Price paid: $ 580
Purchased from: eBay
Sound — 7
The main guitar I'm using is an Ibanez RG1570. It has a tone zone & air norton combo with a stock single. As stated above I play a melodic hardrock/metal for the band I'm in. First of all, I must say, that the distortion of this amp was NOTHING like I thought it would be. When I think mesa I think Metallica, Dream Theater, etc. etc. HEAVY music. However unless you got an overdrive pedal (I picked up a Maxon OD9) then I cant really see this amp doing anything past hardrock. It's not really a saturated distortion like some amps. Theres no crunch to it. So in that aspect I was disappointed. But nothing an overdrive pedal can't help. The clean channel though is amazing. Though I don't use it, it would be a great studio amp and Live amp for music that demands a good clean sound. For my clean sounds, I roll off the volume and Switch off my OD pedal and add a chorus pedal. It seems like a lot to do when I could just switch channels, but I prefer it. The EQ is really different from anything I've used before. On the clean channel, the EQ is responsive, but on the gain channel, the treble knob almost seems to do nothing, especially on the contour channel. Really bums me out. Also it seems you really have watch the bass knob on mesa amps. My past amp I had it on 7 or 8, but now anything past about 5 or 6 the sound becomes too bassy and fuzzy. But it still sounds great with it backed down, almost as if theres already a natural amount of bass in the amp. However, I have managed to get a really great sound out of this amp. The contour mode is almost unusable to me. With the contour mode, you get a gain increase, but the amp becomes WAY WAY too bright for my taste, and to my ears, the mids get too scooped to get a usable sound of it. Also the reverb is great on the clean channel, but the gain channel reverb is not too great. If you have it set too low, you can't hear it, and once you get it loud enough it sounds like crap. Honestly, probably the worst reverb I've ever heard. So I have the gain on about 5 on the regular gain channel, and I use my EH power booster in front of it to get a really high gain "brutal" metal sound. And then I use my Maxon OD9 for a grittier, mid range crunch solo tone. So it does need some extra goodies to make it sound good to me, but I love my sound.
Overall Impression — 8
My overall impression is that its good for what limitations it has on it. Just 2 channels, 3 band eq, and volume. You really cant get much more basic than that unless if you're using a 1 channel amp. The only other model I've played was the f50 for a short time, but I think it sounds pretty similar. Same features, just 50 watts instead of 100. I just wish it had better reverb and a contour knob to adjust. I've been playing for about 7 years and play in a band pretty seriously. I use a B-52 cab with it, which is like working at mcdonalds in a tuxedo, but the B-52 was a cheap alternative that can really handle the bass, which is why I use it. I use a few pedals with. Carbon Copy, Maxon OD9, EH Power Booster, Boss Chorus, Noise Suppressor and a Korg pitchblack. To repeat myself for a third time, its good for what you can do with it. Theres not a WIDE range of sounds you can get from it, but enough to where I can find a sound that I like to use.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I've not had one problem with this amp. Sometimes when I Switch the standby mode off, I get a really quick high pitched squeak, but I've tried to read up on it, but never found out why it does it. If It were stolen, broke down, etc. I'd probably look into a different model with a few more tonal options.
Features — 7
I got this amp off ebay a year ago almost to the date. It was in pristine condition, save for the fact that one of the power tubes was bad. I had a B-52 that went bad. B-52 has been called the "poor man's mesa" before. Well after that crapped out I decided to get the real deal. Its a 2004 model I'm pretty sure. This is a really standard amp. 2 channels (with contour mode on channel 2), 3 band eq for each channel. Respective gain and reverb knobs as well. If you're into simplicity, try to get one of these, but the B-52 I had was a 3 channel amp, with a few extra controls. So I took a features cut in hope for a better amp. I play a heavy rock/metal sometimes. My favorite feature is the 60/100 watt select switch. I always run it at 60 watts. This amp is LOUD. No joke when the difference between "turn it up" and "Im calling the police" is 1mm. Its a really sensitive knob. Could be good and bad. Since tube amps really need to be driven to sound good, by the time this amp gets going, its almost too loud for a bedroom setting. Its good for what it does, but a couple more features could have been nice, like an adjustable contour, and a 3rd channel w/ independent master volume. But for the price I paid, I cant complain.