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Thread: Comparing Sampson Era Matchless C-30 's

  1. #1
    Member Elvisofnazareth's Avatar
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    Comparing Sampson Era Matchless C-30 's

    I know this is a Vintage amps area of the forum... Wow... Matchless are now both boutique AND vintage........
    Something about saying "Boutique vintage amp" makes me feel pretty old.

    I had a Maroon sc 30 from the early 90's, that I got off one of the partners of Matchless when I lived in North Hollywood in 1993.

    A few years back I went through some crazy times living in LA, .....
    I lost the amp and my nice light early 70's olympic white Strat was stolen too.
    (I got out of LA and went to Vegas and played the Casinos a bit ... then on to the Redwoods for a while.)

    For YEARS I've wanted another Matchless... I found a 1992 Gray SC-30 on Craigslist here in Austin Today. I worked out a cash/trade deal, and I am pretty damn happy right now..

    Some observations....

    -The Maroon amp had a paper label on the speaker, not a sticker.
    -My first Matchless liked to be LOUD.. It stayed pretty tight even cranked.
    -The Top Boost Channel was the go to side of this amp, The Cut knob barely needed to be used.
    -The EF 86 channel made even the sturdiest Mullard microphonic with a month or two..... It didnt matter to me because, that side of the amp wasn't as good as the other anyway.
    (Mark Sampson looked at it but couldn't figure out the ef86 squeel issue. )
    -This was a darker amp, kind of plexi ish, but with a class A power section..
    - It came with GE tubes all around.

    My new 1992 Gray SC30 Is WAY Brighter,
    -It was the go to amp in a Nashville studio for years. It has seen a LOT of gigs too. Definitely not a spring chicken.
    -The cut knob is almost all the way up, and it's still pretty bright.
    -The EF 86 channel is the better sounding side by far. Natural sounding.
    - This one sounds kind of like the best AC 30 I 've ever heard but still has the Matchless vibe,( just jangly-er)
    -It gets mushy when you push it too hard, but I play a bit cleaner than I used too, so where the amp sounds the best is just perfect for me.
    It gets a decent amount of cone cry when too loud.
    - It's got some tolex dings which is why I could afford it at all.

    When I compare amps, I personally don't do the whole Identical settings nonsense.. I dial each one in to where I think It sounds best.
    These two amps are RADICALLY different tonally. The tone controls respond like 2 different animals.

    Mark had me demo an SMF amp for some people at the guitar show in Oceanside CA one year....He's always treated me great. He's a good bloke.

    So tell me, Where's the sweet spot on your C-30s?

    I'm wondering if they're all this different, or If most are more like on or the other.

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  2. #2
    Senior Member HTH's Avatar
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    didn't Matchless use some pentodes in the early preamp designs that were later replaced by paralleled 12AX7s? I know there is the EF86 channel on the DC30 where the pentode is used as the first gain stage, but I'm talking about using a pentode in the second gain stage after a 12AX7 - a 6SH7 is shown on one of the schematics I have.

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    HTH - Heavier Than Hell

  3. #3
    Member Elvisofnazareth's Avatar
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    So check this out, I cleaned the amp up and crazy glued down a couple tolex nicks etc. burnt some sage.... gear ritualistic know.

    I saw some things written inside the chassis over by the tone stack for the ef86 channel . There was a production date and then the same date written with an arrow pointing to the tone stack switch knob and it says "MS MOD" . I called Matchless and spoke with Phil Jamison who informed me that means it must have been a special order by a famous player, and was personally modified before leaving the factory by Mark Sampson.
    I asked who, and he said the amp was from Nashville? "Geesh.. it could have been anybodys."
    I guess that explains the bright tone... I love it.

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