VL100 Legacy Review

manufacturer: Carvin date: 02/18/2014 category: Guitar Amplifiers
Carvin: VL100 Legacy
The amp has a good bit of versatility. Does jazz and blues very well.
 Sound: 8.3
 Overall Impression: 9
 Reliability & Durability: 9.7
 Features: 9
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
 Users rating:
reviews (3) pictures (2) 2 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 9
VL100 Legacy Reviewed by: H_ngm_n, on march 16, 2009
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 500

Purchased from: Harmony Central

Features: 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. // 9

Sound: 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. // 8

Reliability & Durability: 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. // 10

Overall Impression: 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. // 9

Was this review helpful to you? Yes / No
Post your comment
overall: 9
VL100 Legacy Reviewed by: Another Won, on december 07, 2012
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 489

Purchased from: Ebay

Features: The features on this amp are relatively simple. 2 channel (footswitchable) with a presence boost on the clean channel. The distortion has pres, treb, mid, bass, drive, and volume. Also switchable from 100 down to 50 watts, which is definitely cool. Has an effects loop and standard 4-8-16 impedance selector. The amp I have came with 4 el34 and 5 12AX7's, I will not bother to mention brand because that's a decision you must make yourself. Many people ask the question is this amp versatile enough (which is why Vai now has a 3 channel head) It depends on circumstance. If you're like me you want a great clean sound and a searing distortion. Then this is it. I don't need a medium crunch, light crunch or anything else. For that I kick a TS808 in the clean channel does blues very nice. As for features I wish it had, maybe a reverb control for both channels, but its honestly not a big deal. With the footswitch the reverb decays very smooth its actually very cool. REVERB: very nice touch they did here. Decays well over channels and when its on 10 it doesn't over power the sound. Some people may think so, but its opinion. I keep mine on 5 just so its not so dry all the time. // 9

Sound: As for my guitar, its a Schecter Hellraiser with DiMarzios, a D-Sonic (bridge) (awesome pickup btw) and a PAF Pro (neck). These pickups are great and the guitar is too. All mahogany neck thru etc... This amp is great for anything that uses a clean channel, and 80's hotrodded distortion (which was what I was looking for). If you're looking at the legacy for a modern metal sound, you're a fool. This is Steve Vai's amp, not an Engl Savage. This sounds like a Fender Twin Reverb and hotrodded 800 is one amp pretty much. I play, Megadeth, Slayer, Maiden, Symphony X, Dream Theater etc... And almost everything in between. RHYTHM TONE: If your looking a modern tight and dry sounding amp, this is not it. It is not like an Engl. Its like a hotrodded JCM800. The rhythm tone is honestly not bad at all. From what I was hearing on the internet I expected it to not be that great at all. I was hearing its "muddy". In reality the people using this piece of gear are just either dumb or they haven't dealt with enough amps. I turned the amp on noticed the darker character, balanced the middle, pres, treble, and turned the bass all the way down (has more natural bass than other amps) and boom the curse is lifted. People need to stop maxing out the EQ of everything. LEAD: It's Vai's amp need I say more? It's smooth, good harmonics, if your playing music with a lot of licks within riffs, its perfect. Dial in a good rhythm sound and the amp will take the leads. // 9

Reliability & Durability: Just received the amp so cannot tell in the durability area yet. I've looked inside and everything is very sturdy, all the jacks are very well mounted on, the pots are very nice, there not cheapo ones. You can actually tell the difference if you turn the knob slightly. Knobs are all sturdy and everything seems to be in check. Haven't had any issues as of yet. This will be my workhorse amp as it delivers everything I need it to, if anything terrible happens to it, at least its not a 2,000 boutique head to replace. // 9

Overall Impression: Overall this amp has pleased me well. This is a very good match for my music. I think that people who dis on this amp are using incorrectly and for the wrong genres of music or are just plain morons. If this was stolen I would easily spend another 500 to replace just because they're cheap. I love the smoothness of the treble response. If you turn it even to 7 it doesn't hurt your ears. Very easy for the audience to listen to your solos at high volumes without any piercing of the ears. The clean channel has got to be one the best ones I've played. It truly is great. If your a jazz guy you might want to buy it just for the damn cleans.

// 9

Was this review helpful to you? Yes / No
Post your comment
overall: 9
VL100 Legacy Reviewed by: willbill4204, on february 18, 2014
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 500

Purchased from: MusicAround

Features: 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. // 9

Sound: 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. // 8

Reliability & Durability: 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. // 10

Overall Impression: 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. // 9

Was this review helpful to you? Yes / No
Post your comment
Only "https" links are allowed for pictures,
otherwise they won't appear