Price paid: £ 400
Purchased from: Gumtree (Second-hand)
Sound — 9
In terms of guitars there are 2 main stays. The Ibanez SAS32EX and an Epiphone Black Beauty Les Paul. The Epiphone... Well what the hell do you expect me to say, it's a Les Paul and a Marshall. It's such a classic tone you will instantly recognize. It works perfectly for my Groove Metal band Engines Of Vengeance (don't worry we don't take ourselves seriously, hense the name). I love the classic feel. The Ibanez reminds me of tones from earlier Mastodon releases such as "Remission" or "Leviathan". The amp is very noisy on amp 2(noise gate definitely required). However Amp 2 has a very crushing distortion. I think Death Metal fans would love this amp. The clean channel can get quite distorted when turned up really high however I do think you probably won't use the amp at the volume where it will begin to break up and distort. Based on this I will remove a point from the sound section. The noisy Amp 2 distortions might be an issue for some, however if your so stupid you haven't figured out that a noise gate is the no 1 piece of equipment in metal music then you probably won't buy this amp. Since that isn't a problem for me I see no reason to remove points.
Overall Impression — 8
In the metal world we love amps with crushing distortion. This definitely has it. With the booming clarity and the more then enjoyable mid-scooped distorted tones this is the perfect Groove Metal amp. In the 8 years I've been playing I've never loved a piece of gear as much as this (except the guitars). If it were stolen or lost I'd definitely buy it again. I love the fact that playing through this amp is just great fun. Even with cheap tolex, distorting cleans and knobs that are hard to read in low light, it's so much fun that none of that seems to matter. I'm glad that I chose this over the Randall RS100HS and it was definitely a really good choice. Over all I think an 8 is fair!
Reliability & Durability — 9
This amp is very dependable. It has been thrown around in the back of vans, dropped at gigs and it wont die. It definitely has a gaurdian angel. I really can depend on this amp. Gig without a backup? I only bring this amp to gigs now (my combo looks really neglected) and will continue to do so until the amp does something to make me suggested that I need one. The amp has not once broken and I don't see it happening any time soon. The tolex however is another problem. The tolex seems quite cheap as it tears very easily and has become quite scuffed. Due to the cheap tolex this will definitely be marked down by a point.
Features — 7
After seeing Alex Skolnick using this amp I became really interested. Having said that, I'm sure you are very aware I am a metal guy (certainly not a jazzer, too much talent required) and this dishes out metal by the handful. There are 4 channels in this amp, an effects loop and an emulated line out (emulated in the sense that it emulates the tone of a cabinet being mic'ed up... Errrr or so the manual tells us). There are 2 pre-amps on this amp equipped with ECC83 tubes which is then combined with a solid-state power amp. The amp is a 350 watt beast and provides plenty of power for anyone and their mother. Where do I use this amp? Where don't I? I use it in the house, I use it live and I even chuck the head in the back of the car and use it at band practices (the guy who owns the rehearsal rooms has a mode 4 cab). I used the emulated line out ONCE recording will fail to do so ever again as you well receive much better tone mic'ing up this amp. The emulated line out tone is terrible! For features on this amp I love it however the knobs are very to read in terms of where you have set things too (especially when on stage and someone else has used your amp and changed some setting and you want to put them back).