Price paid: $ 78.9921
Purchased from: Serious Music Center
Sound — 9
I am a drummer Who likes to play guitar when I need a change. I own or have owned a lot of Vintage Hi-Fi and Tube Amps. Yes, there is a place for solid state guitar amplifiers (although modelling amps still sound like an amp doing an imitation of tube sound.)This sounds like a real amp with good tone that is not trying to do a $99.00 imitation of a hand wired Marshall Plexi. The Spring reverb is a real plus because it takes the decent tone of the amp and creates a full realistic big amp sound. I played this amp back to back with a Line 6 spider and felt this amp did exactly what a good small amp should do while the Spider sounded dry and digital. To each his own - but I will take cheap Vox Pathfinder or this amp anyday over a digital DSP amp that is trying to sound "just like" a 4x12 Stack. I play Vintage rock, heavy metal, acid surf garage mayhem or anything that sounds non-corporate. I'll take a lousy garage band with heart over pros that play like they don't give a shit. Use two of these amps in stereo for a decent small gig rig or buy the fw65 or 120 if you really want some audio muscle. An easy fix to make this amp sound like a Vintage Fender is to run the guitar through a cheap tube buffer amp before going to the amp input. It adds that last bit of sparkle on the clean channel
Overall Impression — 10
I own an old 100 watt Fanon Precision head from the 60's (4x6L6), Tube hifi gear coming out the ying yang, Vox pathfinder 15, Laney LC 15r into 2x12 celestion Vintage and/or 2x12 celestion greenback homemade cabs. I just puchased the Blackheart b5h mini stack also - good luck trying to get one of these gems. While this amp won't compete with the best of my other narrowly focused amps it does 95% of everything well which makes it the go to amp for most of my casual playing. If this amp was stolen or lost I would Drive to the music store like a maniac to get another one before everyone over twelve finds out about these. Don't let anyone tell you this a beginner amp only because it can remain as a great liile amp for any level of guitarist. Buy this amp and save yourself from the budget practice amp blues and also buy an Epi Valve Junior when you need the tube amp experience for low bucks. Don't waste money buying boutique amps that sound 10% better than this amp at ten times the cost. This amp is a solid 10 in the bang for the buck category. As a matter of fact I think I might go get another one of these before they get replaced by some cheesy Digital DSP 500 crappy effects version!
Reliability & Durability — 8
This amp would be gig worthy as long as you don't throw it around. It's a light amp that probably would take well to having a hundred pounds stacked on it regularly. I give this an 8 because I have a primal fear of Crate products dating back to the eighties. I fully expected this amp to sound like some of those old POS Crate amps I used to laugh at ( not out loud) - but it pleasantly surprised me. When I started gigging in 1970's there were only two types of amps, horribly bad solid state and wickedly expensive tubes amps we could only drool at. This amp is ten times better than the practice amps of that era unless you got a good deal on a Fender Champ that hadn't been trashed. I won't abuse or dime this amp wide open because that's not what it was designed for. Because I'm not expecting this amp to be a Live at Leeds rig - it should last several years.
Features — 9
This amp is a definite winner in the features for the money category. It is probably the only practice amp under $100.00 with spring reverb and a 12" speaker. Those two facts alone raise it above most entry level amps. It has a superb clean channel that sounds full and analog in a good way. It also has a useful distortion channel that goes from tweed tones to high gain metal crunch unlike most practice amps that have an all or nothing crap distortion channel that a 12 year old would use. It is great to have a headphone and CD input/output and real musicians use them too. This amp packs some punch hooked up to a 2x12 cab but don't expect club level volume. I have tube amps so I know what decent sounds like. Although this amp ain't perfect in any category it's still awesome for the price. Sure it doesn't have all the whistles and bells but the ones it has it does very well.