3120 review by Peavey

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.3 (34 votes)
Peavey: 3120
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Price paid: $ 700

Purchased from: Some guy from Craigslist

Sound — 9
I play a Gibson Les Paul Studio Platinum w/the classic EMG 81-85 combo and an Epiphone Korina Explorer (don't laugh, it was free) and before that, I had a brief fling with a couple ESP LTD Vipers (also with EMGs) and they all sounded magnificent though this amp, especially with our low ass A# drop tuning (A#). I play hardcore/metal and the 3120 roars like my a-s after a jalapeno-Tabasco milkshake. I have played Marshall amps for years and I can safely say that the 3120 has that Earth-quaking, bowel-shaking tone that I've been searching for. A few things I should tell you all about the 3120 though, swap out those EL34s and put in 6L6s right away. Of course, it's your preference but if you really want that big, beefy, Ron Jeremy back hair tone, then put those 6L6s in. Also, make sure you get the right cab for it. In my case, I use a Mesa Rectifier cab and those cabs (especially the oversized ones) compliment the 3120 perfectly. I've tried Peavey cabs, Marshall cabs, custom made cabs and they all did not do this amp justice. I might as well been playing through a cardboard box with Radio Shack speakers for all the good they did. The Mesa cab really makes this amp come alive. Also, you will definitely need a good noise reduction pedal as the 3120 is very loud and gainy (I personally recommend the ISP Decimator or MXR SmartGate). Now, on to the sounds. The clean channel is alright for a high-gain amp. Nothing spectacular or mind blowing but certainly not terrible either. If you use some modulation/time based FX like a good chorus and delay in the FX loop, then it will sound fine. As for the distortion channels (Rhythm/Lead), this is where the amp really shines. Like I said earlier, and this is strictly my preference and opinion, but put that damping switch on Loose. Tight and Mid seem to do nothing for your sound except cut the volume in stages, which is really effing lame. This is where Peavey loses a couple points because the 6505+ and the XXX II (formerly known as the JSX) have them. But to make up for this, the 3120 features send and return levels on the FX loop which is a big help when you have effect pedals that don't have level controls (i.e. MXR Micro Chorus & Phase 90) so you can control the overall volume of your FX to match any that do (in my case, MXR Carbon Copy and Micro Flanger) so you are bound to get a nice even flow without any big noticeable drops/spikes in volume when you switch the effects on and off. Another nice feature, for those who do not use effects in the FX loop, you can adjust the send and return levels to enable the FX loop button as a solo boost. There is a very slight, microsecond hang when you switch between the rhythm and lead channels but it's nothing compared to the eternal delay in that of the Mesa Dual Rec's switching. Aside from those two channels, the rest of the switching is instantaneous. Both of them each have their own distinct voice that you can use either/or for palm muting or soloing and you don't need you push your gain up too high to get those big, thick chunka-chunka (burnin' love) tones. In fact, you only need to put your gain at 12 or 1 o'clock to get a good metal sound. Anything more is just over the top. Myself, I prefer using the Rhythm and Lead channels as their name suggests. Some folks might prefer using the Lead channel as their main riffing setting and the Rhythm channel for their solos and just for shits and giggles, I did that for awhile but I reverted back as it just sounded better to me. Another little tip to keep in mind is to keep your master volume higher than your channel volumes for the best overall sound. Myself, I have my master at 3 o clock and my clean channel about 10 o'clock and both my dirty channels at 4-5, depending on if I am in rehearsal or a show. For personal preference, I use an MXR Wylde Overdrive (before a Crybaby Classic before my Smart Gate) with the output dimed, the tone halfway and the gain set to zero, and I found it gives my distortion channels a little bit more bite and clarity and I am still able to use my clean channel without too much grit. But don't feel that you must need to have one for this amp, as this sounds great on its own. Sadly, the clean channel doesn't break up very well at high volumes so if you need a bit of blues or rock crunch, you would do well to have a good overdrive pedal just in case. But the 3120 isn't about the blues or for playing nice classical passages. It's all about the metal, and this amp is as metal as it gets.

