Price paid: £ 90
Purchased from: Online Auction
Sound — 9
This is a tube amp, and it comes fitted with Electro Harmonix Valves which have a good clean sound, and distort pretty good. I'm tempted to fit JJ's when it needs servicing, but then it will probably need Re-Biassing. I play classic rocky / bluesy / jazzy stuff, I'm not particularly fussed about the on-board distortion, which I will be honest about; it's utter shite, but it does the job. I would seriously recommend a decent overdrive pedal. However, this is easily forgiven as the amp has a brilliant clean channel that does the job great. Translates what you are playing and very dynamic.. you play soft and quiet, it sounds it, twang the strings and play percussive and it will sound it out great. I will comment that while running, the amp is whisper quiet due to well thought out electronics and quality transformers, but the reverb adds quite a lot of noise to the circuit when turned past 12 o'clock. The reverb isnt fantastic, but bloody handy to just add a little softness to the sound without loosing the presence etc. Now, what is bloody handy on this amp is a knob on the mid pot that pulls out. This is effectivly like a Top Boost like an old Vox AC30, really makes the mids and highs jump out of the speaker. The amp comes fitted with a generic chinese clone speaker. It sounds good as it is, but I'm tempted to whack a Celestion Vintage 30 in there! For the price I paid for this amp, I can't really fault the sound it produces, and ignoring the shitty OD channel, which by the way is called "Mean"... I'd call it the "awful button". Avoid pressing this button if you can!
Overall Impression — 9
If it were lost or stolen, I'd probably buy something like a big old Fender or Vox, or when I finally get round to it, build my own amp. I've been playing guitar for nearly 5 years, but I'm still crap - but I do know what sounds good. I wish this amp would have a little more crunch on the Overdrive channel, but sadly that's the compromise with a 30 watt amp. I will probably buy a smaller 50 Watt single ended Class A amp for this. For the price, I don't know how anyone can complain?
Reliability & Durability — 9
Well like all Valve amps, since when have they been reliable?... I'm keeping hold of my Spider II as my mates use Spider III half stacks, and have never had a problem. With the noise and terrible acoustics of a Live venue, Who gives a toss if you can't hear those elusive second harmonics? Surprisingly, this amp is bloody well made. infact, one of the best made amps I have seen for a long time. Very similar to a Hughes And Kettner. It has a thick plywood body and bracing inside. metal grills, and an alloy chassis, not pressed steel. The PCB inside is well laid out with good components, and everything is spaced out so nothings going to get too hot in there... The pots even have little buttresses on the sides of the chassis to stop them from twisting around, and the power transformer has a thermal cut out. Seeing as the valves are doing most of the work, they are the only real liability, so I think it would be a little unfair to call it unreliable if conked out. For 90, I really can; t fault this bad boy.
Features — 8
The amps Brand New, bought it described as "used", but infact the sellar had a job lot of them that someone had clearly *cough*, written off. Mine arrived with both transformers bent over as it had a drop. Easily fixed. The amp does what I want, a loud clean combo that I can use effects with if I want. Seeing as just noodle around I can gig and record with this amp no problem. (see the other review for specs) I will say this is a poor man's Fender.