Matchless. It is perhaps one of the most revered names in amps and known worldwide for it’s C30 models. Strangely enough, their most recent offering, the SC Mini, has flown under the radar ever since it was first introduced at Winter NAMM 2015. After scouring the internet for nearly two years looking for information and coming up short, I decided to just take the plunge and buy one to find out for myself what it is like. I’m here to unravel the mystery of this dynamic little amp that was designed with worship guitarists like you and I in mind.
As a long-time admirer of Matchless amps, unpacking the SC Mini was a bit like a dream come true. I ordered the open-back version Mini in a beautiful white with a silver grill cloth. It’s hot! The finishes are incredible and that glowing ‘Matchless’ symbol is truly something special. After years of playing production amps it was a treat getting a quality hand-made one. You can tell a lot of pride is put into the build of their amps. Even the small details like the large rubber feet seem to be top notch. For me the best part of the amp finish is the handle. It’s gotta be the best quality handle I’ve ever had on an amp, made from a really comfortable and sturdy leather that makes carrying it feel quite easy.
The 6 watt SC Mini is designed after Channel 2 of the famed DC30, integrating the same EF86 preamp tube and custom 12” Celestion G12H30 speaker. The result is that when you plug in you get all the chime, clarity, and bass response that you’d expect from a Matchless, only shrunk down to about the size of a Blues Jr. With a simple 4-knob control panel, you’ll find you can quickly dial in great sounds and then just get lost in the playing.
Playing this amp I really feel like I have finally found my sound. My guitars have never sounded so warm yet clear at the same time. I’ve really been enjoying this low-watter as it is easy to get it to break up at really reasonable volumes for a fantastic natural overdriven tone. I’ve had all kinds of people ask me about headroom, and I have to say that although there are some nice clean tones available lower on the volume dial, as you begin to turn up it really shines as an edge-of-break-up amp. In fact, the natural overdrive is so sweet that I have begun playing my guitars and pedals differently.
With my Telecaster, I roll the volume knob back a bit and play the neck pickup to enjoy the beautiful cleans that the SC Mini has to offer up, but will switch over to my bridge pickup and dial up the volume to force the amp into breakup for bigger leads. With my Les Paul’s higher output pickups I can actually get away with fewer drive pedals to achieve the overdriven tones that I like, but when I stack in some pedal overdrive and/or boost it makes the Matchless roar!
The SC Mini does come with an effects loop, but I enjoy just plugging my whole board right into the main input as I love the interaction of my wet effects with the dynamics of the amp breaking up. I have tried a variety of overdrives and have been really happy with the results. It especially seems to shine with low-gain drives like the Morning Glory, Timmy or even just a boost like a Spark Mini that seem to push the amp into more saturation without overly colouring it’s already awesome sound. That being said, throw on a tubescreamer for lead guitar perfection!
All in all, I have fallen in love with this little amp. For the first time I feel like I can actually achieve amazing tone at a reasonable volume, while still being able to hold my own on stage with a full band. Matchless has really brought serious quality and dynamic tone to the everyday guitarist with this more affordable and modest sized amplifier. It kind of blows my mind that more people aren’t playing this amp. If you are a guitarist who loves being on the edge of breakup, the SC Mini is made for you! Oh and get ready for the tone compliments, I’ve never had so many in all my playing.
Image Credit: World Guitars UK