Price paid: $ 100
Sound — 3
The sound stock, is rather unimpressive. It's too sterile, no tube feel at all. But for 5watts, it's definitely 5 tube watts-it's pretty loud. Not for dorm or barracks use. It doesn't get to a controllable low volume. If this had a better volume pot, you could be able to correct that. Fortunately, I also ordered a Tung-sol preamp tube(12ax7). Changing just that turned the amp from sterile to soulful. It wasn't great yet, but not bad at all. I loved how it sounded. But when the volume was at 12 o'clock position, the speaker would show it's limit. I had watched a video from the "Tone King" on youtube, about how much a difference there was changing just the speaker on this amp. He had used a Celestion, and it sounded great. I used an Eminence Red Coat-Ramrod 10" speaker. That's the sound I was "looking" for. Great for a clean/dirty blues tone. If you want metal, get a pedal. I've only plugged straight into this amp, no effects used. I used a DiMarzio cable, no wireless. Honestly it sucks bad, in stock form. Crate used a sterile sounding Sovtek preamp tube, and in going cheap, Hurt in the sound of it. If you do buy one of these, change the preamp tube, they are cheap, and it's a popular tube/valve. Tung-sol sounds awesome, and I'm wondering what a JJ will make it sound like, but that can wait. My Les Paul Classic's neck pickup sounds very smooth, and warm, thru it. After my mods I would put this amp at a 8 in sound, as it really does come alive after the simple mods.
Overall Impression — 5
I admit I was hard on this lil $100US amp. But after costing an additional $95 for the tube, speaker, and postage, and noticing the numerous QC issues, I felt I had the right. I felt I shouldn't have to pay to be a product tester/designer for Crate. The end result after my modest upgrades, seriously sounds good, but for $200US, I think the time and money invested into it are actually worth it. Just don't buy this, and expect it to sound good with out some work and more money.
Reliability & Durability — 2
Yea, I'm sure this is why my review on musicians friend gets denied. There was almost no QC on this amp. I think they just plug in the power, and plug a radio in the input, and check the pots see if it goes louder or not. Fit and finish was awful, pretty **** poor assembly-let me explain. There are at least 4-5 screw heads stripped out, that I noticed on the corner pads. The corners are protected with plastic-that says a lot there. On replacing the preamp tube, I had two screws that had been crossthreaded in the chassis at the factory. The screw holes are too small on the side of the cabinet where the screws secure the chassis to the cabinet. There is no way of feeling the screw into the hole with out putting hair on it, or making the hole bigger so as threads of the screw doesn't interfere with feeling for the threads of the chassis. The hair is optional. Also of note while changing that preamp tube, is there are two spade wire connections(push on/pull off type), and once 4 pin wire connection. This can pose a reliability issue if they loosen over time and possibly fall out(why most, 99.95%, good amps have all soldered connections). I'm no expert but I'm sure that with the chassis so close to the speaker, it's possible. Also of note is there is about 1/4" or less(about 6mm to you Metric folks) of room between the speaker magnet and the chassis in the amp. I had ordered my speaker before getting the amp, so I had not anticipated this. The Eminence I ordered, was actually slightly smaller(not as deep) as the old one, and install was easy. So keep in mind with this amp that you probably shouldn't gig with this- at all. It will work well for bedroom/garage situations- where it doesn't move much.
Features — 7
I have a recent manufacture Crate V5 tube combo amp, it's not listed in the drop down menu, but that's what I have, and am reviewing. There are not many features on this. You have the volume, and tone knobs, a single input jack, power indicator, and power Switch. There is no power standby Switch, and no high or low input jacks. It has a 10" speaker, which was another selling point to me, aside from it being a tube amp was the speaker size. There is much more of a selection of aftermarket 10" guitar speakers than 8". On the bottom you have a 1/4" jack for the speaker out at 8. Inside the chassis facing the speaker are the preamp and power tubes. I rated it a 5, due to no TMB EQ controls (but I was well aware of it), and 10 because it had tubes in the pre and power power out. No headphone out, but it's a tube amp and I expected that. No effects loops in/out. For $100US new, I really didn't expect much, except to maybe return it, if I didn't like it. For $100US, you get a 5watt tube amp, and weighs like a tube combo amp should.