Price paid: $ 489
Purchased from: Ebay
Sound — 9
As for my guitar, its a Schecter Hellraiser with DiMarzios, a D-Sonic (bridge) (awesome pickup btw) and a PAF Pro (neck). These pickups are great and the guitar is too. All mahogany neck thru etc... This amp is great for anything that uses a clean channel, and 80's hotrodded distortion (which was what I was looking for). If you're looking at the legacy for a modern metal sound, you're a fool. This is Steve Vai's amp, not an Engl Savage. This sounds like a Fender Twin Reverb and hotrodded 800 is one amp pretty much. I play, Megadeth, Slayer, Maiden, Symphony X, Dream Theater etc... And almost everything in between. RHYTHM TONE: If your looking a modern tight and dry sounding amp, this is not it. It is not like an Engl. Its like a hotrodded JCM800. The rhythm tone is honestly not bad at all. From what I was hearing on the internet I expected it to not be that great at all. I was hearing its "muddy". In reality the people using this piece of gear are just either dumb or they haven't dealt with enough amps. I turned the amp on noticed the darker character, balanced the middle, pres, treble, and turned the bass all the way down (has more natural bass than other amps) and boom the curse is lifted. People need to stop maxing out the EQ of everything. LEAD: It's Vai's amp need I say more? It's smooth, good harmonics, if your playing music with a lot of licks within riffs, its perfect. Dial in a good rhythm sound and the amp will take the leads.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall this amp has pleased me well. This is a very good match for my music. I think that people who dis on this amp are using incorrectly and for the wrong genres of music or are just plain morons. If this was stolen I would easily spend another 500 to replace just because they're cheap. I love the smoothness of the treble response. If you turn it even to 7 it doesn't hurt your ears. Very easy for the audience to listen to your solos at high volumes without any piercing of the ears. The clean channel has got to be one the best ones I've played. It truly is great. If your a jazz guy you might want to buy it just for the damn cleans.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Just received the amp so cannot tell in the durability area yet. I've looked inside and everything is very sturdy, all the jacks are very well mounted on, the pots are very nice, there not cheapo ones. You can actually tell the difference if you turn the knob slightly. Knobs are all sturdy and everything seems to be in check. Haven't had any issues as of yet. This will be my workhorse amp as it delivers everything I need it to, if anything terrible happens to it, at least its not a 2,000 boutique head to replace.
Features — 9
The features on this amp are relatively simple. 2 channel (footswitchable) with a presence boost on the clean channel. The distortion has pres, treb, mid, bass, drive, and volume. Also switchable from 100 down to 50 watts, which is definitely cool. Has an effects loop and standard 4-8-16 impedance selector. The amp I have came with 4 el34 and 5 12AX7's, I will not bother to mention brand because that's a decision you must make yourself. Many people ask the question is this amp versatile enough (which is why Vai now has a 3 channel head) It depends on circumstance. If you're like me you want a great clean sound and a searing distortion. Then this is it. I don't need a medium crunch, light crunch or anything else. For that I kick a TS808 in the clean channel does blues very nice. As for features I wish it had, maybe a reverb control for both channels, but its honestly not a big deal. With the footswitch the reverb decays very smooth its actually very cool. REVERB: very nice touch they did here. Decays well over channels and when its on 10 it doesn't over power the sound. Some people may think so, but its opinion. I keep mine on 5 just so its not so dry all the time.