Price paid: $ 0.6975
Purchased from: Shimamura Music
Sound — 9
Now, I'm not an expert on Vintage AC-30's except what I hear on CD's so I can't really judge how "Vintage" it sounds. However, I was looking for an amp to gig with and this one won hands down. Vintage or not, I know it's the amp for me (which is how it should be, right). The cleans are wonderful and glassy, the normal channel being "drier" than the top boost which has more "bite". Cranked, this amp can get that real "classic rock" '60s Marshall kind of tone but it won't do metal with out help from some kind of gain pedal (doesn't bother me, I don't play metal). Gain turned down you can really get some nice, bright, shimmering cleans, perfect for Radiohead, Coldplay, Floyd, and whatnot. Right now I'm running both channels blended (top boost 11 o'clock, normal 9) so it's just breaking up a little. With my Ibanez Talman (with P-90s) and Rat (for leads), usually through a Marshall 1960A 4x12 cab I'm getting a really punchy, aggressive UK indie/punk kind of sound. Good for the Chilis funk sound, too. I'll be taking the amp in for recording soon. I'm really looking forward to it.
Overall Impression — 9
I've been playing for 14 years adn the styles I play have changed over the years. I own a Mesa Subway Rocket, an Epiphone Les Paul and an ES-335 copy though these days I mostly play an Ibanez Talman (with P-90s), as well as a Japanese Fender Strat. My main distortion is a RAT and I uses others effects too (DD-6, Small Clone, Phase 90). The Vox is absolutely perfect with my set up, with both the Talman's P-90s and the Strat's singles you can hear the tone of the guitars very well. My bands is mainly influenced by '70s UK Punk (Jam, Clash, Gang of Four) and post-punk (Smiths, Cure), dub/regaee and '60s rock. People say (don't know if it's true) that we sound like Arctic Monkeys, The Futureheads, The Stokes, Bloc Party, the kind of thing. We gig once or twice a month though we've been taking it easy lately. So for the music I play (semi-dirty aggressive indie/punk sound) it is just ideal and is plenty loud enough. The only thing I regret about buying it is not finding out about the tube layout but even if I knew, I probably would have bought it anyway. Despite not being able to Switch the channels, I love the "blend" channels option, since I like to have that "gritty dirty clean" sound of the clean channel being pushed and I just use the volume knob on my guitar to clean it up. If I hadn't have gotten this amp, I may have gotten a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe but I'm really happy with my choice. If it was stolen, I'd most likely buy it again (either the head or combo).
Reliability & Durability — 7
Well, there's good and bad news here. Good. Despite being made in China and some bad press (don't believe rumours people, it isn't true just because some school kid read it on UG and re-posted it) these amps are actually very solid and built very well. I haven't taken it to enough gigs yet to judge but I bought a road case for it and it seem to be holding up okay. Lots of people talk about changing the tubes but I'm fine with the ones in it. And talking of changing tubes. Bad. The tubes are mounted in the most insane position to get to and you can't change them without basically dismantling the amp. I can't find much wrong with this amp, but this is a real b*&tard. Also for a 30-watt head, it's insanely heavy (19 kilos).
Features — 8
Firstly compared to past AC30S I guess the features are pretty good. In built are a decent reverb and tremelo and it has an effects loop. Another cool feature, is the switches on the back that let you change the biasing and smoothing. I've seen this on a Mesa before but not so much other amps. I give it an 8 though mostly because there is no channel footswitch (the footswitch is the reverb and trem). This is easily to fix however by using an A/B box and the channels (normal and top boost) are blendable which I really like.