I feel I've only scratched the surface of the DG30, but wanted to do a write-up. It isn't an amp that you simply turn on, adjust one or two controls, and there you are, done. It's an interesting amp that has a ton of tones on tap. It rewards experimentation.
For such an ostensibly simple design, well, it isn't all that simple. There are lots of shades and possibilities. Actually, you can dial in a tremendous variety of cool sounding tones. And of course, David Grissom lives inside the amp, and it's not hard to dial in his trademark tones if that's your thing (I got his new album, and spent some time making similar sounds, a lot of fun!).
This is an amp meant to sound its very best at gig or recording volume. The amp uses EL84M power tubes. These not only last a lot longer than standard EL84s, they also take a higher plate voltage and have much more clean headroom than standard EL84s. If you like to hear power tube distortion (like me), things are going to get pretty dang loud. But then you have that Oh. My. Goodness. moment, and you realize how great the thing can be in a band (or serious studio) context.
We are talking gorgeous sparkle, shimmer, and clarity upon clarity. And here the volume control becomes more a tone control, adding a touch of upper-edge distortion halo around a note in a different are of the frequency band from, say, a Matchless/Vox style EL84 amp, or an EL34 or 6L6 amp. And you can warm it up, or make it clearer as well.
When the amp is cooking, you can't believe how great your guitar can make it respond at any setting on your guitar volume. Then you can really use the guitar's volume and tone controls to add whatever you want - grit, distortion, chime, shimmer, grunt, edge, clean, you name it.
Did I mention that it gets loud?
Sure it sounds good at low volume, but if you don't crank it to at least check out what's happening, you're missing out on some of what this amp can do. One thing is for sure, this is not an anemic EL84 amp. Years ago, I had a Mesa Blue Angel that couldn't hang with a band with just its 4 x EL84 section cranked to the max, as nice as that amp sounded for recording. I had to add in the 6V6 tubes to even be heard. This one could hang with a band, no problem at all.
To get the most out of the amp, well, just don't play after the kids go to bed.
Whether cranked or at what I'd consider more reasonable volumes, however, the amp has a wonderful clarity throughout its range. Yes, you can crank the gain and lower the master and get classic rock crunch and power chord sounds, but personally, I'd use my HXDA for that. This amp is all about that halo of distortion around the top of a note that I mentioned earlier. This distortion has a different character from, say, an AC30, where the breakup seems more direct and crunchy at a lower frequency.
I find the amp tighter in the boost mode, and that's mostly where I play it, as in normal mode it's definitely a "sweeter" amp, with a softer bottom end, and a rounder top. It really can sound like it has bits of several really great vintage amps because of these subtleties and settings. At low levels I hear a little Brownface Concert-Amp, I can get some of those old classic Gibson style tones, etc, but at the same time, the amp has more shimmer and openness to my ear than these older amps (some of which can be attributed to the fact that I'm not playing it through 50 year old Jensens!).
The bright switch is truly useful in either mode, because as you increase the volume of the amp, it adds progressively less high end. That keeps you from having ice picks assault the ears of your audience, or blowing up your recording system! And the high cut works by using phase cancellation, and it does a nice job of helping the player shape things, along with the presence control. The bright switch is also very useful in adding definition at low volumes.
In addition, the amp is very dynamic, and really responds to the pick or fingers. This is in part because the headroom is enormous. The differences between the humbucker and split coil positions on my Artist V, for example, are clearer and more distinct that I have gotten with any other amp. And it really loves the split coil positions in a way that my others haven't. Also, I have owned no other amp where the combination of the two humbuckers sounded so good. Honestly, on other amps, I don't even bother with both buckers on at once. With this amp, I do.
In other words, the amp is incredibly revealing of pickups, pickup settings, and it loves them all. It doesn't care where you set your pickup selector switch, the amp is just going to sound good with it. And better still, each setting won't sound like the other pickup settings, even at volume.
Pedals are not a problem, in fact, the amp loves them. It has no need of a loop. It sounds really good with pedals in front of the amp. Granted, I'm not a guy who cares much about effects loops, but if you love lovely delay and chorus sounds in front of your amp, pick this one. Not to mention how good it sounds with my two boost pedals, my overdrive, and my SP compressor. The amp just says, "Bring 'em on!"
There is a very elastic quality to the notes. They have a certain bouncy, three dimensional quality that will stand out in a mix.
I started to record a few things today, but didn't finish because I was called away to visit an elderly family member in the hospital (she will be fine). I will follow through on my promise to record the amp once things settle down a little bit.
People have asked me if it'd be a good bedroom amp. And I'd say, sure, it sounds good turned down low with some pedals. But it's a truly professional piece of gear, and I'd really recommend opening it up and having some good clean fun with it!
Anyway, I hope this information helps if you're thinking about one of these.
I forgot to mention that this one has the NOS Brimar tubes, made a long time ago in England; it's interesting that Brimar was actually a subsidiary of an American company (ITT), and probably the tubes were a licensed RCA design. My guess is that the Brimar tubes play a role in the clarity and headroom of the amp in some way. They break up a bit differently from most modern tubes, from what I can tell.