Price paid: £ 116
Purchased from: thomann
Sound — 9
I use this with a Vintage V100 and VRS100 (LP and PRS copies, both humbucker'd), and a Squier Strat with Wilkinson sc's. Gets a great variety of clean/bluesy/rocky tones just with guitar and amp - crank the vol and you can control the OD level using the guitar's vol, which is nice. Out of the box it buzzes like hell - I got the alnicomagnet mod kit off ebay (great guy, highly recommended!) and changed voltage to 240 from 230 (they come with a Euro 2-pin plug, but the amp socket is a 3-pin D shape thingy like a PC socket so I just used a spare PC power cable!), and also fitted a bridge rectifier to change the heater voltage from AC to DC - buzzing gone. Still hums a bit. For 30 you can get a whole mod kit from alnicomagnet to add a gain Switch, change the bias & tone, and further improve the guts of the amp. I bottled it at desoldering resistors etc. but I'm happy as it is. I also changed the stock 8" speaker (OK but a bit 'flat') for a Celestion Tube 10 - much warmer tone. The clean channel (ie ONLY channel) will distort past 12 o'clock. I have played everything from clean to brutal downtuned stuff through this (have a DigiTech GNX4 which I put in front of the amp, usually no amp sims, just FX). Great amp for low vol clean/rocky & bluesy tones - can do metal with the right FX.
Overall Impression — 9
I play jazzy clean stuff to grindy death doom stuff - the amp is best in the in-betweens, mildly overdriven to rocky tones, but it's fine for the other stuff. Depends on how you shape the tone using the onboard stack and whatever FX you put through it. I nearly sold it but decided to keep it and am glad I did. For the money it was the best featured amp out of the other options I considered. Wish it had a gain knob but that's a mod for the future...highly recommended for first time or budget tube amp seekers.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Seems very reliable. I've had it open loads of times whilst modding it and everything inside is very professionally put together. I would gig without a backup (and will be in the next 3 weeks or so - the acid test! According to alnicomagnet, the voltage inside running to the power tubes is too high so the life could be shortened - I've had it about 3 months and still working fine with daily playing. Only time will tell...fine so far.
Features — 8
Made this year or last I assume (2009), Chinese build, very good quality PCB and assembly for the price. Cab is rock solid. There is plenty on the net to suggest that this is made in the same factory and is the same as the Epiphone Valve Standard, minus the onboard FX. The amp is a straightforward class AB push-pull tube amp - volume and bass, mid, treble. No gain pot. Mild break-up can be achieved with a humbuckered guitar played at full vol (on the guitar), even at low vols. Single coils eg strat will stay clean up to higher vols. Overdrive only really kicks in with the vol at 1 o'clock onwards - max vol is reached at 12, just gets dirtier (and therefore louder as it's a toob amp) after that. Has 4, 8 and 16 ohm speaker outs - can run all at once, although output is reduced accordingly. Has line out and headphone jacks. All awesome considering price point. Vol goes from nowt to LOUD in a milli or two of knob turn - awkward but doable for home use (all I've done with it so far). Is PLENTY loud for jams/small gigs. I have a 2 x 10 cab with Celestion G10s 50's in - sounds WAY better through that than the stock speaker (but it would, wouldn't it? Lack of a master/gain circuit is a pain, but considering the outputs etc., great for the money. Has 2 x 12AX7 preamp tubes (Chinese) and z x EL84 power tubes (Sovtek). Have read people changing these out for better results but sounds OK to me.