Sound — 8
I use mainly ESP guitars, on occasion I use a Vintage Kramer, an American Fender Tele and a Gibson SG. All have passive pickups. I like the sound of the spidervalve head for this band (we do 80's hair metal). It has a good rock rhythm sound, and I dial in my lead sound with a tad delay and reverb, it works well for playing Demartini, Lynch, Jake E Lee, etc.. For brutal distortion, I'd say it's close. I don't play brutal metal, so it doesn't take away from the grade. The clean sound would be better if the effects were separate. This takes away from the grade. The amp can be noisy, but the crappy footswitch (express) has a volume/wah expression pedal. Its almost impossible to switch from volume to wah, or back to volume from wah. It takes your full foot and all your weight, so live, people see you trying to get it switched, which I had a problem with. I now use a crybaby instead.The express pedal is only useful for 2 sounds, as the placement of the footswitches are above and below, which is near impossible to switch sounds mid song. I might epoxy some wood on top of the A and B to make them more accessible.I have a few tube amps, but I like the spidervalve for this band.
Overall Impression — 9
I think I would buy another one, just as one for gigs, and leave the other one at the rehearsal space. I wish it had seperate chorus, delay, flange. If it were stolen, I'd probably use my Peavey Triple XXX.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I would keep a spare set of tubes for it, as i feel it is pretty dependable.
Features — 9
Hybrid amp, 4 channels, clean to insane sounds, some effects... I've been playing over 30 years, and I've had many amps form Lee Jackson heads, Mesas, ENGL, Framus, Marshalls to Fender. Always used tube, so this hybrid amp was on thin ice until it proved itself. It is basically a tube amp anyway, but digital effects scare me as I feel them not trustworthy enough to gig with.