Price paid: £ 399
Purchased from: Gear4music
Features — 8
This is an entry level all valve head amp and cabinet. Head unit is rated at 50w and has 3 AX12 7 preamps and 2 6L6 Electro-Harmonix power amps. Chicken head switches reverb, presense, master vol, bass, middle, treble and gain. With an additional boost button. Switches - power on off and standby. Two channel inputs. Essentially clean and higher output, called low and high, rather than clean and overdrive. Cabinet is a 4 x 10 inch Celestion speaker unit. The two units are joined by a single lead that uses standard jacks supplied. Relatively short power lead, but not a big deal. Extension cable would be sensible for unknown gigs anyhow.
Sound — 8
The sound is warm and smooth. There are no harsh overtones. It does not break up as easy as some amps, and the gain is good for reasonable classic rock crunch, without getting ever into hi gain metal territory. Not my style so happy with this as valve amp suited for clean through to rock growl. Even at high volumes there is no background hum, which is great, even with single coil guitar (Mexican Strat). With the Les Paul plugged in the sound may not be as clean as some might want with the gain turned up. The gain needs to be right up to achieve a good grungy sound.
Reliability & Durability — 8
Seems as well built as other amps I have. Fender and Marshall, but time will have to see if with lumping in and out of car how the castors fair on the cabinet, and how the blue vinyl covering stands up. Corners are covered with chrome effect metal that offsets blue colour well. Grill on both head and cabinet are a thick material cloth, which looks good. I disagree with some online reviews that criticise the SubZero badges which are black and silver fairly discrete name badges on the grills. Good handles on sides of 25 kg cabinet and sturdy handle on 12 kg head unit. Useful for transporting.
Overall Impression — 8
Play rock, pop and blues. I have done a quick test against my Fender Blues Junior with as near toggle settings, and the Fender at similar master volume settings is louder and clearer, this can easily be overcome, with a small increase in the SubZero master volume. Fender on 2 = subzero 3. I actually on first impressions prefer the SubZero tone to the Fender Blues Junior, which is high praise as this is a classic amp. The tone is always subjective and I think this amp covers enough areas that it is hard to beat for this money. 50w all valve head and 4 speaker cabinet all for less than £400 new! I was looking at the much praised Blackstar Stage 60 but for half the price I cant justify the difference. If I want more sounds I will use a pedal and still be quids in. Guess time will tell if the amp is robust enough to travel and remains reliable.