Price paid: $ 114
Purchased from: Billy Hyde Music Parramatta
Sound — 9
I use an Epiphone Dot (copy of the Gibson ES 335) with two standard Epiphone humbuckers. I find that the clean channel very much suits the versatility of my guitar, having a nice bursting tone on the bridge pick up and a very smooth jazzy tone on the neck pickup and all in all it is a very nice clean amplifier with lots of balls, given the right guitar. That said, the Drive channel, as with most solid state/tranisistor amplifiers, is very tinny and eliminates whatever versatility your guitar ever possessed, having the same tinny quality on either pickup and turning down the tone knobs on my guitar having only a very small effect. While this sound isn't bad for trying to recreates sounds like Justin Hawkins uses in his solos in the Darkness, it's not versatile and basically eliminates your hopes of playing smooth blues/jazz with Drive. This problem can be very easily solved if you're willing to spend some extra cash on an overdrive/distortion pedal. I use a Boss SD-1 and that solved my problems completely. The reverb is an authentic spring reverb and sounds amazing, however some design flaw within the amp itself adds noise and an annoying hum when the reverb is turned up. The cool thing is though, when the volume is turned up the hum isn't turned up and so the loudness of your guitar basically overpowers the hum anyway.
Overall Impression — 8
I play old school rock, blues and jazz (that is to say Clapton, see Cream & Derek and The Dominoes), Zeppelin, B.B. King, Oasis, and even Radiohead and the Darkness). There is no doubting the power of the clean channel of the amplifier with the quality of tone that it has and the power of its volume. The drive channel was a disappointment but the quality of the amp otherwise made me have no qualms about spending an extra 80 bucks on an SD-1 to compliment the amplifier. Good stuff if you're a beginner, looking for something you can fit in your bedroom or want to cart around to jamming sessions.
Reliability & Durability — 8
It is very solid and has survived numerous bumps as I've been carting it around to my mate's houses. The only thing that would concern me is the placing of the pots on the face of the amplifier juts out just a little bit from the protective outer layer of the amp making them slightly prone to being damaged. There are various parts that I can hear jingling around though which make me cringe every time it's not placed down gently. I don't gig as of yet, but the amp is a very reliable and loud sonofabitch if you're just looking for practicing or having all day jam sessions.
Features — 8
The Amplifier, since it's designed as a practice amp has all pots switches and input/output jacks on the same face as the speaker itself which allows for easy setting up/adjusting if you're practicing in your room. For gigging purposes however, depending on how your amplifier is set up (as a standalone speaker as opposed to miked up with in a PA system) this can prove to be a hassle. The amplifier offers your usual treble middle and bass adjusting pots. But the amp and speaker itself are so small and put out such a naturally high sound that turning down the bass all the way while leaving the treble and middle at the same level, has a very small effect. It has two standard channels, "drive" and "normal" with no footswitch and a small click in button to Switch in between. Both channels have a separate Volume knob and the "drive" channel has a Gain knob, although at high Gain the volume knob becomes extra sensitive as the Gain adds on a lot of volume as it is. It has standard mono input jack and an "aux in" RCA jack (i.e. the jacks you would find on a DVD player, for instance) to plug in a CD player or drum machine to play along with (although the speaker well and truly was not designed for hi-fi). It has a "headphone" output jack that automatically switches off the main speaker when a lead is plugged in not allowing you to say, record into a computer and listen to the amp at the same time. The 15R is equipped with an actual spring reverb and an easily usable knob to adjust it.