I purchased this amp from a private party from an eBay listing. The amp was relisted at $1500 which is a steal considering they go for about a grand more new. The amp was an older one that was hand built by Doug Roccaforte himself. This was important to me and the level of detail in the hand wired point to point circuitry was impeccable. I would say the wiring quality to be up there with Harry Joyce / HiWatt amps.
First off I grew up in the 60's and really started playing in the 70's so I started with Fender's and Marshall's at that time. One of my favorite amps was my 74 100 Watt Marshall Super Lead. I thought I would never get rid of that amp. The Marshall I had as compared to the Roccaforte Custom 80 is night and day. The Marshall when overdriven was very inarticulate as compared to the C80. With the C80 you can hear the interaction of each string when overdriven. The Overdrive in the C80 was nowhere near as compressed and the attack of the C80 is amazing. The C80's overall tone is very phat even with strats. The bottom end and the honk from the strat reminded me of Paige and Hendrix tune I grew up with. The Overdrive in the C80 isn't a gritty Brit OD but bubbly glowing tone. Push C80 hard and it roars rather nicely and retains it responsiveness and is louder than my Marshall SL. The SL on the other hand got very thick and gritty. The Crunch tones with the SL were very good. The C80 didn't have quite the Crunch but the pinch notes from the C80 are to die for. The C80 has the greatest chime I have ever heard from any Marshall amp. Now I know why so many professional musicians like the C80.
Special note: The Master Volume is the most usable I have ever experienced. I don't think it's possible to dial in a bad tone from this amp. The Marshall SL I had tended to over compress and wasn't as big and open sounding as the C80.
The C80 EQ was also very good. When all tone pots are at the 12 O'Clock the amp had a very ballanced tone from highs to lows with the obvious mid focus that Marshall type amps are famous for.
Oh, the clean tones are big and warm and Phat. Even at lower levels the amp stays warm but open her up a bit and the C80 will surprise you.
The thing that really makes the Roccaforte Custom 80 stand out is the way it sound in a live band situation. When I use a full stack I can honestly cut the heads of the first 20 rows of people.
I plan to sell some of my other amps so I can purchase another 1 or 2 C80 and full stacks for each. This would yield the old school monster Marshallesk tone that Paige and Hendrix had back in the day.
They cost an arm and a leg.. But you get what you pay for. Because the amp is so articulate some players are intimidated by this as every little thing you do comes out. Really poor players seem to hate the amp while people that are more developed seem to love this amp.
These amps are build like a tank they come apart for servicing fairly easily which makes power tube changes a breeze.
If you like the old school vintage Brit rocker tones. You can't do much better unless you have Doug custom build specialty amp for you. (He did one for me which is incredible). Hands down the best clean and overdriven tones I have found from all the Marshallesk amps I have tried.
SLO-100, Bogner XTC, Mesa, VHT.. not making it for you.. then its time to try out a Roccaforte C80. I own 3 different models and plan to purchase some of Doug's other amps at some point.
The Roccaforte Custom 80 is a single channel, 100 watt tube head. This amp appears to be simple, but provides many different tones, all very usable. The controls are: Preamp Vol, Master Vol, Treble, Midrange, Bass, Presence.
The Custom 80 is firmly in the Marshall tone family, but more. To my ears, the Custom 80 sounds like the perfect Marshall recorded tone, only it's right there in the room with you. The gain is completely usable all the way up and gives a great singing lead tone when cranked. The tone knobs shape the tone in a very musical manner. There are no extremely bad sounds that come from really cranking one knob or another. The only knob that I have turned down is the presence, but that's just me. This amp is loud. I know that every Roccaforte review mentions that, but it's true. I do want to clarify though, that this is not a bad thing at all. I happen to play in a loud band and this amp easily sits in with our other guitarist and his Oranges as well as our drummer's Bonham-esque playing. I have been playing the Custom 80 through my Mojo 4x12 which has 2 Hellatone 60L's and 2 Warehouse Veteran 30's. This setup really moves some air!
I generally use a '77 Les Paul Standard through just about every amp. This guitar really shines when played through the Custom 80. Many amps mask the tone of the guitar, but not the Custom 80. Roccaforte amps sound a bit like an early Marshall crossed with a Hiwatt.
Overall, the Custom 80 is a very versatile rock 'n roll amp. It can be quite loud, but the master volume is quite effective. The build quality is easily one of the best that I have ever seen in person, very meticulous. I have owned a couple different amps from Roccaforte and the Custom 80 would be the best for my uses.