Purchased from: Local - Craigslist
Features — 7
The Splawn Quick Rod is a 2 channel amp with separate EQs and channel volumes but no overall Master volume. They are hand built one at a time in North Carolina by a small crew consisting of Scott Splawn and a few other guys. These amps are custom built per order and have an average wait time of 12 weeks. All of the components are high end including the Heyboer Transformers. They are an EL34 based amp but can be converted to KT88/other with a screen grid resistor swap/piggy back. The amps also have a 1/2 power switch, Solo boost, and the "Gears." The Gears (1,2,and 3) approximate a Marshall Plexi, Marshall JCM800 and a "hot-rodded" JCM800 respectively. The OD channel includes a Presence control and the Clean channel lacks a Mids control. In addition to the above features the amp also includes an OD1/OD2 control which is only foot-switchable and provides an additional level of boost. The Footswitch also controls channel switching and the Solo boost, so you pretty much have to have this footswitch to get the most of the amp. Unfortunately, the footswitch does not allow for the switching between Gears, although there is mod for that. I personally prefer Gear 2/OD2. Additional features include a Series Effects Loop - w/ true-bypass and adjustable +4db/-10db switch as well as a Mains power selector. Although on the surface, it appears that there are a lot of features, compared to other amps in this price range.
Sound — 9
The Splawn family of amps is primarily driven around that modded hot-rodded Marshall tone. For many it is the tone that Marshall should have morphed into after the JCM800 series. The amp is capable of of very suitable (although dry) cleans to classic/'80s rock to metal. The amp excels at classic rock/'80s metal. The amp can do modern metal but only with the addition of some pedals - for me anyway. The Quick Rod has a pronounced upper mid frequency and the amp's overall tone is shaped around that. To get more low end or a scooped feel an EQ pedal in the loop is essential IMO. The good news is that the amp is super articulate and touch sensitive. Therefore, it handles drop tunings extremely well. It is almost impossible to get this amp to flub out. The amp is also pretty bright. It will accentuate every mistake/note you play. There is no hiding behind this amp. The takes OD pedals very well and I personally use a DigiTech Bad Monkey. Splawn also makes very good speaker cabinets and the Splawn Small Blocks are the speaker of choice for most Splawn owners. Some speakers, like the Celestion Vintage 30 for example, do not sit as well due the Splawn's pronounced middle frequencies. For the hot rodded Marshall tone - Splawn amps are hard to beat, especially for the price.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Reliability wise, you just can't get much better than these amps. I've never owned a Diezel or a Bogner or some of the other high end amps but I've played quite a few amps and I've done a fair bit of my own research. Splawns have a worldwide reputation of being one of the best amps you can buy quality wise. All of the components and wire dress are top notch. I see very few quality issue reports on the web. Additionally, Scott Splawn provides some of the best customer service out there. That is a global opinion - not just mine. He is very responsive and has spent quite a bit of time even talking to me and I bought my amp used. The amps come with a Lifetime warranty although that warranty is not transferable.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall impression is that Splawn amps are brilliant. They are not for everyone though. They excel at certain genre of music which is primarily '80s hard rock/metal. That said, I've seen plenty of good clips of people doing excellent cleans, blues, and modern metal with them as well. I do wish that the features were a bit more deep or useable but compared to the stock Marshalls this amp clones - I really can't complain.
For pics and clips of my amp you can see my profile. For additional information on Splawn feel free to visit UG's Only Thread for Splawn Amplification here.