Price paid: $ 279
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 9
I've owned tube amplifiers in the past, and this, to my ears, easily sounds as good. Granted, I keep the gain at about 4.5, but to me that really does yield that gentle clipping sound that tube amplifiers are famous for. I use it with a Gibson Sonex (poor-man's Les Paul) with a 500T in the bridge, and it sounds fantastic! You can get a great Rolling Stones-style overdrive, and unlike so many other solid-state amps, it doesn't sound sterile. I can't detect any noise whatsoever, even turned up good and loud. The clean channel is excellent as well, especially with a neck pickup, adjust the tone controls a bit and you can get a good jazz/blues tone, especially with a splash of chorus. I wouldn't say this is a "metal" amp, even with the mid-contour button pushed, but for classic tones, it's great!
Overall Impression — 9
Like I said, I play blues, punk, and progressive rock, and this amp easily stands up for those styles of music. If it were stolen, II would either track it down and beat whoever stole it with it, or I'd buy another one. My only gripe is the reverb could be a little stronger, but I can live with that. Compared to other amps I tried before buying it, at the price point, this blew all of them away. Sure, I could have bought a Line 6 or a Peavey (imho, worst overdrive/distortion tone EVER!) with all the built-in effects, but to me that's just more stuff to break down. For a serious, no-frills, plug-in-and-go old-school amplifier, this is an absolute bargain!
Reliability & Durability — 10
The thing is a tank! I have a tendency to beat on amps, and this one just asks for more. If anything, the sheer loudness is enough to beat the crap out of the user! In the year I've had it, it's never given me a single problem, ever. It is very heavy, but that's not an issue to me. I definitely would use it on a gig without a backup amp.
Features — 8
This amp was made in 2009. It's definitely versatile enough for what I do, which is mainly progressive rock/blues/punk. One feature that really attracted me was the effects loop, since I use a chorus pedal (DOD FX65 Stereo Chorus), as well as a floor-based multi-effects unit (Digitech RP200). (Be careful running pedals through the loop! The amp can "gain-out", causing an ear-piercing microphonic squeal!) I like the bonus of the More Drive channel, the added boost is great for soloing. Sure, there's amps with built-in DSP that you can buy, but if you're looking for a good, loud, no-frills amp, this is definitely one to check out!