Purchased from: Musicians Friend
Sound — 8
I must say I was very suprised at the nice quality of tone you could get out of this. I tested it with a Stratocaster and Les Paul with and without an overdrive pedal. The volume goes from 1-12 but everything usable is from 6-12 as 1-6 is a little too quiet, but volume increases dramatically from 6-12 getting nice power tube saturation at the highest levels. I would say the cleans and light overdrive on this amp slightly edges out the moderate overdrive in quailty. The highest gain you'll get out of this amp is something like "Can't You Hear Me Knockin' " by The Rolling Stones, MAYBE a little more. But if you want to keep the overdrive smooth, this is as much gain as you'll want. The overdrive on this amp is very smooth when dialed in correctly. Also, even though there are two inputs (high/low), they don't make a HUGE difference in gain. It's more suble, but noticable. Which brings me to my next point. The guitar (and its settings) you use will have a dramatic effect on the way the amp sounds. As expected, this is a very "American sounding" amp. Single coiled guitars sound nice and crispy clean on this amp while humbuckers sound a darker, gritty, with more overdrive (as expected). Overall I liked the way the Strat sounded better even though the Les Paul can take it further into overdrive. A strat right at the verge of breaking up on the high input was excellent. I could lay back on the picking and get nice shimmery clean or I could really dig in with chords or leads and take it over the edge. It's easily the best sounding $200 amp I've ever played.
Overall Impression — 7
I would recommend this amp in a second to anyone wanting to keep things simple and wants a basic, inexpensive, low-wattage, low gain, well-built class-A tube combo for the bedroom or light jam sessions for cleans and low/medium-gain classic rock tones. Usually in life you don't get what you pay for, but that's not the case here. This amp exceeded my expections in both sound and quality. If anybody has any general or specific questions, just ask or PM me. This review might seem a little overly positive, but for $200 this amp isn't just good, it's great. The key is it's simplicity.
Reliability & Durability — 7
The construction of the amp seems very sturdy and solid. The two-tone tolex is thicker and smoother than normal tolex. The front Fender faceplate is metal, and the strap is leather. The grill cloth is sort of a faux-suede that I would be very careful with. Again, you couldn't ask for better quality with the price. The speaker wire has spade terminals on the end making life easier if you wanted to remove the speaker. Also, the other end of the speaker wiring has an normal 1/4" instrument jack plugged into the chassis via 1/4" input making extension cabinet use easy.
Features — 5
First let me say what this amp is and what it isn't. Also, consider the fact that I'm judging it by $200 standards and not $5000 boutique standards. It's reissued from the original from the late 40's early 50's. It's a low to medium-gained amp meant to be played at bedroom levels. Although it can get pretty loud and can easily be played with "quiet drums" and some smooth bass (think CCR, not CoB). This amp isn't made for any kind of metal or "modern music". If your looking for something high gain with lots of features and modeling look elsewhere. The essence of this amp is simplicity. That's what makes it special. It only has an on/off Switch, red light, low input, high input, and a single volume knob that goes from 1-12. It's a very small amp, but weighs a lot for it's size (about 15 pounds, 6.8 kilos).