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Matchless DC30

Matchless DC-30 Series

4.5 4.5 out of 5, based on 3 Reviews

29th February 2012

Matchless DC-30 Series by travisbrown

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 3 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4
Matchless DC30

This amp has been on my covet list for years. A while ago an opportunity to purchase a 2-12 arose (on condition from my wife that I get rid of a bunch of other amps - she's all about consolidation.)

When I tried out the amp, I kept it at a polite level in consideration of the seller's neighbours. He looked at me and said, "It sounds better like this." and turned it up to about 6. The first thing I noticed was that the amp didn't have that harshness that one comes to expect from A/B class 1-12 amps. The Class A circuit keeps this thing sounding smooth all the way up.

The controls for the DC 30 are simple. Two channels - 2 x 12AX7 with bass and treble controls, and an EF86 channel with a 6 position tone "preset" control and a variable HF cut.

Both of these channels run through a bypassable push/pull master volume. It's fun if you accidentally bump that volume control off while you are playing.

The 2-12 configuration features a "Matchless modified" pair of dissimilar Celestions: G12H30 and a Greenback 25. You can close mic one or both, or back off a bit and capture both for versatile variation in tone. In a mix it adds for nice broad sound when each is hard panned.

A somewhat quirky thing, but understandable given the discrete topology, is the EFX loop for each channel. I haven't quite figured out how one might use the same EFX for both channels without some fancy switching, unless you were jumpering the channels.

One thing I've found is you make a whole bunch of new friends once you own a Matchless. On the downside, once you get a Matchless and a good guitar, there are not many more excuses you can make for your playing ability.

5th March 2012

Matchless DC-30 Series by Mark Kano

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.75
Matchless DC30

If there ever was a modern legend in the guitar amp world then this is it. Despite its very Vox-like heritage, this amp covers so much sonic territory that you may never need to look elsewhere. Not that you could afford to either after purchasing one! To this day I have never been so impressed upon by a guitar amplifier, both sonically and aesthetically. Rumor has it that Mark Sampson consulted with well known mixer Jack Joseph Puig during the design of this amp…and if true, the collaboration paid off. My introduction to the DC30 was at a Toad The Wet Sprocket concert in 1995 where the guitarist Todd Nichols was playing one in green tolex. The illuminated Matchless logo caught my eye and the sounds that poured out of his amp were literally jaw dropping! It exuded a complex chime with a muscular clarity to the midrange that just sounded out-of-this-world to me. When I made it home I went on a mission to find out where I could buy one of these amazing amps. Despite the shocking price tag for a 20 year old kid, I managed to scrounge up enough cash from my day job to buy one… then another… and then another. Au revoir Peavey Classic 30!

The DC30 is the company's flagship amplifier and boasts 30 watts via four el84 power tubes, switchable to half power via a toggle on the rear of the chassis. The rectifier is interchangeable between one 5AR4 or two 5V4G's, the latter producing a more spongy and slightly smoother overdriven tone. A 12ax7 is used in the phase inverter position. Two dissimilar modified Celestion speakers are employed, one being a 25 watt greenback and the other a G12H30 rated at 30 watts. Upon the amps release, much speculation emerged as to what the "modification" to the speakers was, with stories of hammers being used to bang on the ceramic magnets. To the best of my knowledge the modification was just the removal of the doping on the outer edge of the speaker which yielded a more broken in sound straightaway, but also lent the speakers to producing ghost notes when soloing up high on the guitar neck.

The two separate channels of this amp make for a wide a palette of tones, with channel one being more tweak-able because of its interactive bass and treble controls. The preamp tubes used in channel one are 12ax7's. You can get glassy clean fender-like tones with the volume set low, but this channel also overdrives into a very smooth vintage grind. With the volume up past 2 o'clock, you can roll the bass control back a bit and maintain a very tight and focused chug. Channel two is all about glorious midrange. It is the hotter of the two channels and features only one 6 position tone control that thickens with every satisfying click. One ef86 preamp tube is used for this channel and it is recommended to buy a high quality version because of a tendency for the tube design to become microphonic. The definition that is maintained from string to string even in the highest gain settings is truly impressive. After the channel controls are a "cut" knob which attenuates high end frequencies and a master volume which engages via a push/pull pot.

There is a confluence of refined quality and mojo to this amps sound that will please any tone purist. There is nothing like standing next to this amp with it wide open! It sounds like clean, pure, raw power. Although I have owned many of the models during several phases of the company's incarnation, I have been the most happy with my DC30 from the current production line. Save up and buy one!

13th February 2015

Matchless DC-30 Series by tlp123

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck N/A
  • Overall: 3.75
Matchless DC30

Thanks for letting me post this....

Will not knowingly repeat what's been written in previous reviews here.

No need.

Did want to comment that I've tried some of these made in the 90's that are being sold for higher prices than new today. I find no difference in sound, or quality of build whatsoever.

If I could've identified something sonically, or any other aspect that justified the sometimes stupid extra money the older models were/are being sold for, I would have paid it.

I'm astonished that others are paying the artificially inflated price of this same model produced when Mark Sampson owned the company.

If anything, I believe the Matchless products that are being produced today under Phil Jameson's management are maybe even better made, if even slightly. If you are a technical type, remove that chassis and visually compare. You will find the workmanship and construction techniques virtually the same high quality as before.

I find their products somewhat a work of art. Lovely to behold the old manufacturing techniques. Military electronics were built this way back in the 1940's - 60's. Considering what you are getting today when you purchase any Matchless product, it is even a better value considering the time and quality materials they put into each amp, or anything else they produce.

This is pro grade touring equipment. It will perform flawlessly day after day. Like any other tube amp, keep an ear and eye out for the power tubes. It is cathode biased power section, so power tube life is a bit shorter than typical class AB.

This is an amp you can depend on to sound consistently great every night. Heavy and built to stand the rigors of the road.

Worth every dollar paid!!

These are only my opinions, not dogma.

Don't take my word for any of it. Please try one for yourself. Read everything you can these first.


Beyond the aforementioned, if for whatever reason you need to contact Matchless, you can deal with Phil Jameson directly. He's generous with his knowledge, and will make time to communicate with you by phone, or email.

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