Price paid: $ 749
Purchased from: GearNuts.com
Sound — 9
I was starting to allude to it in the features but this amp can put out so many tones it is silly. I played this amp with two primary guitars, 1) Fender American Stratocaster, and a 2) Gibson 1961 SG Reissue. The humbucker guitar and this amp was love at first sight. The variance of tones was amazing, the clean channel was phenomenal and the dirty channel was pure aggression. Surprisingly, the amp retained crisp cleans even when the volume was all the way up. The gain knob on the clean channel is able to completely shape what sort of clean sound you want. Whether it is a very crisp clean or a very warm bluesy overdriven tone it was easy to achieve with the roll of that knob and your guitars own volume. The headroom with the amp even on half power was impressive and did not suck the tone out like I have noticed on most amps with half-power switches. I was impressed that with the 6L6's that it didn't sound too much like a Fender amp. I am personally a fan of Fender Blackface amps and their clean tone but the Ampeg has a unique clean. It had its own voicing and was not just a complete rip-off of the Fender Blackface clean which a lot of companies do (for good reason). You will find that the clean channel has a lot more headroom then most amps even with the gain knob dimed. The gain channel was a completely different beast that absolutely can take you by surprise. Channel 1 offers you low to moderate gain and Channel 2 starts right where Channel 1 left off. With the gain at the 9 o'clock position I was already getting the sound of a hard driving English amp that starts with an M and ends with arshall. The more you roll the gain up the more you get. Some amps can peak at halfway and there is no audible difference between 5/10 and 10/10. This was not the case. The gain just kept increasing and increasing and increasing. Now I am a blues/rock player by trait and my amp setup that I have at home does not allow me the flexibility to dive into other realms. This amp made it easy and fun to get to those other genres. By no means am I a Metal expert but I actually believe this would be able to do quite well with a little twisting of the knobs. I could easily see this amp fitting any bill for live use. At 50 watts it is plenty loud enough to keep up with the rest of the band. The speaker, a Celestion Seventy-Eighty, seems to be a perfect fit for the amp as it gives you the clarity and headroom necessary for the 50 watts. Most important for those who will use this live is that this amp easily cuts through the mix.
Overall Impression — 8
Overall the GVT series of amps seem to be winners. I have played two of them and they are built solidly and more importantly they both sound good. I was most impressed by the versatility of this amp. It was able to achieve a wide variety of tones; everything from very clean to hard rock/metal. I truly believe this could be a great workhorse for those who need one amp to do everything for them. You can obviously accentuate with pedals but just as is this amp can get you where you need to be. If you have the room and money you may want to have three or four different amps, and there is nothing wrong with that but if you want one amp that can do all of those amps very well then you don't need to look any further. This is not a modeling amp, this is not going to get you an exact Fender Blackface sound, nor will it perfectly nail a Marshall 1959SLP, but Ampeg is not looking to copy, they want you to have an Ampeg sound and hopefully someone will be copying this in 40 years. Enjoy your tone and happy pickin'. Feel free to contact me!
Reliability & Durability — 8
This amp really seems to be built well. Ampeg has been known for their reliability in the Bass world and it is apparent that they are carrying over everything they have learned from that. I don't see anything that would be problematic for this amp over the years. Construction is solid all the way around and every vital component is protected nicely. Only time will tell for those who gig with this amp often. Until then it will remain an 8.
Features — 9
Specifics are here: Ampeg GVT52-112 - Dual power modes - Full power 50 watts RMS - Half power 25 watts RMS - Dual channels with footswitchable gain boost - Ch. 1 low to moderate gain - Ch. 2 moderate to high gain - Preamp: Tube (3 x 12AX7) - Rectifier: Solid state - Power amp: Tube (2 x 6L6GC) - Speaker configuration: 1 x 12" Celestion - Tone controls: Baxandall treble, middle and bass - Effects: Spring reverb, footswitchable - Speaker outputs: 1 x 16 ohm, 2 x 8 ohm and 2 x 4 ohm - Cabinet: Open-back, void-free 15mm plywood - Footswitch: Channel switching / gain boost (included) - Footswitches: - GVT-FS1: channel switching / gain boost (included) - GVT-FS2: 2-button footswitch for reverb and effects loop on/off (sold separately) - Dimensions (H x W x D inches excluding handle approx.): 19.5 x 24.0 x 11.0 - Handling weight (approx.): 52.2 lbs / 23.7 kg Everything is here that you need to achieve an enormous variety of tones. I am going to try and only use the word versatility two times in this review but it is hard to not use it more. That is the only word that can describe the absolute immense amount of tones you can get out of this bad boy. The features on this amp were great because you can dial in any tone you want with ease. Not a modeler just pure tube tone with a lot of gusto. One thing I must really tip my hat to Ampeg for is that this has the longest power cable I have ever seen. I know it might seem silly to be so happy with that but when you are playing live outlets can be sparse, this is easily 3ft longer than any other cable I have.