Top Hat Club Royale
Format: 1x12 combo
Preamp Tubes: Three 12AX7s
Controls: Dual inputs with master,
cut, bass, mid, treble, and volume
knobs and a fat-off-bright voicing switch
Speaker: Celestion G12H
Price: $1899 street (Also available
as a 2x12 combo for $2,099 street.)
For Top Hat, Vox-style amps are old hat—the
company’s takes on British chime have been
favorites of tone connoisseurs for years. When it
comes to AC15-style circuits, the Club Royale’s
interpretation serves up a range of tones from
very traditional jangle to heavy gain.
Locke: I’m really impressed. There’s a
versatility to this amp—the amount of gain
on tap is great, and the way the bass, mid,
treble, and cut controls interact with each
other is very useful. There’s not a bad setting
on the amp, and it was easy to switch
from my SG to a Stratocaster. The boost
switch—and the amount of gain you get
with it—means you don’t really need to put
a pedal in front of the amp. I was able to
get plenty of sustain for lead parts.
One thing you need to be careful about
with smaller 1x12 amps like this is the
bottom end getting loose and falling apart
when you play with more gain. But this
amps is very tight, and each of the controls
does what it should so you can really carve
out a variety of different tones. I can’t say
enough about the build quality, too. You
could do almost anything with this amp—
you could make a whole record with a
couple different guitars and this amp.
Derrico: This amp is killer.
It’s got a nice bark and it’s really
chimey, with a nice amount of
gain, too. For a combo, it sounds
big. I plugged in and it took,
literally, a second to dial it up.
My philosophy is, if it takes you
more than two minutes to dial
in a good sound, then it’s the
Trovato: My first impression
of this amplifier is that it’s a
Cadillac—it looks classy. And it’s
got plenty of wattage for a small
gig, which is a feature that I really
appreciate. I set the amp up with
master volume up all the way, then
turned the gain up so that it was
almost breaking up. When I set it
there and adjusted the rest of the
tone controls, it sounded just great.
It’s big, it’s robust, and when I
started playing the distortion pedal
through it, it didn’t get muddy.
However, I don’t really like to carry
any extra gear to a small gig, and
this amp does not have reverb, so
right off the bat I’m going to have
to bring a pedalboard with reverb or
something to get some time delay.