I use Fender Japan Contemporary strats from the 80's, loaded with Robert Cray Pickups. My pedal board has a megavibe, Fulltone ocd, London Fuzz II, and a Digaverb. I use one or 2 epi matching cabs with 25 watt mojo tone speakers (vintage 30 voicing)
Out of the box,,,it was kinda dull, harsh, and a slight crackling sound.
Well,,the amp came from China,,with cheaper tubes, sovtek EL84's and Electro harmonix 12AX7's. Came from Musician's Friend in Kansas City via UPS,,,,so the amp was not gently handled. I took a couple spare new tubes I had,,,Ruby EL84CZ,,and GrooveTube 12AX7,,,and crackling went away,,the amp got louder, more defined tone,,EXCELLENT!!!!
So how do I rate this? out of the box,,or with new tubes? Shouldn't we all have a new backup set of tubes? I'll say 4 out of the box,,9.3 after installing new tubes. I agree with one reviewer that people seem to give this 10's after spending $100 plus on mods/speakers/tubes etc. But I think he was overly harsh of this amp in general. It's an awesome deal for $129.00, I'll buy some more back up tubes,,and even if I have to replace them every 4 months,,I'll be happy. It takes maybe 5 minutes to replace tubes.
This is my backup.
I've been playing seriously for 9 years. I would get this again in a heartbeat,,though if a used blackheart 5 watter was on ebay cheap,,I could try that also.
To get this better,,,many mods are available. I most likely will go to:
go to the epi mods page,,and get the point to point kit on a new turret board, with a Vox mod and maybe replace the output transformer.
I'm in no hurry to do this. With new tubes,,,it's hard to beat the price and sound. THIS IS A FANTASTIC VALUE!!!!!!!!