Price paid: $ 425
Purchased from: craigslist
Sound — 9
I use an Epiphone SG G-400 with Seymour Duncans (SH-2 Jazz, SH-14 Custom 5), as well as a Strat copy with custom handwound Rock Monkey Guitar pickups. I play hard blues rock, classic rock, hard rock, that kind of thing. The amp has enough gain to get to Rage Against The Machine heaviness, with the boost on. However, stock, I didn't like it too much on the dirty channel, so I used a fuzz pedal. The dirty channel was, I don't know, American sounding, and just too modern for my tastes. However, I put in some hot grade JJ KT77's from the Tube Depot (tell them you need hot grade KT77's for a YCV40. Alternativelygo to Eurotubes for a YCV40 kit) to get more of a British feel, since that's what I was looking for. Brilliant! The change was astounding! My cleans got a bit more headroom, as well as becoming more articulate. They kept their sparkle, while adding a nice warm bottom end to it. Fantastic. The dirty channel got more British, sounded more like a Marshall amp. It's like it just grew a pair of testicles and kicked the old dirty channel in the nuts. A lot more oomph. I recommend using KT77's, if you need more punch to your sound. The best part about it is that it's relatively quiet. I use my Strat, which has shielding, and I hear next to no hum. It's awesome. There's a bit of hum if you crank up the gain on the dirty channel (I have mine at 12 or 1 o'clock), but that's to be expected. Nothing objectionable, though. The amp, with KT77's, can do Rage Against The Machine, AC/DC, Led Zep, every ballsy kind of rock you can think of, short of metal. Cleans are pristine, and should be great even for those spoiled by Fender's. It doesn't start to break up on the clean channel until just past about 1 o'clock, but by then, it's already loud enough to keep up with drums. If you wanna get power tube distortion, though, it's definitely not too hard with this amp. The amp also takes pedals really well. Boosts, wah, fuzz, they all sound great through the amp. The distortion, with KT77's, like I said, is really ballsy, and great for anything short of metal. I'm thinking about changing the preamp tubes soon, and maybe converting it to a closed back for more bottom end, so I'll see how that goes.
Overall Impression — 9
The YCV40, with KT77's, is a great match for my brand of blues rock. I won't need to upgrade for a long time, and if I do, it'll only be to add a cab, for more presence in a band situation. I've been playing somewhere between 3-6 years. I own the guitars I mentioned earlier, a Affectronix modded VJ, as well as several home made pedals. If this were stolen, I would probably buy it. There's another one going on my craigslist for 350. What a deal! I just love the overall tone, especially for the money. Great deal, if you can find one used. My favorite feature? I guess the effective EQ? I don't know. It's just an overall good amp. I compared it to a Peavey Classic 30, Palomino V32, Vox Valvetronix AD50VT, Epiphone Valve Special. And this one just blew the competition away, I think. If it just had a level on the FX loop and maybe if that were foot-switchable. I'd probably have no complaints.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This amp is freakin' sturdy. I leave it in my car all the time. I kick it to make funny spring reverb sounds, I drag it. It holds up to anything. I would gig without a backup, for sure. I just keep spare tubes in the amp. No breakdowns yet. This thing would probably survive a car crash. I'd be effed, though.
Features — 8
I have no idea what year this amp was made. It's the 2x10 model, and is equipped with two Celestion Tube 10's. Each channel (clean and dirty) has it's own EQ section (treble, mids, bass) and volume, and there is a presence control, as well as a reverb control for the spring reverb. The diryt channel also has a gain knob. There's also a standby button. It runs 2 6L6 tubes, and 3 12AX7's. Mine came with Wing "C" 6L6 tubes. Stock, this amp is still really good. Good cleans, and enough gain for several genres. However, I ended up switching the tubes for a pair of hot grade JJ KT77's. More on that later. The YCV40 has two channels, clean and dirty. The Dirty channel also has a set amount of gain for a gain/bass boost. The amp comes with a sturdy footswitch, and the channels are foot-switchable, and the boost is foot-switchable. The clean channel has a button that increases a brightness for when you need that sparkle, but can't crank it up. There's an effects loop that I haven't taken advantage of just yet. I will, soon, though. I wish the effects loop had a level Switch. Apparently, the amp also has a auto-bias feature, in that even though it's a Class A/B amp, it'll adjust it's bias for the tube you're stickin' in. I'm told that it does not adjust plate voltage, though, so be sure to specify your amp model when you buy tubes online. The reverb on this amp is kinda useless, honestly. The control does next to nothing until it hits around 11-12 o'clock. But after 12-2 o'clock, it gets too splashy, in my opinion. I'll be buying an EHX Holy Grail to fix this. I use this amp for jam sessions, bedroom practice, and will be using it for gigs. Plenty of power for all purposes, and still sounds good at bedroom levels.