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The first thing you’ll notice when pulling this badboy out of the box is its weight and size. With dimensions of 8.5” (W) x 5.125” (D) x 3” (H), this isn’t a small unit. It’s quite heavy too, coming in at just over 1.5kgs. Chanel 1 (clean) isn’t the type of Fender clean you might imagine. Like most British-inspired amps, ‘clean’ is served up with a healthy rattle of mild overdrive. Tonally, think more subtle harmonic overtones as opposed to actual dirt. It is noticable, however, and if you’re wishing to push your amp louder without adding any gain – this probably isn’t the right choice for you. In saying that, the Hotbox III offers up that chimey, biting sound that’s populated countless iconic recordings. Think Brian May’s guitar tone, or the cranked amps of The Kinks or The Beatles. If that’s what you’re looking for, then you’ve come to the right place.


Moving into Channel 2 (overdrive) one thing becomes abundantly clear. The Hotbox III will make any amp you’re playing through sound absolutely huge. The gain is thick, rich and chunky as hell, albeit complimented by that bell-like chime that we all know and love. It’s a tone that’ll cut through a mix like a knife through butter, but is still anchored by a beefy low-end. Marrying those two aspects is never easy, but in this case Matchless has unreservedly nailed it. Chords ring out with rich overtones, and single note lines seem to ‘bloom’ and change shape as they ring out. With sustain on tap for days, this is a pre-amp that offers a case in point example of classic rock tones and nails it to the wall in the process. From a mild crunch to a wailing lead tone, the Hotbox has you covered.


Realistically, if you’re playing primarily blues and rock styles – this could be the only effect you’ll need. It gives you more of what you’ve got already, focusing on bringing out the best in whatever guitar your playing and driving whatever amp you’re using to their highest point, all wrapped up in that Matchless quality and British EQ that’s been a hallmark of quintessential rock tones for years. For touring bands often using a variable backline, this will allow you to lock down your tone every time without carting around your own amp. Far from just a dirtbox, the Matchless Hotbox III is an investment that keeps on giving.