Price paid: $ 127
Purchased from: Pawn Central
Sound — 8
My guitar list is on my gear page on my profile, which varies from hot-rodded surf guitars, Vintage classics with some modernized appointments to aid stability, and oddly put together home brews, and about every kind of pickup from strange old Harmony pickups to Active EMG pickups, to aftermarket Seymour Duncans, to cheap crappy strat copy single coils. This amp is a little more metal than my current projects need, but that's okay since if I need a solid state metal sound I have it, and it's my backup so it does not matter much anyway. This thing, in contrast to my main head, is pretty noisy when turned up and running full tilt, especially with something with single coils (ie, my Vintage Fender Mustang). Saving grace is it can be tamed by strategic footswitching and volume knob readiness. The sounds I get are mostly 80's rock type tones, and very Pantera-esque metal tones. This thing excells at the scooped midrange metal tones found on a lot of modern metal records, very thick, chunky, and loud. The gain levels are insane on the solo boost (which I have a double use as a "modern metal" channel for rhythms). The clean is very warm and organic. About the only difference I can tell from tubes and this is that it's not organic as much as it is by means of dynamics. The sound is very compressed and very focused, but still has that "cardboard" transistor quality to it. The clean channel has a lot of headroom and stays clean all the way up to around 8 or so. Whereas the distortion can be very brutal, very Vintage, or even pull off a bluesy overdrive with the right EQ. A good starter head for those Who don't want to deal with all the maintenance Tubes require.
Overall Impression — 8
I play mostly hard rock based music, often with a tinge of heavy metal and new wave here and there. This amp fit's the bill of backup perfectly, and could do the job as a main amp if really needed, but I ever so much more prefer the tube sound. However, I expect ALL my backup amps to be solid state because of the following reasons... - I can quickly Switch from the failing tube amp faster, and not have to wait on warming tubes to jump back in. - I don't need to worry about loose tubes, blown fuses (except the one on the back for the mains), or my bias drifting after months of inactivity. - It's lighter and makes the task of moving my whole Live rig around less of a pain and eases up on my muscle stress. I've been playing 14-15 years now, I play semi-professionally, and also do my own "fun projects" on the side. I demand a lot out of my gear, am very picky when it comes to sound and amplification (I know what I like and try new things all the time to see if anything better has come along). If it were stolen or lost, just find another one, heck, it's a Crate, they're plentiful, and easy to get, that's one reason I like this amp as a backup. It's like having a good solid strat for a backup, you can rely on it to do the job when called. As far as comparison shopping goes, I put this up against most of the solid state heads I played, which included a Laney, another Crate (a stereo Crate with an obscure footswitch that It did not come with), several Peavey heads, and the B-52. This one sounded the best and had the lowest price, so that's how it won out of things like the XXL Transtube and the Randall Roadking 100. It took me 3 months to decide on this. I'll give it an 8 for my purposes, it fills the need, does the job well, and reliably, though I would not mind an extra channel and an external solo boost like my Bugera.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I'm sure I can depend upon it, given my experience with Crates in the past, plus after looking at it inside and out I can confirm this is not a cheap design (at least not totally). The few construction gripes I have, well, only gripe, is the reverb tank and how they attached it with 4 super long screws, so it flops around. I much prefer how it was done on my old Epiphone Stereo Chorus combo I had in high school, 4 screws on rubber grommets. I also dislike plastic jacks and how the rear jacks have no bolts holding them on, but it's not that expensive amp so I'll let it pass, on a more upward note, the footswitch is a quality piece of hardware, made out of metal, like a good footswitch should.
Features — 8
I bought this amp after thinking about it as a potential backup for nearly 4-5 months straight. I needed a decent reliable solid state backup for my once problematic Bugera 333XL head, and this became my selection as after playing it in the store, it had a close enough sound and features to what I need to "get by" on. - Made sometime after 2004, Not sure, never bothered to look it up - 120 Watts, Solid State - Technically 3 Channels, but it's really 2 with a solo booster built-in - Metal 3 button footswitch (had to order this as it did not come with the amp) - Rather reactive Spring Reverb, which sounds great and can be quite surfy when needed. It fills the need for the Bugera's backup well, it has a solo boost, it has a clean and distortion channel that sound good, and it's solid state so I can power it up and expect it to be up and running once I swap speaker cables from amp to amp in a hurry. That's my criteria in a backup head. There are some features I have no use for, Line-In's and Line-Outs, I don't use any of them, especially on an amplifier head. About the only thing I need those on is something like my V-amp that will be in a home studio environment, and even then, Line ins are a little redundant. Generally this amp is used Live and at rehearsal, but most of the time, It wait's for my Bugera to break down again so I can swap to it. I also use it for Youtube vids (as well as my other amp) when I feel like recording a real amp and not an emulation. I'll give it an 8, not perfect, but what I expected in an amp so I'm not dissapointed in the least, just not likely to use this as a main anytime soon.