I've been looking for a cheap but good tube amp for a while now, and I had almost decided buying a Valveking. Recently, I ran across some guy selling a Crate VC5310 (50 W, 3x10" speakers, all-tube). I've heard great things about them tone-wise, but I'm having trouble deciding if it's worth it. The thing is, I play mostly hard rock and thrash but I also like to have good cleans. I know the VK should be better for my playing style, but how about using a distortion pedal on the Crate? I'm kind of short on money too, so the cheaper price of the Vintage Club is also important to me.

In the end, the issue comes to this: is the distortion on the VK good enough to beat a decent distortion pedal through the VC? Has anyone heard both amps and could lend me a hand?
I've never played the Crate but I've heard good things about it.

I wouldn't put a distortion pedal in front of either amp. Both could use an Overdrive pedal.

The Valveking may have better cleans and thrash abilities.

The Crate probably has better tone overall.

Valvekings only shine really after some mods and pedals so if the VK is a stretch now and you won't be able to afford at least 2 of these 4 things then it may not be worth it. Speaker, tubes, OD pedal, EQ pedal.

A used Valveking with a replacement speaker is totally worth it imo.
Well, if it's really worth it I can always take it slow and upgrade it little by little, I don't have to get all of the upgrades at the same time. It's still gonna be an upgrade from my current amp (a 30W Behringer. No comments, please).

Any other amps I should check out?

Out of the two, a modded VK could be great, though the Crate would probably be better stock.
the crate won't need any mods. is it one of the made in st louis crates? if so, nab it right up. great amps. 50 watts will give you some clean headroom either way. while i'm a fan of the vk, i'd go crate vintage club all the way on this one.

edit: i doubt you'd need a distortion pedal with the crate.
Last edited by gregs1020 at Jan 6, 2010,
Get the Crate. And then you can use a distortion pedal if you want. Never tried a valveking, but from what I hear the Crate is just better overall
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I used to own a VK...and I've played the Crate VC on many occassions. I'd go with the Crate if it were me...
Peavey Classic 30. Its loud as hell, even if its only 30 watts, I keep my amp on 3.5 (out of 12 that is) when I play with a band, and its loud enough. The thing sounds great, its got two channels. The distortion channel is pretty awesome for hard rock, but if you want metal you'll need a pedal. rhyme intended. I got mine used for $325, its a steal. Beats those other two amps by far, for sure.
I've played both extensively when I was in the market for an amp (I eneded up with me V16) and the VC was much better. Cleans, crunch, grit, tits, and even some early 80s thrash ala metallica was attainable. Great amp, especially considering the price. I only didn't buy it because the one at my local GC sold the one that was there.
About the budget: I was expecting to spend around $600. MIND YOU, guitar stuff is more expensive in my country (import taxes and whatnot). That's what the VC would cost (I know it's too expensive, but there aren't many choices anyway, unless I went for a Marshall MG , those can be found by the dozen). The VK can be found used for around $100 less used, but there's still the whole upgrade issue and getting hold of Celestions is hard around here, let alone other brands. I guess that would make the Crate a better choice if you consider the VK mods.

I know, it sucks to be a guitar player in my country.

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Peavey Classic 30. ...

Hah, I wish. I actually found one used, but it's even more expensive than the Crate

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... even some early 80s thrash ala metallica was attainable. ...

That's pretty much the kind of tone I strive for. Would having a EMG-loaded guitar help?
Last edited by The_Bozz at Jan 6, 2010,
if that crate is anything like my supposedly vintage style crate and other crate amps, its going to be really bright. my presence stays at 0 and the treble on either channel stays at 4 or 5.

mine takes a distortion pedal really well. on my profile, if you listen to "low riff 1" thats my seven string with a digitech metal master through my crate. very sloppy track i know. "low riff 1 improved" is tighter but i forgot to turn off the mic preamp on the boss micro BR so the tone is worse. i like the tone a lot on the sloppy track.

if you eq the dirty channel right, you can get a good metal tone. my friend did it with a tele w/ a dimarzio dual rail pup.

dont know anything about the valveking, except that i see it mentioned here alot. ive played a few peavey amps including the classic 30, XXX, and the vtm 60 i own, and they are much darker tahn the crate. at least i think the classic 30 was but that was a long time ago.

so i guess if you want better cleans and distortion from a pedal, go with crate. slightly darker but still good cleans and reliable onboard distortion, peavey. hope this helps

