I play a host of guitars through this amp. A humbuckered Tele Deluxe, a P-100 Les Paul Special, a dog-eared P-90 Ibanez (Les Paul Jr.) and a zebra humbuckered Dean V. Each guitar sounds fine but I don't get quite the veriaty of tones that I do with my other heads. But they all sound tough and aggresive!
I usually like driving my amps up to the edge. I'm not a metal head, but I live for that classic, aggresive, overdriven guitar tone, ala AC/DC, Dinosaur Jr. or maybe the Replacements. I play everything from acoustic folk (not through this amp) to heavy Neil Young, to Petty, punk, blues, rock, alt rock...like most of us here. Even a "little" alt country (Drive-by Truckers, Cross Canadian Ragweed).
Nice little quiet amp (as I expected). Only noise I get is with single coils...huh? This amp makes one tone only IMO that counts or matters. It is made to be cranked to at least 2:00 o'clock and overdriven. Anything below 12:00 is pretty worthless with the way I have it tubed. And all that rich el84 tone remains trapped inside waiting to breath. I'm sure saying that will piss off a lot of people here! But really, this amp is made to be pushed, and it takes it well. I personally feel that a vintage class A amp doesn't produce "Distortion." It may cause your speakers to distort, but that's a function on driving the amp hard...aka "Overdrive"
Oh, I'm playing this through a 4x10 Carvin tweed cabinet usually. I prefer the 4x10 to my Marshall 2x12. The 2x12 sounds a little bassy to me, and with no Tone control, you pretty much have to take what you can get! I love the tone with a Tube Screamer or a Daddy-O pedal in front to eq the sound a little.
Looks to be well built and if the Chinese thing has anybody worried, I've owned a Chinese-built Pignose head for three years (also running in class A) and I'm still on the factory preamp tubes. And if this little Epi goes down, I suspect people will just toss them in the garbage and pick up a new one...when they're in stock!
I could not use this by itself at a gig because it only does one thing well. There is no "clean" with this amp. Okay, you can mimic a clean channel but then your volume is too low to be of any use, so I'd have two heads A/B'ed for anything live. But I will take this little guy out once in a while.
We'll all let everyone know how these hold up in about a year. Until then, I'll just push the livin' sh!t out of it and see what happens.
24 years of strappin' on the guitar and it's nice to pick up decent, inspiring gear now and then. I have two other amp heads (I'm a class A half stack kind of guy), a Carvin Vintage 50 (class A) and the above-mentioned Pignose GVR-60 (also class A with the help of THD Yellowjackets). I'd buy this little amp again because it's just so darn cute! And it kicks a little ass too.
Reading these reviews makes this amp sound like the greatest thing since the dual rectifier. It's not! I think the price is attracting a lot of previous solid state users, which is a good thing (life's to short to put up with bad sound!) but this amp gives you just a taste of what el84 tubes can do. They really sound nice on a gritty but clean setting, which is tough to get with this amp. I too retubed this bugger with JJ's because as others have said, Sovteks are kind of industrial and sterile sounding. But it was pretty good out of the box.
There are always thing you wish it had but I can't ask for anything more because I feel I got more than what I paid for. Make no mistake, this is a true bargin in a class A tube head but it's also kind of a one-trick pony. But it's a nice little trick!
And to all those who think this amp is under rated at 5 watts, it's because you've been hearing solid state watts for too damn long. Class A watts are big! Play this through a single 8" speaker and it'll sound small. Plug into a 4x12 cabinet, and it'll sound huge. You got to love that!