Price paid: $ 249.99
Purchased from: Musician's Friend
Sound — 7
I'm using a Schecter C-1 Standard with HB101/HB102 pickup going into a Vox Tonelab ST with my B-52 LS-100. I play the head through a cabinet (4x12) with celestion speakers. My primary style is metal of all sorts (except grind-sludge-black-progressive-post-hardcore-metal... Whatever that is) but I also Jam and write with ska, jazz, blues, classic rock and punk. I'll start off with the less-attractive part of the amp: the clean. The clean can be pretty dull at first and not have any sparkle and sound pretty muddy. Playing with the EQ can help as well as using the Mid-cut feature. In the form of a button you can hit the Mid-cut and your dullness becomes bright and your highs shimmer. If you crank the clean volume (not the master) you can get some easy break up, but again with some EQ and level work you can make the clean sound decent. I have my Vox pedal help clean it up and it sounds really nice, pair that up with the on-board reverb and you get nice, wet tones. The distortion can go from blues to brutal in an instant. The contour feature with assignment possibilities allows this amp to really shine. Again though, this amp takes patience and you really have to get to know it to get a nice sound out of it. The best I can describe the gain 1 channel is a crunch channel. If you crank the gain on it, you can get some AC/DC and even Van Halen tones, but if you roll it back you get a nice train-is-a-comin sounds. The 2nd gain channel is the heavy hitter and my personal favorite. Crank the gain to 4'oclock, activate contour for the second gain channel and put it to about 8 o'clock you get a very nice scooped, smooth distortion. It's surprisingly fat in tone and tight, but still a little loose. This head would be ideal for a budding rhythm guitarist because the tone is the perfect match for a searing lead tone. Crank the gain back on gain 2, switch to your neck pickup and you get a nice classic punk tone. My favorite part of this head is the responsiveness in change, you can literally hear the change in every knob turn you make. Then there's the clarity. This head at 250 has AMAZING clarity, it is very controlled and never gets excessively noisy (hissing, unwanted crackle). The sound gets a seven, because although the sound is decent you have to work to make it great.
Overall Impression — 7
The B-52 LS-100 is an amp that is versatile, tough, and easy on the wallet. It's not my ideal amp, hell I wasn't even expecting it to sound good, but it does it's job well. It can fit all the styles I play, and can handle metal very well offering a wide variety of playability and tone. I've been playing for 6 years now, and I have a great appreciation for amps that are judged by face value now. If it were lost or stolen I'd upgrade, but I'd definitely miss it. I love the fact that this head doesn't cost a lot of money and still has a lot to bring to the table. The only thing I dislike about it is the flatness of tone that it seems to have before you dive in. It can be pretty unappealing at first. My favorite feature is channel controls along with the footswitch. It allows so much versatility in a couple button presses. I was expecting a Marshall head when I got this, but a head was a head so I really wasn't gonna cry. This amp may not be expensive (and therefore not as good) but it still works. This head would be ideal for a budding rhythm guitarist that doesn't have a lot to spend while still keeping tonal integrity. The B-52 LS-100 clocks in overall at a 7 for me, offering a wide variety of features, decent sound and real durability.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This amp is very reliable. I've never had an issue with it and I've played it daily for the (almost) two years I've owned it. The amp has never broken down, and I'd definitely use it without a backup. If there is one thing this head does do great it's being reliable. The head has never failed me and I don't expect it to for a long time. This section gets a 10 because B-52 makes tough amps.
Features — 8
The B-52 LS-100 is a solid state 100 watt head at a bargain price. It has two speaker-outs in the back as well as a record-out with simulated cabinet (not sure if it's stereo-out though). It includes an effects loop, which at this price is really nice, but I seldom use it as I'm not a heavy effects user. The only time I've tried to use it I got these horrible squealing sounds. But I'm pretty sure that's cause I was a noob with it. The send/receive for the effects loop has individual level controls, so you can mix your effects in smoothly and to the exact degree you want them. The front panel includes three channels with two separate three-band EQ, along with that there are master volume and master reverb knobs. The clean channel has an individual volume control as well as a mid-cut feature which I'll get to later on. The overdrive channel has a contour knob shared by both gain channels which acts as a scoop function with the ability to assign it to each gain individually or simultaneously. Each gain setting has it's own gain and volume control respectively. The footswitch is probably one of the best features because it has three buttons to control channel, gain, and reverb. You simply can't go wrong with that kind of control, plus it's sturdy as hell. This amp can handle some lugging around and banging, and the sounds you can get out of it are very versatile. The 100 watts can easily reach large venue levels, and at high volumes the tones just get even better. This amp has everything that you'd expect from 250 dollars and still has more to offer. I give the features an 8, because they're awesome but still are at the low end of the spectrum.