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Sound Quality

I bought mine with the matching Epiphone 112 cab, so will describe how it sounds through this. It has a strong 50s vibe about it, no doubt since it was based on amps from that era. Without pedals the only sound you¿¿¿re going to get from this amp is early rocknroll. The amp has a strong midrange and attack and at 5w is quick to break up, having a thick, slightly grainy overdrive. With modern high-output humbuckers the amp breaks up at around 10 o¿¿¿clock, and of course a little later for single coils. The clean tone provides a nice foundation on which to use pedals if that¿¿¿s your thing, but it lacks the sparkle of a post-tweed Fender. It¿¿¿s a bit meatier. Running an EQ in front of it can widen the tonal palette, but every once in a while I¿¿¿ll bypass the effects and just plug the guitar straight in jam like they would have in the 50s.

Reliability/Durability

It seems relatively solid, though it is the cheapest tube amp going around and comes from China, so naturally my confidence in it isn't high. On the other hand it's such a simple amp that there are less things that can go wrong with it. I found the stock Sovtek tubes would rattle if the amp was turned up past 1 o'clock, so I replaced them with a Tung-sol reissue 12ax7 and JJs EL84. I can now crank the amp fully without any annoying rattles. The tube swap also unexpectedly cut out a lot of background hiss (which was quite minimal anyway), and made the tone slightly clearer and I guess more hi-fi.

General Comments

With tube amps this cheap now there's really no need to compromise with solid state amps anymore, especially if you already have a rather sizeable pedal collection. A pedal running into this amp will give a more natural and responsive tone than any (current anyway) digital model ever could like you find on those Roland Cubes and Line6 amps. I'm more satisfied with this head and cab package than I ever was with a Fender Blues Jr, which cost me twice what the Epi package did. I think both tube amp virgins and seasoned valve connoisseurs would be able to appreciate this amp - flexibility, tube response and a decent tone for pocket money really.




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