Price paid: $ 275
Purchased from: Reverb
Features — 7
This amp was purchased online as my first exploration into the world of tube amps. I mostly record in my finished basement and play for my own satisfaction. The Rev had more of the sound I was looking for over the Krankenstein and so here we are. The previous review covers the basic specs so I am not going to rewrite those. It is unknown to my if the tubes in this amp are original or not. I have not changed them. As mentioned, you need to be committed to the channel you will be playing on as it is not footswitchable. The sweep knob is a pretty extreme feature on this amp. I found myself getting frustrated initially with the sweep and EQ knobs because they appear to influence each other and are not linear adjustments like previous amps I've owned.
The tube powered FX loop is nice and actually works very well for bedroom players like myself who play with others occasionally. More on that later. Regarding your gain on this amp, there is a lot of it. I will say however, you may find as I have that you can get away with using less of it than you may be inclined to at first. There is a boost switch as well. Again, you will need to decide to engage it or leave it off as there is not option to footswitch it.
On the backside there are two speaker output jacks and selectable Ohm adjustment to match your cab. There is also a line out that I have used to direct record into my DAW with IR's I retrieved online. I will close this section with saying I am not using the factory cab. I purchased a Laney Cub Cab to be powered by this head with the intention of tossing a Greenback V30 combo in. Playing through a Les Paul and Explorer in C standard. LP using Burstbuckers and the Explorer with classic EMG 81/85s.
Sound — 9
Noise, not much. At first I thought there was but learned recently that it was my powersource and pedals plugged in (EQ pedal mainly). I have since simplified my set up and it meets my needs quite well for tone. This amp could "djent" but that isn't really my sound. I like classic metal / death metal growl. If Skwisgaar Skwigelf was a real person, I would hope he was my tone father. He is my tone father. I should also state, when I play solo work and high string stuff, I like a fat articulate tone that is not crackling with gain. I like smooth, not sizzling notes. This amp will easily make notes sizzle with the treble knob or sweep knob depending on how you run it in the EQ section and how much boost / gain you use.
I am running a Boss DD-5 in my FX loop with nothing else in the chain. In the front I am using an Electro-Harmonix LBP-1 and a gate. That's it. For my tastes, my tube screamer adds too much sear to this amp and ends up coming across a little tinny. The LBP adds boost cleanly for the first 40% and then really thickens things up. I'm mentioning this so that it is understood how I am getting my sound out of this amp.
For amp settings, I have my sweep knob at about 85%. This scoops the mids and really lets the bass and treble come through. From there, I add mids back in with my EQ section at about 50%. I have base set to 30% to keep it tighter yet retain the growl while my boost pedal thickens it a tad more. Treble is set to 60% to prevent sear but provide note definition and articulation.The sweep knob is where you need to start on this thing to get your basic sound with everything else set to 40-50% in the EQ. When you get close, start toying with the knobs. I only set my Gain to 60-70% depending on if I am using the EMGs or burstbuckers. I don't use the boost knob for the same reason as I mentioned with the Tubescreamer. The gain is about the only linear knob on this amp. Turn it up and add more gain with little impact on overall tone.
The volume knob radically affects your tone. at 10-20% it has the essence of your tone, but is a little like pulling 3-4 db out of your EQ pedal. I find from 30-60% you are in a nice zone that is full and adds a little more mid as you get up to 60%. After that it gets way too saturated for my taste and comes across as sounding like an ice cream truck full of angry bees. There is a solution for this however. On the back I mentioned the FX loop. There is a boost level back there that is 100% clean unadulterated boost. I keep it around 30% to do my normal playing and get my tone. It drive the speakers enough to really hear what the amp sounds like but isn't too loud. If I need to play with others I can boost it all the way and easily play with a drummer. The key here is to avoid using your volume knob to get more volume past 60% or so. It doesn't really get louder but it does saturate more and more. Might be good on the clean channel but not in the dirty channel where there is more than enough to go around. I attribute this as to why many don't like the Krank sound. They are not intuitive as other amps are to dial in based on how most amps function. Don't let it steer you away though. The same is often said with Mesa's and people are not gun shy to try them.
Reliability & Durability — 8
This amp has functioned flawlessly over the last year I have had it. No complaints and it has my trust. Doesn't rattle or give any indication that it is not a quality built product. It is a tube amp however, you can never guess if a tube is going to go. That is not a unique trait to this amp. Scored based on the fact tube amps will likely never be as reliable as solid state counterparts. Everything feels really solid and robust on it though. I will probably be getting some new tubes soon to avoid the potential of one going as I don't know the age of the current tubes. It would also help keep the sound fresh. Hope that is enough characters to end this section.
Overall Impression — 8
I love this amp. I play a lot of Line 6 stuff for direct recording or playing with songs live, but I don't love the sound as much as the simplicity. The sound this amp brings to the table is classic tube filled tone with the ability to go as high gain as you will likely every need. Crunch, rock, and metal are all able to be done by this tasty little beast. If it was lost, stolen, or catastrophically destroyed I would opt for the Rev Jr Pro most likely. That would give me 50W and a footswitch which would round this out a little more. I love all the features this amp has to offer but lack of an ability to footswitch activate them really hampers the versatility live. With a footswitch I would give it a 9/10.