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User Review

decades-long companion - Reviews Gibson GA 15RV Goldtone

Value For Money : Correct Audience: Anyone
I first played this thing's big brother, the GA-30 with the 12" and 10" speakers in the same cab. Religious experience. Too loud for my purposes, so I got the little guy in 2001. I've heard people debate the sound of the amp, but the best I can tell you is: AC-15 = 112, 15 Watts, EL 84s. GA-15 = 112, 15 Watts, EL 84s. As it plays out, they're certainly not identical, with the AC having a bit more jangle, but they are clearly related in tone.

This amp is good for everything but high-gain shredding. I play a lot of blues, CCM, and classic rock. It cleans up great for country twang or warmer clean jazz. My wife says it's too loud in the house, and I rarely turn it up past 3 or 4 at home, even when switched to half power. Three knobs, volume, tone-ish, and reverb. The tone control actually bumps the mids when you roll off the treble. Best setup? Turn it up to where you can still clean it up with your guitar volume pot, hit it with an overdrive pedal when you want it to shout or sing a lead. It likes most pedals, but I tried to get some real shred going with a Metal Zone and was really disappointed. Good chime with single coils, good chunk with humbuckers. I like the amp. A lot. It's a keeper.

Look for a later model: the earlier ones had transformer issues and plastic tube sockets. Since a class A circuit really heats up the tubes, that's a point of failure. The later ones made this side of the pond have ceramic tube sockets and a better cab. I don't have specific info on which serial numbers to look for. Mine is sometimes afflicted with some tube rattle at high volumes. An extension speaker works when re-tubing doesn't smooth it out. I have had the reverb (great sounding spring/tube driven tank) serviced three times in 19 years.

Overall, it's a loud 15 watts, keeps up with live drummers, immediate expressive response, great voice.