Overall Impression — 9
I have been playing metal and gigging for over 20 years. I have been through a lot of amps over the years and to be honest, this is the first amp from Peavey that I have professionally used. I never gave them much thought as I always believed, in my snobbish arrogance, that they were inferior to Marshalls, Mesas (which I considered getting before this, but the guy wouldn't budge on the price so shame on him), Bogners, Soldanos and the lot. But as more and more folks in the metal world are using Peaveys (particularly the 6505), it dawned on me to actually give them a try for myself. And I am damn glad I found the 3120. I always lived by the old Les Paul and a Marshall rule but now I can happily say that I'm a Les Paul & Peavey guy. To sum it all up eloquently, the 3120 is a wonderful sounding amp. Tough, rugged and has more balls in your face than passing out too early at a fraternity party. And it's economically feasible, too, which makes it even sweeter. As celticstorm said before me, nothing can ever be perfect and there always little things that one could add or delete to make the 3120 (or any amp for that matter) better. But as it stands, it's pretty magical the way it is. It's very versatile and you can easily dial in the sound that works well for you. I've been playing a long time and I've never "lost" an amp but if some arsehole tried to steal it(keyword: try), I would hunt the turd down and shove a rusty chainsaw up his unwashed butthole. If it were up to me, the 3120 would have controllable resonance and presence controls and a solo boost but aside from those, I am gonna stick with it for a very long time. Keep in mind though that if you're looking for a blues or a jazz amp, or want that classic rock crunch, this isn't gonna be the amp for you. But if you're like me, who lives/breathes/eats/burps/farts/shits metal, then check one out and get ready to fall in love with your tone all over again. You'll be glad you did!

Reliability & Durability — 10
Built like a brick shitehouse and can be used most definitely without a backup. I have gigged solidly with it since November 2010 and have logged in many gig hours and also it's very road worthy, too. I don't have a road case for it (yet) but you can rest assured that it can take a knocking and come out rocking. Trust me, this thing sat in the back of a crappy van with even crappier shocks, in cold ass Michigan winter weather, not to mention bomb damaged Michigan highways. I haven't had to deal with Peavey directly yet as this amp has never failed on me or needed any tech support, unlike my old Marshalls, which were always breaking down and having to go to my repair guy's place every other damn week. Remember that old joke: How many Marshalls should a guitar player have? Three. One for the stage, one in the shop and another one for sale on Craigslist.

Features — 9
Purchased from a fellow on Craigslist, pretty much new out of the box. This is a 120 watt, 3-channel amp from Peavey, and for those who may not know, it's a remade Peavey XXX, with EL34 tubes and none of that silly ass mudflap girl nonsense (although the EL34s can be swapped out for 6L6 tubes, which I did immediately). It features three independent channels with their respective independent EQs and channel volumes. The only exception is that the clean channel does not have a gain knob (which is unfortunate if you are looking to do some blues crunch type of stuff but oh well. Get an overdrive pedal if you want it that bad...) and there is a master volume for all three channels as well. On the back, there is a parallel FX loop with adjustable send & return controls, line out w/level and selectable 4, 8 & 16 ohm selector switch for your cab(s). In lieu of presence/contour/resonance knobs, there is a "Damping" switch with three settings (Tight, Mid, Loose) to supposedly control the sound to your speakers (which is pretty weak IMHO. Set it to Loose if you want the full, pants-flapping, testicle-tingling effect). There is also a 3 button footswitch, including a button to switch your FX loop on and off, which is very useful for those clean passages where chorus, delay, etc. Are a must. Also, if you don't use anything in the FX loop, you can hit this button for a volume boost (simply adjust the send & return knobs on the back accordingly). It's pretty much a bare-bones, meat & potatoes type of amp. But the lack of bells and whistles is a blessing here as what it lacks in frills, it more than makes up for it in balls. This is a straight up METAL amp, pure and simple. As long as you like your tone with lots of a gain and punch, this amp has more than enough to go around, with extreme prejudice. Forget what you know about Peavey amps. They aren't Marshalls, they ain't Mesas (although with a little tweaking, you can make this baby sound like either/or) and the 3120 isn't even like its big brother the 6505+, either. The 3120 definitely stands out on it's own as a serious tone machine that has it's own special loud voice that metalheads and hard rockers out there really should raise their horns and beer mugs to. I wish it had resonance & presence knobs and a solo boost (and there's no reverb but who the hell really uses reverb in metal anyway?) but those things aside, this amp is really something to check out. Case in point, the co-guitarist in my band (Fall from Disgrace, if you wanna check us out on Facebook and MySpace) uses a modded and hot-rodded Mesa Dual Rectifier Road King and the first day that I joined up and jammed with them, they snickered when they saw my Peavey in the same room with his Dual Rec, thinking that I was going to sound weak and underpowered to his big, bada-s Mesa. Needless to say, after the first couple of songs, they weren't laughing anymore because my 3120 stood up to his Dual Rec without breaking a sweat. Mind you, both of us were using guitars with active pickups (my Les Paul with EMGs, his Jackson with Blackouts). Even my lead singer was impressed. In fact, just last week, he went out and bought a 6505+ just because he was impressed by the overall quality and sound of my Peavey. If the 3120 can convince a die hard Dual Rec guy (him) and a lifelong Marshall road dog (me) that Peaveys are the best, new sound of all things hard and heavy without breaking your bank account, then you will be, too. It will not take you very long to dial in a face ripping tone and you will find yourself chugging away for hours, just as I did.

