MJW Goldstar / Roadstar 18 / Bantam / 'Twang King'

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juansolojuansolo Frets: 1656
edited May 2016 in Amp Reviews
If you don't like gushing, best stop reading now.

I like Martin's amps a lot. The quality of the craftsmanship, the attention to detail and the ability for him to customise them to your needs are just a few reasons why.

My first amp from the MJW stable came from a very specific need. A very low wattage amp used only indoors for testing pedals. So essentially an amp I could crank without going deaf in a very small room. That amp was a Goldstar 6V6. Coming in at 5 watts you could dime it and still be heard over the top of it. You'd be shouting a little, but you'd be heard.

Sonically I'd wanted that one to stay more on the clean side of things so it didn't really break up unless you gave it a lot of push and turned everything up to 10. But again that's how I wanted it and it served me well for a long long time.

I also got to compare it directly to a 10 watt EL34 version which adds a very 'Marshally' crunch to proceedings and a little more oomph. Ideal for getting that crunchy tone at sensible home volumes.

The only reason the Goldstar inevitably got sold was because I got a cracking deal on a Roadstar 18. What I consider to be one of the best all round amps I've ever heard. At it's heart there's the much used Dominator, but this one had all the toys; active loop, power scaling and boost. With the gain, boost and power scaling it had what I can only describe as gain shaping. As you can move the distortion around the circuit essentially, it can do everything from clean to cranked Marshall to even full on stoner (which was a surprise!) with a little bit of a push! It takes a while to get your head around, but it's all there. For an amp with a simple tone control, there's a lot of versatility on offer here.

The Roadstar only left due to space constraints, and Martin built me a Bantam which is essentially a stripped down Roadstar. Which I still have and have no intention of parting with.

Covering the Fender side of things is the Twang King ( the name is my fault ;) ). It's a Princeton Reverb clone in a head cab with a matching 2x10 cab with alnico speakers. We've compared this directly to a Fender and I can only describe it as a Princeton Plus. It's the same tone, but with more size, tightness and oomph. It's actually shocking how much bigger it sounds and how hard it hits for a little amp. I can't remember who was around last and tried it and kept disbelievingly repeating 'a Princeton shouldn't be able to do that!'. It does, and I'll never sell it.

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Comments

  • earwighoneyearwighoney Frets: 1443
    Nice group review!  

    Does your Princeton Reverb clone have a valve rectifier?  It seems it and the Bantam cover your bases really well.  
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  • juansolojuansolo Frets: 1656
    It does indeed. It's a pure clone, mostly. The only deviations come from it being in a head which meant it couldn't use a 2 spring long tank so it has a 3 spring short instead (due to proximity to the transformers, which are also correct), and Martin changed the way the vibrato socket was wired so it defaults to off rather than on as it would normally (reverb defaults to on).


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  • martinwmartinw Frets: 1483

    Thanks for the review John! :)


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  • menamestommenamestom Frets: 1868


    Nice review John.  We had a good test side-by-side with my PRRI and they were very similar, but I concur the MJW sounded bigger with better low end.  The cab obviously helped but I think it was more than that, possibly more substantial transformers as well  @martinw ?

    Still happy with my prri as I like the small combo format, but if I could I'd have one of these for the studio

    :)
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  • martinwmartinw Frets: 1483


    Nice review John.  We had a good test side-by-side with my PRRI and they were very similar, but I concur the MJW sounded bigger with better low end.  The cab obviously helped but I think it was more than that, possibly more substantial transformers as well  @martinw ?

    :)

    The trannies are the same spec as the original ones for the PR, but possibly better quality than the ones used in the reissue.

    Either that, or an accumulation of marginally better quality components or layout changes over the new amp?

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  • menamestommenamestom Frets: 1868
    martinw said:


    Nice review John.  We had a good test side-by-side with my PRRI and they were very similar, but I concur the MJW sounded bigger with better low end.  The cab obviously helped but I think it was more than that, possibly more substantial transformers as well  @martinw ?

    :)

    The trannies are the same spec as the original ones for the PR, but possibly better quality than the ones used in the reissue.

    Either that, or an accumulation of marginally better quality components or layout changes over the new amp?

    Could be Martin.  Or even valves as well, the JJ 6v6's may have played a part, mine are the original EH ones. 
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  • juansolojuansolo Frets: 1656
    edited May 2016
    Mine has a pair of lovely Brimar 6V6s in it along with a brace of JJ's for everything else. The best 6V6 valves that money can buy IMO, they don't rattle like the JJs and they just have a sweet, sweet break up on them.

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  • DaiCappDaiCapp Frets: 129
    Good read - pretty certain a Goldstar 1x10 6V6 will be my next amp purchase...
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  • DominicDominic Frets: 2404
    lovely amp
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  • LozboyLozboy Frets: 36
    Great review thks.
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