Price paid: $ 499
Purchased from: GC
Sound — 5
The clean channel on the amp is not bad. It's not a sparkling Fender clean of course, but has a nice consistent clean tone nonetheless. Lacks the glassiness however and doesn't break up well when the volume is cranked. The EQ on the amp isn't very faithful. The bass often sounds too loose and unevenly balanced with the other frequencies. The 'verb unit is OK. Overall one can get fairly decent clean tones from this amp using a good guitar. However as time went by I started liking the Drive channel less and less. At moderate gain levels, the OD doesn't sing out and I just don't like the tone that is achieved. I dicked around with the volume to gain ratio a lot on this channel, but was never able to achieve any singing sweet OD sounds. Cranking the gain causes the tone to lose all character and nuance and it's fuzzy and buzzing. The contour control makes the tone real muddy if turned up too high. Yes it's probably quite alright for playing Metallica, Slayer, etc. Moreover the Drive channel is very noisy! It's kind of unfortunate because soon after I purchased this amp I started getting more and more in jazz and jazz fusion, and most of the tonal aspects of this amp was lost on me after a while. I purchased a Fender American Deluxe strat soon after, and this amp definitely DID NOT enhance the natural strat tone, but rather marred it.
Overall Impression — 4
I currently play jazz and jazz fusion on guitar. I've played through enough Vintage tube amps to understand that this entry level amp is really a piece of junk. It's not even worth half the amount of money it is priced at. There's really nothing I loved about it as such, and in time I came to detest its very sight. I wasn't even able to sell it as such, and just left it to rot at another friend's house when I had to move. The only half decent thing about this amp was the reverb. I'm currently playing out a Fender Blues Junior, and boy does it blow the B52 outta the water!
Reliability & Durability — 2
People have already mentioned the issues in this department. I think my piece was a poster child for the cause. Within a few months of getting it, the reverb toggle on the footswitched conked off. Soon after the clean channel simply died. While switched on, NO SOUND would come out of it. I eventually had to send it to an authorized repair center, which claimed that it was a case of the "tubes being loose". Within 4 months of it coming back, the clean channel died again. I didn't bother sending it to get fixed again because by this time I was using a friend's Fender Princeton Reverb, and stopped bothering with this junk. As time went by, the Drive channel developed this horrible crackling sound with extremely low output. In order to get rid of the crackle, it required a sudden sharp loud attack on the guitar strings with the volume cranked up. It was ridiculous. Towards the end it was completely junked and dead weight in my apartment.
Features — 7
The features have been covered before so I won't bother covering them. At the time of purchase, around 2006 I was still playing the occasional metal tune, and a lot of instrumental rock like Yngwie as well as some proggy stuff like Dream Theater. I had originally tested the amp with a hot-rodded Kramer guitar, and had found the sound OK and the amp was within my budget.