Price paid: £ 180
Features: Made in around 1983 this is a 160w two-channel all-valve amp head. The amp has two channels selected by a push-pull pot. The lead channel is designed to replicate "English rock" sounds, while the normal channel is intended to have a more "American" feel. Mostly I use the lead channel for overdrive and the normal channel for clean. Both channels have a three EQ and push-pull pots (bright, smooth, thick) for boosting or cutting certain frequencies. The lead channel features a "pump" control in addition to the pre and post stages which gives a huge overdrive boost when cranked up to ten. There is also an effects loop, but it's not labelled as such so this amp is often reported as not having one. Also included are reverb and presence controls. Overall this is a nice simple amp that does exactly what it says on the tin without the modern obession with multiple gain stages and fancy bells and whistles. It also has a cooling fan on top, which it really needs as there are 12 valves inside! // 8
Sound: I mostly play a Jackson KVX10 (older version) through this that has Duncan Designed Distortion pickups, tuned to B-standard. I mostly play doom and drone metal, and this amp is able to handle the masses of bottom end needed for this without getting too muddy. In fact I usually have the low set at around 7 with the High at 8 or 9 with the Mid somewhere in the middle (heh) and that produces a nicely thick sound that still has good clarity. The amp is quite noisy, but there is a "hum balance" control on the back which helps a lot with this. I can get a satisfactorily bright clean and a reasonably dirty overdrive sound at neighbour-friendly levels, I've yet to see how far I can push this amp as I've not yet used it in a gig or proper practice space, so I don't know how much the clean channel distorts, but the lead channel overdrives nicely at neighbour-friendly volumes with the pre and "pump" controls turned up and the post at 1. The disortion here is not brutal at all, being a valve amp designed to replicate Vintage 60s sounds at higher volumes, so you would need pedals to really get a snarl out of it. // 9
Reliability & Durability: It's a Peavey, they are vastly underrated workhorse amps. This is big and sturdy (and heavy) so the fragility of the valves notwithstanding I should imagine it can take quite a bit of punishment. I would be happy to gig this amp with no back up.
At the time of writing the amp needs a service, it was sat in an attic for ten years and then I bought it and used it for super-heavy drone metal so it's gone from one extreme to another! But it's taken over six months of at least twice-weekly use for it to get to this stage and given it still has the original valves I would call that a great testimony to it's reliability. // 8
Overall Impression: As mentioned before I play doom and drone metal, and occasional bits of alt-rock. This amp suits that very well with a few effects going into it and on its own would make a very good hard rock amp.
I've been plaing on and off for 15 years but only really seriously for the last year or so, the cab I use is a Hayden Peacemaker 4x12 which works very well with the amp and I run the guitar signal through a Danelectro Fab Tone (modded), Electro-Harmonix Little Big Muff, Boss PH-2 Super Phaser and Dunlop Crybaby (modded). I would definitely hunt another one of these down if it were lost or stolen.
I think a gain switch, for big crunchy distortion would be nice but that's not what this amp is for really so no big deal. I tried various other amps both new and old before settling on this one, to be honest the price is what mostly attracted me, but playing it shows it was more than worth it... it's a hugely underrated amp. // 9