Price paid: $ 1006.5
Purchased from: Badlands Guitars
Sound — 10
I'm simple when it comes to my setup, an guitar and an amp is usually as complicated as it gets. So I run a Gibson SG Special aswell as a custom strat that I put together in the garage. I play mainly blues and blues rock, but I play in a local jazz band and also play classic rock with some local lads. The amp handles all these styles well. This amplifier is easily loud enough to come through in the mix, with a full jazz band giving it some it can cut through without straiting itself. But the tone of the tubes comes through even at low volumes. It sounds a bit like a beefed up Fender Twin when clean but driven hard it can create the gorgeous singing solos of people like Jeff Beck and Joe Bonamassa. The EQ controls change the sound hugely, the reverb is very bright and natural. The presence control can be heard working but doesnt't change the sound all that much. The clean channel breaksup quite early really, with the volume at 7 and a hot pickup it can be persuaded to breakup, but it's smooth breakup not the harsh type you get from a solid state. The Drive channel can be run with the gain low to create a second clean channel or the gain pushed for a more rock orientated sound. The boost is prominent, and great for soloing with but it would be better if it was an adjustible boost. The background hum from the amp is barely noticable, it's really quiet, but I have noticed that I do get the odd crackle from it at random times (these aren't loud or frequant, but it's happened a handful of times). The amplifier itself is basically a YCV40, so from what I have heard by changing the valves this adds headroom on the clean channel and can create an even nicer breakup (the tubes in it are economy items but to be honest, they're still good).
Overall Impression — 10
For the music I play is suits me well, I've been playing for 3 years and I own a Gibson SG and a Strat that was put together by me in my garage. I used to run these through a small Behringer modelling combo but it blew up rather spectacularly 15 minutes before a gig. So I was forced into buying a new amp, if it were lost (knows how you'd loose something this big and heavy) or stolen I would definately buy another one. I love the build quality, it's built like a tank and is has a powerful look to it without saying "look at me". The only niggle I have is it gets a bit warm when it's been running for a bit and being PCB bassed a little fan assistance could be a neat idea. When I was looking for a first tube amp I looked at the Fender hotrod deville and a Kustom coupe 72. The hotrod was very "fenderish" and lacked the versitiliy I want, but did the blues well. The couple 72 just didn't appeal to me at all, I couldn't seem to get my tone out of it, or one that I was happy with. I chose this because soon as I played the first note out of it I was taken away by the depth the sound has, it really does have balls; and big hairy ones at that. The only thing I wish it had would be a footswitch for the bright switch on the clean channel, and maybe a footswitch on the reverb. apart from that it's pretty darn good.
Reliability & Durability — 5
I've had it only a week, but I've taken in to two jazz band rehersals (lunked in and out of the car and through many double doors) and it's seen that easily enough. I tend to treat my gear well so it gets warmed up and cooled down before playing/moving so hopefully it will last a while. The speakers are covered by a steel grill, which is covered in the grill cloth, this will help when I play in local bars so no1 punctures a cone. the amp if full of useful things like that.
Features — 9
It's a new amp, 2006 model, with 2x10 layout (Celestion tube 10 speakers). It is all valve 40 watts, with two 6L6 output valves and the generic pre-amp valves. Channel one is the overdrive channel, with gain, volume, treble, bass and mid controls; there is also a boost control that boosts the gain. Channel two is the clean channel, with a volume, treble, bass and mid controls; there is also a bright switch. There is also a master presence control and a master reverb control. The reverb is spring type and has a spring pan in the bottom of the cabinet. It has a footswitch, which changes channels and activates the boost on the overdrive channel. There is an effects loop and an external speaker output. It is a self biasing amplifier, so tube changes are quick and painless.