Price paid: $ 750
Purchased from: used
Sound — 9
This is where it gets weird. I use a 1991 Fender American Stratocaster with CGA (Carlsen Guitar Audio) pickups in it. I play mainly blues, country, classic rock, and some newer rock. I just started playing with a band that delves a bit more into modernish territory, so I wanted an amp that could cover all of that. I looked at and tested out a ton of different high end amps. I got this in trade for a 750 dollar piece of junk I had (some "custom built" deal), so I took it just to use it as more trade fodder toward something cool. When I hooked it up to my THD 2x12" cabinet with Weber Silver Bells, however, I was SHOCKED. This thing is extremely clear and articulate at high gain levels (channel 2, "vintage mode" half gain), and I can put my Strat in positions 2 and 4 and still sound spanky like a Strat should. When I hit the solo boost button and play in the neck position, I get this FAT, creamy tone with some snarl in there just like SRV. I am a tone wonk, and I have owned many amps. I have played for 20 years, and I know that it seems weird to use a Strat and what I always thought was strictly a "metal" amp with a Strat, but the results speak for themselves. The only effect I run with mine is an MXR carbon copy to fatten up the leads a little. Did I mention that the clean is amazing, too? I run the first channel in "pushed" mode and the gain almost wide open. To clean up, I just roll the volume knob back. If I really want to be jangly, I just turn off the "pushed" mode, and I have all kinds of sparkle and jangle. Not as nice as Fender clean, but damn close. The amp will cover any sound you want, and for the price, it will do a HELL of a job of it.
Overall Impression — 8
I set out to find an amp that could cover a very wide range of sounds with a Stratocaster, and I really expected this thing to be a useless pig that I would just trade for a real amp. What I found was that this is probably the most versatile amp I have ever owned. The clean is not as good as my Blackface Twin, and the classic rock overdrive isn't QUITE as good as my Dr. Z 6545, but it is very close, and it can make a Strat sing. I am really impressed. If it got lost or stolen, I would scrounge up the 750 (the street price is low, I have seen them go for 650!) and try to get another one on the used market. I have been playing for 20 years, and I am totally against new stuff, but this thing is a true surprise.
Reliability & Durability — 1
I used to own a Mesa Boogie Trem-O-Verb, and it broke down immediately after I got it. I got a replacement, and that one fried, too, then I got a third one, and that one fried too. I hope that my Single Rectifier isn't as terrible, but no probs yet.
Features — 9
The amp has 5 different modes in two channels, effects loop, bias switch so you can run EL34s instead of 6L6s. PLENTY of power. Footswitch. Extremely versatile (more on this later). The only feature that is bogus is that when you switch out of channel two while playing, you get like a little delay or break in sound... Not noticeable to the audience, but enough to kind of bug me.