Price paid: $ 250
Sound — 6
The tone of the amp itself is pretty poor. There is little control or shaping. I suggest an eq pedal if you are concerned about tone. I use a Fender P bass, and Rogue fretless and 5 string fretted. The Rogue basses have surprisingly good tone after placing dimarzios in each. The amp does not provide a great sound. When at home, just like the average UGer I play a bunch of random songs that come up in my media player. The amp is great for practicing alone and playing songs in this fashion. When I'm with my band, however, I often wish I could get a better sound out of the head. The power is extremely nice, no worries about it being too weak and quiet. My band is a mix of grind and -core influences. I often switch between a clanky tone like that of cannibal corpse, necrophagist, job for a cowboy, etc and a much darker tone that resonates through the low end spectrum. My tone is contingent upon the particular amount of double bass used in the song though, obviously it would change between different band's sound.
Overall Impression — 9
The amp is suitable for most any style of music, the tone comes mainly from the player and the guitar itself. For fast paced thrashing gore and death songs, the amp tends to be a little poppy and distorts slightly. for 300$ though, the power it provides is an equal trade for the poorer tone quality. This amp is the first head/cab setup, I've been playing through a series of progressively larger Fender combos. After my 115 combo crapped out, I decided to get this so I wouldn't have to push it as hard at practice or at a show, which wided up killing my last amp. Compared to other gk products, this is a good buy for the price. The goldline series is more expensive but isn't as good of a deal. The higher end series are out of my reach financially, so this Backline series is the best way to go. If you are getting your firt head/cab deal, these cheap little guys are definitely the way to go. No use blowing 700$ on the cheapest Ampeg head when you could get your whole setup for less with the backline series. Also, buy an EQ and distortion pedal rather than rely on the features of this head.
Reliability & Durability — 6
I would not use this amp without a backup. The amp has an internal switch that kills the amp when it "overheats," which is regularly when playing in a garage or venue in florida anytime from april to september. There is a small fan in the amp, but it helps more to have a box or rotating fan blowing on the head at all times. Other than this problem, the amp itself is extremely sturdy for a measly 13 pound amp. The head is so small that it looks goofy atop the bulky blx cabinets. You'll love the size and durability of the thing, as long as you keep the temperature under control.
Features — 7
The head is rated at 300 watts. As it is desgned to work with the backline series of cabs, it has either a 300W at 8 ohm or 200W at 2x 4 ohm impedence. The amp has a 4 band active eq, treb, low mid, high mid, bass, none of which drastically alter the tone. The contour option does provide a better means of shaping your sound. The most useful features if the amp are the FX loop and the tuner out. The tuner out helps tune up while playing without having to cut your input. The direct XLR out on the amp has severe problems. The overdrive channel is joke, the tone is complete crud. The -10 db pad is useful for practicing at home when not competing with drummer. As for power, the backline series provides a decent bang for your buck. I have it paired with the GK 210BLX and GK 115BLX, and it is extremely loud for such a cheap head and cab. The 210 allows the highs of pops and hammerons to ring clearly and the 115 provides a solid low end that will carry your band's sound to the fullest.