Price paid: $ 800
Purchased from: Ebay
Features — 9
This amp has all the typical features you'd expect from a high end amp. Effects loop, reverb, switchable voicing, and useful eq, gain, and volume controls. There is a huge range of sounds you can dial in. I pretty much can get anything tone I want out of the amp but I'm not overly impressed with the tone for a more vintage British style amp. Of course the rectifier is about as American as an amp can get so I wasn't expecting spectacular British tones. I also would have really liked multiple, or switchable effects loops. I like to use a lot of effects on my clean tone (delay, chorus, compressor) and I feel like I have to tap dance every time I switch to the drive channel. Again this isn't really the big of a problem and I'm sure there are ways around it. Overall there are way more features than most amps.
Sound — 10
I'll preface this by saying this amp takes some time to dial in, but once you do oh man does it sound great. It has one of the best clean tones I've ever heard and there are many usable clean tone one can dial in. I have a hard time finding a sweet spot on the clean channel because it almost always sounds good, but I usually end up running the mids and gain fairly low, the master around 2, and everything else around noon. The drive channel takes some time to understand at first. Initially it sounds great, but after a while you will notice harsh nuances of it that you'll want to dial out. The vintage mode is alright but really just doesn't cut like the modern channel does. The only thing about that modern channel is that it can get out of control at extreme settings.
Rolling back the presence can really help to smooth out the potential harsh tones here. After playing around with the amp for years I found and stuck with an amazing setup. It will sound different with your guitar and hands but I like Master:9:30, Presence:9:30, Bass:10, Mids:11, Treble:1, Gain:1:30. With these settings I can get a great deep low end growl without being flubby, enough mids to cut, and a nice pick attack for rhythm work. It works great for metal and hard rock. It can get a bit ice picky on the higher strings for lead work so I kick on an eq pedal in the effects loop that cuts 5db of 6. 4k and 100, and boost 400 6db and the rest slightly to compensate for the volume loss. This works as a mid boost that smooths out the sharp highs and boomy lows and really makes a singing lead tone. This almost adds 2 other channels to the amp and is definitely worth experimenting with if you think the drive is too harsh. My only complaint is that there really is not the much gain in proportion to saturation on this amp. You get a very saturated tone long before that sustained gain is there. So a little gain box is nice to boost for solos. Vintage 30 speakers are really what make this amp sound great. I used to have a Marshall 1960a cab and it sounded alright, but not nearly as good as it does since I got my 2x12 Mesa cab with Vintage 30s. If you're spending the money on this kind of amp then buy a decent cab to go with it.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This thing is a tank. Built solid as a rock. Besides the occasional tube change I've never had any problems. I believe this amp is an early 2000s version but I'm not really sure. Anyway, I've had it for nearly 6 years and took it everywhere with me. It always served me well when I played in a band, and has kept me company through college. I put JJ tubes in when I first got it and they really bring the amp to life. One of the power tubes did die after about a year but I was playing a lot and in a band at the time so it didn't surprise me. I replaced the tube and have had no problem since. That was 4 years ago and all the tubes still glow a healthy orange. Though I am thinking of replacing them soon because I know they are near death. But this amp is super durable and the tubes can almost be used indefinitely at bedroom volume levels.
Overall Impression — 10
For the style of music I play this amp is a great match. From metal, to rock, to jazz, to blues, the amp covers all essential American guitar tones. The only thing is I can't get that lower saturation vintage British tone I enjoy on occasion. I'm thinking I'll have to pick up an Orange or Budda at some point to cover that tonal range better. I never plan on getting rid of this amp though. It's cleans are perfect, and it's distortion is the best modern rock/metal tone. If you see one of these on eBay buy it, you will not be disappointed.