Big White Monkeys FG15 DC Tube Amp – Matchless 30 Clone!

Okay time for another review of some new gear from our friends Big White Monkey Amps on the Gold Coast Australia, this time in the form of their new hand wired amp, the FG15 DC.

First Up, the vid…

Okay, lets get into it, this amp is based on the Matchless 30 amp, well specifically the EF86 pre-amp section of that amp, which in turn is based on the old vintage Vox AC30s, some of which featured an EF86 tube in the pre-amp section.

Big White Monkeys FG15 DC Tube Amp - Front

Big White Monkeys FG15 DC Tube Amp – Front

This amp features, as mentioned, EF86 and 12AX7 pre-amp tubes, a pair of EL84’s in the power tube section, and finally a 5AR4 tube in the Rectifier.

As a point of interest, you can see that in the new Vox Handwired models, they have brought back this EF86 tube again, as many claim it has fantastic tone and is more true to vintage specs!

Finished off in a classic black tolex, white piping, classy vintage style black chicken head control knobs and the distinct BWM logo smiling at you, their is a lot to like about these new BWM amps?

On the back of the amp you have the typical ohm selection options, where you can switch between 4, 8 or 16 ohm speakers. There is also a switch that allows you to halve the power output from 15 to 7 watts.

This amp is very well constructed. The Turret board used is military spec and the hand wired components go through the board fully, so it’s not just cheapo PCB solder joints.

Big White Monkeys FG15 DC Tube Amp - Front-panel

Big White Monkeys FG15 DC Tube Amp – Front-panel

So how does it sound?

Well firstly let’s check out how to sculpture our sound through the interactive controls on this baby!

On the front panel there is a master volume with a push/pull switch, which will act as a bypass when you pull the Master Volume out, which then interacts with the volume of the Drive/Gain.

Similar to the Master Volume, the Gain also utilizes a Push/Pull design, when you pull it out, I noticed a strong volume jump as it bypasses the gain.

I personally prefer to use it pushed in, so I can play at more quiet levels. However cranking it up helps drive the pre-amp more and thicken the tone.

Big White Monkeys FG15 DC Tube Amp - Top

Big White Monkeys FG15 DC Tube Amp – Top

An interesting feature of this amp is the tone control, which instead of giving you free movement it has 6 set selections that I think are pretty good and cover a wide variety of the tonal spectrum, which can be further shaped with the tone Cut control, which as with the Vox AC30s, the tone Cut control rolls off the treble frequency to add extra versatility to the tone control positions.

The Bright switch is another great feature of the amp and makes it great for switching between humbucker type instruments (such as a LP) and single coil guiutars, such as a Strat or Tele.

It also acts as a bypass, which rolls off the highs and in the middle position can be a bit dull really.

Bright 1 position (on the bottom) is really nice, lots of lovely upper mids and trebles, sparkly and, ‘Gee’ it makes your pedals stand out with clarity.

Bright 2 (on the top) is also nice, a little less bright than the first position, which is probably best suited for when want to take off the harshness of a really bright guitar.

Big White Monkeys FG15 DC Tube Amp - Back

Big White Monkeys FG15 DC Tube Amp – Back

Humbucker instruments sounded great through this amp, as you can brighten and lift the tone, and when put through with some nice distortion/OD it is Rock Heaven, with a bitey, chimey, rich and dynamic response that I thought was vintage British VOX Rock through and through!

This amp has such lovely British/Vox tone that my urge to buy an AC30 has now been cured!

It is simply that good! The handwired quality shows in its clear, articulate and warm dynamic responsiveness.

I will mention that I preferred the amp when I was running it through a WGS ET65 speaker (gee what a great all-rounder for cleans and rock) whereas I thought the Celestion Vintage 30 had too many high mids for a Vox tone… When this amp is run through something that boosts your bass and lower mids to fill it out a bit, then you’ll have sparkle, chime (really CHIME sums up this wonderful tube amp) for days to come!

Lastly this amp is loud! You can play at quiet levels without an attenuator but probably best to have one!

Well done BWM amps for bringing out a cracker of an amp…I love it and probably a keeper for me!!

For more info on the BWM FG15 check out their Face Book page…

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About strataminor

Born in Brisbane I am a bedroom guitar player, although having played in front of churches (tough crowd!!) for quite a few years so some understanding of band dynamics, timing, gear (private use compared to public use) and melodic structure, instrumental breaks (okay leather pants solos....) and of course amps! Besides from my love of guitar and the G.A.S that goes with it (hey email me I am always offloading gear!! lol) I love languages, and can converse in basic Japanese, and study biblical Greek. I live in Logan with my young family (so not heaps of time at the moment) and will be contributing gear reviews based on a lot of gear I have or still currently have.

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