Price paid: € 80
Purchased from: Classifieds
Features — 8
- Made in the 1990s in the UK
- 30 W Combo amp w/ 10" Celestion speaker
- Clean and Overdrive channel
- Reverb (adjustable)
- Line Out
- Footswitch input
It can be damn loud, but though it still is somehow transistor powered it tends to push a little bit into overdrive when you turn up the clean channel too much, but not as much as other (transistor) amps in this price class do. Features are overall pretty good for a small practising combo, though I miss an effect loop.
Sound — 6
I'm using the amp with my Stratocaster mostly for Blues and Funk stuff; so it's pretty rare that I use it on high gain. Which is good, though the overdrive is only good/o.k. as long as you don't turn up the gain more than half. It gets worse the more you turn it up. But as long as you just want to crunch up your Strat neck pickup tone, it really is quite useable. The sound reminds a little bit of the Marshall Bluesbreaker pedal sound: earthy, discreet and expressive. Very controllable with the strings. When it's set up right, you can have a bandwidth from completely clean to pretty crunchy just by varying the force you put on the strings.
By turning the Contour poti completely up you can get a clear sparkling low gain funky sound out of your strat bridge pu, but I would not directly recommend it to people who only want to play funky rhythm guitar on it.
So overall it's actually quite versatile while on low gain, but the high gain sound is not useable for Hard Rock or even Metal - pretty much for every style that demands a modern overdrive sound. But if you want to use it for Classic Rock/Blues Rock stuff you might be comfortable with it, though it sounds a little bit like the old British amps on 2/3 gain.
It fits my style of music at least for practising well enough, so I'm quite comfortable with it, though I would not use it on a gig, because its not loud enough without pushing into slight transistor-caused overdrive. Oh yeah, I almost forgot the pretty decent reverb... It's not as good as a pedal reverb, but it's useable.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Reliability and durability - those are the two points which are the big plus of this amp. I've used it for two years by now and it never let me down. Its wooden case with the as usual robust Marshall corner covers looks like you could throw it down your stairway and it would not even get a scratch (even though I never tried it)... The knobs are made of what I think is brass or some kind of brass alloy and are solid as hell. So the material quality really is one of the good points of this amp.
Overall Impression — 7
So for me as mainly blues musician it works for practicing just fine, but if I lost it somehow, I'd get something else. Maybe a Vox AC4 or a Fender Ramparte - something which is completely valve-driven. It might be more expensive, but you get what you pay for, especially talking about the sound - real valve sound is only provided by valve amps, not by amps who pretend to do so.
But as long as you don't regularly play with high gain, and you get it for a good price, this is a good practicing combo which is pretty much super-durable and of fine quality. But if you demand a modern overdrive sound, this is not the right amp for you.