Purchased from: musiciansfriend.com
Sound — 8
I mostly use this with a Mexican Fender Standard Strat (cheap pickups) and it seems to suit that guitar. I have also used it with a gibson les paul, and it sounds great with that, too. The amp has a clean channel and 4 distortion modes (overdrive, distortion, metal, and metal stack), selectable by a knob. "Overdrive" seems to be muddy with both guitars, and lacks definition. "Distortion" basically sounds like a boss DS-1 (Roland does make boss). "Metal" and "metal stack" pretty much sound the same (think boss metal zone, crushing metal) except metal stack seems to have increased upper-range frequincies. I use metal stack for everything from classic rock tunes to slayer and metallica. It sounds great for leads and has a unique palm-muting tone, not dark. I will admit that the lead channel is pretty noisy, but if you play constantly, you can't hear it. I have found no way to get any distortion at all out of the clean channel, at any volume. As mentioned above, the clean channel is very dry.
Overall Impression — 8
I play speed metal and most kinds of rock (like Avenged Sevenfold, Slayer, Metallica, Trans-Siberian Orchestra) and while I cant get exact sounds of the artists, I definitely like the tones that come out of "metal stack." I run a Fender Mexican Strat, to a Dunlop CryBaby, to a Dan-O Flanger, to a Behringer A/B/Y box. Out 1 on the A/B box goes to a Boss Super Chorus, to a Digiwech RP80, and to the auxillary input of this amp. Out 2 goes direct to the min in of this amp, set on metal stack. I wish I had asked about a footswitch jack, but the A/B box works fine. If it was stolen, I would probably not buy again, but only because now I am obsessed with the idea of a high-powered tube halfstack. My favorite feature must be the distortion, but I hate the noise I get from it. The only things I wish it had were a footswitch jack and reverb.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I could answer this section in one word: military-grade (two words). The metal grill and tough sides are very durable, and the control panel is also metal. All held together very good, the only thing is the plastic (not metal) nuts around the input jack. I cracked one of those, causing the jack to rattle, but not affecting performance. And did I mention the power cord? I've seen amps with little 3-foot cords, but this one has to be at least 9 feet long. Don't worry, there's prongs to coil it on on the closed back.
Features — 8
This amp actually is 18 watts, instead of 15, as I thoguht for a long time. It has two channels and an auxilary input, although there is no jack for a footswitch, so what I ended up doing was running an A/B switch into the main input and auxilary input. The channels both share EQ, but for $100, what do you expect? It's really a very simple amp, just a volume control on the clean channel and distortion type, gain, and volume on the lead channel, and global 3-band EQ. This amp is actually pretty loud, but on gigs I usually have to mic it into the PA system (I'm pretty cheap). It has a headphone jack that doubles as a recording out, and all knobs are on the top (cool). Another mentionable feature is the metal grill and extra bass speakers in the corners. I just wish it had some sort of reverb on the clean channel, the cleans are way too dry for me.