The Independence is Matchless’ first three-channel amp, and it can handle anything you throw at it, from sweet country twang, to shit-your-pants metal. The first channel offers warm and pristine clean tones. Add the second channel for anything from a slight crunch to grin-inducing distortion. The third channel offers yet more fuzz and drive to sculpt your sound. With these channels, bass and treble EQs, a cut knob and master volume, one is hard pressed to not find several unique and creative settings.
In short, going from a low-end Peavey or even a midrange Fender amp to the Independence can feel like going from a Huffy to a Haybusa. While this quality is in the eye of the beholder and all of its many biases, several veteran sets of ears agreed that this tone is something special. And it’s not only a joy to hear, it inspires new ideas and instills confidence in your playing.
Unfortunately, the Independence 2×12 combo also resembles a Bentley in its incredible mass. It weighs a spine-fusing 73 pounds. I literally almost threw up carting it around (granted, I myself weigh 130 pounds). My back wails at the thought of taking this thing to gigs and loading it in and out. You’ll need a roadie to do this for you, if you still want to be able to stand on stage.
And a lot of people who own Matchless amps can probably afford a roadie. That’s because this baby will set you back over $4K (only $3,826 if you forgo its fabulous reverb unit, which I wouldn’t recommend). Sure, it’s likely worth every penny, but that’s still a lot of pennies when amps at half the price will probably do just fine.
On the other hand, the Independence is an absolute tank, so if you’re a regular touring musician and you add up all your repair costs over the years for your cheaper amp, you may just about break even. Or at least that’s how you can rationalize it in your head. As for me, I’m wondering if Matchless will believe it got lost in the mail.
Photo: Jon Snyder/