Price paid: $ 139
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Features — 9
For starters, I have the 2004 "Red Stripe" version... which is the one in the top picture. There were 2 versions of this amp.. one was made in the USA, the other was made in China. I happen to have the made in USA variant... 'murica. Anyways, the amp is loaded with a 12" Sheffield 8ohm speaker, but we'll get to that in more detail later. On the front, you have 2 inputs, a clean channel section (including a volume knob, voicing switch between "vintage" [sounds like a Vox AC] and "modern" [pretty much a Fender Twin] 3 band eq for the cleans, then the lead channel... which I'll start a new sentence for... The lead channel gives you a pre-gain knob (*cough cough*... distortion). Then a 3-way voicing switch. "Vintage" is like a plexi, or what you get when you put an OD with a clean Vox. It's very old school. Modern is my favortie setting... It can be used to emulate anything from a Triple rectifier to an overdriven Marshall JCM. High gain is kinda middy... but works for some older rock styles, and does sound pretty solid when playing lead. Along with the voicings, you get a 3 band eq, and a post gain knob (*cough volume). Then you've got a very nice spring-reverb knob, a presence knob, a toggle switch between "loose" and "tight" resonance, and a power attenuator (let's you control the wattage the amp uses). And of course, the on/off switch. In the back, you get a switch jack, an effects loop, pre and pwr amp jacks, an external speaker jack, and a ground switch (which does very little, but hey... it's there.) Overall, you're looking at a standard set of features for an analog-based solid state (this is not a digital modeling amp).
Sound — 10
Generally, I play my homemade guitar, which has Seymour Duncan Invader clones, so it gets a very high output tone. I play a lot of styles. Sometimes it's rock, metal, blues, alternative, funk, or just clean ballad-stuff. I needed an amp that could fit my style, and this one does. It's incredibly versatile. Not just for its price... in general. The tones you can get out of it are extremely varied and impressive, but it takes time. Like any good piece of equipment, you have to experiment with and understand how to get the sound you want. This is an analog amp, so it won't do that for you. But there's an art to turning the knobs and settings just right to get that dream tone, and this amp will get you there. I promise you, if you take the time, you can dial in some amazing tones with just this amp. Add a couple of your favorite pedals to it and you'll be amazed how well it takes them. I run a tube screamer in line with this amp and it works beautifully for hard rock/metal tones. If I wanna play clean, I just turn off my pedal and switch to the clean channel. Perfect cleans. It really is a phenomenal amp. And it is LOUD. I tried cranking it in a music room once... couldn't get the post gain past 2 without the walls shaking. And that knob goes to 10. so I am fully confident you could do an outdoor gig with this amp, which is crazy, since it's a 1x12. But ask any owner of the redstripe model, and they'll tell you the same thing.
Reliability & Durability — 10
At the risk of being cliche, this amp is built like a tank, in the truest use of the phrase. Never have I seen a more well-built and durable 1x12... the tolex is tough, the construction is incredibly solid, and nothing knocks around or taps inside it. I would absolutely gig with this amp without a backup. This thing is stronger than most tables! Even the grille is impressively woven so it doesn't tear (unless you drag a knife across it like a dumba$$ or something). But anyways, I'm an engineer, and a stickler for build quality. This definitely meets my expectations.
Overall Impression — 10
As I said before, I play many things, but I especially love rock and metal. I've been enjoying Theory of a Deadman lately, and with this amp, I can get a great sound for any of their tracks I wanna jam to. If I'm feeling some Killswitch Engage or Metallica, no problem. This amp covers it all. Even The Black Keys or some clean blues. If this ever got lost or stolen (and God forbid it does) I'd buy another one for sure. I love my bandit. I've shown it off to people who play Marshalls, Mesas, and other high end amps, and they love it too. It's a fantastic amp, and just as a side note... I bought it used online without ever playing it prior to. No regrets.