Price paid: $ 599.99
Purchased from: Musician's Friend
Sound — 9
While it may take a little while to grow accustomed to the EQ aspects of the AT-100, the tones that come out of this particular head are fantastic. The clean can be jazzy, crisp, or crunchy (with the right guitar/pickups). High volumes are of little variability, which is great for loud scenarios. The distortion capability is even better than the clean's, and perhaps this heads strong point. It's extremely versatile, as mentioned above, and it puts out a distortion that stands up against the best of them. It produces especially desirable classic rock and metal tones. There is really no need to use any sort of distortion pedal one while this head has such good distorion modeling. While on the subject of pedals however, the effects loop offers input and output leveling controls in the back to offer control over the strength of your effects in relation to the standard amp sounds. All this said, it is true that the second gain can be a bit noisy, and some sort of remedy may be in your best interest if playing at higher volumes, but high quality cables and new top of the line tubes may help out.
Overall Impression — 9
I've been playing guitar for 5, approaching 6 years, primarily classic and progressive rock, but also a good number of other genres, really anything that tickles my fancy. This amp has yet to fall short of my needs. As well as the AT-100 and the AT-412, I use a Les Paul Studio with stock pickups and run a DigiTech RP200 through the effects loop. All praise aside, I do wish the leveling controls for the effects loop were a bit more user friendly (the dials are small, out of the way, and you'll have to play with them whenever you use a different effect or mess with the amp's EQ. Also, it would be nice if you could assign different contour settings for each distortion, which you can nearly do with the gain buttons on the amp and the single contour knob, but it is quite difficult to get right. These two complaints however, are very minor. Overall, the AT-100 is a great head. It's got the tone capabilities of a far more expensive amp (the benefit of buying a lesser-known brand) and will fit the needs of players in numerous genres. Highly recommended!
Reliability & Durability — 9
It's heavy, around 60 lbs., so you'll definately want to be careful while moving it. It's also without an incorporated fan, so it will heat up, but this has never caused me any problems, there's a good bit of natural ventilation through the openings on top of and along the front and back of the head. I've had the AT-100 for a few months, and it's never failed me, neither has the AT-412 that I run it through (I highly recommend the AT-412 too by the way, as it was designed to complement the AT-100). The skin of the head will scuff if you're not careful while moving it, but regardless of superficials, it's a sturdy piece of equipment.
Features — 9
The B-52 AT-100 is a truely versatile head. It has two channels (clean/distortion), each of which has the standard treble/mid/bass controls, as well as a master control for volume, low resolution, and reverb. The truely useful aspect of the distortion channel is the presence of the alternate gain select; the distortion channel has two volume controls, two mids, two trebles, and two basses. This, in essence, allows you to develop two completely unique distortions and choose between them at will through the footswitch, whether you need a solo boost or a mellower rhythm tone. A contour control offers additional control, especially useful in modeling a metal-based sound or likewise a more meaty sound. The clean channel is easily manipulated as well, with the standard trio of knobs as well as a bright Switch. Another extremely useful feature is the effects loop; any normal effects pedal/sound processor/modeler can be looped through the back of the amp and bypasses via the footswitch. This control is extremely useful, and as long as you don't own a gross number of pedals, can nearly elliminate clutter out in front of the amp. On top of the aforementioned features, the player has the option of selecting 4, 8, or 16 ohm capability, as well as which tube combos they wish to utilize (solid state, tube A, or AB). One has the option of a high or low input as well.