Price paid: £ 300
Purchased from: Private Seller
Features — 10
100w guitar amp with an all-analog preamp and a 100w nanotube powering a Class D power stage. 4 footswitchable channels (Clean, Vintage, Classic & Modern) with built-in Reverb, Boost, effects loop and noise gate. It automatically adjusts to the power supply wherever you are in the world and can switch between series and parallel effects. All this weighs just 1.2kg and is so compact it is able to sit on my pedalboard! It comes with its own little gigbag but I just put it on my pedalboard and it's transported like that.It's a lot of amp for your money.
Sound — 9
As a die-hard valve amp purist, I'm surprised to say that it sounds excellent. I've read a lot of opinions on this amp based on relatively little actual knowledge. Because it has a Class D power section I've heard it called a solid state amp - it's not. Because of the nanotube I've heard it called a valve amp - it's not, or at least not in the traditional sense. I've also heard it called a hybrid and while this is technically the most accurate description, it's not like any other hybrid amp I've ever tried.
The tone is definitely valve but retains an element of solid state, probably due to the Class D element and analog preamp. Nevertheless, this certainly sounds like a valve amp and perhaps more importantly, it feels like a valve amp to play. All of the drive channels clean up beautifully with the volume control on your guitar and when you use a boost, the clean channel starts to break up just like a true valve amp. The Clean channel sounds quite Fenderish in nature and the tone is excellent. The Vintage channel is voiced on the Marshall JTM45 as that is Thomas Blug's favourite amp and as a result there's not much you can do to alter its sound other than the 3-band EQ section but the bottom line is that this channel is superb and takes the Boost function really well. I wouldn't normally use this sort of tone but it's so good I find I spend most of my time on this channel. The Classic channel seems to be voiced on a JCM800 and is my more natural home. There's plenty gain available and you can sculpted the tone a bit more. Whereas the Vintage channel is awesome straight out of the box, the Classic channel needs a bit more tweaking to find the sweet spot but once you find it, it's worth the effort. The Modern channel is voiced on American high gain amps and I find this one the least convincing. I like it for leads but not so much for rhythms and I can't quite get it to be as loud as the Classic channel, which seems silly to me.
The Reverb is excellent so I don't bother with a Reverb pedal anymore. The Boost option really makes the Clean channel a LOT louder and pushes it into breakup but the volume hike isn't as dramatic on the drive channels. Instead it seems to add a bit of volume and some gain, hence changing the voicing a bit. It takes pedals very well indeed. The noise gate has two settings but the "Metal" option, while very effective, isn't suitable for what I play and on the "Soft" setting it's largely ineffective once you leave the Vintage channel so when I am going to use the Classic channel, especially with the Boost on, I also engage a Joyo Gate of Khan and that sorts it out nicely. That's the best noise gate I've ever used other than an ISP Decimator by the way and for a fraction of the cost.
Overall, I love the sounds I get from this thing.
Reliability & Durability — 9
It seems to be very well built, though the light aluminium body encourages me to be rather light-footed when using it. Time will tell but Thomas Blug, Jennifer Batten and Uli Jon Roth have all gigged with it so it can't be that bad. I don't know of any reliability issues with this amp and it's never given me any trouble so far. The controls for fine tuning the individual channels that are on the side of the amp are a bit fiddly but on an amp this small I don't think Thomas Blug had much choice. I don't plan on using a backup amp at all as the single nanotube should be very durable and it's certainly less likely to develop a fault than a full valve amp.
Overall Impression — 10
I play in a rock covers band so it's a wide range of material. For guitars I use a Gibson Les Paul Studio, PRS SE "Floyd" Custom 24 and Fender Standard Stratocaster and effects are just wah, chorus and delay.
I sold an Orange TH30 and bought this because I'm moving to The Falklands so needed something more practical. I thought I'd really miss the true valve tone I had from the Orange but even if my move to The Falklands fell through I'd keep this amp. At a gig the TH30 did sound better but the difference is nothing like as big as you'd imagine and the AMP1 just has so many other benefits over a conventional amp that the small difference in tone is a sacrifice I'm more than happy to make. I have absolutely no intention at all of going back to a full valve amp when this is so good and so convenient. Because it's on my pedalboard, all of the effects are permanently connected to the amp on nice short cables so when I set up at a gig, all I have to do is plug it into the mains, connect my guitar to the tuner at the start of the chain and connect the amp to the speaker and that's me ready to go. I'm not saying this amp would suit everyone but if you want a very portable rig with great valve tone then this is well worth a look. I have no regrets at all having sold my Orange TH30 and bought the AMP1 and have absolutely no intention of going back.