Somehow, I had an attack of tube amp-mania recently. It may have had something to do with me getting a small windfall of money and the availability of the apparently well-priced Monoprice 1 x 12 tube combo. I came oh so close to ordering the Monoprice amp, but stopped short of pulling the trigger. I decided I needed to shop around a little more. I checked the Internet and then decided to visit the two nearby Guitar Center stores. Both had mostly new or high-priced used stuff. But tucked at the end of a row in the Nashville 100 Oaks store was this Crate V18. I'm a sucker for price, and the $89.95 price tag intrigued me. $89.95 for an all-tube amp? Must be something wrong with it, I thought. I checked out what I could on my phone. I decided to plug it in and try it out. Maybe that would tell me something. It almost didn't. How in the world am I supposed to listen to the nuances of a tube amp when there are FOUR EGO-DRIVEN GUITARISTS TRYING OUT GUITARS AT THE LOUDEST POSSIBLE VOLUME! I heard enough to determine that it worked. I found an actual sales person, but he wasn't a guitar person. He tried to get a guitar person to help me, but no one answered his page for a guitar salesman. He explained that the amp may have been priced as it was due to its cosmetic condition. Anyway, always a sucker for price, I went for it. Later, I would realize why it was priced as it was and why I stopped using tube amps a long time ago. Now, I must say that this is a good amp. It's heavy as a boat anchor, but nothing my aching back can't handle for at least a few feet. It has three 12AX7 tubes driving a pair of EL84 power tubes. Controls are simple - there's gain, volume, a three-band EQ, and that's about it. Having not had a tube amp for many years, I can't tell you how the tone compares to a allegedly "good" tube amp. But I liked it. It had plenty of volume. In my workshop/shed, I cranked the gain and volume to the max and hit a power chord. The "V18" logo on the front of the amp fell off! That sucker was LOUD! No hum, no crackling, nothing odd. So, why did this amp remind why I stopped using tube amps? Later, I realized that I might have to have it re-tubed. THAT's why I stopped using tube amps! The damn cost of tubes! The amp probably was sold new around 2008. That means eight years of use, but I don't know how hard. A notation in the amp stated that one of the pre-amp tubes had been replaced. That doesn't mean the other tubes are original, but you never know. I read somewhere that if a power tube goes bad, it can damage other parts of the amp. It must have been written by a power tube salesman. Still, it got me to thinking - perhaps I should just replace all of the tubes so it would sound its best and I wouldn't have to worry about a tube dying for some time. So, I did some inquiring. At least $75 labor to replace the tubes and tweak the amp. Tube cost? For all five, figure a minimum of $75. So, there was an additional $150 added to the cost of the amp. That put it in the range of the Monoprice amp. On the other side of things, though, I'm not a pro. I don't have to have a bullet-proof amp. If a tube blows and the amp dies, I'm not disappointing several thousand people. It just inconveniences me for the time it takes to plug the guitar into my solid-state Fender Mustang I amp. So, as much as I would like to just re-tube the thing, I'll take a deep breath and hold off for a bit. For now, though, it sounds good. I look forward to running all sorts of weird bargain and home-built pedals into it. It should be good for "power-chord" therapy, at least. By the way, another reason the amp might have been priced where it was is because when it was blown out a few years ago, they went for $150 new. By my standard formula, the price for good used gear is about half of the street price for the item when it was new. So, the V18 might even have been over-priced! If any of you have actually read this far, I would appreciate opinions on the V18 and the merits of having the tubes replaced.