7 comments sorted by best / new / date

    PatrickChampoux
    Would the 3120 be more appropriate (or even perfect) for djent stuff (think Sikth, Periphery, Volumes, etc...).
    rv_phoenix
    blackbird51 wrote: how a valve-king gets better reviews than a 3120 is beyond me..
    Squiers and Epis also get better reviews, here at the UG, than original Fenders and Gibsons... The only downsize of this 3120 is the dynamics on the clean channel. It just doesn't sound properly, like in most of the contemporary all-tubes. All the rest is quite impressing.
    Jsteele1408
    TechnicolorType wrote: againsteternity wrote: I'm a bass player just to start out and when I was looking at the amp head and on the top row it say "lead" and on the bottom it says "rhythm" what different things can you do on both rows Just two different channels for lead and rhythm. Even if you're a bass player you should know what the different between playing lead and rhythm is. So tired of all these bass/ electric guitar newbies like you.
    Hey bro, you realize this is a guitar TAB website, right? Most people who come here are beginners... which is why they're looking up tabs. What a douche.
    PerpetualBurn
    Interesting review. One thing though: don't be ashamed of the Epi Explorer. There is minimal difference between the Epi and Gibson Explorers except for that the stock pickups are better in the Gibson and the hardware is better on the Epiphone. I have a few Gibsons and I chose the Epi Explorer over the Gibson because it was nearly the exact same instrument for 1/3 the price.
    rv_phoenix
    PatrickChampoux wrote: Would the 3120 be more appropriate (or even perfect) for djent stuff (think Sikth, Periphery, Volumes, etc...).
    Yes, it would. Its limitations are in the old prog & rock area. You can't play "Sultans of Swing" decently on it, because of its distorted cleans.
    Leather Sleeves
    TechnicolorType wrote: againsteternity wrote: I'm a bass player just to start out and when I was looking at the amp head and on the top row it say "lead" and on the bottom it says "rhythm" what different things can you do on both rows Just two different channels for lead and rhythm. Even if you're a bass player you should know what the different between playing lead and rhythm is. So tired of all these bass/ electric guitar newbies like you.
    It is not alright to be new at something.
    blackbird51
    rv_phoenix wrote: PatrickChampoux wrote: Would the 3120 be more appropriate (or even perfect) for djent stuff (think Sikth, Periphery, Volumes, etc...). Yes, it would. Its limitations are in the old prog & rock area. You can't play "Sultans of Swing" decently on it, because of its distorted cleans.
    I beg to differ..My clean channel is pristine and crisp, play a guitar with split coil (strat) on the clean channel and tell me that it has distorted cleans..