Price paid: £ 215
Purchased from: eBay
Sound — 7
I use various guitars with this amp, mostly with single coils and humbuckers, as I currently don't own any guitars equipped with P-90s. I have also used a guitar with lipstick tube single coils but it is a 12-string so I can't really tell how it compares to traditional single coils. With single coil pickups this amp really sings! it's nice and jangly with a Fender Stratocaster. The cleans are sparkly, and the overdrive is nice and punchy, with a lot of clarity and definition. It is a very bright voiced amp, I'll point out. With humbuckers, however, the cleans are quite nice, but I'm struggling to get anything other than a dank, muddy tone out of the overdrive, particularly with the bridge pickup. Some tell me this is because of the stock speaker, mind. it's still a usable tone, just has potential to be better. It could also be an issue with my guitars - my Epiphone Sheraton sounds lovely on the neck pickup, but very dull and almost muffled on the bridge pickup, whereas my Ibanez JTK2 sounds pretty nice on the bridge pickup, but incredibly muddy in the neck position. This could be something I'm doing wrong, basically. Not many noise issues so far - when I got the amp first I was getting a strange sizzling noise for a short period of time at seemingly random intervals, but it seems to have stopped now. that's about it. As this is a valve amp, the clean channel does start to get some natural overdrive when it is cranked up loud, but luckily, this is what makes valve amps so great! it sounded like it was getting a bit crispy with the volume at around 5 or 6, but by this point you will be playing louder than the average guitarist will ever need to. It can compete with a drummer with the volume at about 3 or 4, and once you turn it up past this point, you don't get much more volume, you get a more compressed tone, before gradually getting more and more overdriven. At 10 you'll get a wonderful screaming blues lead tone on the cleans. This is a Vintage voiced amp - the distortion isn't meant to be brutal - it's meant to be rich, lush, dynamic and smooth, and it is. The overdrive channel sadly sounds a bit muddy at low volume, however - again, this could be the stock speaker letting it down.
Overall Impression — 9
I play blues, rock, punk/grunge (they are the same thing, really), a bit of many other styles occasionally too. I've found this amp to be a good match for just about everything I've thrown at it - except brutal metal tones - if metal brutality is your thing, look elsewhere! I have been playing for about 10 years, though only seriously for about 4. I own a lot of guitars and pedals, but my other amps, apart from the Vox Valvetronix, are not even worth mentioning. If this amp was stolen/lost/broken, I'd definitely do my best to get another - it's been the best addition to my rig since getting a guitar in the first place. The only fault I can find is that the tone I get from humbuckers is ok, but not entirely satisfactory - I absolutely love the sound with single coil pickups, and look forward to finding a solution to the humbucker problem - it could even be that I just need to get some new tubes. All in all, a great amp, I just don't think I'm realising it's potential at the moment as I have the stock speaker and some pretty worn out tubes - I haven't heard it with Brand New tubes as I got it off ebay.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I've had this amp about 8 months and never had any problems with it. However, I would only use it without a backup if I had some spare tubes handy - things like faulty tubes have to be taken into account. With that said, I don't know what I'd do if I did have to use a backup amp - it would have a major impact on my entire rig as I have set up pedals to work with this amp, and I don't have another tube amp - my only usable alternative is a Vox AD50VT, which wouldn't like my pedalboard very much at all. Luckily, I've not had to bring out the backup amp yet.
Features — 8
I got this amp used off ebay so I don't know what year it was made. This amp is great for anything from clean to classic rock overdrive, and with the help of an overdrive or distortion pedal will work great for hard rock or grunge. I wouldn't recommend it as a death metal amp, for example, as it is very Vintage voiced. But it is an incredibly versatile amp on it's own if you want to be able to go from jangly cleans to led zeppelin style overdrive and do anything in between. The amp has 2 channels, which are footswitchable (the footswitch is not included) - clean, and overdrive. Clean has a nice chimey sound controlled by just a simple volume control and a bright Switch (which affects both channels), whereas overdrive has volume and a "Drive" knob (gain) and has a much more punchy, mid-heavy tone. The amp has a basic 3-band EQ which functions for both channels, a reverb level knob (reverb can be switched on and off with an external footswitch, too), and FX level for the FX loop. this amp isn't loaded with features, but it doesn't need to be. At 30 watts it's very loud. people Who think you need a 100 watt stack take note. the amount of power this amp pushes out will surprise you! For reference, it is a tube amp, containing 3 12AX7 preamp tubes, and 4 EL84 power amp tubes - I believe all stock tubes are Sovtek. The speaker is a Celestion seventy 80, which I've been told isn't great, and the amp would really benefit from having these replaced.