Features — 9
I traded a Fender 75 for this used Carvin in the mid '90s. The "75" was way too harsh a sound for me. I wanted a Twin Reverb Fender but the price was too high and they weigh too much to be hauling around. I found the Carvin at a shop used and traded for it after a short test. Also made in the USA was a good selling point for me. Two channels. One clean and one they call Soak. It also has a "Presence" knob on the rear that works only with the clean channel. There is a mod that can be found online to make it work with both but I haven't done that to mine.
Sound — 10
Very nice warm clean channel and the "soak" channel didn't impress me much. At the time I was playing a Fender Strat and a Gibson SG. The Strat sounded better than the SG with this amp at the time. After changing tubes and having a general tuneup done on the Carvin it handled both guitars better. Seems to handle pedals well. I don't have those guitars any more. I now play an Ibanez AS73 that I had loaded with Gibson '57 Classic and Classic Plus pickups (a combination which I highly recommend also). This guitar is a perfect match for the Carvin. What sweet sounds I can get now. I think the "vintage" feel of the Carvin with the semi-hollow body Ibanez is a match made in heaven. It's my "poor man's" Gibson ES-335 and Fender Twin Reverb combo!
Reliability & Durability — 10
It's a very well made amp that should last me a long time. It already has. Love the tweed too. Carvin has done a great job on this amp. Its reverb is very nice. True spring reverb and not digital. I have gigged a couple of times but mostly studio work these days. It traveled well when it did get gigged but I am nervous when it comes to transporting tube amps. It is a little heavy but not near as heavy as the Twin Reverb Fender I used to haul around. Someday I may change the speakers out but for the immediate future I am very happy with the stock ones.
Overall Impression — 10
I play mostly rock/pop music and don't gig. My Carvin is a studio queen these days. I would look to buy another if lost or stolen. I've been playing for 45 years or so and have had lots of guitars and amps. Strats and SG's, Les Pauls, Kramers... I've had a bunch. Fender amps have been my amp of choice over the years and now the Carvin. For what I do these days it's the only amp I think I'll ever need. I also have a Carvin SX-200 amp. It's not tube but has a nice character of it's own. I am a Carvin amp fan for sure. LOL.