Price paid: $ 700
Purchased from: ebay
Sound — 8
I plug my Ibanez s-series into this thing then run it through a Marshall 1960A. This amp is very well suited for lead playing, but would not buy it if I was planning on using it for a lot of rhythm guitar, it just does not have the beefy tone needed. The fat switch does not help very much in this regard and turns your tone into mush. One thing that did help a lot was to replace the stock el34s with kt77s. The clean channel was built to take pedals well, and it does. The cleans are VERY clean, and hard to get to break up. The crunch channel is very good for classic rock or anything that requires a low to moderate ammount of gain, although it can get enough for early metal tones and even some Metallica. The ultra channel is where I spend most of my time though, and has more gain than I could ever need. The tone is somewhat compressed sounding, compared to the airy tone of the crunch channel. Very shred-oriented tone. My only complaint about the tone is that it is too compressed and digital sounding for my taste, but it still gets an 8 because it is subjective.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall if you are looking for an amp that is well suited towards lead playing (especially shred), this amp is a very good option.I play hard rock (Van Halen, GnR etc.) and I wish I had a better ear for tone when I bought this thing because the compressed digital tone really turns me off now. I will probably sell this and pick up a jcm800 sometime in the future. I will still rate it overall at a 9 though because it excels at what it was built to do, which was leads.
Reliability & Durability — 10
It has run smoothly since day one, and I have not had any problems with it thus far. It seems to be built very well. I have only replaced the tubes 1 time because I bought it used and really wanted to try out the kt77s. The kt's are a very good idea for anyone who owns this amo or anything else that takes el34s because they thicken your tone up very nicely.
Features — 9
3 channels, all of which have their roles (clean, crunch, ultra). VERY versatile, from the cleanest of cleans to high-saturation metal, and everything in between. One feature that I especially like is the noise-gate. It is very handy, especially since I don't like messing with pedals. I do wish it had reverb built in though, and was surprised it did not. It also has the fat switch on the crunch and ultra channels, but I never use them because it makes the tone entirely too loose for my taste. You also have the option of using el34 or 6l6 tubes.