Sound — 9
I use a les paul style guitar with two Seymour Duncan humbuckers. The amp responds to pickup switches well. Using both pickups it gives great definition and full sonic range from low to high. Utilizing just the bridge pickup I can really hit those squeals and harmonics. I play a lot of rock, similar to Tool or Chevelle and it is perfect for that, but the gain options can suit just about any style. The noise isn't a real big problem with this amp, but with most any high gain amp or effect, the higher the gain, the more noise that can show up. So on channel 3 in the modern setting (highest gain saturation) it can hiss but that comes with the territory of high gain. There are at least 8 different settings on this amp, not to mention full functionality of all of the knobs to customize each setting to your taste. The clean channel can get pushed as hard as you like and still shimmer and not distort, but if you want that breakup or tinge of dirt, the right tweaking will certainly accomplish that. The distortion can get to full balls out grind that metal players love. But don't just take peoples word for it.
Overall Impression — 9
I'm into rock, metal, alternative, stuff like that, and this amp has been great in regards to my sound. I've been playing guitar for over 12 years and I've played on Marshall JCM amps, Crate, Line 6, among others, and this amp has bested them all for my tastes. I run a full pedal board through the amp and it responds well to all of my effects and stompboxes. I have always wanted a MESA and now that I have one I never want to give it up. If it were lost, I'd be screwed for a little while because of the price point, but I'd find a way to eventually get another. If not this specific amp, then definitely a MESA amp of some sort. It gives my more mellow style the balls it needs to get noticed. My music and writing are better for having owned this amp. When I had the Marshall JCM 900, I thought I found my tone, but I had no idea just how much low end and full body my tone was missing. When you get this amp, you get what you pay for. I'm not sure why things cost so much just to sound good, but when you become a tone junkie, it justifies the cost when you hear something like this.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I haven't had it very long, so I can't vouch on reliability much, but I have done gigs with it and its not failed me yet. It can get unbelievably loud and not give an inch without sacrificing any dynamic range. It works fine at low volumes compared to other amps I've played on as well. I haven't run into tube problems yet, but I do have backups just in case. (always a good safety measure for gigs)
Features — 9
This amp handles a diverse array of tones and styles. The clean can make mellow guitar parts sparkle and the gain can range from classic rock grit to full on metal distortion. With 3 Channels, this amp gives functionality with its wide range of tone options. I lost the need for distortion pedals and line drivers when I got this amp, thanks to its 3 channel footswitch with solo and effects loop option as well. The effects loop is great and you can control the level of input and output with your effects. As far as power is concerned, this amp can go louder than I'll ever need it too.