Price paid: $ 450
Purchased from: Ebay
Sound — 7
I've been playing through this amp for about 18 months, using it with a Fender American Standard Telecaster and a Xaviere XV-JT90 with a mini-humbucker in the neck and a Fender Telecaster neck pickup (I'm a creature of habit). I like this amp better with single-coil pickups; humbuckers cause the sound to saturate thickly. Of course, that's fine if you like that sound. I wanted more of a Fender-y sheen, so I pulled out the stock Blue Marvel speakers (which are fine, mid-rangey, growly speakers) and replaced them with Jensens. This resulted in more definition and shimmer. I also replaced the stock EL84s with JJ Tubes and swapped the stock 12AX7 in V1 (the slot nearest the input jack) with a NOS RCA 7025. Huge difference. The stock clean sound was sorta plonky; now it's creamy and rich. The overdrive channel gives a big, warm sound that responds dynamically to varied pick attacks. I use a clean boost pedal to make solos jamp out in front, otherwise I play without effects. This amp, as the name implies, is excellent for blues. It's also excellent for country (although it doesn't have the clean headroom that most country pickers desire), classic rock, or jazz (with the same headroom caveat). The clean channel starts to break up around 6 or so. The overdrive channel will never do metal, but that's not what it's designed to do. Instead, you get a big, warm, chimey sound that shifts to a saturated, thick tone under a heavy pick attack. That's what my ears say, anyway.
Overall Impression — 8
I've been playing for 20 years, and in that time have played many different styles (indie rock, classic rock, western swing, Christian contemporary - seriously, 20 years is a long time) and I find this to be a good, flexible amp that lends itself to wide range of styles. On the other hand, I've never been the kind to buy a particular piece of gear to play a particular style. But whatever. If this amp were stolen, I'd probably get another (but I'd change out the tubes and speakers as described above). I love the relatively light weight, rich tone, and punch of the two 10s. I love that I can cut through a band and crank the amp enough to get into the richest part of the tube sound. Seriously, it's an excellent amp, particularly for the price. Check one out.
Reliability & Durability — 10
It's well-built and reliable. I gig with this amp often and have yet to have a problem. I keep a couple of extra power tubes with me, but that's a good idea with all tube amps. None of the knobs have gotten scratchy, and it's simply solid all the way around. Built in the USA, by the way.
Features — 7
I bought this amp used and have no way of knowing what year it was made. I purchased this amp because I was looking for a lower-wattage tube amp that would still have enough muscle for club gigs (I had played through a Fender Twin Reverb for years and finally figured out that I simply don't need that much power). It's a two-channel amp with reverb and tremolo. The channels and tremolo are foot-switchable but the reverb isn't. It's annoying sometimes, but if I need more reverb I just lean back and twist the knob. Really, it's no big deal when you consider how inexpensive this amp is and how good it sounds. It uses three 12AX7 tubes in the preamp and four EL84 tubes in the power section for 30 watts through two 10-inch speakers.