#1
yes, I know this type of question is beat to death around here. but I'd like to get the recommendation from one thread rather than having to sift through 500 threads.

I'm looking for an amp. a head, not a combo. my price range is up to around $2000 but I would PREFER to keep it less than $1500 new or used. playing one ahead of time isn't really an option because the only dealer around here sells only Fender and Line 6/modeling type amps. I'm NOT buying another Fender.

amp needs to be versatile and have good cleans, but with a nice "compressed" type dirty sound. I want it for blues, classic rock, grunge, and some metal (not death metal). some amps I've looked at:

Mesa Express 5:25 or 5:50. definitely in the price range. I like the wattage variable thing. they supposedly have good cleans. the reviews I've read are mixed.

Bogner Shiva. at the top end of the price range, I'd have to buy used off ebay most likely. supposedly have the be-all end-all of cleans but the reviews I've read on the overdrive is kind of mixed (I do have a good overdrive and distortion pedal though).

Dr Z ? again, great great cleans from what I've read but questionnable in the overdrive department.

another type of Mesa. the Road King and Mark V are most likely out of the question due to price. If I had to buy used, I'd probably be worried about reliability.

Marshall. JCM series or a 410H. no problem with the dirt, but the cleans are probably questionnable. and again, I'd probably have to buy used and reliability is a question with both Marshalls and Mesa from what I've heard.

any other recommendations.

I play Hendrix, SRV style stuff. as well as stuff like Alice in Chains/Pearl Jam/Soundgarden. Skynard/ACDC/Zep. and older Metallica. I do have a Radial Tonebone that can do Metallica pretty well so if the amp doesn't go quite that heavy, should be ok.
#2
cant go wrong with a mesa

Epi LP Custom EMGs
ESP H-1000
Schecter Elite 7
Jackson Dominion
Peavey Valveking Head
Jet City JCA24s
Blackstar HT20 & HTV212
MXR Pedals
Schecter Stiletto Custom
Schecter Stiletto Studio
Fender Vintage Modified
Ampeg B2RE
Fender 4x10 Cab
#3
You could get a used Boogie Mark III or IV.
E-peen:
Rhodes Gemini
Fryette Ultra Lead
Peavey 6505
THD Flexi 50

Gibson R0 Prototype
EBMM JP13 Rosewood
Fender CS Mary Kaye

WTLT

(512) Audio Engineering - Custom Pedal Builds, Mods and Repairs
#4
Going used shouldn't bother you. It is safe as long as you go about it intelligently.
I would say that you should get a Splawn SuperStock. All of the Marshall tones you want with the ability to get heavy enough for whatever you desire to play.