Hey, very cool review, thanks! I was thinking about getting new tubes, can i use tung sol el-34b for this amp? Now i think it's jj el-34's, but i got the amp few years ago and didn't change the tubes, even though it was used. I heard tung sols have tighter sound?I've come back to this amp a couple times now and have owned about 4 of them. For a used price it is a great sounding amp. This is what I've found and yours could be different so...
Before I get to the pickups I want to talk about the input of this amp. It is really sensitive to what you put in, when comparing to other amps I've owned. For me there is a huge difference when comparing guitars and going from different pickups to pedals. This also makes it a great amp for boosts as well. It loves them in fact.
I've found this amp likes a tighter sounding pickup with little bass, otherwise the amp will sound to thick and it will be hard to control on the bass knob with the deep in.
I've used EMG pickups with this amp and find that it works very well as these pickups have a little less bass output then say your average passive guitar. So it allows you to have the bass boost in and still have a nice tight sound yet still on both channels have a thicker sound then you would with passives and still have the sound not be muddy, flub out and stay tight.
The other thing is I love this amp with the standard GT-75's and find that they work well with the amp, have a little more modern sound then the vintage 30's.. The V30's have a little more grind in the mid-range that seem to work as well but are a little harder on the ears. I also find that these speakers have a little warmer bass. I find the CL-80's not to work as well as the other two. Have to be really loud to get the goods, feel a little stiff and don't really have a voice to them, neutral sounding comes to mind. I find they work great for my wet, effect cabs.
This amp loves to be loud. This amp likes to get the power section working to sound its best. I find it really starts to breath around 2-1/2 to 3 on the volume. The attack of the amp is a little spongier and softer not what I would say very tight. It makes it more tube like and easier to play, is a good way to put it. Make sure the bias is on.
The one reason I really like this amp is the fact that you turn it on, turn it up and play. Very simple to use and straight forward, giving you a good to great sound in my opinion.
Clean, I've had a couple different amps now and I would have to say with single coils and even some humbuckers this amp has a great clean channel. Nice chime to it and a little bell like with some pickups. Not dull and dark sounding. This channel gets very loud before the amp will go into light overdrive on the clean and is very dynamic and open sounding. I like to turn the gain all the way up on this channel and have the amp around 3 on the volume. Then I hit it with a boost. Pushes very nice and gives you a lot of gain to play with. This really tightens the amp up and gives you more dynamics then the lead channel while still being very clear sounding.
Some features are
Adds a ton of low-end to the amp. The reality is that this will bring you to what most other amps have for bass response in my opinion. With out this control in I find that the lead channel sounds very thin no matter what type of guitar I got and how much the bass control is turned up. It just doesn't do it for me. So I run this feature in, on the amp at all times. It would be nice to turn it off for the clean channel as it can have to much bass with the wrong guitar. I find that you must run the bass low around 2-4 and presence and treble up around 6 to 8 to compensate for the added bass response.
This feature cuts the mids. I find with the deep in, mid shift in, this amp will get some what close to sounding like a rectifier on the lead channel with modern voicing set. Don't believe me? Next time you have the two together try it. I owned both so.. The DSL is a little smoother sounding and not so grinding. Another thing this will do is tighten up the amp quite a bit. I find it almost like going from vintage to modern voicing on a rectifier but find this amp does a better job sound wise in my opinion.
Lead 1/2 boost-
I found this feature pointless. Lead one for me has way more then enough gain to do anything in my opinion. It is great for leads but there is just a truck load of gain. Found the Lead 1 mode to work better as I could have it up a little more and the amp to sound bigger then Lead mode 2 but down on the dial more. My guess is because of the treble bleed cap coming into effect.
Crunch on the green channel-
This option adds a bit more gain to the clean channel. This gives you a nice thick crunch sound some what sounding like a JCM 800. Great for boosting and distortion pedals. Very dynamic amp in the clean/crunch channels.
One of the better ones I've found. Other amps I could always tell when on. Like the fact that it is a series loop not parallel. Also has the level feature for both pedals and rack gear.
Another great feature that you see more amps these days going to. I find very nice not having to take the amp out of its chassis to bias. Nice to you can always check every once in a while to see if the power tubes need to be changed.
Ok I’ve wrote a book.Reliability and build quality.
I’ve never had the problem with any of these DSL amps breaking down on me. They do seem to be built more like a computer inside then a amp should be. The only thing I don’t like is the fact the control pots are plastic and when touching them they give a little and same goes for the push knobs it feels like I can break it, almost like a toy. Hate that and it is a pet peeve of mine.