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Well that's just weird. So basically it only sounds good when it's on loud volume.
     
  16. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Doctor of Teleocity

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    I played bass in a trio a few years back....guitarist (pretty darn good) used a Matchless head and a 2X12" Marshall cab. Don't know what model Matchless he had, but it sounded wonderful. He was a big fan of Ian Moore, and it's what Ian was using at the time. (or HAD used)
     
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  17. golfnut

    golfnut Friend of Leo's

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    The one reason I gave up on Vox based amps like the Dr Z's I've owned, is that you had to have them super loud to sound good. Yes I had attenuators but I never liked attenuators. As much as the good reviews on the Z airbreak or the Tone King Iron man I always felt that it negatively affected the tone.
     
  18. rze99

    rze99 Poster Extraordinaire

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    If you can find one a used Genz Benz Black Pearl 30 will get you there too and is incredibly flexible and great sounding at all levels. About a quarter of the cost of a Matchless
     
  19. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    For some time all "brand name top shelf" amps were pretty darn good, if you liked that particular circuit. Maybe '57 to '72, when production shortcuts started to lower quality. The old designs were full of flaws though.

    Then manufacturers started making the same basic amps cheaper, and a few of those amps were later made by other companies.
    This resulted in the myth that vintage amps were inherently better than modern amps.

    Eventually hand built replica/ reissue amps appeared, which had the goal of being "just as good as originals". Some were. This was seemingly the beginning of boutique amps.

    Eventually the boutique builders (plus a few pioneering little known builders like Dumble and Trainwreck) started improving the new builds of old amps.

    Now we have numerous options for "improved" vintage amps, and the AC30 probably has more examples than any other.
    Those vintage originals are like many amps made in the '60s, problematic in many ways, just screaming for improvement.
    Even just changing lead dress, power supply filtering, component selection, without changing the circuit, can get us quieter more reliable versions of the same amp.

    Matchless was AFAIK first to create updated versions of the AC30 but Dr Z makes probably ten different iterations along with other amps that can be traced back to that design but have become entirely different.

    Along the way, parts suppliers answered the market need and now we can get transformers made to exact spec or improved spec, without being stuck with only budget spec cheap import parts.

    Even just the fact that wall voltage is different now so the heaters run at the wrong voltage, and the power tubes may also run at higher enough voltage to throw off the tone or reliability of vintage amps, is enough to make a replica or modernized amp better.

    Some of my favorite vintage amps have such primitive power supply filtering that they suffer from ripple and ghost notes.
    My love of vintage amps for being old has pretty much gone away.
    Pretty much.

    Was the Matchless a "real" Matchless from Mark Samson?
    Those later ones made by some holding company suck, you need to try a real vintage Matchless!
     
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  20. E5RSY

    E5RSY Doctor of Teleocity

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    Key knowledge to have when it comes to Matchless.

    Scott
     
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