Sound — 9
I've ran this through both my Strat and Les Paul style guitars, and I have to say I do prefer this with humbuckers. Not a lot of noise is given off, even on the higher gain settings. I've struggled to find a bad sound from the Hot Head. The general sound reminds me of a sort of "Marshall in a box", but I think its not compressed enough for that (not in a bad way). It is definitely a definitive hard rock kind of sound, with some classic rock Overdrive lurking in the lower gain reaches. This also reacts well to dynamics and using your guitars controls, if you do that kind of stuff (also another great selling point).
Overall Impression — 9
I play rock and blues in general, and this pedal hits the nail on the head for 40. Whether cranking up the gain and blasting power chords, or reigning it in and using your Pick dynamics for that weeping blues solo, this pedal is great. I would definitely get another if it were to get stolen, for 40 this is a bargain. I've owned a Boss DS-2 for almost a year now, and I kick myself for not considering this DigiTech pedal. Even after modding my DS-2, I felt it just wasn't cutting it. The price of the Hot Head attracted me, and the sound of it did the deal. Definitely one to Pick up for only 40
Reliability & Durability — 10
This pedal feels like a tank. Sturdy knobs, metal casing and even looks like it can take a beating! An easy 10 here. I would definitely gig without a backup. Feels just as robust and solid as any of my other pedals, including a DS-2 and a Fuzz Factory.
Ease of Use — 8
This pedal is straight forward - Level, Low, High and Gain controls. The separate EQ knobs are a real selling point on this pedal, in comparison to a lot of other distortion pedals with just the one "tone" knob. The knobs cover a wide spectrum of sound (very little gain to lots of gain).