Price paid: $ 575
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 7
I'm using this with an Ibanez S-series with DiMarzio pickups and an American Standard Strat with Lindy Fralin pickups. Overall, the amp sounds very good. The Marshall Class 5 is hard to dispute as the best sounding amp in this segment, but it's also the least versatile or usable in the real world. The Class 5 is a non-master-volume amp, so it only really does clean and quiet or REALLY loud and crunchy (much, much louder than you would expect from a little 5 watt combo). By comparison, the Tweaker doesn't have any one sound that's quite as cool as the Class 5 with the volume all the way up, but it still delivers a wide range of good sounds and can do so at much more reasonable volume levels. I hooked the Tweaker up yesterday with a 4x12" Mesa cabinet. At only about halfway up on the master volume, it (surprisingly) put out enough volume to keep up with my band. That said, even with a full size cabinet to help it out, this is still a $500 amp. It doesn't hold a candle to the tone I get out of my full-size amp (a Marshall Vintage Modern half stack). Using just the built-in speaker, it sounds good for a little 1x12 combo amp, but comparisons to big amps are just not appropriate.
Overall Impression — 8
I play a wide range of music including jazz, blues, classic rock, glam rock, and metal. I generally use pretty high end equipment for a non-professional musician. I find the low to medium gain settings for this amp are my favorite spots for it. The high gain settings are good enough to let you practice hard rock and metal, but that doesn't mean it does those genres well. Please see the comments above regarding the effects loop problem and Egnater's lack of any customer support. I looked at the Marshall Class 5, Blackstar HT, and Orange Tiny Terror (both the 10" and 12" versions) before buying this amp. I was primarily looking for an amp that would be my practice amp. The Class 5 sounds amazing, is cheap, and is lightweight. It's also made in the UK (most of the other amps in this segment, including the Tweaker, are made in China). But (as previously mentioned) the Class 5 is not useful as a practice amp because you need to turn it up to VERY high volume levels to get that great Marshall crunch out of it. The Blackstar HT5 only sounds good on paper. In person, it's very underwhelming. The Orange Tiny Terror is a great sounding little amp and I gave it a long look. In the end though, the Tiny Terror is not really at the same price point (especially if you go for the 12" version). At $869 (Guitar Center price), the Tiny Terror 12" combo might sound a touch better than the Egnater, but it's too expensive for just a practice amp. Also, though the Tiny Terror is somewhat versatile, it's not nearly as versatile as the Tweaker. If I had it to do over again, I might go with the Class 5 instead. Given the lower price, I would have had enough left over to buy a an overdrive pedal to keep dedicated next to the Class 5 and that would have given it much more of the versatility it lacked when compared with the Tweaker. However, I'm not so convinced that that's the better option that I would go so far as to sell the Tweaker and replace it with a Class 5. Which means that, overall, I'm happy with the Tweaker.
Reliability & Durability — 2
The switches and the cabinet all feel solidly put together. The tubes don't rattle around at high volumes or while carrying it, so that's also a plus. HOWEVER, there's a defect in the design of these amps. The effects loop does not send a normal effect loop signal level. As a result, it overwhelms most pedals you'll use in your loop and makes them sound like garbage. My MXR Carbon Copy delay sound muddy in the loop. My M-108 EQ blinks to warn that it's clipping unless I pull my volume pedal (at the beginning of my chain in the loop) about halfway back. Also, my ISP Decimator G String seems less able to stop feedback (I'm guessing it's struggling to fully attenuate the signal down to nothing). This issue appears to be well documented on the internet. I read there was a fix in the works several months ago, but I don't know where that stands now. I've emailed Egnater twice and they've never responded. I've also tried calling them during normal business hours, but no one answers the phone. Unfortunately, that means my confidence in Egnater is not only shaken with regard to them being able to properly design an amp, but also with regard to the chances they will stand behind their product if there's a problem (which there certainly is with this). I'm keeping the amp anyway because I don't plan to use the effects loop often, but I'm sad to see this issue got through to production and they're not fixing it.
Features — 8
The Tweaker Combo checks off just about every box you can hope for in an all tube amp near this price point. It has four little switches that control vintage/modern, US/British/VOX voicing, tight/full bass, and bright/normal treble. With all those switches and the 3-band EQ, you can get a very wide range of sounds out of the amp. Also, the G12- Celestion speaker gives it a bit fuller sound than some of the other small tube amps, many of which use 10" speakers. It also has an effects loop, which is not common in amps of this category, *BUT* the loop is basically useless due to a defect in design (more on this later). The Blackstar HT5 has a similar list of features, but I felt it was a mediocre sounding amp by comparison. At 45 lbs, this amp is bit less portable than something like the 25 lb Marshall Class 5, but much more portable than a 90 lb Mesa combo (though a 90 lb Mesa combo amp will sound much more like a big amp).