VL100 Legacy review by Carvin

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  • Features: 9
  • Sound: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 2.9 (49 votes)
Carvin: VL100 Legacy

Price paid: $ 500

Purchased from: MusicAround

Features — 9
100 watt tube head, 2 channels (Clean, Lead), dual speaker output, re-bias switch for EL34s tubes and 6L6s or 6550s, 100/50 watt switch, effects loop, 3 band EQ for each channel with presence (presence switch on the clean channel), no master volume. Made in the USA like all of Carvin's amps. Plenty of features for the average rock player who likes a simple, Plexi style amp. I was on the hunt for a slightly more affordable tube amp with the same killer qualities tonally as a high end one, and I had singled my choices down to either a Blackstar Club head or a Jet City JCA50, but then I found this 100 watt monster for about l00 bucks less used but still in great condition. Still have no regrets about my choice.

Sound — 8
One of the best sounding tube amps for the money I bought it for that I've ever seen. The amp definitely has a British voiced sound, mainly because of the EL34s I have in it. The clean channel is incredible, almost a blend of Fender Twin and clean Marshall Plexi. Full and warm, but turn the presence switch for the clean on and you get more breakup and brightness. The lead channel is the part I'm still getting used to. It's got a really overpowering bottom end sometimes. Put it threw some darker sounding speakers and it gets too muddy. I usually run a distortion pedal through the clean channel or use the lead channel with a EQ pedal to smooth out the bass and lower mids. But overall a great sound.

Reliability & Durability — 10
I've had this amp for about half a year and I've run this thing so hot sometimes that I can't touch the back of the amp at all. Yet still it just comes back sounding meaner and louder, as if I've been slowly just breaking it in to my preferences. Since I'm not exactly putting away tons of money for things that I want all the time, this is the only tube head I have at the moment and I really need to be able to depend on it live. I don't have a backup head, and I haven't needed one yet. To be honest, with all I put the Legacy through, I don't know many other amps that could stand up to the pressure and stay together like this amp has. Really really well made.

Overall Impression — 9
I'm in a half original music, half cover (soon to be all original music) hard rock band who gigs constantly and before I bought the Legacy I usually rented solid state Randall stacks from a music store called Doo-Wop Shop. They sounded good for the moment, but eventually I needed a tube amp. And I personally think I got really lucky for finding this amp at a local MusicAround used for 500 bucks. Usually matched with a Marshall cabinet full of Celestions, this thing is a gigging monster and I love it. I might change out the tubes sometime soon and the lead channel could have a lot less bass, but overall this amp is a monster. I love that old vintage Marshall sound, blended with some more modern amp qualities and this thing nails what I love soundwise. It's not definitely not perfect for everyone, but it is for me.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    an amazing head. i had orange drops installed in mine to make it more versatile. highly recommend this head
    I'm about to buy a Legacy. My own limited experience with it and from all the demos I've listened to the drive channel reminds me much more of a Bogner XTC than a JCM800. I currently gig through a Carvin x100b reissue and I get a JCM800 tone out of it very easily. The x100b has the same clean channel as the Legacy and It's easy to get a Twin Reverb sound from it. I carried a TR for years to use as my "clean channel" and it's really great to get that great, 3D, deep clean without carrying an extra 80 lbs of gear to gigs.