Purchased from: Ax In Hand
Sound — 9
I've used it with a variety of guitars, namely a Schecter Gryphon with Duncan Designed pickups, a Schecter Hellraiser w/EMG (81/85), and a Greg Bennett Semi-hollow with Duncan Designed humbuckers. I played a varying array of music from soft rock cleans and dirty blues, to stone hard rock. One thing I noted when playing each of these guitars through the amp, was that it portrayed and showcased quite well, the individual nuances of each guitar. From the high output/tone of the EMGs in my Hellraiser, to a very warm and mellow town from the Greg Bennett semi-hollow. Where on another amp, each of the three guitars may sound quite similar and harder to tell apart, the Epiphone Valve Standard let each guitars own individuality stand out. The tone of the amp, probably due to it's speaker, is a little heavier on the bass, but that can be adjusted easily with the EQ. The almost entirely closed back of the cabinet may contribute to the bassy sound as well. Like I said earlier, between the master vol., gain, EQ, and guitar controls, any tone up to hard rock seems possible. The DSP effects, while not particulary noteworthy as far as sound are concerned, are a nice addition if you don't have the pedals to use. Fortunately they can be muted, so you're not stuck with using them when you don't want to. Although it can easily get to the dirty grit of hard rock, it will need the help of a overdrive/distortion pedal if you're looking for heavy metal boom and crunch. A noise gate would probably help as well, as when the volume or gain goes up (quite expectantly) the noise level follows. I have to admit, it never reached a very annoying level though, and was expected.
Overall Impression — 9
I play generally hard rock to heavy metal, and just now getting into blues. An overdrive/distortion pedal and a chorus would defintely be a must for this. I also intend on getting possibly a compression and maybe a noise gate (although the noise gate isn't of high priority). I also own a Peavey VK100 and a Roland Microcube, so this amp fit just perfectly into the midrange gap between the other two amps. Although I used to use the Microcube primarily as my practice amp, I've been using the Standard more and more often. The main reason I still keep the Microcube is it's easy portability. My favorite feature of this amp is the fact that it's 15watts, and has a 3 band EQ. I used to have a Valve Junior, but I wanted a little more power and flexibility, which this offered, for not much more in cost. Cost-wise, no other 15watt tube combo came close. If I wanted something along the lines of an all tube Fender, for example, it would cost me $50 more for 10 less watts, and no EQ. If this were stolen/lost, I'd purchase a new one without hesitation, where as if my more expensive Peavey were stolen, I'd replace that as well, but it'd take me a heck of a lot longer in order to get the money (and hunt down the bastard).
Reliability & Durability — 8
The amp is approximately 45lbs and seems to be built quite solidly. I've only had it for a week so I can't say much about it breaking down nor do I expect it to anytime soon. I think part of the beauty of the amp is it's simplicity in controls and design. Although I don't really gig, I know a few others that do, and after letting them try the amp, they would, without a doubt, be comfortable gigging with the amp. Even got a friend to purchase one as he stated "for the price, I'd be nuts not to have it at least as a backup." My only concern, is when it's been in use for an extended period of time, the faceplate (where all the knobs sit) can get extremely hot to the touch. I don't really have any idea as to what effect this can have on the longevity of the amp's life, and thus I don't usually play it for very long. Although I have the manufacturer's warranty to help easy any concerns, the fact that the price of the amp was amazingly low for what it is, also puts my mind at ease. It's a plus for cold winter nights that'll be coming along soon.
Features — 9
Not sure when this particular amp was made, between 2006-2007. It's a 15watt, class A, all tube amp (3-12AX7, 2-EL84), 12" speaker with 16 DSP "settings" (which can be muted) and a seperate DSP Reverb. It has a single channel with three band EQ, master volume and gain knob. On the back, it's got an output for an 8ohm ext. speaker, and you can disconnect the cabinet speaker (which is also 8ohm), plus you have an input for the optional footswitch. I'd say it's very much like a beefier version of the Epiphone Valve Junior with added tone control and a little bit more flexibility. By virtue of the master volume, gain, and your guitars own volume pot, you can get anything from truly voiced cleans, to a crunchy hard rock tone. It's quiet enough for bedroom practice, while still giving you almost all your tonal options, and yet can pack a solid punch when you need it for a gig. At an akward 45lbs, it's not terribly heavy to lug from gig to gig, and it feels very solid and well built. I'm giving it a 9 because I don't see any other tube combo that gives this all for such a low cost.