First rate amp, portable, powerful with a great sound
Robert L. 921, 01.06.2015
I have been very impressed by this amp, to the point where this is the first review I have ever submitted. I thought I should as there seems to be a lack of reviews of it.
I had to be patient as it was a long time on back order, but it was delivered to me immediately when it came in. I was very interested in the amp because although I have always played valve amps live, I was getting pretty tired with carrying the heavyweight equipment about. I have only ever had a valve amp fail, once years ago when a large capacitor exploded, but I also was concerned about potential failure. Natually, with this history I was sceptical about the solid state alternatives and I had never found anything to compare, but one particular Youtube review of this amp made me think that Roland might be on to something. I play in a couple of local rock bands performing in pubs in the UK so I am gigging regularly, I am not a bedroom warrior.
The amp is pleasingly light to pick up. In fact I still find myself lifting it off the ground every now and again to check. It isn't flimsy and is well made, although the cabinet covering is not as hard as other types and has some digs in it already, so I do recommend using it with a cover, especially if you are travelling a lot to and from gigs.
The controls are logical and well laid out, and the Artist model has a lot going for it immediately, with a good quality reverb and tremolo, although I use an effects board and wanted to use the effects loop of the amp. This works perfectly and I find that it does indeed accept pedals very well in the way I use them, with the drive before the main input and the time based stuff in the loop.
Out of the box the sound it very good, the cleans are clean and with humbuckers the clean channel will start to break up a little just as a valve amp does as you turn the guitar up, which is just what I wanted and still surprises me when I use it because it is so natural. For drive I use an Arc Effects Klone, and this into the clean channel set with just a touch of breakup gives me exactly the sound I want. It is clear, articulate with the volume control on the guitar turned down a little and gives me a hot lead sound that really cuts through when turned up. With a Les Paul Standard, this gives a very strong lead sound that sometimes I have failed to get properly with a valve amp. Chords are powerful and expressive. This is not a one dimensional transistor amp, it really does react like a valve amp.
Is it loud enough? On Saturday I played a pub gig with a loud band and had to set the power stage to 45W. That was plenty to cut through and I had plenty in reserve. For rehearsals I have only ever used the 15W setting, and both of these sound rich and full especially as you turn them up. I haven't managed to use the 80W setting live yet, I haven't needed it. Of course it does have a 0.5W setting for home use but that's louder than you might think. The speaker seems to be be very efficient.
So I took a chance based on an internet video review, and I haven't regretted it once. This is a brilliant amp and I wanted to add a review from someone who actually goes gigging with it.
Invested in the Artist after tiring of heavy valve amps. I use the Artist in a blues & soul band, gigging in London pubs and small festivals. Stock sound is good but I've just upgraded with a NY Blues capsule. This transformed the amp from alright to brilliant. You need the additional foot switch to access the various switching options.
Reverb and Tremolo are good but only the Trem is switchable.
Really happy with the amp. Couple of grumbles: the cream tolex covering is too soft and mine is already tearing from knocks; secondly the boost option is not quite loud enough to give you solo volume so you either work on your volume knobs or carry a clean boost pedal. Quibbles aside, great amp.
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