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Fractal Audio AMP models: Boutique (Matchless Chieftain)


* EDIT: Up-to-date information is available in Yek's Guide to the Fractal Audio Amplifier Models *

Boutique: based on Matchless Chieftain

Matchless initiated the boutique amplifier craze in the '90s. Hence the name of this amp model. One of its founders was Mark Sampson. The amplifiers that were made during the time that he worked at Matchless are considered the best (“Sampson-era”). Matchless amps are often associated with country music (Nashville) but they are also used by bands like Kings of Leon. More information.

Matchless takes the Class-A tone to a higher level. The C-30 is their most famous amp (the DC-30 is modeled by Fractal Audio). The Chieftain is lesser known but a fine amp in its own right.

There are two Boutique models. “Boutique 2” is modeled with a boost for more gain and high-frequency emphasis.

The Chieftain is a single channel 40 watts amp, with a single input jack and two EL34 tubes. Medium-gain amp, thick, yet crisp, with a fair amount of power amp breakup.

The preamp on the Chieftain Reverb employs a 12AX7A tube for the first preamplifier and an EF-86 (6267) tube in the tone control circuit. It uses four 12AX7s for the pre-amp, tone controls, and reverb.

The Volume control sets the gain of the first preamp stage. It acts as a sensitivity control and a drive control.

The Master Volume control adjusts the overall gain of the output amplifier. For maximum clean headroom set the Master to its maximum position. For dirtier sound, lower the Master and turn up Volume.

Bass, Middle and Treble are interactive. The Bass control has a very wide range. Excessive amounts of bass can cause floppiness and lack of definition at high volume settings.

The Brilliance control on the modeled amp adjusts the overall high frequency response of the power amplifier. It is used to smooth out high frequency edginess or bring it forward. It offers extra flexibility and tone shaping by widening or narrowing the broad-band response of the amplifiers. Brilliance is mapped to the Hi-Cut control in the model. Defaults is "0", I like it much better around “5”.

Read the manual for more information about the controls.

Matchless amplifiers commonly use a combo of custom G12-H and G12-M speakers. We’ve got them in our devices: look for the Boutique stock cabs.

A selection of YouTube videos:

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A personal note:

I keep a collection of AMP+CAB presets on my Axe-Fx. Those are my favorite models. I regularly update them.

The Boutique model isn’t among them. That is a mistake and I’m going to fix that omission.

The Boutique 1 model with Master cranked, Hi-Cut around 12 o’clock, low Bass and Input Drive anywhere between 2 and 6, is a delight to play. I love the power amp compression created by the high Master setting. Reminds me of Earth Wind and Fire.

I'm less excited by the “high input drive + low master” setting, or by the Boutique 2 model.


Fractal Fanatic
Sweet - I will definitely re-visit this one tonight

Most of your posts inspire me to make a preset based on the specific amplifier, and I have found several gems that I would probably have missed.


So, do I get that right - the Boutique 1 is the authentic model, and Boutique 2 with the gain and high boost is not reflecting the real amp / any real amp? Just curious. I like both models A LOT.


Been looking for an amp to get me a few presets with a chimey kind of clean that I associate with what I think a Vox should be but with the Vox models I always end up with too much gain. I'm gonna try this tonight.


Power User
Love that Grissom stuff. He's one of the blues rock tone gods for me. I've seen him a couple of times in Austin in the last couple of years and he's got amazing tone at reasonable levels with a PRS amp and a bunch of pedals. He was so loud when I heard him in Storyville with a Marshall full stack that you couldn't find any place in the club where you could hear both him and David Holt because they'd pulled him completely out of the PA in a thousand person club. Tone was incredible though. Later heard him with some Matchless at very reasonable stage volume with Joe Ely, but it didn't sound nearly as good. His current rig is really great at very reasonable levels.

I had a Matchless Chieftain. Fantastic amp. I sold it because I felt like I was rarely getting full value out of it. It sounded better and better the louder you turned it up and it was really freaking loud all the way up. Some of the best sounds I ever got were with a PRS McCarty into an original Klon into that amp. I haven't used the Axe version much, but I'll have to revisit it.

Thanks for the inspiration.


Fractal Fanatic
As much as I love Matchless Amps in real life and the DC30 in the Axe. I've never been able to bond with this one....may have to give it another shot


will have a look at this amp for sure.
the nice thing is that i already have atomica in my favorites as humanwise you alway go first with what you know. but with this nice entry (witch i look at daily now) i definitely will go for different amps.
thanks Yek!


Power User
This amp, to me anyway, was Matchless amp's version of a Marshall. I don't know how the circuit design compares, but I always thought of this amp as a Marshall type variant w/ some amount of VOX thrown in. I had one long ago as well, but traded it towards an early 70's Marshall head. Both required a lot of volume to get to their sweet spot, of course. In all honesty, I don't think I knew what I was doing well enough back then to appreciate this amp.


Forgot about this amp....when I first got my IIXL, this was one of my well used stock presets....since then, I have many other favorites, but will fire this one back up tonight. Thanks again Yek, for all the effort


Fractal Fanatic
I had a very good evening with this amp - I think the clean sound og Boutique 1 is the closest I have found yet to my Koch Studiotone tube amp. I did not even really get into the gritty sounds, but they actually sounded pretty good too :)
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