Completely avoid the series I and all Tridents. The Ace combo (only came in series II) has an awesome vibe; it's a great lead amp, sings for days, and would own in a cover band. It is too smooth for the metal vibe, but if you don't need that, it is probably the best sounding Stiletto they made.
The Deuce is what I have, and I love it. It's got tons of that pissed off Marshall upper midrange grind. I use mine in Division, so I keep channel 2 on Fluid Drive, since I want the saturation, but Tite Gain has got that awesome metallic bark of a JCM800 (a boost here gets you into the same territory as Fluid Drive), and Crunch is where the AC/DC rhythm thing lives. It can get reeeeeally bright, though, so the key to dialing it in is to keep the presence and treble lower than you would expect. I'm talking around 10:00 each low. Lately, I've been messing around with the crank the mids way up, and scoop them back out with a GEQ in the loop approach for rhythm--the ONLY way to dial in a Mark--and it works surprisingly well. The jury is still out on that, though, since I think it also does a great job with scooping the mids and adding them back with the GEQ for leads. I've only done one show with the Mark approach, though, so I need to spend more time messing around with it to figure out which I prefer.
The clean channel is the hidden jem of the amp, though. It's not very good at the completely pristine sound--what EL-34 amp really is?--but put a touch of edge into it, and notes just leap out of the speakers. If you want that touch sensitivity on your clean channel, where smacking it gives you some grit, then this is definitely the amp for you. True, it only has two channels, but with a good GEQ for the loop, and the built in solo boost, you can cover a lot of ground. I use the Mini Recto in our cover band, since stage volume is one of our primary concerns, but I could easily accomplish the same sort of thing with the Stiletto: set the high gain channel on the lowest mode with moderate gain, and boost the shit out of it with a good OD pedal when you need some saturation. This amp also prefers C90s to V30s, since the upper mid spike of a V30 falls exactly in the most prominent frequency range of the amp. Surprisingly enough, though, this is opposite of the Ace, which just slays with V30s.
Drawbacks? If you're looking for the low end gut punch, you won't really find it here, since it's not a Recto. It's kinda of like a Marshall amp into a Mesa power section, though, so it's pretty damn good at that Master of Puppets sound. There is also the aforementioned brightness to consider, so if you think a Marshall is too harsh up top, don't even consider a Stiletto. If you feel like pealing the paint off the walls, though, then you can't do much better.
I still think the original Bogner Ubers are the best EL-34 amps out there for metal, but they are definitely more of a one guitar band sort of amp. I chose the Stiletto because it blends amazingly well with a Recto. Several people here can vouch for the fact that my Deuce II and Mike's Triple Rec make for an absolutely massive guitar sound. When Pharoah borrowed our gear for a gig we both played, I sat back there geeking out over how awesome our gear sounded.
Originally Posted by Leon
The Ace combo is a closed back.