Price paid: $ 500
Purchased from: Harmony Central
Sound — 8
The best clean channel ever. Period. I own a Twin Reverb. I know what legendary cleans sound like and this amp is amazing. I run using an A/B Switch with a Dual Rectifier just for the clean channel. Throw a little reverb on it and bam. Instant amazing tone. So much headroom. Even using a OD Pedal in front it doesn't break up that much. The OD Pedal gives it a really nice blues tone though. I could jam to a 12 bar blues back track all day with this head. The distortion is a different story. Nothing special, but nothing you've ever heard either. It has a very smooth and subtle distortion with the gain set around 4-5 but at about 8 or 9 this amp will blow the walls down. It will scream! I wouldn't recommend it for metal but for a Emo/Rock/Indie band it would work like a charm. The reason I don't give it a 10 is that there is a lot of bass to the distortion. Using the neck pup I also have to use an EQ to pull the bass down to get a good tone. Overall a very impressive head. The clean channel is really something on this thing. Also the loudest 100 watt head I've ever heard. Not an apartment friendly amp.
Overall Impression — 9
The Carvin VL100 is a very nice amp that can be bought new or used for an even nicer price. If you aren't into the most extreme kinds of metal this amp will cover any style that you want to play. It is very loud. I mean even cutting it back to 50 watts I have never had it above 4. If you want cleans with a good, unique distortion, this is your amp. Check one out if you get the chance.
Reliability & Durability — 10
It's a Carvin. They built everything solid and road worthy. It isn't two heavy but you can see inside the fram that it is solid. I sit my Mesa head on top of it with no worries. It's built to last for sure. I carry it around a few times a week to practice and no problems so far. It rides in the back seat with a leather cover and that's it.
Features — 9
A 2-Channel 100 watt all tube head. Effects loop, 2 speaker outs, footswitch, option between 6l6 or El34 power tubes, Switch for 50 watts or 100 watts and reverb. The amp has a good bit of versatility. Does jazz and blues very well, but I like the heavier tones. It doesn't have a really deep bottom end but a very clear almost transparent distortion at high gain. Very unique. The only thing that I wish was included with the amp is a presence control on the footswitch. There is a button on the head that enables the presence control to kick into the clean channel, which really helps give it a bluesy breakup, but no button on the footswitch so it's kinda a pain to do.