Price paid: $ 175
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 9
As I had mentioned before the range of sounds out of this amp are amazing. They are all over the place. The solo channel can go from a gritty country rock sound, to full blow thrash metal and every where in between. On the clean side of things, I've found that I can get a perfect Hendrix tone, such as is utilized on little wing, and castles made of sand. But at the same time, the sound can get so raw, it almost sounds like an acoustic. The reverb (also on the clean channel) is one of my favorite things about this amp. While it is a little touchy (you can't turn it much above 3 and still have it sound good) it really thickens the sound, and besides it's spring reverb, you don't get much better than that. The chorus channel is equally impressive featuring just two knobs, you can just a slight touch which is very nice for slow rhythm parts, (this also goes nice with fuzz for a Tony Iommi sound) or you can get a totally crazy out of this world pulsating electronica sound, that makes the sound of the guitar unrecognizable.
Overall Impression — 9
This amp consistently impresses me with its broad range of sounds. This more than makes up for the bad placement of the channel change buttons, the uncontrollable CD input and the lack of a direct out. Even my friends that are religious about the use of tubes admit that it sounds just as good, and that the sounds that they get are about the same. So in conclusion, strong sound outweighs some design flaws. Most importantly it's incredibly loud.
Reliability & Durability — 9
While I haven't used this amp to gig more than once or twice (for the most part I am a bass player and use this strictly for studio use) It is showing no signs of wear. The knobs seem to be holding up well. The covering is glued on very securely and the wood underneath it is very solid. The main concern that I have about the reliability of this amp is the lack of serviceable fuse. It seems if a fuse was to ever blow that the amp would have to either be taken apart (which at a gig obviously isn't practical) or sent back to Crate (obviously not practical at a gig either). However this is a minor concern as I have been using it for upwards of four years, never to have a problem with a blown fuse.
Features — 9
The range of features on this amp are almost limitless. It's three channel setup features a fuzz, clean and chorus settings. The fuzz, or solo channel, has gain, shape and level control. The gain controls the amount of the distortion while the shape control changes the tone of the distortion. For example when the shape control is at about twelve o' clock the sound is fairly crunchy like a nineteen '50s blues sound. When the shape control is at three o' clock the amp puts out a more nineteen eighties smooth creamy kind of distortion. The third knob is a level control. This is my favorite knob on the channel. Having separate controls for the gain and the volume was an absolutely brilliant idea. Because of this you can play at fairly low levels and still have the distortion poured on. The clean channel has master volume control, a three band equalizer and controls for the spring reverb unit. The equalizer is very sensitive and also enables a wide range of sounds. It has low, mid and high controls. While the equalizer is perhaps one of the best features of this amp, it also has it's faults. For example there is very little variance in sound from the low knob turned up full tilt, and it down around 2 or 3. But still it does it's job good enough. The third or chorus channel features depth and rate controls. Both very sensitive to give a wide variety of sounds, as we will talk about more in the next section. In addition to this the front panel has a CD input (two RCA jacks) and a headphone output. The CD input is one of the biggest complaints that I have about this amp. Unless you are use a very specific input level (I still haven't figured out what it is yet) it sounds like it is using full output power. That can be rather painful. But in any case, don't try to plug your line output of your CD player into the CD input, I can guarantee that you won't like the end result. The back panel has extension speaker out (which I have yet to try) and a foot switch control. Both of these are quarter inch jacks. The foot Switch on this amp is a must, this is because the buttons for changing the channel are impossible to get at while on the fly. They are very small and if you aren't careful you end up bumping one of the two volume knobs that surround it.