As for the F30, it sounds like you both are actually sort of in agreement there. It wasn't so much that the gain channel is "unusable" as it is that it doesn't have the more subtle "in between tones." It's gain or it's not. And hey, that's not a terrible thing, pedals tend to be able to help cop enough of those things, should they be needed. If the gain channel is meaty and that's your thing (which it is mine to a degree), it could work just fine.
@McGlamRock Have you had hiss issues with the amp?
I might posit that if you did not bond with the 50 that the 25 might not offer much different??? Power tubes don’t determine as much as does the circuit, ime. Ymmv.I had the Express Plus 5:50 for a while. It was loud and it was heavy, but I used it at bar gigs several times. I liked the clean sounds but struggled a bit with the dirty sounds. It was maybe a little sterile and stiff. I also found that I spent to much time fiddling with the many options and controls. That was probably because I wasn’t thrilled with the sound and was trying to dial it in, but the constant fiddling got old. In the end I never really bonded with it and sold it.
I’m somewhat interested in the 5:25 because I might like the el84 version better. But I’ve never played it.
I am glad to hear that someone else has that problem.The F series amps hiss loudly at idle, but otherwise are also fine amps.