V3 review by Carvin

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 10 Gem
  • Users' score: 8.3 (29 votes)
Carvin: V3

Price paid: $ 450

Purchased from: craigslist

Sound — 10
I mainly use an Ibanez RG350M with EMG 81 in the bridge and 85 in the neck. I play death metal, deathcore in drop a tuning. Also I use an Avatar Vintage 4x12 with V30s. I don't play any clean riffs really, but the clean channel is 1 of the best I've heard on a hi gain amp. For me, the distortion channel is were its at. I get really great lows with this and still cut threw the mix with good sustain. Before this amp I was using an Engl Powerball, witch sounds great, but it didn't cut threw at all! The other guitar player in my band uses a Bugera 333XL and on 3 it killed the Engl. The Carvin cuts threw and sounds amazing. The eq on the V3 is real touchy. Barly turn the knob and it changes the whole sound of the amp. I actually hated that at first, but now I love the fact that happens. If I get board with the sound I can get a totally different sound with just a touch of a knob or flip of a switch.

Overall Impression — 10
In the last year I've own a Mesa Dual Rectifier, H&K Triamp MK1 Peavey 5150 and a 6505, Engl Powerball, Laney VH100R, a Genz Benz El Diablo and a few other cheaper tube amps and this amp killed all of them hands down! Best amp I've owned and for the price of a USA made amp, it can't be beat!

Reliability & Durability — 10
I've never had any problem with it yet. Only had if for about a month but I did buy it used and its the older 1 without the led lights or reverb. My amp guy looked it over and put new tubes in it when I got it and he said it really easy to work on if something would ever need to be done.

Features — 10
Master Controls - Master volume: Controls output of all 3 channels. Boost or cut your entire rig with one control. - Boost: Add up to 9 dB of volume boost, switch it on/off via the FS44 footswitch and MIDI. - Bright: Boost highs starting at 5kHz for added clarity. - Mid Cut: A unique mid cut helps dial in a master scooped tone from mild to extreme. - Deep: Adds low frequencies at the sub-harmonic level - Reverb: Assignable to any channel. - Smart Loops: Total control of your effects, remembers your effects loop settings for each channel. Just assign a loop(s) to the current channel, Smart Loops permanently saves it until you change it. Channel 1 & 2 Overdrive 3 Drive Modes: a) "Center" - a classic rich, open overdrive with lots of headroom. Turning up the Drive knob adds sustain and warmth. b) "Thick" - brings on the chunk with a massive low-end, textured mids and blistering highs. Turning up the Drive knob adds sustain to the highs, grit to the mids with low-end bark. c) "Intense"- the most gain and sustain with notes that leap out with startling articulation. The low-end is deep and percussive. Mids and highs smoothly blend and still cut through. Turning up the Drive stretches the envelope of sustain to the edge. EQX: Toggle between standard EQ and Expanded EQ. This switch opens a wider frequency range for the TREBLE and BASS. Presence: Boosting 8kHz to help cut through. Channel 3 Clean 3 Drive Modes: a) "Center" - a classic rich, open clean sound with lots of headroom. Turning up the Drive adds tube warmth and sag. b) "Bright" - adds high end to the preamp, inviting high frequencies to chime and sustain as the Drive is turned up. EQX: Toggle between standard EQ and Expanded EQ. This switch opens a wider frequency range for the TREBLE, MID and BASS. Presence: Boost 11kHz for glassy, shimmering highs.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I have the V3 2x12 combo. Great tube amp. very versatile sound shaping capabilities and a very nice "tube shimmer". That being said, I'm 61 yrs old and lifting an over 80 lbs combo amp into my car trunk with only a top handle just isn't going to happen. I use a Line 6 HD500X pedal board with two Peavey Bandit's ("silver stripe") solid state amps for stereo and that is now my portable rig. Each amp is a single 12", 100 watts and is small and weighs about 40 lbs, easy to transport, and since they have a great clean channel they take to the HD500X very well. I always thought Peavey was Japanese for some reason but Hartley Peavey has a fascinating story behind his American company. The Carvin is just sitting in my recording room not getting much play time now so will probably sell it, but it sure is fun to sit down sometimes and crank her up!
    I sold my V3 and bought a Marshall JVM410H Joe Satriani. Trust me, I have NEVER looked back, ever. I know it cost a lot more but it's worth it. The JVMJS is the only amp I have ever owned that has given me zero buyers remorse. I own or have owned the V3, Marshall JCM2000, Mesa Dual Rec, Mesa Tri-Axis, Egnater Vengeance, Blackstar HT-100 and Jet City JCA50H. They all have at least a few issues that makes them imperfect. Some could be good for a studio recording and none are a PERFECT live amp. The JS scores a ten in recording AND live/practice. It is not bad at bedroom volume either!
    It looks like the V3M is the same pre-amp circuits as the V3, but you lose the extra 50 watts, the extra speaker, and the 2 fx loops with assignment capability, but you also lose 50+ lbs in the combo version, and gain 3 power stages, so if you like the V3, jump on the V3M