Purchased from: Guitar Center
Features — 8
- Production started 2012, made in China
- All tube amp (3 12Ax7 pre-amp tubes, 2 6L6 power tubes
- Main Volume, Gain (for preamp tubes), EQ (bass, middle, treble)
- Speaker outputs: switchable between: 4 ohm mono/8 ohm mono/16 ohm mono/8 ohm stereo/16ohm stereo
- Effects loop (not a true effects loop since it only places after tube screamer section, before any amplification so I docked it a point)
- Tube screamer ts9 circuit built-in (overdrive, tone, level)
- Boost switch (6dB)
- IFS2G Footswitch not included so I docked it another point
Sound — 10
This is basically a 1 channel amp with a tube screamer pedal built-in, tube screamer and tubes - what else could you need? The stock 6L6 tubes sound good to my ears (no basis for comparison yet with other tube brands). Good harmonics and great headroom for jamming with a drummer, sustain for dayyyyyyyyyysssssss when cranked- I clocked mine at about 30-40 sec before it gave in to feed back, but it was pleasant when it did, not ice-picked. The 6dB boost is not that noticeable when playing at higher volumes- though at that point, if you still need more volume you should probably just mic the speaker cabinet and use a PA system. This amp is very quiet, no ice-picking unless you get your settings wrong when using the wah.
The tube overdrive sounds fantastic if you like that SRV kind of sound, very creamy how it breaks up. The addition of the gain knob makes this amp much more desirable than the smaller version (TSA15H). I drive a 4x12 1960a cab with Celestion GT12-75's and it is really amazing to my ears. The EQ controls do not make an incredible difference across the range of settings, but that being said- this amp really sings in the mid-range, which is right where you need it to be for a guitar to cut through the mix, adding the tube screamer effect gives you that nice chainsaw grit. It responds well to playing style - it is cleaner with shorter less powerful strums and the grit comes out as you strum harder.
This amp does not have a million sounds, and tubes likely break up too early for the blues guys who want a lot of clean head room. The built-in tube screamer is only over-drive, so its not as much dirt as what a metal guitarist may need - though a distortion pedal could easily get the sound into that strata. However, for what this amp does - it does it well, and you can't beat the price!
Reliability & Durability — 9
I am not yet sure on durability since I haven't had the amp very long. With that said - I opted for the 30 watt version so that the tubes will not always need to be at full output, as was the case when I played with my drummer using the 15 watt version - so hopefully the tubes will last longer when not cranked to 11. Controls, knobs, and switches seem pretty solid. The white cover will get dirty fast so I docked it a point.
I will be gigging at shows with this, I do not expect to need a back-up amp but lets face it, its a tube amp and tubes can blow out, so I have a crate powerblock just in-case I get desperate and need to finish a show.
Overall Impression — 9
I play psychedelic rock stuff - a mixture of strum and finger picking, I have been playing for 15 years. My only other effects are a wah pedal and a reverse delay, and I like my signal always a little dirty so this amp really suits my needs. I have always wanted great sustain with the undulating harmonics as the note rings out, and I finally got it with this - I would definitely replace it if it were to break so I bought the 5 year pro-coverage from Guitar Center just in-case.
I would give this amp a 10/10 overall rating except that the effects loop isn't a true effects loop so I docked it a point. Overall, this amp is worth the money, and delivers great tone for the style of playing that I do. If you like a slightly or very dirty signal than this is a great amp!