The control panel on the latest version of this hand-built, 20-watt, dual-EL84 amp doesn’t give much away other than the updated model name— its Volume, Treble, Middle, Bass, Cut and Master controls and Bright/Fat Boost switch appearing identical to those on the previous incarnation – although the bigger cab with art-deco styling and light-up logo (borrowed from Custom Shop models such as the Supreme 16) do hint at new directions. The changes are far more than cosmetic, however, and lurk beneath the hood in the addition of a hefty choke (an inductor used as a power supply filter element), a larger Heyboer output transformer, and an EZ81 tube rectifier in place of the former GZ34 (and the solid-state rectification that preceded it). Add to this some general circuit tweaking, and it all shoots toward Gerhardt’s desired tonal goal: an amp that sounds, feels, and responds much more like his vision of the archetypal dual-EL84 British combo, namely, the Vox AC15. “I didn’t want to necessarily make the MK2 cleaner sounding, which often happens with a larger output transformer,” says Gerhardt. “Of all the traditional vintage amplifiers, the Vox AC15 had the largest output transformer relative to the output of its tubes. The original AC15 delivered a very big, fat feel with lots of air around the notes, and yet, it was never truly clean We worked hard to get the MK2’s balance correct, and to give it a bigger, more open sound that still compresses, saturates, and distorts like a snarly vintage amp.”
The Club Royale Mk2 has a broad, open tone with lots of harmonic saturation when cranked, but good clarity and definition throughout. Vintage Vox AC15 tones certainly come to mind, but there seems to be more chimey bloom and sparkle here at higher output levels than you might expect from a “small” vintage amp. And there’s also abundant low-end kick and serious grind when you thump it hard. In short, a small amp with big-amp tonal pretensions, in a revision that’s likely to please existing fans of the TopHat formula and win new ones along the way. —Dave HunterFor more information contact TopHat, (919) 762-9688; tophatamps.com
Welcome to Bass Player's December 2016 Links Page
Bass Player Live! 2016 Photo Recap
Somewhere Over the Rainbow with Bob Curiano (Nouveau) (WEB EXCLUSIVE)
Pro Sound Effects Releases Tokyo Ambisonics Library
Kaltman Creations Introduces Tablet RF Analyzer
Depeche Mode Announce 2017 Global Spirit Tour
Mark Gray Synth Solo
Output Announces New Exhale Expansion - Indie Vocals
Native Instruments Introduces Symphony Essentials
How Charlie Christian Defined the Electric Guitar and the Guitar Hero Myth
Is Taylor Swift the New Eddie Van Halen?
Paul Gilbert: â€œWhy My String Gauges Are Changing All the Timeâ€
Megadeth's Dave Mustaine Announces Special 'Thrashing Through the Snow' Holiday Acoustic Performance
Photo of the Day: Couple Takes Epic Engagement Photo with Black Metal Band
Whores Premiere First Ever Music Video for New Song, â€œI See You are Also Wearing a Black T-Shirt"
Former Yes Man Trevor Rabin Talks Favorite Guitars, Film Scores and "Owner of a Lonely Heart"
Country-Influenced Application of Hybrid Picking for Blues and Rock
Guitarist Shreds Country-Fried Version of John Coltrane's "Giant Steps"
Copyright ©2016 by NewBay Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved. 28 East 28th Street, 12th floor, New York, NY 10016 T (212) 378-0400 F (212) 378-0470