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1996 Matchless DC-30 Sampson Era 2x12 Boutique Tube Amp w/ Flight Case


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Up for sale, a 1996 Matchless DC-30 "Sampson Era" boutique tube amp in exceptional condition and in perfect working order, complete with a flight case. Matchless' flagship amp (and their first amp model ever produced), the DC-30 has been widely heralded as among the best-sounding and most versatile British-flavored amps of all time. Pushing 30 cathode biased all tube watts via a quartet of EL-84s and a pair of Celestion 12" drivers, the DC-30 has been played by a vast array of artists including Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Brian May, and Billy Gibbons, to name just a few.

This particular example was made during the Sampson era of Matchless production in the ‘90s. Widely considered the high point of Matchless production, the tenure of Matchless founder Mark Sampson resulted in amps that have garnered a reputation for their optimum build quality.

This DC-30's two channel design is simple and elegant. Channel 1 offers Top Boost circuitry, with independent Treble and Bass knobs, and this tonal profile delivers sparkling cleans and rich saturated sizzle and bite, extremely sensitive to pick attack with glassy high treble frequencies. Channel 2 is driven by an EF86 pentode, the valve famously used in early JMI AC-15s (and a few AC-30s). Routed through a six-way rotary Tone switch, each selection engages a single coupling cap to revoice the circuit in unique ways. The EF86 sound is thick and notably balanced (the tube is much higher gain than the 12AX7s in Channel 1), with plenty of midrange grit and harmonically dense growl. Both channels share Cut and Master knobs, the former reduces high frequencies at the output stage, while the latter dials back the signal level after the phase inverter for a very natural quality that preserves the muscle and richness of both clean sounds and overdriven roar.

The output transformer is date stamped Nov. 12, 1996, and the M-prefix serial on the serial/model badge inside the cab further identifies this amp as a Sampson era example. The original pair of speakers, custom built for Matchless by Celestion, have pristine frames and Matchless foil stickers on the ceramic magnets. The back panel features a Phase Inverter switch, Hi/Lo power toggle, and a 4/8/16 ohm speaker impedance rotary knob. Additionally, there are a pair of Loudspeaker outputs, and independent effects jacks for each channel.

This Matchless features burgundy tolex and gold sparkle grillcloth accented by gold piping. Exceedingly well-kept, cosmetic wear is limited to just a few minor scuffs and marks on the enclosure as a whole. The nigh flawless control panel and large Matchless badge both light up (a Matchless signature touch), and the original chicken head knobs are all present.

A MacGregor flight case with a snug foam-lined interior is included.