Price paid: $ 1600
Purchased from: www.ebay.com
Sound — 10
I've played several 80's 2204's and, while I understand why they're so popular, Ben has greatly improved upon them with the Olde 800. The originals are a little on the thin side and can be harsh in the upper registers, the Olde 800 has a good bit more meat to it and isn't nearly as harsh. Plus, the Olde 800 has about 10% more gain than a stock 2204. Not much in the grand scheme of things (nor is it that much gain compared to today's high gain monster amps), but I love it. It's so articulate and crunchy. It definitely will not hide any mistakes in your playing. Sweet and a little smokey to boot. This is a rock and roll machine. It cleans up pretty well when you roll the volume back, but I tried it with a few different guitars and it's just not quite as full as it needs to be when you're not hitting it with the full signal. I believe Ben has addressed this issue with the 'mark II' Olde 800. For this amp's intended purpose it deserves a 10 from me.
Overall Impression — 10
In my humble opinion this amp is really only meant for rock and blues, not much else. But versatility wasn't really in mind when this amp was built, rocking out, however, was. If you're looking for some excellent classic rock and hard rock tones, this amp is a great place to start. One day I'd really like to have the 'mark II' version Ben just came out with, just to see how much better he's made it.
Reliability & Durability — 10
The wiring inside this sucker is top-knotch, the components are lined up nice and neat and the solder joints are excellent. My son actually shoved this amp over not long after I got it (and being that it's a combo it's top heavy) on my hard flooring, but other than a small scuff in the tolex not a thing was harmed. Obviously, I'm in no hurry to repeat this, but I have every confidence that anything short of a sledge hammer would have a hard time hurthing this thing. The only issue I had was that the gentleman I bought it from had a G12H30 in it (30 watt speaker, 50 watt amp, problem). Granted, the speaker sounded great, but I knew I couldn't leave it in without eventually blowing it up. So I bought and Eminence Wizard and stuck that in (it's a 75 watt-er by the way). With this speaker the amp got a little more bite and a lot more mids. But the biggest advantage was that I was no longer afraid to blow anything up. Before speaker swap: 5. After speaker swap: 10.
Features — 10
The Olde 800 is Ben Fargen's version of a JCM800 2204. And a fine version it is. I has the standard controls of the 2204: volume, gain, treble, middle, bass and presence. Only one channel and one input. 50 watts from two EL34's, the preamp has, you guessed it, 3 12AX7's (or at least one 12AX7 phase inverter and 2 actual preamp tubes). Solid state rectification. For me, I bought this amp to turn it up and play some rock and roll, so the features are perfect for me to do just that.