Price paid: $ 109.8
Purchased from: Cash Converters
Features: British-built Laney Hardcore Max HCM30R from Laney's 1998 series of amps. I play heavy rock and metal and the amp suits me fine (more below). It has two channels, clean and crunch (distortion), with an optional footswitch. It has a good reverb function and versatile tone settings. No effects loop, just Input. It has a headphone jack, external speaker out (supposedly, it can Drive a 4x12" cab, but I've never tried it). It also has CD/Aux In via phono, and I use it as my iPod amp or jam along to my iPod. I wish it had more onboard effects like chorus or delay, but I'm fine with using pedals. I use almost all the features bar the external output. I have this amp in my bedroom and it's far too powerful to use above setting one or two (one if clean, it's very powerful on the clean channel). It's solid-state but versatile. It has one 10" custom British-built HIH Invader driver. It takes a mono input, but can take stereo inputs via the Line In, but this is without any amp interference, all amp controls are bypassed. // 8
Sound: I use this amp with my Ibanez S470 (dual humbuckers and a single coil), my Cort KX5 (dual high-output MotherBuckers) and my Squier Strat (3 single coils). With single coils, mains hum is very evident past 5 on the Crunch channel. However, humbuckers make this thing really Shine. Distorted, it gives a really great crunch tone a about 7, good for Muse, Afi and Dream Theatre. Naturally, it can't match the tones these bands get as they use tube amps, but it can be close. The crunch distortion is fine for me, but I prefer fuzz at times, so I sometimes run my Fender MD-20 into it for a fuzz overdrive tone. It's only really noisy when you use distorted single coils or wind up a humbucker to max distortion, my Cort's MotherBuckers start humming past about 8 on the Crunch dial. With the reverb function, there are many tones you can get out of it. I generally have the reverb on full and the tone set to an Afi or Muse setting, with my Cort, this thing will do a pretty accurate impression of This Time Imperfect, and tht's where Jade Puget puts his Mesa Dual Rectifier to work! I've never tried it at high volumes because the clean channel is just so powerful! Striking a note on clean produces a loud, chiming sound that is very clear and very powerful. I can't set it more than 1.5 on clean volume, so by this reckoning, this amp would be gig-worthy, as I could wind it up quite nicely to fill a venue. The distortion is tasteful for a SS amp, not brutal at all. It is amazing when paired with my Ibanez' bridge humbucker, Alnico pickups really bring out the best in this amp. It's very versatile, so you can get many different tones out of it. // 8
Reliability & Durability: It's solid state, and built in Britain, not China like the later series, so this should work in its favour. I bought it in great condition second-hand, all dials in place, no scratches. The vinyl covering at the rear has peeled a bit, but it's not serious. The cabinet is made of strong chipboard. The speaker is protected by a strong steel mesh grill, when I bought it, this was unscratched, so it has never been gigged, but the grill should protect the fragile speaker if I were to gig with this amp. I'd gig this without a backup because it is solid-state, not as fragile as a tube amp, so there should be no problems. It's never broken down as there seems to be no need for servicing, it just works. Laney's website was easy to navigate and I found the owner's manual quickly. Other than that, never had to speak to Laney's tech support as this thing is excellent. Superb piece of Laney kit. // 10
Overall Impression: I'm into progressive rock and metal at the moment, Afi, Muse and Dream Theater spring to mind. It handles these genres quite well, though a tube amp would be better, or maybe a POD to simulate a tube amp. One day I'll own a Mesa Road King. I've been playing since January 2007, so a year and a few months now, but I'm very slow at improving. I'm not a master guitarist, it's a hobby, not a career. I just like having a guitar to play around on. I own three electric guitars, my Ibanez S470 (main guitar), Cort KX5 (project guitar) and Squier Affinity Strat (first guitar). I also own a tiny Fender MD-20 battery amp that I use for a good Muse sound, and whenever I'm out with my guitar, the battery amp comes with, as it just slips in my bag. Finally, I have a Korg 105od Classic Overdrive pedal that I no longer use as I prefer the amp's overdrive. I tried out this amp with my Strat in Cash Converters before I bought it as I was looking to upgrade from my pathetic Squier SP-10 practise amp, the Squier amp was so bad it had a mono headphone jack and only OD on/off, I had to vary the distortion using the Squier's volume dial. So I wanted something with a variable gain control and I got it right on cue. Nothing else needed to be asked, I tried it out and loved it.
If it were stolen, like my Ibanez, I'd track down the thief and steal it back. My gear is my gear, not anyone else's. Failing that, if I did a Matt Bellamy, threw my guitar into the amp and broke the amp more than the guitar, I'd have to say I'd go for a tube amp instead, because they suit my intended tone better. But the Laney is still good for clean, so for any clean spots in my songs, I might have an HCM30R present. I love the simplicity and variety of sounds you can get out of it. I love the fact that it's made in Britain, not China. I love the fact it was so cheap. I love how it works so well with all my guitars. I love the iPod input jack so I can jam along to songs. All in all, a great amp. Not much to possibly hate for a cheap, high-quality SS amp. I'd love a more tube amp-type tone, but that would require a tube amp, so no-can-do. No tube maintenance to take into account, the finish simply wipes clean and I's very strong and sturdy. I've tried this against my mate's near-identical HCM15R, his is he newer, made-in-China series so I much prefer my amp. It sounds better, I think. We've both played our Ibanez guitars through it and love the powerful sound. We'd probably both prefer onboard effects in these amps, as these are aimed at younger/beginner players, but for the price, you can't expect everything! Great job Laney! // 8