Price paid: $ 600
Purchased from: musciansfriend.com
Sound — 8
I have 2 guitars I'm currently using with it, a Schecter C1+ and a Schecter A-7 with active EMGs. I mainly use the C1+ so the settings I use are based upon this guitar. I keep it tuned between drop B flat, drop B and C standard and the low tunings work well with this amp. I like to keep my bass turned up pretty high, as well as the resonance control so I get a very powerful sound when palm muting open notes. I have my settings set for a tone somewhere between The Black Dahlia Murder and Bring Me The Horizon's tone from the "Suicide Season" album. For me it works and its the kinda tone that I've been wanting to achieve. I do plan to get a Maxon 808 or other tubesceamer type pedal to tighten it up a little bit. It already has a very good sound but a good overdrive helps most any distortion channel. Like I stated before, I like grit in my cleans so I have it set for that kinda sound with preamp gain set to around 3. While experimenting with the clean channel I was able to get some good blues tones going and some pretty excellent classic rock sounds. It does have a pretty dark tone, some may think it needs brightening up but if my tunings any indication I like a darker voicing. The clean channel does break up fairly quickly so I would decrease preamp gain as you increas post gain. How brutal is the distortion? Quite brutal. This amp is famous for having wayy more gain than the average man would ever need. I keep preamp gain on the lead channel at 6 and that's plenty, couldn't imagine using it dimed. I almost forgot about noise! I bought an MXR smart gate the same time I bought this and I always keep it on when playing this amp so noise problems are non-existent for me. I would never use a high gain amp like this without one. With the gate turned off it does become a little noisy. It will feedback pretty quick if you stand too close to it and you'll hear a lot of hand noise when not playing but just put a gate in front and noise becomes a nonissue. The included tubes leave a little to be desired and I'm sure swapping them out will improve tone a good bit. Overall I'd give the sound an 8. Considering its only $600 and the sound quality is great for that price point, of course the head and cab version are going to be better but that's more than double the cost of this version.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall I love this amp. I've always been a fan of the 6505/5150 tone since I started playing seriously again 5-6 years ago. I've grown up around guitars, I had my first one at age 4 (adorable, I know). This is my first tube amp but I know a pretty good amount about amps from playing other peoples and just researching them over the years. The amp this is replacing is an old Crate solid state from the 90s, which was really lacking in a lot of ways. If it was lost/stolen I would be pretty upset. I would buy this amp again though after I fixed my broken spirit. Basically my favorite thing about this is the classic 6505 sound at an affordable price. Of all the amps I've tried the 6505+ stack is my favorite tone so far and this comes fairly close without breaking the bank. One thing I do dislike is the sheer size and weight of this thing. Its probably the biggest single speaker combo I've ever seen. When picking out an amp it was between this and an Orange tiny terror. This ended up winning over it mainly for the fact that it has more power and footswitchable channel selection. Not to mention this is ready to play and the Tiny Terror requires some help from pedals to get a metal tone. Overall impression 9 because its a really Killer amp for the price.
Reliability & Durability — 7
I haven't gigged with it yet but if I was to take it to a show I would go without a back up. A lot of the reasoning behind that is I simply can't afford a back up. I haven't had any problems with it so far. It came with ruby tubes stock, I haven't changed them or anything yet. They're decent enough tubes I suppose, not the best by far but any man should know better than to go to a show with stock tubes without back ups on hand. So far so good, I've had no problems with anything on this amp, everythings ship shape as far as aesthetics go. It may have been built in china but its not bad build quality. No kind of exterior discrepancies to speak of. Honestly I'm not sure I've owned it long enough to give a fair rating on reliability so I suppose I'll give it a 7 due to the cheap stock tubes, they could have loaded it with something better.
Features — 8
I bought this amp brand new a little over a month ago so it was made fairly recently. Like most people that buy this amp, I bought it for the lead channel. I've always loved that 6505/5150 tone heard so often in modern metal but I could never afford a stack so when I heard they were releasing a combo version I started saving. I'm a metal fan (surprise surprise) and some of my favorite bands are The Black Dahlia Murder, Whitechapel, Veil Of Maya, Bring Me The Horizon, Deftones, Oh Sleeper, The Devil Wears Prada, etc. I mostly stay within the realm of deathmetal, deathcore, and metalcore. Oh gosh! He likes core! His opinion is invalid! But seriously this amp is made for that sound and a lot of the bands I mentioned use it. So I would say it covers my style perfectly. It has 2 channels which are clean and lead. The clean channel has a footswitchable boost that adds some extra grit to your sound. If you turn up the clean channels preamp gain and activate the boost you'll get a tone that's pretty good for some 80s thrash stuff. The 6505 is kinda known for having a lack-luster clean channel but honestly I like the sounds it has. I've never been into that bone dry Fender kinda clean, I like having a little dirt to play with, that's actually another reason I decided to go with this amp. It is possible to get a pretty clean sound, it just takes some time and patience but if you like the gritty sound like I do then its not that hard to dial in a tone that's good. It does have an fx loop, though unfortunately its not footswitchable. I'm not that big on pedals personally so its not that big of deal but I can see where that would be a problem for some users. I don't get any noise out the loop when using but I also don't have very many pedals so maybe that's why. As far as extra features go this amp doesn't have a whole lot. It does have built in reverb but I think its too subtle and wish it was more noticeable. Of course at higher volume levels it does become more noticeable. It also has a microphone simulated output on the back. I haven't used it yet so I can't give an opinion here. It also has a standby Switch so you can warm it up without making any unwanted noise. It has dual external speaker outputs for use with other cabinets which sounds very useful. One thing I wish it had is a boost for the lead channel. Also separate reverb controls would be nice. As far as power goes this thing has plenty. It has quite enough volume for band practices and if you're gigging its going to be miced up anyways. Incase you're unaware, this amp is all tube and runs at 60w rms. Overall I'd give the features an 8 because it has everything I need but not quite everything I want.