Price paid: £ 375
Purchased from: Fox Music (Now defunct)
Sound — 9
Over the many years I have had this amp, I have used it with a lot of guitars, with varying shapes and styles, active and passive pickups. I've even used it with bass speakers for my bass on occasion. The clean sound is great, with very nice and sparkly highs. It's also nice and clean unless you want a bit of grit, which it will do with pleasure. The 2 distortion channels are slightly different in nature. The "crunch" channel I feel has slightly less presence than the "ultra" channel, as well as the fact that the gain is lower. Both distortion channels sound beautiful, with lots of dynamics. You can play surprisingly quietly even with the gain on full. You've also got very low noise. Assuming your power supplies and cables are all legit and you've got a noise gate at the front, you would hardly know it was on until you start playing. I think this is bound to be beneficial for those who like to roll back their volume to control the gain. I play a lot of modern metal style music such as Parkway Drive and 36 CrazyFists, as well as some of the more classic metal, and don't do a lot of soloing so for me the ultra channel is the one I use most of the time for some high-gain distortion, with the crunch being used for a "dirty-clean" sound and the clean used for a "clean-clean" sound. For this particular style, I find that the distortion may be slightly too dynamic for certain guitars, but with active pickups, the sustain is just fine. Also, the resonance switch should remain on tight so that the distortion doesn't sound loose and flabby. Having said that, the range of sounds you can get from this particular amp is really rather versatile. The user manual has a range of various settings you can dial in for various music styles. Of course, as mentioned, it will depend on what sort of guitar you've got, but I think with this amp, you have most of the bases covered in terms of basic amp sounds. Plus the reverb is great for soloing in certain music styles, as well as a nice beach-boys surf-style clean sound. All this, and not a single modelling processor in sight!
Overall Impression — 8
As mentioned, I am mostly into modern and classic metal, but I have been known to mix it up with a bit of post-hardcore, as well as some softer stuff, and post-grunge was a favourite of mine a few years ago. There is not a lot of electric-guitar-based music this amp couldn't handle to be fair. Maybe death metal or something, but that's what distortion pedals are for. I have never personally found the need for it, but one of my guitar playing buddies loved using a Tubescreamer type pedal for adding a bit of boost to the distortion on his Peavey, just in case you found it lacking. I have been playing for nearly 10 years now, and this amp has been with me for most of that time, though many guitars have come and gone. I think the sound of this amp is great, and pretty versatile as well. Plus you have the preamp output as well as the ordinary effects loop, which is highly useful if you want a master/slave amp setup. As I say, what I don't like is moving it around, and the fact that I have had issues here and there with the electronics. As much as I love this amp, and appreciate everything it's done for me, it's time for me to move on and get something new. So the answer is no, I won't be replacing it if it goes missing. I can't say I wish it had much else. Another speaker may have been nice from time to time, but really it could usually hold its own against a loud band. All I wish for it now is that it goes to a good home, and that all the gremlins have been rooted out with its latest surgery. EH.
Reliability & Durability — 7
As I say, I have had this amp an exceedingly long time (since 2005 in fact), but over that time there have been a few reliability issues. The first was entirely my own fault for being a silly bugger and turning it up all the way against a ridiculously loud drummer, at which point the power tubes decided to call it a day. Then I had to have the power tubes replaced again a couple of years after that, which I suppose was not a massive deal. After that though, I'm not really sure about this one, but the tubes just stopped heating up. It was a pretty cheap fix though; the guy just cleaned up the tube heater contacts and that was that. However, a couple of months ago, the final straw came for me when after only having the tubes a few months, they stopped heating up again. It looks like a few parts need to be replaced this time which I'm hoping will solve the problem, but I have decided to call it a day with this amp and move on. As I say, it's a great amp, I just wish I hadn't had these issues. It's not as if I played it all the time or anything, and I always used the standby switch. I'm not sure if it's just getting old, it was a bit of a dud, or it's just what you have to expect from these things but there you go. In terms of durability though, no issues. It's built pretty much like a tank. In all the time I've had it, it's been to gigs and various places, but the only damage is a few bits of the nylon fabric at the front have come off. That's it.
Features — 9
Not sure exactly when it was made but if I had to hazard a guess, I would say it was the late 1990s. The preamp contains four 12AX7 valves. There are two inputs: one for a low-output guitar and an attenuated one for higher-output guitars. These can be used together, at which point both inputs will be attenuated. This amp has 3 channels: "clean", "crunch" and "ultra." The clean channel has its own 3-band equaliser whilst the two distortion channels share one. The clean channel has a bright switch to increase the amount of treble, and the rhythm and lead channels both have gain boost buttons. There is a spring reverb tank contained within the bottom of the amp, whose volume can be controlled using the reverb controller. Rounding off the front panel is a master volume control and resonance switch. On the back is an effects loop, preamp out and two speaker outputs, with a switch to match the amp impedance to that of the speakers. In this case, the internal speaker impedance is 8 ohms. Two 6l6CG valves give it an output of 60 watts at 4 ohms. Finally, you've got a 3-button switch which allow you to switch between clean and distortion, switch the distortion between rhythm and lead (which can't be done without the footswitch) and finally, a switch to turn the reverb on and off. I personally don't use the reverb all that much, and if I am being really picky, it is possibly slightly heavy and cumbersome, but apart from that I think it is pretty good features-wise.