Purchased from: Highway Music, Shepparton, Australia
Sound — 8
At the moment I'm using this amp with two guitars: Ibanez RG 320, and Ibanez GAX70. Because of RG's tonal versatility, this amp generally sounds good in most conditions, although solid state is not a tube at high volumes, unfortunately. Distortion-wise it's usually at its best with gain about 7-8 for "scooped" metal tone, and about 5-6 with presence and shape kept around the 6 and 4 mark respectively. The GAX gives a really dark, raw colour to the tone, and both can sound a bit muddy at mid-gain settings, but that could be the player, not the amp. Played in the open space (or with good echo and hall-like acoustics), it really frees up, so that's a benefit, especially with reverb. Sound-wise amp can deliver the most crystal-clear clean tone that is more sparkling than christmas sparklers that you buy, which is great for sparse, haunting single notes or funk chords (in particular with bridge pickup engaged), or anything you could possibly wish for. Distorted, gain is best kept about 7 or 8, but can work fine in lower regions as well (although I haven't mastered that one yet). Screaming unison bends, smoking blues, crushing chords and metal riffing, or Creed-like melodic solos. Or maybe even bits of Joe Satriani and Carlos Santana. whatever it is, it's all fair game. Clean can distort when using the RG, but that's partly due to its high-output pickups, with the volume of the clean channel about 5-7, and with mid around 4, bass and treble around 7-8. The distortion, however, will make faint-hearted cry for their mummy and have nightmares for weeks. Brutal, merciless and all-powerful.
Overall Impression — 8
As I play and listen to a lot of different styles, I'd say this amp is a good all-rounder, a 40-watt that sounds like an 80, thx to the 12-inch Celestion. So it is a good match with my guitars - I've been playing for two years and got to know most of the traits of both the guitars and the amp. If it was stolen or lost I'd opt for an Ibanez half-stack ($1200, 80 watt) or the same class of Ashton, as they make great amps.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I'd use it on a gig without a backup, already have... mostly because I can't afford a backup:(... It hasn't broken down ever but at one rehearsal with my band we smelt something electrical. Probably wasn't it cuz that was a year ago, and it still plays just as fine.
Features — 8
I purchased this amp as my "graduation" from practice amps into the "proper" market. I bought it in 2002 to complement my Ibanez RG 320, and to get more out of the guitar than my 10-watt amp could provide, and so far it hasn't given me any trouble. The amp is fairly versatile, although I have some favourite settings - but I guess that is just a matter of preference. The amp features two channels (clean and distortion), and a reverb, both the channels and reverb being accessible via an optional 2-button footswitch, which I of course got, although it cost me extra $60 (1 for the channels, and 1 for reverb). The amp features headphone jack, as well as line out and a jack for the external speakers, should you desire to get some extra sound out of the combo. As it is, I don't think there are any specific features that I wish it had, because you can't get 3 channels usually on a 40-watt amp, but I'd love to see some more tonal verstatility for the dirty channel (level, gain, shape and presence at the moment, as opposed to clean's level, mid, bass, and treble, with a master reverb control). Still, for the price it's a great selection with a killer tone and very reliable. I don't really use all the inputs (headphones and stuff) but my reverb and both channels are hard at work. This is a great amp, as it is awesome in bedroom conditions, and it can also hold it up with the best at a gig (club-size venue). I gigged it before, and it hasn't let me down in terms of sound/volume or reliability. It is a solid-state combo, which is good in my case because I can take it to a lot of places even in small cars, and it's not that hard to carry around as it's relatively light. It's 40-watt, and loaded with a 12-inch Celestion speaker which makes an awesome reliable combination.