Matamp Amplification has quite a history. The
tale begins with German radio engineer Mat
Mathias, who fled Germany for England during
World War II when he was just a child. In
1945, he joined a radio repair business called
Radio Craft, and which he eventually purchased.
Mathias developed the first Matamp
model—the Series 2000—in 1964. Like many
guitar amps of the day, it incorporated ideas
from contemporary hi-fi circuits. The Series
2000 gained a devoted following after Peter
Green used one to record Fleetwood Mac’s
“Albatross.” In 1968, Matamp’s most famous
product, the 100-watt Orange Matamp, made
its debut. Over the years, Matamp products
have gained cult status among collectors and
players. Though Mathias died in 1989, the company
continues to build tube amps in a converted
mill workshop in West Yorkshire, England.
In 2005, Matamp joined the low-wattage amp
party with their MiniMat head, and in 2007 they
updated the original design with a valve-driven
(rather than chip-driven) boost and a Master
Volume, and rechristened it the MiniMat II.
Take a Tour
Even by miniature amplifier standards, the 12"
x 7 1/4" x 6 1/2" MiniMat II head is diminutive.
Sporting one Edicron 6V6GT power tube
and two JJ ECC83S preamp tubes, the head
delivers four watts of power.
The MiniMat’s front panel offers a single input
and four controls: Gain, Boost, Volume, and
Tone. The Boost knob lets you preset additional
gain and turn it on and off with a footswitch.
The rear panel provides 16- and 8-ohm speaker
outputs, a footswitch jack for the Boost circuit, a
mono RCA direct out, and a handy power attenuator
that’s wired to the 8-ohm speaker jack.
After eyeballing the exterior, I couldn’t
resist peering inside. Sliding the chromed
chassis out from the head shell, I inspected
the component layout and milling, and was
impressed by the impeccable workmanship.
Matamp products are all handmade, and the
company’s attention to detail really shows
with the MiniMat II.
Plugging in a Gibson Les Paul Custom with
Tom Anderson pickups, I began exploring the
MiniMat II’s sonic palette. For my initial tests,
I used a Matamp 112S cabinet, loaded with
a single 25-watt Celestion G12M Greenback
speaker. In short order, I was rewarded with
superb, smooth tones reminiscent of several
mid-’70s Orange heads I’ve had the pleasure
of playing over the years. For those unfamiliar
with that era of Orange models, the highs
are very smooth and biting, and the strong,
growling midrange is supported by a fuzzy,
blooming low end. The MiniMat II captured
this tone extremely well, though it lacked the
thick, fuzzy lows. That’s not surprising, though,
because you can only create that type of
burly bottom by pushing a high-wattage amp
through a speaker cabinet with several drivers.
Because of this, the MiniMat II’s drive tone is
compelling, but somewhat limited.