Purchased from: Guitar Center in Kentwood, MI
Sound — 9
What else can I say? This thing is the closest you can get to the fabled JCM-800 in a box. And it does sound like a JCM-800, no kidding. I like it much better than the TS and the MXR Distortion 3, I A-B tested them to the Guv'nor and they sounded artificial and sterile in comparison. I use a 1979 Epiphone Genesis Custom (A wonderful guitar I might add, it's better than the low-mid range Gibsons of today) and a Peavey Blazer 158. I usually set the gain at about 3 o'clock, Deep at 1 o'clock, Bass at 12 o'clock, and treble and mid at 2 o'clock, and it sounds a hell of a lot like a 1959SLP plexi wound all the way up. If you dial the gain back it gives a nice crunch. It is really great for capturing the sounds of artists such as ZZ Top, AC/DC (it does those two very well), Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy and Free. With some tinkering I even got it to do some Judas Priest and early Metallica. But the great part is that my Peavey Blazer 158 sounds like it's tubed! Now, it's called "Transtube" so it's supposed to anyway, but kick on that Guv'nor and you get really natural sounding tube breakup. I like the deep control too, as long as you don't crank it up past 1 o'clock or so it gives you an awesome thump, a lot like a Marshall 4X12 Cabinet. It's just lovely. But make sure you either get an adapter or a ton of batteries, because when this thing gets low on power it lets you know (as in power, sustain, and tone all go in the toilet). But, I would say you're getting about 70% of real Marshall tone for about 5% of the price. Now that, my friends, is what I call a steal.
Overall Impression — 9
So overall, this is an astounding pedal. If it was ever stolen I would buy another one and bash the thief's head in with it, then take the old one back, and I would have 2 of these monsters! If I really had to complain about this product, I only have 2 gripes. First, the battery life is way too short, I get about 6 hours of battery before it completely dies. I'll be getting a 9V adapter soon. Also, if this thing had just a little bit more gain, it would be perfect. I'm talking like Judas Priest levels of gain, that's all. As I mentioned before it does that kind of thing quite well, but if it had just a tad more gain this pedal would be completely perfect.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Now this is where the Guv'nor hits a grand slam. It's built like a tank, I feel like I could throw it out the window, plug it in, and it would work. Actually, I did throw it against the plaster wall in my room with all my might and now there's a good size dent there. The only backup I would ever consider for this is another Guv'nor, since nothing else can replace it.
Ease of Use — 8
This pedal is very simple to use. I plugged it in and was able to take it from just a little grit to crunch to freight-train like distortion tones in under a minute. The knobs are a bit too small, though, but I usually keep it at the same setting for extended periods at a time, since I only play at the edge of my bed, so it isn't a huge deal for me.