TSA30H review by Ibanez

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  • Features: 8
  • Sound: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.5 (2 votes)
Ibanez: TSA30H
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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!

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    bmgould
    This amp rocks! So underrated. Has great warm n chimey cleans and of course the tube screamer really kicks! The mids and highs really cut thru like theyre supposed to and The effects loop is outstanding. It takes pedals with absolute ease. I run an mxr 6-band eq and an mxr reverb along with a dimebag wah (thru the front) and this amp sounds AWESOME.
    bmgould
    By the way I upgraded all the tubes to a pair of nos svetlana 6l6gc and a trio of reissue Mullard 12ax7 which made this amp sound totally awesome. Way better than the chinese junk that it came with. Also don't be fooled by some specs. This amp does indeed have 3 12ax7's. I use a mesa lonestar 23 cabinet with the stock celestion lead 80 and it sounds incredible. Also the 6 band eq I use really helps push this amp to get the tone I want.
    bmgould
    Also this amp runs on the hotter side and the back panel is very thick with little ventilation. The panel gets pretty warm so I keep the back off which isnt an issue for me. I could fabricate something like metal grating or a bar for protection but its fine. Mesa has a metal bar across their amps and I cant see the difference if it helps or not for protection.
    jamesgraham111
    Best amp I think I have played on, it is every bit as good as deluxe reverb without the reverb, of course. My GT-10 in the effect loop has plenty of options and sounds great using 4 cable setup.