Price paid: $ 400
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 8
I have two guitars, a good ol' Standard Strat and an Epiphone SG Custom Shop. Pretty much the two ends of the line. One with three single coils, the other with two very chunky humbuckers. These guitars are used for my two musical personalities; one being a blues with a bit of an edge and the other (the SG) being a classic rock like Boston and AC/DC. This amp has produced all the tones I could hope for. This amp can rock, it can get bluesy and warm, it can get very very clean and it can get wild and loud. Very versatile, but the space in between low gain and high gain isn't as varied as I would like... But there really isn't much to complain about (especially for a $400 amp). The only unwanted noise I have found is when my cellphone is in my pocket and near my guitar or when I am simultaneously surfing the web (checking tabs and what not). As for the clean channel being distorted at high volumes, it doesn't distort really at all. It just gets gritty and gets a little more character.
Overall Impression — 8
This amp is a huge improvement over the last Bugera I owned (the V55 which I traded towards this). The agression is there, the cleans are there and the warm tube-filled tones oozes on every note. My styles are not to crazy and this amp keeps up EASILY with my classic, alt and blues rock tastes. I feel like I struck gold here and I got an $800 dollar amp for half the price. I play this through the matching 4x12 cabinet and I feel like they go great together, as if it they were truly meant to be played together. If this were stolen or if I magically lost it (I'm not sure how you lose a 40 pound box...) I would probably just go ahead and replace it. The amount of tone you get from this for the price is really worth it. I am very glad I bought this amp, even though at the time it was kind of an impulse. It has come to be what I think is the best thing $400 dollars can buy. Just my opinion. I really wish they had gone the extra mile and given an EQ for both channels, instead of one global EQ. However, I have found a setting that I like on both channels. Though, for others finding a happy medium may be a little more difficult. The ONLY other thing I wish this amp had was the Marshall look. More gold and white would have just made this amp extra cool. I do somewhat like the fact that Bugera has their own thing going though. I think my favorite feature, aside from the sound, is the bouncy, clear response I get with my Strat on both channels. My strat has really never sounded so good. Yeah, yeah, yeah... one day maybe I'll have the money for a real Marshall or an Orange. But come on, for $400 how much better can you do? I've played the JCM900 and this thing has that British crunch, that middle bite that is so familiar. I don't expect this thing to be leaving my posession anytime soon, but for just a few hundred dollars, in all actuality if this thing lasts me 5 years by then I will surely have the money to step it up again and grab a big named amp. However, if it ain't broke I won't do anything to replace it and I don't plan on it breaking! I feel starnge giving this yet another 8, but I really think that's what it deserves in all areas. Sound, name, reliability, build....everything. I cannot stress how glad I am that this amp is out there and that I got one. Are there better amps on the market? Of course. Are there better amp heads at 120 watts for $450 new? No way. Go try one of these out and you'll see what I mean. It's one of those things that you look at and think, "Ah, hell, why not?" Then you get home and you're tickled pink. Awesome.
Reliability & Durability — 8
This amp has been reliable so far and I really do not expect problems, but as with most bargain music gear, the risk is there. I won't hold back with it at all because I just don't feel like it will break down. Even if it does go the same way as its relatives, the fix is relatively easy (soldering). The tubes are a bit cheap, but I will change those, as anyone should with ANY tube amp at some point. For now I will stay on average with an 8 because it is a $400 amp, but I won't dock it more than I have to because it really seems as though the days of dying Bugers is quickly coming to an end.
Features — 8
Before I begin I would like to acknowledge a couple a things: One is that I have read the other reviews and I feel like no good review has been given yet. They are either all 10's or all 3's. This amp is DEFINITELY neither end of the spectrum, and it in no way deserves to be given a terrible review (in either direction). The second thing I would like to touch on is that I HAVE played a JCM900, the relevance of that being that the Bugera 1990 is a clone/copy of the beloved Marshall JCM900. Between friends, pawn shops and Guitar Center I've probably given a true JCM900 about 2 hours of scrutiny. So! With all of that on the table let's get on to the review. This amp was made in April 2010, about a month before I purchased it. I consider myself lucky, because the newer the Bugera, the better the overall construction of the amplifier. When you first look at this amp head you might not think Marshall right away, but if you let yourself picture the script writing in white, the metal plating in gold and all of the knobs in that signature textured gold the similarity is there physically. The chassis is the same and so are the power/standby buttons. I think that is really cool. The versatility of this amp is limited, but there is definitely no shortage of sound. I play everything from Boston to Dashboard Confessional to Metallica and the sound is there for each of them. I will say that the 'Metal' in Metallica isn't on par with true Metal amplifiers. However, aside from the lack of super-high gain, the cleans go from shiny and bouncy to gritty and smoky warm. Then, the gain channel (2 channels, clean and gain) is very mid-driven and articulate. The gain channel knob goes from 0 to 22! that's really just comical to me, but around 4 you can get a nice bluesy tone, around 10 a great classic rock tone, and allll the way up to 22 you get a real heavy rock and just nearly a metal tone. There is an FX Loop with a dedicated volume knob. I have yet to test that out, but I will, so that's a nice addtition. I use this amp in my house where I am home alone most of the time, I use it with friends in a garage and occassionally I gig. With 120 watts, yeah there's enough power. Finally I would like to say that with the honeymoon phase of this amplifier coming to an end, I play it no less and I really feel like I got away with something.