Price paid: $ 330
Purchased from: MusiciansFriend.com
Sound — 10
I'm using a Schecter Damien Elite with EMG 81/85 pickups along with a Boss ME-25 and MXR KFK 10 Band EQ, all of this running into a Jet City 2x12 cabinet. Before I describe the sound of this setup, let me tell you about what this head sounds like without anything boosting it or helping it out. Clean: Not terrible, but fairly weak. If you're not picky about the clean channel this won't bother you very much, but otherwise you'll definitely need to add some reverb or chorus. OD: Very impressive. EQ is very sensitive, you'll definitely get what you want out of it, especially with the ISF knob. The ISF knob when on the left side produces a very Mesa-esque sound and when on the right gives a Marshall-esque sound. As far as the Gain goes, this amp DOES NOT have a lot on tap. When set to max, you can get a 80's metal tone at best, but if you're expecting a massive KSE tone to pop out of this thing, think again. That said, this amp takes pedals like a solid state, but with tube tone. So, now for the boosted descriptions. Also, I don't use the OD channel. I run distortion from my ME-25 through the clean channel. Clean: Using the Acoustic Simulator on my ME-25 and adding some reverb, I got a wonderful, crisp, shimmery sound out of this channel. Not Fender clean of course, but it suits my needs. Think something along the lines of the intro to 'Welcome Home' by Coheed and Cambria. That's close to what I achieve, but of course that's just what I prefer. It's possible to get much better clean tones if desired. Overdrive (ME-25 Distortion into the Clean Channel): In order to get the metal tone I wanted, I used this preset: Ultra Metal preamp, Tubescreamer boost, Reverb, and some delay. I run the EQ pedal through the FX Loop, set to my preferences. I used quite a bit of gain with both the ME-25 and EQ pedal, however the end result was truly perfect. Chest punching bass, clear articulate mids, screaming treble, just overall monstrous metal tone. I'd say it rivals the tone of a Mesa Double Rectifier. In fact, I actually prefer it over the sound of a Double Rec, or any of the Mesa heads for that matter. Another surplus about this is amp is, being only 5 watts (which is still plenty loud; trust me), it is PERFECT for a practice amp because you can get fantastic tone at whispering volumes.
Overall Impression — 10
This amp is incredible. Very versatile, extremely adaptive to whatever you decide to add to it, lightweight, durable, and CHEAP. This thing is a steal! By itself, it's decent, but in my opinion this amp head is more of a starting point for you to add your own flare to after buying it. The tone I've achieved with this head is perfect for me. I've finally got that perfect metal tone that every metalhead is searching for, granted this did require the use of completely external distortion and gain, but it doesn't matter. The tone is still phenomenal and that's what matters, especially since I'm a person who is nick picky about their guitar tone and has to tweak something EVERY time they play. But, not with this amp. I've finally achieved a tone that can't be made any better for my taste, and that says something. You could probably find better tone for metal, but it would cost you at least double, maybe triple the price.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This amp is very well constructed and appears very sturdy. It could probably handle gigging, but I don't think it should be used for so. This amp was made for home/studio use, not live shows. However, it could pull off smaller gigs, like maybe a school show or a local gig but nothing large.
Features — 9
- Made in 2009 - All tube head - 2 Channels (Clean and Overdrive) - 5 watts - 1x8 ohm, 2x16 ohm or 1x16 ohm speaker output - Includes power cable, 2 speaker cables, and a 1 button footswitch - Emulated output/Headphone Jack - ISF, 3 band EQ, Volume, Gain knobs for the Overdrive channel - Volume knob for the Clean channel - Effects loop with adjustable output This amp has plenty features, all of them very nice and usable, as opposed to a lot of amps that throw unneeded tweaks to sweeten the deal. The biggest thing about this amp that I don't like is the lack of reverb. Unless you have an external source of providing it, you won't get any. Other than everything about this head is great, especially considering the price. This amp also seems to love pedals very very much, which I will elaborate on below.