Price paid: £ 80
Purchased from: Don't know
Features — 6
The Roland Cube 15XL is a solid state 15 watt combo amp. There is, however, a power squeezer to lower the wattage. It's easy to get bedroom level volumes without the squeezer, so I don't really see the point in it. The amp has two channels, clean and lead, which you can swap between by pushing a button. There's no channel-switching pedal, which can be annoying. You only have the standard 3 band EQ of bass, middle and treble, although the lead channel also has a gain knob. The Lead channel is actually just the dirt channel. You can switch it between Overdrive, Distortion, Metal Zone and Extreme. It's pretty basic and simple, all in all.
Sound — 6
Alone, the clean channel is a bit bland and boring. With effects, however, it can sound quite nice. I've used flanger, phaser and chorus effects on this amp and they make it sound a whole lot better. Turning the volume up too high will make it sound pretty terrible, but with a tiny little speaker what do you expect?
The lead channel, on the other hand tends to sound rubbish whatever voicing you use. The weakest of the dirt options (overdrive) sounds... Well, weak. The dirtiest of the dirt options sounds too muddy. There's no real in between. Also, using distortion pedals on the clean channel doesn't tend to give any good tones, either. Of course, nobody in their right mind would expect to get a quality metal sound from a 15 watt solid state amp. Overall, I'd say this amp is good for spacey cleans, funk and blues and not much else.
Reliability & Durability — 9
This was the first amp I ever got, and it's about 5 or 6 years old, but still in great condition. As long as you don't throw it around or attack it with a crowbar, it's likely to stay in good condition for many years. I don't think it's been so much as scratched in all the time I've had it. I've only ever used this for practice and it was probably only designed for practice, but you could gig with it, assuming it was miced up. In fact, I actually saw someone gig with one, once. It looked a bit out of place, on a stage featuring some high-cost tube amps.
Overall Impression — 7
I play different styles of metal (from low doom to a more classic, scooped mid tone), along with spacey cleans, but when I first got this amp I was still learning guitar and was mostly playing blues and funk. This amp suited those styles quite well, but as I started turning towards high gain territory it stopped being useful. These days, I only use this amp as a speaker for when I play along to a drum machine, but for a beginner amp it isn't bad at all. It's a reliable little thing, although as the other review says, I think it could do with reverb/a channel-swapping footswitch.