Sound — 4
I've used several guitars on this amp, ranging from Fender Stratocaster to Epiphone Les Paul to my Ibanez RG-1527 7-string and I play anything from blues to metal. All in all, the amp sounds good all the time. But then again, I'm playing the clean channel with pedals. The amp models that are avaliable on the amp are next to useless. You might use the acoustic model for fingerplaying, but that's where it ends for me. The other models sound bad and aren't all that versatible, it's impossible to get the blues overdrive sound, and the three distortion modes are absolutely dreadful. It sounds as if half the treble has been cut out and the absent presence knob is turned down to zero, and no playing with the equalizer will fix it. All in all, this amp has a good speaker, but chances are you'll end up like me, playing it through the clean channel with pedals to produce the sound, only using the slightest hint of reverb on the amp itself.
Overall Impression — 5
All in all, I have to say this is a downright bad amp. It has no useful features or the (normally) useful ones are of bad quality, the amount of different sounds you can get out of it alone is low and the sounds you can get out of it sound bad, and you're going to rely on pedals to get any kind of useful sound out of it. I don't see why it's reccomended for starters at all. Honestly, even the Spider III is better in my eyes, at least it has proper distortion.
Reliability & Durability — 9
This is probably the only place I can say something positive about the amp. I've had it for 4 years and it's been through quite a lot. It's fallen down stairs and a kid has tried playing it with the volume up so high his ears are probably scarred for life, but it doesn't seem to have deteriorated. It seems to be very reliable indeed. Though if it wasn't, 15 year olds would more easily be able to make their parents buy a new (and better) amp.
Features — 4
The amp is a 34W solid state with a small selection of ways to tweak your sound. These include a 3-band equalizer and two knobs that can produce different effects, one on which you can choose between chorus, flanger, phaser and tremolo, and the other with delay and reverb, and each can alter the "amount" of these effects, not very precicely, but still. There are two channels, "JC clean" which is simply clean and has a single volume knob, and "Lead" which includes various amp models to produce different sounds. These are acoustic, black panel, brit combo, tweed, stack classic, stack metal and stack r-fier. The only I've found useful among these is acoustic, the others sound downright bad or just awkward, and I don't see the point of most of them. You may be able to produce '70s rock and a bunch of other kind of sounds with mixing around with these effects, but I can do the same with a simple selection of pedals as well, with a little experimentation, and it sounds a lot better. The lead channel has a gain and volume knob. The amp has an input, an aux in for CD players/mp3 players, a footswitch input and a recording out/headphones, the latter which I never use any more because it sounds so awful. I'd rather play without an amp or turn down the volume real low. There's no external speaker output, but I think the amp is the weakest link here, not the speakers. In theory, this amp has a good selection of features, but they all seem to be of low quality, and the presence knob is something I'm really missing, you'll understand why when you read on.