Price paid: £ 140
Purchased from: Rimmers Music leyland
Sound — 7
I use Seymour Duncan hotrod pickups as well as others and they seem to work well with this amplifier. It fits the styles that I need fairly smoothly and is the amp that I mainly use at home. Around other electrical devices it can get a bit noisy, which is why, I suspect, the noise gate was installed. Generally it can produce quite good overall tones, but fine definitions of sounds isn't it's speciality. It's either full on metal, or sort of rocky, or sort of bluesy or crystal clear but in-between tones aren't as possible as with more high quality amps in the tube range. Clean channel seems to be clear throughout all volumes though, and the brutality of the distortion should be enough to please even the most rebellious of teenagers. On the whole I can't see any major problem, as to get more from an amp you'll need more money. This amp is the best I've found for this price range, and I've played more expensive amps with far less rewarding results.
Overall Impression — 8
I love the way the clean channel stays clean and the dirt channels are filthy with gain. The metal sound is very good as I thing that's what this amp was built to do best. I really wish that the crunch channel was better but for that I'd get a different amp as it's simply not what this amp was made to do. I've played all my guitars through it and it's handled them all quite well. If it was stolen then I'd probably get it again, because as a practice amp it's brilliant for learning how to handle high gain and how to play clean. Not much can go wrong with it. I've played styles from jazz to prog-metal and all the styles in between and most of the time this amp has put up with me quite well. I don't think that I would've asked anything else looking back, but I just simply wish that there was an extra dial to control the level of effects on the channel rather than them simply being on or off. Apart from that this amp is all good to me in terms of what you can and can't get for this price. It may not be the best, but it's capable of taking on amps much more expensive than it. That's a claim most marshall's I've played can't match.
Reliability & Durability — 9
It's been banged against walls, rained on (which is usually the point of destruction for most amps but I had to get it into school somehow) and has fallen over before now. It's still doing very well for what I've put it through and has never refused to start whilst it's plugged in properly. Tube amps require regular servicing but the transistors in this shouldn't for a while, so I think it's holding up quite well.
Features — 8
Firstly, I'm not sure about this transistor amp's age in terms of when it was made, but it sounds like an amp made in the last ten years at the very least. This amp is definitely a versatile piece of equipment, and I play a wide variety of music styles from heavy rock, hard rock, heavy metal and blues to jazz, funk and progressive. This amp can follow me to where I need to go most of the time. I have a Bogner Alchemist stack which blows this into the middle of next week effortlessly but it costs an awful lot more, so it's not fair to compare the two. This amp has 4 channels; clean, crunch, metal and insane. Clean is the stereotypical no-overdrive channel and has a nice fresh sound to it, and comes out quite nicely with some delay added to it. It's switchable if you get the foot-pedal that the amp is made to accept as well and I think it's certainly higher quality than the regular transistor amp clean channel. Crunch is an overdrive channel based off a Marshall amplifier. It's a little bit reedy for my taste and doesn't have the 'feel' of a Marshall to me. However by employing the amp's built in gain boost function it can go some of the way to recovering from this. Metal is another overdrive channel based off a Mesa Boogie amplifier. Metal-heads will love this tone as it more than makes up for the reedy crunch channel. This channel has far more gain and attack than the crunch channel and gets tones that would be suitable for NWOBHM fanatics and thrash enthusiasts. Insane is the final channel and is by far the most overdriven of all of them. It has a simply overwhelming amount of gain and attack which can be required for songs when simply rolling up the overdrive isn't enough for what you're doing. The only drawback is that high pitched squealing can occur, so you may want to use the noise gate function to take the edge off this. I have used this amp live before as well as in my home. At home it's just what I need and at small venues the amp is capable of holding it's own. Any larger venues require me to use my stack tube amp to get the power that I need. It has two parallel effect loops that can allow for effects to be use simultaneously. Also, setting for channels can be saved to your own preferences. Secret functions include a noise gate and a function that increases the gain of the input signal to really increase the power behind your guitar if required. Overall, for anyone playing in their own home, I can't see much more being needed or available in the same price range. I used to have a Marshall of the same watts and size but it never really sounded as clear as this amp does.