Price paid: $ 699
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 9
The sound is very basic: excellent clean and warm tube distortion. Scooped it has a modern high-gain tone, and non-scooped it does a Marshall tone very well. The tri-rectifier gives even more subtle sound capabilities and allows the tailoring of the Drive to your room requirements. It is very non-temperamental and almost always sound exactly right from room to room. It mikes up well with a decent sound guy and has huge bottom end and chunk. Overall great sound for the low price tag.
Overall Impression — 9
I play a wide variety of covers and this amp is well-suited to the various styles. I run an '04 Les Paul Standard with Duncan SH-1's and a Standard Strat with Duncans (Lil'59, Vintage staggered, and a Pearly Gates II from neck to bridge), another Standard Strat with Fender Noiseless pups and a 80's Zion with Dimarzios. The amp was an amazing buy at $799 at the time, then on a return trip to the guitar center it was on sale for $699 (they gave me a $100 refund), which made it even sweeter. I was looking and trying to find a modeling amp to suit my needs but never really could get by the lack of tone. My effects are very limited and all analog: a Boss chorus (which I run continuously to thicken up the sound, a Boss Acoustic Simulator (mainly because I am too lazy to drag and mike up my acoustic, club owners are too cheap to pay well enough to deserve an actually acoustic sound), a Boss compressor, a Boss Tuner, and a Cry Baby Wah. I would most likely replace the amp if stolen or destroyed and it is a great buy for the money. The only drawback is the weight at about 80lbs. but hey, my problem for needed a tube amp for the tone and the 2-12" speakers so I can't really bitch.
Reliability & Durability — 8
Had problems withthe cheap method of pins used to hold the front of the amp (with the speakers) to the cabinet, but the addition of a few screws solved that easily enough (and B-52 customer support stated they redesigned the attachment process so that shouldn't be an issue any longer. Also of of the caster sleeves split which caused the caster to keep falling out, but again B-52 replaced it free and without haslle. In fact, I broke 3 of the front pots (totally my own fault) and B-52 replaced those for free as well. As far as performace-wise, it has never failed to perform perfectly and once it is warm, sounds great throughout the night. I don't have an amp case for it, which maybe I should, and the amp has been bumped and banged a bit, but it has not had a performace problem at all after about 9 months of gigging.
Features — 10
Full featured with 1 clean and 2 gain channels; 3-band EQ on the clean and a shared 3-band EQ on the gain channels. Independent gain control on the gain channels and independent volume on all three channels plus a overall master volume offer a superior amount of flexibilty for Live performances. Also, the mid-scoop with seperate contour adjustment and the ability to "scoop" each gain channel individually is another plus. Full, footswitch controlable effects loop with send and return levels, a line out with a level control, a decent spring reverb and an incuded 4-bank footswitch (gain1/gain2, clean/gain, reverb, effects loop) really make this amp a gig-friendly combo.