Price paid: $ 310
Purchased from: ebay
Sound — 10
I'm playing through this amp with an Epiphone Les Paul Standard guitar, equipped with the alnico classic humbuckers it comes with, and I think it's safe to say this is one of the best rhythm guitar setups you can get, even for professional bands. The fact you can get this duo for under 1500 dollars new makes it even better. As far as EQ goes, it's the opposite of my old MG combo, I used to scoop the mids out to get the best tone, but the AVT actually sounds best when you turn the mid all the way up. That middle EQ really gives it a bite and a sharpness, and with the gain just under halfway, I mean there's no other way to describe the rhythm guitar sound besides perfect. With these settings I got it to have some real Drive behind it. When you strum a chord, first you hear a really defined, crisp impact, followed by a really jagged resonance, and it just really cuts through the air like you would hear on a professional band's album. Listen to the rhythm guitar on "shower scene" by Brand New and you'll know exactly what I mean. As far as the clean sound, you can get some of the nicest tone for open chords and other non-power chords with the gain turned up, just a tad bit of that sharp bite but not so much that the several notes squish together. The added gain on clean can also provide for a nice thin lead sound that's suitable for some songs, it's almost like a low-gain overdrive. You have more gain with this amp than you would ever need, even if you play metal. I'd rate the sound a 15 out of 10 if I could. When you have an amp that sounds this good for such a great price you have no reason at all to get an all tube amp. The AVT series is so good at emulating the all tube sound that it's lower price makes it the better option.
Overall Impression — 10
Again, there are very few better amps for modern music, especially pop-punk/alternative rock. I've been playing and recording guitar for about 4 years, and I did a lot of shopping and research, and wasn't disappointed in the least with this amp's sound. I'd buy this amp again and again if it kept getting stolen, and I don't ever see needing an upgrade. Incredible amp.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I bought it used and the tube still plays like new, no problems whatsoever. The seller didn't report any problems either. I'd feel safe taking it on tour clumped with loads of other gear on a shifty trailer. The transistor output makes it more reliable than all tube amps.
Features — 9
The model I have is the valvestate 2000 series, so not the new AVT50X, but as far as I know they're pretty much the same thing aside from visual differences. I'm pretty sure this model of amp was made in 2002. As far as versatility goes, there aren't too many sounds that you can pull out of this thing, but if you're looking for a powerful, crisp modern rock distortion that sounds like what the professionals use in renowned studios, this is definitely the amp for you. I play pop-punk/alternative rock music, along the lines of bands like Brand New and the Early November and the sound is absolutely perfect, not even a hair off of what I was aiming for when I bought it. As a matter of fact I listed those two bands because I'm almost positive this is the model of amp they used to record the rhythm guitar for most of their music. It's only got two channels but between the comprehensive gain control and the deeply effective EQ that's about all you need unless you're looking to experiment. It also has a reverb knob where you can control the depth of the reverb, which is pretty sweet. I used to use one of Marshall's solid state MG amplifiers, and I kind of miss the delay effect that my MG30DFX had on it, but the sound of the AVT makes the MG sound like nails on a chalkboard so it doesn't even matter. Paired with the AVT412A cabinet, it's very loud, absolutely enough volume for mid-sized venues. The one preamp tube in this amp makes a much bigger difference in the sound than you would think, and the transistor output does a very good job of modeling that of an all tube amp in this case.