Price paid: $ 299
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 9
I play praise and worship music and rock ranging from stuff like "Can't Find My Way Home" and "Wild Dogs", a lot of Zep, a smattering of 80s, and many originals, power ballads and classic rock. The Celestion speaker is a MUST-HAVE for me. I tried 6 or 7 new amps at GC, and this was the only one that didn't freak out when I used the Tele's neck pickup. The amp is pretty loud for its size. It's a little noisy when I use my pedal but not distracting. Using the on-board stuff, it is very quiet. The clean channel doesn't distort at high volumes. The on-board effects leave a bit to be desired. The distortion is okay but not up to the level in my pedal. The amp offers six kinds, 2 crunch, 2 metal, and 2 "insane." The distorted sound is cardboardy, even when I eq out bass and mid. The chorus is okay but there's very little room for customizing depth, mix and rate. Likewise, the delays and echoes offer mix (level), but no customizing for time or feedback. I set up presets in case I play someplace that hates my effects pedal - I co-host an open mic in a place that has terribly dirty power, and when I use my pedal, I get not just single-coil hum, but a very loud, distracting hum, that is omnidirectional - usually I figure out where the trouble spots are and face away, but there's nowhere to hide in this place! I will otherwise use my pedal, and for that, this amp is great, delivers lots of power and doesn't distort at high volumes.
Overall Impression — 10
I own 2 Peavey VK 100 tube amp heads, 2 Marshall MG100 4 x 12" loaded with Celestions, a Zoom G2.NU effects pedal, 2 Strats and 2 Teles (I keep one pair in standard tuning for things like open mics or playing with guys who don't want to tune down, and the other pair is tuned down a half-step to save wear and tear on my 52-year old voice). I've been playing guitar since 1976, and started singing long before then. I can play the piano a bit, drums a bit, and am a pretty good bass player. The amp complements the music I play very well. My favorite features: 1) it's a tube amp, 2) it has a Celestion, 3) it delivers great power for an amp this size, and 4) it's not noisy and is very clean. If this one were stolen I'd get another one ASAP. I compared this amp against a Peavey VK 112 and thought I'd like the Peavey, because I have the amp head and like it, but the speaker was lacking. Tried a Marshall Haze. Marshall doesn't load Celestions in solid-state amps and I couldn't afford a tube amp. The speaker in the Marshall I also found lacking. I tried a Fender Frontman 212. The speakers were lacking also. I tried an older, smaller Fender combo amp, and it sounded great for its size but it wasn't loud enough to serve in a mid-size capacity. I'd have bought a brand-new Spider Valve 112, but Line 6 doesn't make those anymore, and it didn't occur to me to try its successor because I was so happy with this one. The on-board effects are not fantastic, and compression would be a nice feature to have, but I will only use the presets in an emergency. I didn't have to create a new patch set for it either. It handles my pedal patches very well and sounds a great deal like my VK100/Marshall MG100 rig. It's better than I'd hoped for and I would recommend this amp to anyone looking for a scalable mid-size amp that will work from small applications to open mics.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I can't say yet about its durability. I ordered new power tubes since I have no idea when they were last changed. The preamp tubes seem fine, no evidence of them being microphonic. The amp seems very-well constructed and solid, no rattles, and it's a bit heavy but not as heavy as my Marshall MG100 cabinets, which I'm going to need help lifting soon. Also, the amp has very sturdy casters, a blessing. I believe it will prove to be durable and reliable and will provide an update after I've had it for a few months.
Features — 10
40 watts RMS, 1 12" Celestion G12, 1 channel, 36 user-defined presets, on-board chorus, flange, tremolo, delay, tape echo, sweet echo, 6 distortions to choose from, noise suppressor, tuner, lots more. I use the clean channel and run my Strats and Teles through a Zoom G2.NU. I made three presets, for chorus/clean, distorted rhythm, and distorted lead with more delay. This amp is great for mid-sized applications (open mic, church band) and probably could keep up with my secular band. So far I really like this amp and have no complaints. I bought mine used at GC and ordered new tubes for it, since I've no idea when they were changed last.