Amazing Out of the box...
I have been a Fender guitar and amp owner throughout the years, and while I must admit, I was a bit skeptical at first from all the Fender hater negative reviews.
While there is nothing wrong with Hi-Gain amps , or it's lovers for that matter, you can't compare apples to oranges people, and give Fender a bad rap. Even IF they are made in Mexico and not in the USA. You also wouldnt be paying $899 for it either if that were made in the states!
I was , and still am blown away on how it sounded out of the box, with the stock GT tubes, to which I am NOT a fan of what so ever.
Without getting too techincal, let's move on:
I rebiased the stock GT power tubes, which only made the tone better. I can only imagine how a tube upgrade would positively affect the tone of this amp.
Graduated volume and treble pot upgrades help substantially. (In comparison to my BDRI)
This amp takes OD / Dist. pedals in the front very well. (Fulltone Fulldrive 2, Hardwire SC-2, TC Novadrive, TS9DX) as well as chorus & delays, Sonic BBE)
Spring reverb is superb....For me , almost too present with it's setting past 4...Could be the V2 GT tube playing a part. Not certain. Definately nothing to complain about.
FX Loop. I won't pass judgement here since I haven't used it yet.
Adjustable Bias point. How convenient to have on board without a mod!
Clean Channel? If you know anything about Fender's cleans, need I say more? Ok. I will. ;) Fender Guitars and Amps were definately made for each other.....You want that Texas grit? Bust out your single coil's and push that clean channel to Texas grit heaven....The cleans have a punch like no other when the tube's are slightly pushed. Toss in a Keeley Compressor , a TS-9 or Fulltone Fulldrive and wallah.....LUSH BABY. PURE CREAMY LUSH! Or, use your favorite distortion pedal for full on rock n roll!
Drive and More Drive. It's all subjective to personal taste. I personally don't think the drive is horrible. Definately useful, however I prefer my pedals over it. It's a great backup if I don't feel like schlepping a pedal board. Maybe even as a back up in the event of a pedal failure.
Celestion G12P-80's sound superb, and give this amp some well defined acousics. Can't wait until they are broken in to really hear their true tone.
Esthetic's...the black top control panel was a great add. The mirrored reflection of it's earlier model , as well as the BDRI makes it difficult to see in certain lighting situations. The Silverface repo grill, really sparkles on stage. Any pics online I've come across don't justify how great it looks.
It was delivered on a Thursday, took it to it's first show that Saturday , put it thru the wringer, without a hitch, and it preformed flawlessly.
There is one downside. It's damn heavy. You wouldn't think 53.5 lbs is a back breaker. Ha. Using the single rubber handle to lift it with two hands feels awkward and wobbly. Side mounted top handles would be a great add. (Check out the VOX VT120+ top handles to see what I mean.)