Price paid: $ 1800
Purchased from: Carvin.com
Sound — 9
I use a Jackson DKMG Dinky with this amp, and it screams like I've never heard it before. I am switching from a Behringer GMX212. My style is based around rock, jazz, fusion, metal, classical, circus, and Bulgarian ententes. The amp fits in with it all, and gives me a very percussive tone which is sharp enough to cut through but controlled enough to maintain without a leash, so to speak. I use Steve Vai's Jemini pedal with it, along with Morley Bad Horsie and Little Alligator pedals. I've used it Live once at an outside venue, and it was astounding. It responds to picking attack like a dream, as I've said, and it's easy to control. The clean channel does distort, but I'm starting to believe it may be a bum cable or a dying battery in my guitar. The distortion is meant for chunky rock rhythms, and sounding of chords rather than just power chords. Those seeking a good metal amp should seek elsewhere, or if you wish to buy this, you should get a good distortion pedal that isn't too saturated to throw over the lead channel. This amp is pretty well rounded out, and I love it. It was a great buy. However, like I said, the lead channel could be a little more raw.
Overall Impression — 9
I play mostly rock, spliced with jazz, circus and other obscurities. The amp is very well rounded, and can be molded to fit any of the said styles. However, as I've said like 4 times, the amp is NOT A GOOD METAL AMP. The distortion is meant for control, smoothness, and equality. It shreds like a dream with the right use of added distortion pedals, and even without them. It is not meant for blaring feedback, awful tone, and uncontrollable gain. If you want that, get a Peavey or a Line 6. I wish I had asked if the footswitch was included in the package. I think it's very dickheaded of Carvin to make you buy that thing separately. It's really lame. So if you buy it, be sure and continue shopping to get the FS33L footswitch. ALSO, if you turn the amp down low, you still get the same amount of tone as if it was loud, so that's a HUGE plus! Of course the amp is at it's best tone at around Volume level 5 (I've never had to turn past 4 to be honest), and you can set the impedance and power output to match the volume as well! All of these things, plus Vai's hidden feature are totally worth the money. The amount I paid was for BOTH the Legacy II and the Legacy II cabinet. You would pay OVER TWICE THAT MUCH for a Bogner Ecstacy, which I wish I was able to purchase instead. This amp totally makes up for it though! All in all, I highly recommend to players of ALL genres, except devout metal-heads, as I've said. One thing I do wish it had was a tad more distortion in the lead channel. It's very clean distortion, which is wonderful, but sometimes you just want to rock out with out the addition of pedals. It sounds amazing and I'm very happy with it regardless.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I am not worried about it breaking down just yet, as I have just purchased it. However, with the proper maintenance and care during gigs, the amp should be just fine. The tubes appear to be steadily set in place, but I would not take the risk of dropping this thing off a roof top to prove its durability. It's a tube amp. It is just as susceptible to damage as any other amplifier, no matter how tough the outer casing. The outside may appear unscathed, but the tubes may be broken or something inside the amp may be rattling. So as for durability, I cannot judge yet. But I'm sure it will last with proper care, like any other amp.
Features — 9
Steve Vai's Brand New Legacy II has a lot to Live up to. It comes with 3 channels, and a lot of hype. It certainly lives up to this hype. It's clean tone is very docile, and glass-like, depending on how you set the EQ. The clean boost channel, I find to be rather useless. However, I am trying to incorporate it into my playing. It could come in handy for switching on a distortion pedal on the clean tone, then switching to the boost channel for, say, a solo, or a lead guitar part or something of the like. The distortion channel is sort of a bittersweet thing. It is raw enough with the gain turned up to 9 to be a raunchy, chunky rhythm machine. However, metal heads may find this sound too weak for both rhythm and lead. In terms of the lead, the amp is also bittersweet. The distortion channel is not too saturated with gain, but the amp responds to picking attack like a dream, which totally makes up for the lack of Drive (plus if you are a good lead player, you don't need a lot of gain for your solos. Practice up, metal fags!) The addition of Steve's Jemini pedal (the TS-9 side) adds a lovely smooth overtone to the channel and is totally shredtastic <3. The DS-1 side of the Jemini goes perfect over the clean channel for raunchy distortion. However, I am not sure if it is my guitar or the amp, but the clean tone distorts, even with the EQ's evenly rounded out. However, Carvin is a total rip off by NOT including the footswitch with the amp. Like yeah, I'm going to get this amp just to use 1 channel Live, or just try and flick the channel changing switches really quickly with my 3rd arm while my other 2 arms play guitar. C'MON! It also has what is known as "Vai's hidden feature." This feature is pretty cool, I must say. When you turn your volume down on your guitar while on the lead channel (even with the gain at 10), the amp cleans up, and you get a very lovely clean tone! No distortion left on it, depending on how low you turn your volume. It's ridiculous, so you could essentially use your volume control for your clean tone. This amp is VERY RESPONSIVE to the guitar, and that's f--king cool!