Features — 7
I have read some of the reviews for this little beast and decided to add my two cents worth, even at the risk of dating myself. This amplifier is a great practice amp. Not much to it with five controls; Volume (Gain), Master Volume, Tone, Middle and Bass. The Tube Stack feature is the solid state overdrive feature that gives you that 70's crunch that most beginners beg for when starting out. My parents gave me this amp as a Christmas present in 1986 that I still have to this day. This was the perfect starter/practice amp because it is lightweight, portable, and ruggad and it handled mild abuse without harming the amps operation or a knocking anything loose off the circuit board. A solidly built product compared to others I have owned after this amp. This a the main reason I set my rating slightly higher than other reviews, however, you will not use it for a jam session with a band although you could use it in a Starbucks or other coffee shop gig (explanation forthcoming).
Sound — 7
When I started out I was all into heavy metal and hard rock. I stopped playing for many years and recently start again, so I play (or try to) just about whatever comes to mind. I recently bought a Fender Stratocaster and pulled this old beast out of storage. After some minor maintenance (which I will elaborate in the next section) I plug my Start in and played for hours! This amp has a very good clean sound and the Tub Stack did not disappoint either. The amp did not crack or pop when I raised the volume to as loud as it could go, it sustained the sound very well without any annoying feedback unless I intentionally wanted it. I took it a step further and plugged in my Fender Hellcat 12 string guitar and was delightfully surprised how well the guitar sounded through the amp! I was able to set the controls to get the balanced sound I wanted. The frequency range of the amp handled the acoustic sounds far beyond my expectations! I was able to experiment with a very wide range of sounds. Rich to full and bright. Turn the Tube Stack on and your acoustic will sound electric if you desire. This amp would be ideal for one to use at a coffee house gig if you only plan to use an acoustic because of its lightweight portability and ability to handle acoustics. Back when I was given this amp most people had to use a mic for acoustics so I doubt this amp was designed with acoustics in mind. Surprisingly this little amp turned out to be a tad bit more than a two dimensional practice amp!
Reliability & Durability — 9
As I stated earlier, this amp can handle some abuse. I took it with me onboard 2 ships when I was I the navy, traveling between duty stations, and moving from one state to another until I finally settled down and had to make a living and put it in storage. After a few years of just sitting I recently pulled it out. The first time I tried to use it the amp cracked, popped and made loud static-like sounds... unusable. (This is where the minor maintenance comes into play.) I took the amp apart and cleaned the variable resistors with contact cleaner. I also took the opportunity to inspect the circuit board and all components, solder connections, and foil runs and in excellent condition. Knowing what unintentional abuse this amp has seen in the past I was stunned that everything looked as well as it did. This is a tough, solidly built amp made to last, and this one is nearly 30 years old! With that being said, and the fact I have owned this amp for more than half of my life, it has lasted longer that other amps I have owned in the past that were not subjected to the same abuse and conditions this Gorilla has endured.
Overall Impression — 8
Overall impression is that this is a good buy for your money. I know that Pignose bought the Gorilla line and that there are still some floating around out there somewhere. It is a great starter for beginners or perfect for people who just want to make some "noise." The fact that you can effectively use an acoustic guitar with the amp only adds to the appeal because I doubt this amp was designed for used with acoustics when they were in mass production. I have read in one review that some people has one of these amps and regret having sold it and I can see why. This amp may not be on the level like a Peavey, Gibson, or Fender with their built in effects... but once you own one you do get attached because it does its job and does it well. I don't plan on parting with mine even if I only use it for my 12 string!