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I should have bought this amp when I had the chance. The Soldano Hot Rod 50 is a single channel high gainer based on the lead channel of the famed SLO100. It has more traditionally designed power and output transformers than the SLO (also cheaper, making this a more affordable amp) that give it a browner voice. If a SLO has the percussive, hifi crispness of a Hiwatt with way more available gain, then the Hot Rod has the skronk and midrangey transformer saturation of a Marshall... again with WAY more gain. Different flavors.
What I like about the Hot Rod in short:
1) available in 50 watt... single channel MV heads are better at 50 watts 2) vintage voice up until about 6 on the gain dial 3) very british tone section that helps the amp crunch well, plenty of treble, but more available bass than a Marshall and all that bass is in a very musical register 4) very American lower mid-range grind when you push the power amp hard 5) simple and easy to dial in even though I would prefer less controls
what I don't like: 1) built on PCB... I am sure its a great mil-spec board laid out with care and the tube sockets appear to be far from the board in a well ventilated head box, but PCBs are a bear to work on and they all go down eventually 2) price! this amp does what it does well, but its very expensive for what it is... price more than anything kept me from buying one of these
also, the '50 plus' channel switching version of this amp is the only channel switcher I've ever been really into... you can set channel 1 up for a slightly hairy brit clean and get a mammoth crunch from channel 2 OR you can go with crunch and lead respectively on the 50 plus... great amp too depending on your needs... also overpriced