first off, i use the VJ with a fender spring reverb tank up front. you know, the big tube powered boxes that the surf guys used, i forget the model; its a reissue. only way to go with reverb is springs, IMO.
i am a strat man, predominately. i am into old roots country, blues, and jazz but i have played, and enjoyed, most genres(yes even metallica).
my main strat has a messed up tone pot; basically it is full on unless i twist it around for 10 minutes- in my opinion, full on strat gives me too much high end sparkle through this amp. but, that is my problem, not the amp. when i do get the tone backed off without crackling, it sounds fantastic- rich with harmonics, clear, beautiful, captivating. i also have a humbucking guitar, which is on the muddy end(schecter), and wide open treble is a non-issue with this guitar. bottom line, if you are a single-coil player, dial back the treble a bit. humbuckers, no problem.
BUT, this amp lacks in the bass department. i have played it through closed backed 2x12s, open 1x12s, an open 1x15, and in every case, low end is lacking. that is my one and only complaint with this amp, and i bet(and i will try this winter) that a simple (but expensive) output tranny swap will work wonders for this issue.
i originally purchased this amp with the intention of learning a bit about electronics, maybe swapping out some resistors and capacitors, and so i am not at all dissappointed in spending $139 or whatever it was. for that money, its the best bargain i have ever purchased.
this amp is a perfect amp to use as a canvas for tube experimentation, also: it is so pure in circuitry, you will be able to easily discern differences in tubes if indeed they exist. this summer i had the chance to finally crank the VJ, with different output tubes, and that is where the tube type makes a difference- in the cranked settings. the newer el84s that had the most robust vacuum seemed to be the loudest and fuzziest. they also seemed to transmit more high end sparkle. the old output tubes i have('50s and '60s Matsushitas, VOM, Phillips, and unknowns)seem to sound best (probably due to treble cut)at lower volumes.
preamp tubes, same thing, i experimented with the 12__7 family: i have tried 12ax7, 12au7, 12ay7s in this amp; all have different gain factors; all drive the el84 differently, and behave differently at different volumes.
as i intimated, this amp is a virtual laboratory for really learning about tubes and tube circuits; thus far i have only scratched the surface.
no problems yet. with printed circuit boards, one should expect issues in the decades or centuries to come, but again: this amp is cheap. one way to make it cheap is to print the circuitboards. so who cares? it is such a simple design, that if it is treated responsibly and run at moderate levels, then it will likely be reliable.
i have been messing with electric guitars for more than 25 years. i have owned other gear; the most relevant to this review are: 1980s Fender Stage Lead II (solid state); Marshall JCM800(tube, but incorporates diode clipping); Orange Tiny Terror(all tube); early '70s Traynor YGL-MKIII(all tube); Mesa Boogie Lone Star(all tube), Crate solid state head(can't remember make/model).
this amp is a keeper. i will reference it, tweak with it, enjoy it for what it is: a simple, stripped down, all tube, no-excuses, basic guitar amplifier.
my future goals are to build point-to-point fender(twin or deluxe) and marshall(jtm) clone kits, when finances allow.