Valvestate VS15R review by Marshall

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  • Features: 7
  • Sound: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.5 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.9 (35 votes)
Marshall: Valvestate VS15R

Price paid: € 65

Features — 7
English-built amp from 96-2000. It doesn't have that many features besides the basic ones, but they're really good.

This amp only has a single channel, but with the very peculiar twin gain knobs - while you'll take some time playing around to get used to it, once you do you'll realise you can do as much (and perhaps even more) with these rather than the traditional two channels. For cleaner sounds you keep the second all the way down and play around with the first one; for heavier sound you find a good spot between 5 and 10 on the first knob, and set the second knob for whatever setting you read and want to use.

The equalizer offers treble, bass and "contour", which is, basically, the mids but on reverse: so if you set it to 10 it equals to 1 in a regular mid knob; if you set it to 2 it equals to 8 and so on - if you search about this contour knob online everyone seems to have their own answer but this is the real one, because that's the one on the user's manual (if only people read those things...).

The amp also offers analog spring reverb, which you might prefer over the digital ones from the newer modeling amps.

I conclude it has all the essential features you'd need to sound great playing rock, heavy metal and even clean, but be sure to try out the twin gain feature beforehand as you might prefer dual channels instead;and if you seek a lot of built-in effects you might prefer a modeling amp.

Sound — 8
I find the sound great for practice and home use, for a solid-state amp. I've played everything from Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin to Metallica and Anthrax - it hasn't disappointed me at all.

The sound is very clear and you can hear all the strings when you strum a chord - and have I praised the analog reverb enough already?

It's just loud enough for you to set the volume 5+ without getting all your neighbours pissed off. In other terms, it's perfect if you want it to play at home and/or where too much noise is a concern, but don't expect to play gigs with it. If you want something that can do both things, I suggest something with a power squeezer opinion instead, such as a Roland Cube.

Reliability & Durability — 10
This amp should be around 20 years old. I'm at least it's 3rd owner and I know the previous owner used it to play around with his mates regularly. Yet, it works perfectly, it's resistant and there's no visible repairs on it. Take your own conclusions.

The outside is very durable and robust as well (although I'd prefer not having the back open) and other cheap amps, the power cable is removable and a standard type, making it a very cheap replacement.

Some people complain the transistors might get loose and cause noise, however it doesn't happen on mine and if it does, it seems an easy fix. As always, just make sure to test it before buying.

Overall Impression — 9
This amp is a great match if you play classic rock, heavy metal and even other genres of music with cleaner sound.

If you want a good amp to practice without spending much, if you stumble across one of these and it's selling for less than 80€/$, don't let the amp snobs tell you that you need to keep saving because an expensive tube amp is what you want - this amp is great quality and will keep up with you where making a lot of noise isn't necessary (or desirable). Keep in mind not only these sound really good, if later on you want to sell it you'll almost surely get back all that you've paid for it since it won't disvalue (anymore) considering it's age.

I like the fact it's a simple amp but that can do a lot. I also like the fact it's mostly analog stuff all around, translating into simplicity, less stuff to break and being closer to the sound of classic rock bands.

If it was stolen or if I lost it, if I happened to find another one for a similar price I'd most likely buy another one, because it fits perfectly my needs - and if some day I join a band, then I can buy a big and loud tube amp, but most likely keep this for home play.

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