Price paid: $ 350
Purchased from: Musician's Friend
Sound — 8
I play a MIM Strat and an Epi LP Custom model in a ska band. Both guitars sound excellent through the amp, however, with the single coils, as usual, I did experience a good amount of noise. This was easily solved by getting a noise gate. With the humbuckers on the LP, the clean channel becomes slightly overdriven, especially on the rhythm and middle switches. It's a great change from some other tube amps that I've played that keep a fairly stagnant sound from guitar to guitar. I love the question that UG posts here, "How brutal is the distortion?" Honestly, it's not brutal at all. I played in a BTBAM/VoM/Faceless cover band for a long time, and I would've scoffed at this amp. This is NOT an amp for metalheads. However, for people looking for a smooth sound on both clean and dirty channels, it's an inexpensive, excellent quality amp.
Overall Impression — 8
I can't say enough good things about this amp. It takes pedals beautifully. I play ska, and can get sounds that allow me to cover bands from The Supervillians to Reel Big Fish, and even Metallica with a distortion pedal in front (my band does a cover of Battery- it's friggin' sweet). I've been playing guitar for about 3 years, but have owned large amounts of gear, including various tube Marshalls and a Peavy 6505+. Those amps actually were a little strong for me, and I feel like the Bugera matches those amps in quality, and gives me the proper tone for my needs.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Bugera has had a name of being great amps, for about a week, and then burning out on users. However, in the past few years, they've switched to using quality parts and I have never had a problem with the amp failing. I've owned and gigged with this amp for 3 and a half months, and feel absolutely comfortable gigging without a backup. Bugera has finally reached a point where they are making excellent, reliable amplifiers. It's pretty sweet.
Features — 9
This two channel amplifier is modeled after the late 40s and early 50s guitar amps that were the pioneers into the new era of musicality sweeping the U.K. and United States. An all tube head, the V55 does exactly what it's marketed to do- give a tone reminiscent of the aforementioned time periods. The clean channel is beautiful, and gets an excellent amount of true tube crunch as it is turned up. The dirty channel (activated by an onboard Switch or the included channel/reverb switch) give a widely variable amount of gain, from very lowly overdriven to moderate crunch. The amp does not have a "heavy" sound, which does not take away from the overall quality. There are controls for low, mid, and high frequencies, along with a mid scoop Switch and presence and reverb controls, not to mention the necessary volume and gain controls for clean and dirty channels, along with a master volume switch. It has both an on/off Switch and a standby switch, which is very convenient when switching guitars live. The back of the amp is nearly as impressive as the front, with an effects loop, 2 speaker outputs with a variable 4/8/16 ohm switch, and a triode/pentode switch, which allows you to cut the wattage in half, giving you the ability to get the true tube sound at lower volumes for recording. The reverb is phenomenal. I almost always have it on; it adds a beautiful amount of depth to solos and chords. The 55 watts is enough for me. I've used this amp from places like local bars to the Congress Theater in Chicago, and it's never failed me.