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9 of the Best Matamp Style Pedals

Ananashead EffectsBoost and OverdriveDistortionDoom in AnalogDriveDunn EffectsJohn K Vintage GuitarsMidnight AmplificationMinotaur Sonic TerrorsMonstro EffectsMoose ElectronicsOverdrivePepers' Pedals+-
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In the wake of my articles on the Sunn Model T and Harmonic Percolator style pedals - I felt I should round up that series with coverage of another amp-based pedal from within that general ball park and around about that general era. The subject of our focus this time is the slightly less-well known Matamp, which is often associated with Orange Amplifiers and there was certainly crossover at one stage in their history.

 

Matamp’s story goes back to the post-war years of the late 40’s when founder Mat Mathias started RadioCraft in Hudderfield - this later morphed into MAT Records and when Mat joined forces with amp designer Tony Emerson in the early 60’s the name became Matamp (Mat And Tony AMPlifiers). Their very fist amp the GT120 was an immediate success and picked up fans in Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac and Graham Gouldman of 10CC.

 

Tony later left the company and a new partnership was started with one Cliff Cooper - owner of the Orange Music Store. The new partnership was named Cooper-Mathias Ltd and this started producing Orange Matamp Amplifiers in the same Huddersfield workshop as before. So successful was this partnership that in 1971 Orange Matamps outsold even Marshall.

 

Not long after their big success the two partners parted ways and later in 1991 when Matamp needed a big push for their GT120 relaunch - they decided to associate the amp with its most illustrious player - and thus the Green Matamp (Peter Green) was born. To further complicate matters Matamp’s US distributor also made its own clones of the GT120 after dissolution of their partnership - so you have quite a number of overlapping similar amps including the original Matamp GT120, the Orange OR120, the Green Matamp and various other monikers. In fact Matamp is still going strong nowadays but sits somewhat under the radar for most and slightly in the shadow of its former partner Orange.

 

In this feature the pedals here are purported to be inspired by either the original GT120, the Green Matamp, or just the core 120 platform that many made versions of, however they were named. As many of these pedals seem now to be discontinued - I considered aborting this article at one stage, but not wanting to waste the research and time gone into this exercise - I thought I may as well publish this anyway - as much as a historical record as an actual buyer’s guide!

 

Of course I’ve covered 2 fairly recent derivations here - Ananashead’s GT73 PreAmp and Monstro’s Bat the Amp - while the rest here are something of a mixed bag, with several of these now discontinued and/or out of circulation - although some do pop up occasionally on Reverb.com.

 

For my own needs I’ve yet to decide if I really need/want this flavour in my Tone Library - and which enclosure size I would be comfortable with. As is usually the case though it of course depends on overall wishlist priorities and pricing and availability. I don’t yet consider this a priority though - more of a ’nice to have’.

 

Pedals are listed alphabetically by brand as usual:


Ananashead Effects GT73 PreAmp Overdrive - €140 (Ananashead.com)

This pedal has already featured in my 'Best of Spanish Builders' post and was one of the two here that inspired this very particular article - yet it turns out that the Matamp is not quite the perennial favourite I thought it might be - as most of those pedal models are discontinued now - while this GT73 is very much bang up-to-date. You get 6 dials - Presence | Bass | Drive | Volume | Treble | Bass-Boost - although I would probably want a modern concession here in the form of some sort of mids control/ Nevertheless this is a sterling pedal of the type and gives you very much that original raunchy - fuzz-edged drive that these early 70s amps were so well known for.


Doom in Analog Electric Blanket - $199 (facebook.com/DoomInAnalog)

This Australian builder will soon be covered in my forthcoming Australian and New Zealand feature. The website does not seem to be up to much at the moment, but the Facebook presence is very much active - with a Store attached too. 5 controls on this medium enclosure example - Master | Treble | Bass | Presence | Gain. Not sure about the choice of blue livery - possibly they did not want to be associated with the white or green of Matamp or the Orange of that famous amp builder. In any case an unusual name and reference to the original G120 / OR120 genre - but nonetheless definitely one of the contenders in this category. Strangely though - no demo videos? Possibly another one gone to seed?


Dunn Effects Zealot Overdrive (discontinued) - c£120 lightly used (Reverb.com)

Another 6-knob medium vertical enclosure edition this time with - High | Low | Gain | Volume | Boost | Input knobs. These seem to have been out of production for a while but do turn up occasionally on Reverb.com. This is a suitably grungy version of the format as born out by the above demo - which I quite like too. Might be worth a gamble next time one of these materialises and providing its in reasonable condition.


