Price paid: £ 87
Purchased from: Ebay
Features: The Marshall Valvestates are a range of hybrid amps that use solid state technology through the power output and stick a 12ax7 tube in the preamp stage, so that you get a warmer sound with the reliability of a solid state amp. I think this amp is class A/B so takes about 10 seconds to warm up before you can play, but worth the wait. This amp is from the 2nd range of valvestates and so is the newer type, The valvestates were introduced in 2000. You are unale to buy these new now but are loads on ebay, execpt this one. The VS102 was the most uncommon one, especially mine, which is the Orange crunch version ( Only 100 every made ). The Orange crunch were just a collectable modification, done in the JCM's and other types too. They don't add much sound difference but come in Orange tolex:)
The VS102 is an 100w 2 x 12 combo that features 1 clean channel and 2 overdrives selectable by footswitch. Ovdr 1 is more rock, Ovdr 2 is better for metal. There is a port for an extra cabinet and a line out send/return for effects. Dedicated bass, middle, treble, gain and volume for clean channel, and a shared EQ/ for both OD modes. Both overdrive modes have a separate volume know that really boosts. On the far right, there is an FX level, Clean reverb and OD reverb.
Clean channel features a tone shift which brings out an interesting change, and I forgot to mention the countour and tone boost on both overdrives, which really fattens things up to satan's standards. // 9
Sound: I use this amp downstairs in my living room to give it space to blast. As with any combo the intake wattage is divided between speakers so it is effectively as loud as a 50w combo, But still loud enough to wake the granny up 20 houses away, seriously. The point of sharing the power between speakers is so you get a nice stereo sound that just never comes out of 1x12s. I use it with my LAG arcange, which is pretty specifically a metal monster, with Zakk Wylde EMG's.
The sound on clean can be made extremely warm and the treble is never brittle, just loud. There is more than enough bass or middle to get you through anything. As the EQ is so responsive, you can make the clean channel very versatile and just about play anything.
This channel perfectly emulates your guitar so there's no excuses if it sounds bad, it must be your guitar. The volume of the clean channel should not be underestimated and can pretty much go just as loud as the overdrive, however when past 7/10 it turns muddy. This should not be a big issue because I never take it past 5 when in a practice room, and not past 2 at home, which my mum still says it's too loud. Overdrive 1 gives a classica british rock sound but can be a little lacking in the bass, It is great for ACDC, Queen, and all those guys, great crunch is achieved and again very versatile EQ.
I prefer Overdrive 2 by far as it naturally has much more bottom end and gets the adrenaline going when up loud, the palm mutes are world class sound. It should handle any any solo fine and gives your tone that extra boost for any note, ensuring fantastic sustain. Od 2 is much more versatile than 1, and can go from that far away airlock rock tone at the start of "I believe in a thing called love" to a sizzling "Master of puppets" of "Afterlife". I wont go on too much as I tend to, but you have to witness it to know, it does lots of sounds when you can use it properly. The distortion can be extremely brutal depending on how you want, could be perfect for meshugana types of metal and even the god heavy norweigian death metal.
It suit's my style pretty well because it suit's lots of things. I play mostly rock and metal, and it handles them brilliant. I have to add, it also works nicely as a bass amp or acoustic amp, and brings through all the natural naunces of the acoustic body resonance, aswell as the heavy bass EQ options for the bassist. // 9
Reliability & Durability: The guy I bought this off had been gigging with it for 10 years and it shows, the tolex is ripped, although the hand can feel it is tougher than elephant skin, but the wood beneath is indestructible. The condition isent great, but that's why I got it for 87 quid. The guy showed me it's scars: He spilt whiskey on it and it caught fire, he's dropped it, sat on it, fell on it, and it works perfectly.
Coming after all this trouble, the amp is closer to breaking, and probably could be affected a little bit but I would take it to a gig without a backup, simply because it is a workhorse. The 50w of power is enough to take you up to the biggest pubs or small clubs, possily even your village/school hall or an outside venue, but any larger proper gigs and you would need to get a stack by that point. The Twin speaker give it lots of headroom and the hybrid technology means that your not going to blow your one tube. Withhout a doubt this ampo could withstand years more of gigging and hard use. // 10
Overall Impression: I play anything I like. I spend a lot of time on the clean channel writing songs, or playing Jack Johnson to Metallica's softer ones. The clean channel could not be a better match and serves me better than any other I have encountered. The overdrive is crushing and can take you anywhere you want to go: Solos, tapping, riffs, harmonics, squeals, bends, slides. No problems with anything. This amp is definetly suited for rock but I know it would make a beatiful Metal Tool. The sound overall is rock-hard and only beaten by louder amps.
I have been playing for 11 months now and yes, I looked a lot for different amps, it was just a spot of luck to find this on ebay and I knew I couldent let it go. Nobody had heard of this rare thing so I took the chance, aswell as it being bashed up. Gave me it hundreds cheaper even second hand. Not bad for a 100 only produced Marshall.
Big considerations before this were: Marshall MG100DFX, Laney LX120, Marshall AVT150, Roland VGA3, and so many more. I love everything about my Marshall, the scars give it charachter but I guess that would be it's downside. I guess the clean when really, really loud could have some improving as it mimics distortion. If it was stolen or lost, I would likely not be able to find another one and try something different, maybe an Orange or a Peavey, who knows.
Very good amp for practice, gigging, and giving you kickass tone. // 9