Price paid: $ 350
Purchased from: Musician's Friend
Sound — 8
The tone control available in the clean channel (my favorite) allows you to dial up sounds from 50's tweed to Vox AC15 to Deluxe Reverb. Very articulate, and pick sensitive distortion at higher volumes. Reverb depth lacks a bit, but IMHO Fender reverb goes into useless wash above their "3" setting. The dirty channel never gets quite raspy enough for metal, but it does extemely well for blues and classic rock. As with some other amps, the dirty channel seems to loose it's low frequency clarity. I use a Strat, a Tele and an Epiphone Dot. All three work nicely with this amp, but each requires some fiddling around with the tone knobs to accomodate each guitar's strengths or weaknesses.
Overall Impression — 8
Overall, I'd recommend this amp to anyone except drop-D heavy types. not enough guts for that, but blues, country, jazz, rock, heck yeah. By messing around with the tube arrangements and types of tubes, it can be significantly tailored to a person's taste. It's on a par with a Peavey Classic 50 and or Classic 30. I'm dying to try out one of Crate's new Vintage Club combo amps.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I gig with this amp, I travel with it, I let Kevin Johnson nearly blow the darn thing up (dimed the dirty channel at an open mike thing up in DC) and it keeps coming back for more. The knobs need to be protected, as they are the type that are mounted directly to the circuit board. I bashed up the reverb knob, and luckily only destroyed the ground side of the pot. A short jumper wire to the amp chassis and I was back in business. It tends to be a very hot running amp, no doubt due to the 8 tubes. I would strongly recommend adding a fan (as I did after a nearly burned my finger at a gig just turning a tone knob!!). It comes in a very small cabinet, so it's easy to transport, and can even be used on top of a 1x12 extension cabinet.
Features — 10
I play blues, classic rock, and British Invasion. I've used this amp as a head into a 2x12 cabinet, 2x10 cabinet, and I've built it into a 2x10 combo and a 1x12 combo. I'm happiest with this final version. Two channels, channel one is basic Fender clean, three knobs: volume, bass and treble, plus reverb. Channel two has gain, bass, mid, treble,and volume plus reverb (i.e. one reverb tank, bt separate knobs for each channel). Channel switching is either front panel or footswitch (which has a red led on it so you don't have to turn around to see which channel is active). Effects loop is front panel, single socket so you need a y-split type cable. Two speaker outs on back, with a selector for 8 ohm or 16 ohm. All tube. 4-12ax7 preamp side, 4-el84 power side. I've swapped the 12ax's out for 12at's, which lowers the overall volume (originally rated 50 watts) but gives the "dirty" channel a slower approach into distortion.