The Cornford Roadhouse 30 is an interesting and exciting offering. The brand is known for very pricey, boutique amps yet they've managed to fit this series in and around the $1500 price point. How? Cornford utilized PCB boards supplemented with handwiring to maintain quality and push prices down considerably. The Roadhouse 30 is a single channel, 6l6 based design with a very simple front panel. A Boost control helps you tune in the right amount of added volume for the foot switchable boost. The front panel although fairly simple, is augmented with an odd addition, an effects loop. That's right, the effects loop is positioned between the master volume control and the EQ stack. I found this to be a unique decision, but nothing detrimental to the overall design. The looks are very classy. A healthy blend of Soldano stylings coupled with something new.
The amp is very simple in design and easy to dial in a good sound. Between the foot switchable boost and my guitar's volume, I never felt compromised by the single channel layout. The amp sounds great at low volumes, but benefitted from having the power section driven. I have not gigged the Roadhouse, but I'm confident in the build quality of this amp.
The amp has a very squeaky clean sound but felt sterile to me, adding the Strymon flint's reverb I was able to get some excellent sounds however. The amp was unimpressive to me dry. I mostly enjoyed the lead sounds from the amp. You won't be able to get aggressive styles out of this amp without an external boost, but if you want a great base tone to add pedals and you enjoy dirty blues tones, this might be just for you.
The Cornford Roadhouse 30 is not exactly versatile, but in the right setting could prove an extraordinary value for money. If you are expecting the copious amounts of gain attainable in other Cornford's, such as the infamous MK50h ii , you will be sorely disappointed. To be able to buy into the Cornford heritage for less than $2000 may seem appealing, but with so many well-outfitted competitors, the Roadhouse 30 may leave you second guessing your purchase.