Price paid: $ 494.1
Purchased from: Rock Box
Sound — 8
I play through this with an Ibanez S470 (with stock pickups, which are pretty bad) into a Dunlop Crybaby 95Q and a DigiTech Whammy 4. I have a DigiTech Digidelay in the effects loop and a Laney FS-2 footswitch for the amp. Using the effects loop doesn't degrade the sound at all. The cleans on the amp are great: really clear and bright sounds, and the 'bright' Switch makes it even sharper, even biting. The clean channel breaks up at around 2/3 o'clock, and it still sounds fantastic, but would make it difficult to get a clean sound in a gig without using a mic for the amp. Still, for 15W, it has a decent amount of headroom. The clean channel is the main reason I bought this amp; it sounds lovely. The overdrive channel is also just what I need. It ranges from a lightly driven blues/pop-rock sound, to a fantastic, heavy Neil Young-like sound when the Drive is turned up full. It isn't high gain: it can't do anything heavier than classic rock-like tones, but it sounds really full and thick: great for Josh Homme-ish tones when on full. The bright Switch, which can be a little too harsh in the clean channel, allows for a greater variety of tones, and can add a bit of high-end gain. I have tried this with some other guitars, and results were mixed. Using a friends Fender strat it was, for me, far too bright, almost piercing at higher volumes. But another friend's Italia Mondial hollowbody added a whole new dimension to the amp: it was darker, heavier, and smoother. The amp seems very responsive to the guitar and pickups used, varying widely in tone with different guitars, which is one of the great things about it, and means that the amp has a lot more sonic variation than is obvious from first playing it. Don't buy this amp if you want heavy distortion: even if you intend to use pedals, it'd be a better idea to buy a high gain amp. Buy this for its bright, chiming cleans and light yet crunchy overdrive.
Overall Impression — 8
This amp is good for people who play blues, lighter rock styles, reggae, ska. Pretty much any genre which doesn't normally involve heavy distortion. I have been playing for about 5 years, and also own (aside from things I have mentioned before in this review) a cheap strat copy, a cheap bass, a Fender BG-29 acoustic bass, a Boss ODB-3 and an Aria 30W SS bass combo. If this were stolen, lost, or irreparably broken, I would definitely shop around for something different, probably looking more to better second hand stuff, but I would be perfectly happy to buy another of these. Of course, the amp isn't without issues. The overdrive is sometimes a bit muddy without the bright Switch on, whereas the clean channel is often too bright with it on, and there is no way to Switch it on and off without doing it on the amp. A pickup change could probably reduce this problem to some extent, as can clever equalising, switching between pickups on the guitar and use of the guitar's tone control. So really it isn't a very big problem. When I got this, I compared it to a Vox AC15 and a couple of other amps, and this sounded much nicer for my style of playing, but I probably should have tried out more, even I would end up buying this anyway, just in case there was something better. As I mentioned before, it would be improved by a second EQ, and also a footswitch which could turn the bright Switch on and off as well. It doesn't need any major changes though, as overall it is a really great amp for my style, I am very pleased with it, and I don't think I will need to buy another amp for a long time.
Reliability & Durability — 7
Although I've never used it at a proper gig, from my (limited, I've owned it for 3 months) experience it seems fairly resilient. I always take the utmost care in handling it, which, due to the amp's light weight, isn't too much of a strain on the arms. Nothing on it seems likely to come loose at all, and it feels very sturdy. I've transported the amp around in cars quite a lot for band practices, and there is never a problem (I always put it on something soft and strap it up to be safe). As far as I can tell (and admittedly I haven't had too much experience) if you are careful with this amp it should be fine.
Features — 7
I don't know when the amp was made, and as far as I know there isn't a way to find out from the serial code, but Laney only brought out the model in 2005, so it can't be too old. The amp is versatile enough for me, but possibly not for everyone. I play alternative rock, post-punk, and bluesier stuff as well, and this amp has (for me) the perfect sound for all of that. The amp has two inputs (high-for low output pickups, and low-for high output pickups) a clean channel, an overdrive channel, a 'bright' Switch, a shared 3 band E.Q, spring reverb, a tone control (just like one on a guitar), an effects loop, an output for an external speaker, and a footswitch input. It comes with 3 12AX7 TAD Tubes in the preamp, 2 EL84 TAD Tubes in the power amp and a custom Jensen 10" speaker. The Laney FS-2 footswitch has a reverb on/off Switch and a channel select Switch. These are not labelled, which is occasionally a bit annoying. It would be nice if the amp had separate E.Qs for the two channels, as it would be nice for getting a slightly greater variety of tones, but it wasn't difficult to find settings which give both good clean and good overdriven tone I want, so that isn't a massive problem. I use this for everything: practice at home, band practices and (theoretically) gigs. it's loud enough for practice (its hard to get quiet enough sometimes) and band practices, but I don't think it would be large enough for bigger gigs. The only gig I've played with this was a party, so I haven't been able to try it out for a decent sized gig yet. Still, if it wasn't loud enough I'd just mic it up, which isn't a problem.