John K Vintage Green PreAmp - £299 (JohnKVintageGuitars.homestead.com)

Currently listed as Sold Out on the John K Vintage Guitars site - this is a compact version of the Green Matamp - coming with 5 controls - Bass | Treble | Gain | Boost | Master. It's indicated as a Bass PreAmp - but then again we know several of those more raucous Bass Amps - like the Ampeg SVT picked up a loyal guitar following too - so this should certainly be prime territory too. Unlike the Butterfly Effects Green Meanie Overdrive which never looks like it got off the ground - several batches of these seem to have been made, and in theory it looks to be still 'orderable' in some respect. I really wanted a few more compact enclosure options - but it seems like they are few and far between nowadays! Again no video demo available, but a there is a somewhat inconclusive bass sound file demo - this is another one for the gamblers!


Monstro Effects Bat The Amp '68 Overdrive - Brazilian R$455 / c$120 (MonstroEffects.com.br)

Currently available only in/from Brazil - and part of my recent Central and South American Builder coverage - this was the second Matamp pedal - Green on this occasion, that sparked off this overview. Another 5-Knob edition - Gain | Boost | Master | Treble | Bass. Really decent demo - although distance and high delivery fees may limit its appeal to European buyers. Possibly makes sense to those located within the Americas. A rather striking and suitably Matamp green enclosure with Mostro's typical visual flourish.


Midnight Amplification Holy Mountain (discontinued) - C£180 when new (try Reverb.com)

This alas is one of the former Australian greats that has gone to ground. Midnight Amplification had an extensive range of pretty decent pedals, but seems to have been impacted by manufacturing inefficiencies and quality control issues which seem to have led to to the demise of this builder. Its pedal roster was significant though, and it will be included in my forthcoming Australia / New Zealand overview. The Holy Mountain is a classic 5-knob iteration of the Matamp style PreAmp - Ascend (Presence) | Base (Lows) | Summit (Highs) | Guide (Gain) | Master (Volume). This is one of the better sounding ones - and these do appear occasionally on Reverb.com - so worth hunting one down if you can find it.


Minotaur Sonic Terrors Fuzz & Burn - €110 (MinotaurST.com)

I included MST in my Greek Builders overview - and this is one of their more standout productions. Not exactly a Matamp replica - but very much in that territory - and taking you further into Doom and Stoner Rock. The pedal has two simple one knob sides effectively - with the Burn/Growl side being the Overdrive and the Fuzz/Sludge side the Fuzz - while the Heavy/Heavier switch adjusts the low end character of the Fuzz for quite a different tone. Each of the dials is both Volume and Gain for that side of the pedal.


Moose Sledgehammer Distortion Pedal - €220 (MooseElectronics.bigcartel.com)

This is a really cool pedal from Irish builder Moose Electronics - with no less than 8 dials - Volume | Clean | Boost | Gain | Treble | Mids | Mid Freq | Bass; and the a further three toggle switches for adjusting Frequency Q, Low Pass Filtering and Clean Blend. This is not specifically a Matamp replica - but very much aims to cover both Matamp and Ampeg SVT style territory. You certainly have a lot of tone-shaping on tap here - which is probably just as well as I am unable to find any demos as of this moment - another one possibly worth a gamble.


Pepers' Pedals Green Bastard - $149 (PepersPedals.bigcartel.com)

At last - a current and available Green Matamp style pedal in compact enclosure - or is it? YouTube pedal demo is from December 2018 and talks about opening up pre-orders, but there are currently only 3 pedals available on the Peper's Pedals store - and none of those is this Green Bastard. If/when this becomes available - this may be the preferred form factor to acquire this pedal type in - 5 knobs on this one - Level | Gain | Moar (Boost?) | Bass | Treble.


Final Thoughts

This has ended up a really weird category in the end! I thought there would be a lot more competition here - and although there are several decent mid-size enclosure takes on the Matamp - I'm not 100% clear on which is the standout ambassador here. I really struggled to find reference and collateral too for much of this category - and should also mention the Fuzzlord FET120 Weedian Overdrive but could not find any demos for that either.

 

I automatically discounted a couple of behemoth takes on this genre - the large format Kuro Custom Audio T120 and Lone Wolf Audio LWA120 (discontinued). Several players rate the Kuro Custom T120, and it kind of makes sense if it's your main or only drive tone - but is otherwise a really big pedal for a single voicing (also just one footswitch!)

 

In the Compact enclosure category we also have the never yet materialised Butterfly Effects Green Meanie Overdrive and the discontinued older Friday Club PD100 Overdrive.

 

In my ideal world - there should be a compact format 6-knob, dual footswitch version of this with independent boost. In the absence of that your options are limited to the Fuzz & Burn, GT73 and Sledge Hammer (Europe), Bat Amp (Americas) or stalking Reverb.com for the possibility of older versions showing up. Matamp should really start doing their own pedal versions I would have thought. For me personally I always feel that with a medium or larger enclosure you should really have dual footswitches / extended range. So if I really had to go for one of these - then it would probably be the GT73 - but of course I really want a more compact pedalboard-friendly enclosure!

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
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