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Last edited by SYLrules88 at Jan 6, 2010,
yes an emg loaded guitar would help. with actives, you won't need a pedal.

doubt you'd need a pedal with passives.

and I'd rather have an ass for an amp than a classic 30. just my personal preference - but those things need more mods than a vk IMO. tube tamer, new speaker, something redone to reduce that friggin cap noise. dunno, never was a fan of the old classic 30.

just preference.
Alright, so right now the Crate looks like the better deal overall, and if SYLrules88 is right I can even keep my Jackhammer! (until I get something better, of course) . Just one more question, for the peeps that have heard it: would changing the speakers do any good? I find it really intriguing that it has 3 10 inchers instead of a single 12 inch speaker. It sounds like you could mix and match different speakers to get some interesting blends! You guys got any suggestions? I found the amp schematics and it says it uses 8 ohm ones, if that helps.

Quote by gregs1020
yes an emg loaded guitar would help. ...

and I'd rather have an ass for an amp than a classic 30. ...

Great! I've been wanting to try my 81/85 combo on a tube amp. And that Classic 30 is totally out of the question anyway, the only one I found down here is being sold at about $900! :S
Last edited by The_Bozz at Jan 6, 2010,
I love my classic. Though I'd rather have that splawn.. obviously.
TS, go with the valveking, for thrash.
hey - i said preference twice and imo once. a lot, i repeat, a lot of classic 30 owners love their amps. it's not a bad amp at all, just not my cup of tea. i'm not a fan of the soldano combos i've played and owned. it's just preference. i was and am a huge fan of the vintage club amp i had. i'd take it over the soldano i had any day of the week.

but VK or crate VC? I'm a vk fan but i'd go crate. it's another preference thing.
Alright, looks like the VC is winning if we count the "votes". Of course, I'll try to play both through my guitar before making the final decision. One last thing, for the guys that have owned or serviced one of these: I just learned that the reverb on this one is busted. The owner doesn't seem to know the cause, but I'll assume the problem is in the reverb unit itself and it needs replacement. Anybody knows the model, or at least its specs? If it helps, I found the schematics for the amp.

Worst case, you need a new reverb tank. Accutronics makes above average reverb tanks for like $30.

It is possible the contact points to the tank are dirty, clean those first and take a look inside. Hopefully it is nothing more than that. Good luck.
I had a vc50 head and 2x12 cab as my first real amp and i completely regret ever getting rid of it. the cleans are sooo smooth and the od channel is like an old marshall. With an overdrive pedal, even a cheap yellow boss ones you could easily get solid thrash tones
Well, I decided to follow your advice, so I got myself a (not even close to) new Crate VC 5310!

I haven't tried with my main guitar yet, but it sounded well enough with my Seymour Duncan-loaded Les Paul copy. The cleans are smooth and full, and the distortion is very good at low-mid and decent enough at higher levels, I think it just needs a little push, and the sheer volume of the EMGs of my LTD should do it. I do have a Marshall OD/Distortion pedal, just in case.

Now for the bad things... well, the biggest problem it has right now is the pots, most of them are scratchy, so I'll have to replace them, not such a big deal. It also weights SO DAMN MUCH, but I fixed that by putting wheels to it. It's also absurdly dirty (you guys got tips on how to clean the cream vinyl cover?). Something that worries me more is that the previous owner had it for about two years and didn't change the tubes, so I'm pretty sure I'll have to get them replaced in the near future. Right now I haven't noticed any issues with that tho. I also intend to improve its cooling, how should I go about putting some fans to it?

Thanks for the help guys, I really appreciate it!
Last edited by The_Bozz at Jan 16, 2010,

how many pots are scratchy? I mean, if it as EQ pot or something, that can wait right. You might try spraying some contact cleaner in there like Deoxit DNS.

cleaning - i'd just use a wet rag for now, and maybe put a bit of soap in one corner of the rag. Dry as you go so you can see your progress. I wouldn't use anything too abrasive.

tubes - do some searching on what came with the amp originally. Take some time to determine if you want to change anything. More dark - use JJs, More bright - use Tung Sols. General comment there. Personally, I would email Doug at dougstubes.com and ask him for his recommendation based on your styles/genres whatever. Also ask Gregs1020 - what he would do.

there are fans you can buy, I don't have a specific site but just google it.

Last edited by 311ZOSOVHJH at Jan 16, 2010,