Pre Owned SMF Sonic Machine Factory 15 Watter EL-84 Tube Guitar Head and Combo All In One
We just took in a rare and unique amp: the SMF (Sound Music Factory) 15 Watter. It's both a head and a combo, built to the highest of standards, by some of the most legendary names in the boutique amp world.
Mark Sampson was the designer of renowned Class A tube guitar amplifiers (Matchless, Bad Cat) and began his tube circuitry design journey in childhood helping his father with vintage radios and TVs. Rick Hamel, who gained recognition for his Class A tube circuitry designs and SIB effects pedals, had already established a career in analog communications engineering by the '80s and was a frequent repairman and amplifier modifier for pro musicians. In 2005, SMF was shuttered, rendering its products scarce and highly sought-after.
The 15 Watter was the first in a line of “Watter” amps and offers all we’ve come to expect from “boutique” amp makers: hand wiring, class A circuitry, super-sturdy 11-ply Birch cab, all-steel chassis, professional-grade hardware, and military-spec components. So all the obligatory boxes on the checklist are marked off. Even though the SMF is only a 15-watter, it was plenty loud and would work well at most any gig, or in the studio.
The 15’s two-channel 12AX7 preamp section features a “Cruise” knob (volume), a “Hi Gain” knob, master volume, active treble/mid/bass/bright tone knobs, and a Reverb Control with it’s own tone knob!
Another innovation is the 15’s EL-84 output section, which features what SMF calls a “Tube Wall,” which isolates the amp’s circuit boards, pots, and various electronic components away from the heat and electrical fields generated by the tubes. It also isolates the transformer, thus minimizing noise.
Innovation #3 is the “Sonic Hatch,” a 7.5″ x 20.5″ swing-open door on the amp’s back panel. It’s purpose is no great mystery; instant cab tuning. “Cab tuning?” Basically it works like this: if you like your sound tight, with less free ring, shorter note decay, and more low-end, then close it up. If you’re more into your high-frequencies and prefer a faster, edgier attack with long note decay, plop it open. Quite ingenious!
Contributing to the 15’s unique aesthetic is a prevailing “oval” theme (oval speaker opening, oval silkscreening, oval logo) as well as chicken-head knobs, a choice of silver or dark grey grillecloth, and five tolex color options for the cab-front. Regardless of the combination, they add up to an amp with definite contemporary flare. In the “Sheer Eye Candy” department is the backlit logo panel, with its circular red LEDs that spin at a speed determined by you, the user!
From a player’s point of view, there’s little if anything to find fault with here. The SMF looks cool, throws some curveballs into the mix, grants tremendous user flexibility, and sounds fantastic. This one is in great shape, was recently serviced and has been tested to perfect working order. We've never had one in here before, and suspect this will be the only one we ever see. If you're interested, we'd suggest you grab this one before it's gone!
Type of Amp: All-tube Class A 1×12 combo.
Features: Hand-wired construction, 11-ply cab, all-steel chassis, mil-spec components, innovative “Sonic Hatch” and “Tube Wall,” footswitch included, top-quality tone.