Since I bought this head with a specific tone in mind, I have to say it performs very well. I wanted a raunchy, rude blues tone and that`s a spot on description of this little amp. It does exactly what I wanted so I am very happy with it. Especially at this price point.
As I continue to build this little blues rig, I hope to add a good inexpensive semi-hollow guitar and an Avatar 2x12 closed back cab loaded with Greenbacks. I`ve chosen an Ibanez Artcore AGS83B to use with the VJ head and will be buying it in less than two months. I can`t wait. Right now I`m playing an assortment of solid body electrics through the VJ and my Boogie standard 4x12 with V30`s. I have five different guitars loaded with an assortment of Duncan, Dimarzio and EMG pickups and all sound great through this little amp.
Through the Boogie 4x12 the VJ has a slightly dark and smokey tone. The clean tones below 11:00 on the volume are complex and sweet. Not Fender sparkle, but very pleasing in it`s own way. At this volume level the amp is super dynamic. You can go from clean to slightly over-driven tones by changing your pick attack. It`s nice to have this much control without having to touch your guitar`s volume knob. From 11:00 to 2:00 the distortion starts coming on and the amp gets very slightly compressed. You can still easily control the amp`s dynamics with your guitar`s volume knob at this point. This is the sweet spot of this amp and there are tons of tones in this volume range. From 2:00 to max the distortion gets more compressed and takes on a very rude and ratty tone. At max volume the VJ pumps out a pretty fair amount of distortion. It should be able to handle anything from blues to classic rock.
The volume taper is linear and very use-able through it`s entire range. From 0 to 11:00 the amp gets loud enough to jam with. In fact it`s loud enough to play a party or coffee shop without micing. From 11:00 to 2:00 the volume pretty much maxes out at a pretty high level. It`s louder than what you would expect, but not painfully loud in any way. Loud enough to easily play small gigs while miced up and using the amp as a monitor on stage. From 2:00 to max the amp doesn`t get any louder and starts compressing with increased distortion. If you play with a large or loud band you will need to mic this little amp, but don`t be suprised when you hear it for the first time. 5 watts is pretty darn punchy and loud.
I`ve found the VJ head to be the quietest tube amp I`ve ever used. Compared to my Single Recto it is absolutely noise free at idle. Even with the volume maxed it is very, very quiet.
Since this amp does exactly what I bought it for, I`ll give it a rating of 10. For $99.00 you are not going to beat it at raunchy, rude blues tone.
The first thing I did when the amp came out of the box was make a super close inspection. Inside and out. The fit and finish is very good and I found no cosmetic flaws. I took the chasey out of the head box and examined the guts of the amp and was pleasantly suprised there as well. The layout is very clean with plenty of working room for any needed repairs or wanted mods. The circuitry is all loaded on one PCB which is mounted very well. The jacks and volume pot are seperately mounted on small PCB`s and are connected with spade connectors. Everything was tight and right. I have had no trouble at all out of mine in the last three months.
With the super simple layout and circuit design the chances of a breakdown are minimal. Short of being kicked down a long flight of stairs, dropped in the ocean or set on fire, I think it should be very dependable. I still wouldn`t gig without some type of backup though. Murphey`s law and all of that, you know.
I`ve been playing for about 20 years, but recently have become interested in the blues. I`ve always been a metal head so I didn`t want to spend a lot of money on a "blues" rig. Therefore this little amp worked out really well for me. It gives me the tone I`m looking for and the price can`t be beat.
My gear list includes...LTD EC-1000, LTD Viper 1000, Ibanez RG421, Fender Esquire Custom Scorpion, Jackson JS30RR, Mesa Boogie Single Recto head, Boogie standard 4x12 and assorted effects from MXR, Digitech, Boss and Dunlop.
I don`t know why anyone would steal this little amp head, but if they did I would just buy another one. I love the simple, honest tone this little amp puts out. It`s very musical, easy to play and is a joy to jam through. As far as I know there is nothing else on the market to compare or compete with it. At least not under $100.00
If anyone wants a pleasant, complex clean tone that developes into a rude , ratty blues tone as the volume goes up. Then do yourself a favor and buy one of these little amps. Not the most versatile amp, but great at what it does. It would be awesome for recording since it`s so quiet and would work very well to fill out any guitar rig.