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Engaging the Tube Screamer, I was able to get a very nice crunchy tone similar to a Twin with a Tube Screamer. With a Stratocaster, this translated into a very bluesy, almost Texas type of sound, but not as aggressive. The higher I ran the actual amp volume, the better this sound got—think SRV with his TS 808 engaged. Switching to a Les Paul, boost engaged, and working with the amp’s volume I was able to dial in amazing bluesy tones a la early Bluesbreakers Clapton.
Turning down the guitar’s volume on either instrument yielded many more classic blues tones, and also cleaned up nicely. The volume level I was using was loud and punchy—not low “bedroom” volume. As a matter of fact, I had a rehearsal with bass, drums, keys, and vocals, and I was a bit too loud. Changing to the 5-watt setting helped, but using less of the tube degraded the tone I had been working with. Disabling the boost switch offered more bedroom volume, but again the tone was not the same. The boost section creates a more British sound with more mids, while the boost off setting was definitely more American.
Between the Les Paul and the Stratocaster, I was able to get great professional-quality tones for most kinds of music. However, I had to resort to using pedals for convincing metal sounds, from more modern metal to Van Halen or George Lynch territory. Luckily, the amp appeared to be very pedal friendly, and I had good luck with a few distortion pedals. With the pedals, I turned the Tube Screamer off, engaged the boost, and ran the volume at about 8 or 9 on the 15-watt setting to achieve a good metal tone. This was one setting where you could get a consistent lower volume by adjusting the output on the distortion pedal. As nice as the amp sounded with its own single 12, I could not resist the urge to put it through something bigger. I tried an old Vox 2x12 cabinet with Celestion G12-30H anniversary speakers, which was amazing, and a 4x12 with Celestion Vintage 30s. With the 4x12, the amp literally screamed—you have to hear it to believe it!
The Final Mojo
I think this little amp makes good sense for any guitar player who needs a respectable tone at a lower db level. I took it to a jam session in town and it was very well-received by most players. Despite the lower price tag, the amp is sturdy and held up to everything I put it through. It feels and responds like a good tube amp, and varying the controls dials in the response even further. Even at the lower home levels, it was still a cut above other small amps I’ve tried.
you are looking for a small all tube package that sounds like the real deal.
you are happy with your present tone or do not need a small amp.
Street Head $299 Cabinet $199 - Ibanez - ibanez.com