I recently bought a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe III and was perfectly happy with my fabulous new amplifier. Me, my amp and Daphne Blue Fender Stratocaster were enjoying a love triangle. We made wonderful music together.
Then one night at rehearsal in rocked Neil lugging something very heavy – a Matchless DC-30 amplifier. When I saw the Matchless I was speechless. Neil is a drummer that I play with occasionally. An incredibly good drummer. He says he doesn’t play guitar, but he owns some wonderful guitars and amps. I suspect he’s a bit of a collector. The DC-30 is generally regarded as one of the best amplifiers ever made and is as rare as rocking horse shit. As far as I know, only one dealer in the UK stocks Matchless, World Guitars in Gloucestershire.
Neil put the Matchless on the floor and said: “There you go. Plug in.” Then he left the room. He came back a few minutes later carrying an original limited edition Fender Cabronita guitar, in red. Oh, this was just getting better and better. Unlike me, Neil is not retentive or overly protective of his gear. He’s a gent. Guitar heaven had just landed in the rehearsal room.
I didn’t get to spend long with the Matchless, but the time I spent cranking out a couple of numbers let me know what truly great tone sounds like. It’s definitely better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all. The variety of tone on tap was astounding. I didn’t expect it to deliver much gain, knowing that it is renound for its clean tones, but boy was I wrong. I plugged the Cabronita into the dirty channel, started playing “20th Century Boy” by T.Rex and the box let rip a three-dimensional sonic vista. I just smiled like an idiot.
The DC-30 is the dual speaker model from the C-30 range and was originally built around the class A design of the Vox AC 30. It uses a quartet of EL-84’s, point-to-point wiring, military-grade components and two dissimilar Celestion speakers: a G12H30 and a Greenback 25. It offers an unrivaled world of tone through two channels: clean and dirty.
In the 25th Anniversary edition of Guitarist Magazine (Dec 2009 – Issue 323) the DC-30 came 4th in a list of “The 100 Greatest Guitar Things”, beaten only by 1 – Slash, 2 – Cheap Guitars, and 3 – the Fender American Standard Stratocaster. The magazine stated that the DC-30 was:
perhaps the greatest sounding amp of all time.
More about the DC-30 at the Matchless website.