Price paid: $ 350
Sound — 10
I'm playing fairly straight-ahead jazz, duets w/ bass player and trio with bass/drums/guitar. I run either an Epiphone Alleycat semihollow or an Ibanez Artcore AF75 through this thing. Humbuckers on both, so should be whisper quiet. Unfortunately, the Eppy has a nasty hum that I've tracked to the reverb stage. I've switched out the tubes, but that only makes a bit of difference. I think it might be a shielding issue, but I've been having too much fun playing to do much about it yet, and it's only a problem if I use the reverb. I've been running an outboard reverb unit so far, with no complaints. Absent the reverb-related noise problem, the amp's tone is gorgeous at any volume I'm liable to try. Loud and clear at 1.5-2.5, and I've pushed it no louder than about 5 in a small club. Everyone remarks on the warm tone and clear articulation, so I'm happy there. I don't usually use distortion, but I have a feeling this is the wrong amp for real crunch. I'm dumping the rating for sound a bit because of the hum. Absent that annoying 60cycle buzz, this is a 10 on my scale. Even so, if I bypass the reverb, it's everything I'd hoped it'd be.
Overall Impression — 10
I played for about 15 years before hanging it up for graduate school, about twelve years ago. Recently begun playing again, so this is the first amp I've owned since selling my 100w Marshall head. Even assuming the reverb-related hum problem to be endemic to the model (and I think any hum can be solved by the right tech!), I love this amp. Fun to look at, wonderful warm tone, great articulation on chorded and single note passages, easily portable but powerful enough for a small club gig. If I decide to send this one back for a replacement, I'll keep the replacement, even if it still hums. I'll just use an outboard reverb and call it good until I can get an amp tech to do appropriate voodoo and cure it. The rest of the package is more than enough for me. And I cannot imagine much more for $350! The rating is really idiosyncratic for me. An amp is all about tone and articulation for me, not volume or crunch. This one just "feels" right, and hearing it makes me want to play.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I've only owned this amp for a couple of weeks, and I've only played out with it a few times. The housing seems solid, the design is logical, with nothing much hanging out where it can get snapped off or anything. I'm impressed with the protection of the tubes; noting cheezy there. I've used it on gigs with no backup, and so far it's been trouble free. I carry a couple of spare tubes and a fuse, just in case. I'm worried about the hum. As the amp is still under warranty, I may either send it back for another or try to get warranty repair. I don't like messing with wiring, and I suspect that's the problem. I'll hold off on rating this until I've used this thing for at least six months; but I suspect it'll hold up nicely.
Features — 8
2003, Blue tolex (and I dig the blue!); one-channel, three-way EQ (bass, mid, high), reverb (more on that later!). Single 12" Celestion, 25w. Plenty of power for the small club gigs I play. Nice retro styling, solidly constructed and no heavier than you'd expect from a tube amp of this size. I don't need any bells & whistles, but a full-on rocker might want a second, switchable channel.