Pros: Warm, full specs combo amplifier
Cons: Fender*s default noise. Not recommended for recording.
For around 500$, it*s a great amplifier from Fender. Come with 02 x Celestion 12", 160W, strong output, with clean, drive and more drive that you can manoeuver from the footswitch with reverb and FX control.
As some reviews already stated, the only *con* would be the hiss ( hum ) noise even with no instrument plugged, something that users would like to have some recommendations from Fender how to mute it at their dealers.
Regarding sounds, it all depends on the user*s preference. Stage 160 CLEAN channel has a really CLEAN sound that some users may not appreciate it, to add more *feeling* and *soul*, I used my Digitech RP Series, set at Blackface with a Spring Reverb and a bit of Phaser or Flange FX, you can have the Robert Cray*s clean sound from a Fender strat, while in Drive mode, just notch up to 3 with the same settings for Treble, Middle, Bass level, you also have the Robert Cray*s solo. The More Drive channel is somewhat noisy that you may have to scoll down the Treble to minimize the noise.
By itself, the Stage 160 has the fullest great sounds starting from the notch 5 volume, but with the 160W output, it will blow up your small room and awake all your family. I owned many different brands amps like Marshall, Crate, Yamaha, Roland, each one has its own pros and cons. It would be the same thing for this Fender Stage 160. You will be happy when using it with your Gibson Les Paul or Fender Strat. It would be also a perfect match with any pedal modeling processor for distortion sound level as 02 Celestion 12" speakers at 160W are really capable to handle your playing style.
One more thing to add : please do not expect the smoothness distortion sound from an all-tube amp. Stage 160 is a Solid State amp. I had it from 2000, no repair so far. For your budget of 500$, I would say * GO AHEAD *, you can*t go wrong.