Matchless Amplifiers has created a number of great amps, including the Independence, the Clubman, the Nighthawk, and the Spitfire. The Cobra is another favorite. Building on this amp, Matchless created the King Cobra, a 30 watt single channel powerhouse with both tremolo and reverb. The Matchless King Cobra features controls for master tone, tremolo sound and depth, reverb, volume, cut, and master volume.
While it is based on the Cobra amp and includes many of the same features, the King Cobra uses two EL34 tubes instead of the four EL84 tubes the Cobra amp uses. It also features a EF86, four 12AX7s, and a 5AR4/GZ34. You’ll find a speaker phase selector and a high/low power switch on the amp as well. The King Cobra delivers some great distorted tones, but it is also capable of producing amazing clean sounds as well. The tremolo and reverb are top notch, and the amp overall is very high quality, exactly what one would expect from Matchless. Of course, you will pay for quality. Even used, expect to pay as much as $3,000 for a Matchless King Cobra amp. (more...)
Big John is a pedal company located in Ghent, Belgium. They’re known for creating some very unique and interesting pedals. Their naming scheme is also certainly unique—you won’t forget the name of any of the Big John pedals! Their pedals have been used in diverse outfits such as Nine Inch Nails, Beck, Macy Gray, and Paul McCartney.
The man behind the Big John pedals is bassplayer Jan Detremerie. He graduated from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Brussels with a master degree, and while he primarily is a bassplayer, he also loves trying out different pedals and creating new sounds.
Big John has created a number of different pedals, each of which has something to offer. There’s the Big John Granny Puker, for example. This overdrive pedal lets you switch between overdrive, octave down, or a mixture of the two. This gives players a huge range of options, especially since you can control the blending of the sounds to make your own unique tone.
Another Big John product is the uniquely named Big John Harry Balls Effects Pedal. This fuzz pedal has a rich fuzz tone and a transistor boost that you can use with or without the fuzz. It offers both clean boost and scratchy boost. If you want some really nasty fuzz, this is the pedal for you.
The third and final pedal offered by Big John is called the Obama Wah. It’s a distortion pedal that provides a lot of gain and tone, but it also has a switchable fixed wah mode that can create some very interesting textures. (more...)
The Matchless Phoenix 35 is somewhat similar to the DC-30 amp in that it features two contrasting preamps that give players some amazingly dynamic tonal options. The preamp section uses two 12AX7s and an EF86. The first channel uses a parallel-triode circuit. The second works off the EF86 tube and a six position tone switch. This allows for the high treble control to work with the master volume and the push/pull bypass feature to give a lot of tonal flexibility. You'd be hard pressed to find a boutique amp that gives you quite as much dynamic control as the Matchless Phoenix 35.
In addition to these features, the Phoenix includes an effects loop, a speaker phase-reverse switch, an output impedance selector with 4, 8, and 16 ohms options, and two AC receptacles. It makes use of two dissimilar Celestion speakers, a Greenback 25 and a G12H30. The overall weight of the Matchless Phoenix 35 boutique amp is around 50 pounds, and the amp is small enough that it’s pretty easy to transport. Of course, this is a Matchless product, and you know that means it’s not going to be cheap. This quality amp will cost you right about $3,000 if you purchase it new. (more...)