Price paid: £ 269.99
Purchased from: Guitarbitz.com
Sound — 8
I use Ibanez RG370DX (Stock) > Valveking 112 (w/ Celestion V30 remember) direct. My music style is GNR to Killswitch Engage to Blick182 to Feeder. I find it reasonably suited to these styles especially with the upgraded speaker, which gives me more control over the EQ. Being 50 watts all tube, this beast gets very very loud, even at volume 1 of 10! Feedback wise, I find with the right pickups and setup the feedback is very controllable, however I love getting feedback for sustain so it suits me very well. Even at low volumes I can easily get feedback, which is an added bonus, however with my old guitar (Yamaha Pacifica) the feedback is very painful to listen to because of the poor pickups. The moral of the story is with good quality pick ups, no noise gate should be needed at low volumes, however at high volumes even with good quality pickups a noise gate will probably be needed. A noise gate is on my list of things to buy. With the stock speaker, the amp only really has one sound. With the V30, the amp has much more versatility when EQ'd right. I have only needed to turn up my clean to half way, and even then it is not distorted. Incidentally, I actually like the clean contrary to other people's views. Sure it's no Fender clean but it suits me fine. And also, despite other people's opinions, I actually do think this amp can get into metal territory with all boosts on!
Overall Impression — 8
Overall, I have played for almost 3 years and this is my first tube amp. I'm very pleased with my purchase however I think low volume and good tone do not mix with this very high powered amp, so I will either be looking for an attenuator or a smaller tube amp to use at home. For the styles of music I play, I think the amp suits it very well. In the future I think I will be buying an OD pedal to give the gain a bit of a boost in the low volume ranges so I can get my desired metal tone at low volumes. This is very important to me. I did NOT try the amp before buying. I took a risk, a pretty good risk it turns out, and the same with the speaker. Even though the total cost of the amp has now reached 340, I am still happy with my purchase, however if you are a US resident I would take a look at the B-52 AT112, which is a very metal orientated amp the costs less than the VK112 but still gives outstanding tone (apparently), but because of B-52 not shipping the the UK I was unable to purchase one. If it was lost I would probably look at a smaller tube amp, but if I was in a situation where I could crank the amp I would definately re purchase it. I just wish it had a built in attenuator. Finally, if thinking about purchasing this amp, DEFINATELY upgrade the speaker, then the tubes, and then think about buying an OD (Bad monkey possibly) and EQ (MXR 6 or 10 band possibly) pedal to comfortably reach that heavy metal tone with more versatility, but then you're looking at over 500 of investment, which could buy numerous other better amps, so think about it carefully!
Reliability & Durability — 8
I have owned the amp for 2 weeks, so I am not in a position to talk about reliability. However, the amp seems pretty durable. It has a metal casing around the pre-amp tubes to protects them from falling and all in all the amp seems pretty sturdy. For the time I have owned it and taking into account possible reliability issues, I'm giving it an 8.
Features — 8
Note: I HAVE UPGRADED THE SPEAKER TO A CELESTION Vintage 30, and will be basing my review around the amp with this speaker installed. With the stock speaker, the amp sounds very muddy, almost like it is wrapped in a wall of pillows. I STRONGLY recommend upgrading the speaker. For 269, the amp comes packed full of Features. For example, the amp has 2 channels, clean and lead. The clean channel has a 3 band EQ (Bass, Middle, Treble) with a bright Switch to give the channel more clarity from the extra treble boost. The Lead channel has a 4 band EQ (Gain, Bass, Middle, Treble) with a gain and volume boost, which allows you to get into hard rock/metal territory. It has 2 inputs for high gain and low gain guitars, a reverb unit, and an effects loop which is very handy. The texture knob at the back also allows you to Switch progressively from class A to class A/B power, or vice versa. I use this amp for primarly home use but sometimes band practice and will be using it for annual gigs. At 50W all tube, this thing gets damn loud. I read reviews and took this into account when buying it, thinking it would be suited to home use, but of course to get the reknown sound of any tube amp you have to crank it up, and i find that hard to do at home when my parents are home too. So if you think you're in the same boat as me i would advice getting an attenuator or look at a different amp. When i have cranked it however, this beast gives off a fantastic tone that allows me to reach, despite others opinions and reviews, metal territory like Killwsitch Engage, but also get the Guns N' Roses tone too. 6 Because of the poor stock speaker, 9 with the V30, so I will give it a 7.5 rounded to 8 overall.