Vintage 16 review by Carvin

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  • Sound: 5
  • Overall Impression: 5
  • Reliability & Durability: 7
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 6.5 Neat
  • Users' score: 7.8 (16 votes)
Carvin: Vintage 16

Price paid: $ 399

Purchased from: Carvind direct

Sound — 5
I have used it mostly with single coil pickups and it has a decent clean sound, nothing spectacular. The overdirve is not that great, and using fx pedals would sound better for overdrive on this amp IMO. Being that the cabinet is very small for a 12", the amps sounds all midrange and boxy. It has some degree of hum when in the 5 watt triode mode, the 15 watt pentode mode is quieter. It has a solid state rectifier and has no sustain or sag. It does not do the Marshall 18 watt EL84 gain, not even close. It uses a 100watt rated speaker and you can opt for a 35 watt greenback for more gain from the factory. This amp was a disapointment for me YMMV. If you like to use fxpedals, this amp would be good. But if you are seeking a tweed sound, forget it. You will need a different amp.

Overall Impression — 5
I play blues, Jazz, old rock, and Acoustic fingerpicking stuff. I have been playing for over 35 years and have owned and sold off tones of gear. The Vintage 16 does a fair job with jazz and can be used for an acoustic. But IMO there are a lot better amps on the market for $400. I would not buy another. I liked that it was a Carvin, but that is about it, all the features were dissapointing to me. Some would compair it to a Blues Jr, I would say it does sound like a Jr. I was not impressed with the sound of the Jr also. The only reason I chose this was the company's rep and the price. Neverhteless, I have sinced remodeled the cabinet (turned it upside down and backwards, replaced the speaker with a weber sig 12 alnico, closed the back, and located the handle on the side), and use it as a 12" practice amp cabinet with my Pignose Piggy-In-The-Box amp. Now the amp sounds better.

Reliability & Durability — 7
It is a dependable amp. IMO there are other amps that would be better for giging. The amp has broken down about a month ago. After checking the bias which was beyond max, I replaced the power tubes and reset the bias to moderate values. The amp sounded the same not much change in gain or clarity. I barely use it any more. IMO it is just enemic. However, there are some very good mods that people have done that will make this little amp sound like a 18 watt Marshall clone. But with the small cabinet and 100watt speaker, I would opt for a whole new amp.

Features — 9
It is a 2009 Vintage 16. It is a far amp for blues and jazz. It runs off aa pair of EL84 power tubes and 3X 12AX7 preamp tubes. It is fixed bias and has no standby switch. It has the master volume, bass, mid, and trebble, as well as a reverb. The reverb has no choke just resistors and half of a tube to Drive it. There is a soak control like all the other Vintage series amps which also run off EL84 power tubes. The tweed is not tweed but vinyl covering. It is moderate in volume when using the soak control, and the amp is not as loud as other 15 watt amps. I have used this amp at Jam sessions and at home. Ran it to the max and at moderate volumes. It is a economy tube amp and the parts are decent. The reverb is not the greatest, and the soak control dampens the sound. It has a 5 watt triode mode also, but IMO the 5watt mode sounds muddy and you lose the clarity of the sound. Being that the 15 watts are not too loud the 5 watts is not much different in volume on this amp.

6 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Listen to this demo if you want to hear someone play jazz through a V16, it sounds great. It's a head and closed back cab and not the combo which is a bit small and boxy sounding (that's kind of a compromise though if you want a compact, handy package it's going to sound boxy). He's using a WGS British Lead 80 speaker (Celestion Classic Lead 80 clone) and it seems to match very well with the amp, I've heard the ET-90 from WGS fits well with it too.
    well, i sound good in any amp,but this amp does whale noises like no other. It chickin picks, it grunges, It plays real clean, but I also play it with my matched CARVIN guitar.
    Great Rock Amp. Push it hard with a quality overdrive (Boss BD2) pedal and it sings! Very similar to a Plexi Marshall. Go to the Carvin website to see the quality of this USA made vintage-style amp – exceptional… I play it outdoors often and with an extension cabinet, I can fill a stage with killer tone. I’ve play them all and own Fender, Carvin, Roland and Mesa amps. The VT16 can hold its own with world-class amps.
    If you want a jazz amp, go buy a Roland cube or something. This combo in fact does rock. Its like a little angry Marshall package with the EL34's and 12AX7's. I tried a Ted Weber Legacy (8ohm 65w) but prefer the Celestion V30 it came with.
    Nothing personal, Shitty review, first off most jazz players who play jazz usually get a roland JC120 or a fender amplifier. and it's obvious this guy does not know amplifiers, if he would have done his research, he would have known this amplifier is more geared towards classic rock and such. it's made in the USA not ching chang chong China, and in the price range it pretty much blows away the competition, in this price range 90% of the amps are made in China or Korea. Peavey makes a classsic 30 and that's $600, with the price on this one around $400 new, well that's telling you something