Price paid: C$ 700
Purchased from: Avenue
Sound — 7
I use this guitar as my main metal amp and as a lead tone amp during function gigs. I play through it using an ESP Eclipse II (EMG loaded), a G&L ASAT Classic and a Gretsch 5120. Lets go channel by channel. The rhythm channel with the crunch button disengaged is disappointing at best. It never cleans up enough to be a clean sound, but the distortion it produces is pathetically thin. Regardless of how I set it up and what guitar I used, I could not get a good sound out of it. With the crunch mode engaged, the rhythm channel begins to redeem itself. The channel is capable of producing everything from a Vintage crunch sound, all the way up to fairly heavy and saturated metal tones. However, the channel is definitely best suited to heavy rock playing. The only issue that I have with this channel is that sustain is still weak, with all the guitars. The lead channel is really the only reason I bought this amp, and it does not disappoint. It`s not the most versatile channel ever conceived, it really only does heavily distorted and saturated metal tones. But it does them so well!! Rhythm playing is super tight, and using the resonance control its possible to have a very pronounced attack without lots of bass to muddy up the sound. It is very nice to have a heavy sound that is still clear and defined. With the gain below half, its actually possible to play more complicated 4 note chords and still have a reasonable amount of definition. Lead tones are smooth and sustain for days (which makes me wonder why the rhythm channel doesn't). It just makes the guitar sing with a vocal like quality that just makes you want to hold bends forever. Overall, the amp is a bit of a mixed bag; some sounds are absolutely stellar, others suck. It is also quite noisy, even when used with a power conditioner and humbuckers (but that is not necessarily unexpected), but not so much that it is more than a slight nuisance. In summary, if you want one amp for all your needs, look elsewhere. This amp is a one trick pony, a metal amp, but it is very good at its one trick. It can pull Vintage NWBHM through modern "____-core" genres with ease. Just look at the list of players who use 6505`s and you will get an idea what this amp does best. The biggest letdown, however, was the speaker. When I first got the amp, it would sound really muddy and mushy at higher volumes. So, I ran the amp through my brothers 1x12 Orange cab (with a celestion Vintage 30) and the problem was solved. I consequently swapped out for a celestion G12K-100 and the amp is almost inconceivably improved. It would not hurt for Peavey to simply put a better speaker in the amp from the get-go. Also, the XLR output is pretty average. If you can, mic up the speaker. Though it is a nice touch if stage noise is a real concern.
Overall Impression — 8
Overall, I believe this is one of the better metal combo's that can be bought for well under a grand. Even if you pop in better tubes and a better speaker, you'll have spent less than a Mesa CAB is worth. Thats an awesome value. I`ve been playing close to ten years now (and gigging for 6), I've played through more amps than I can remember and I genuinely believe that this is the best metal combo for under a grand. That is not to say the amp is without faults. It is definitely worthwhile to spend a couple hours, if possible, on one before buying it so you can gain an understanding of the amps limitations and judge for yourself whether you can live with them. Personally, I'm retiring the amp from regular gigging pretty soon. Its being replaced by a Mesa Roadster so I can have cleans and distortions without lugging multiple amps to gigs and practices. However, it is staying in my collection for good. There is something about the lead tone that just urges me to play more. It is super articulate and brutally heavy. If you need a metal amp and you're on a budget, play one. Chances are, you'll be pretty stoked.
Reliability & Durability — 7
This amp seems to be reasonably well built, especially given the price. The cab is built like a tank, the electronics are extremely neat and look well assembled and the whole thing is put together rather nicely. However, there are a few issues that I have had. The first, however minor, was that the vinyl covering began to peel within a few weeks. I`ve had this issue with Peavey products before (actually, all the peavey`s I`ve owned peeled within a few weeks). It is minor, but it`s disappointing. The more severe issue I had was a catastrophic failure of one of the power tubes. During a practice with no warning whatsoever (this is not my first tube amp, I know what dying tubes sound like), one of the tubes failed. I know tubes die, but this was only 2 months after I bought it. I suspect this was due to the quality of the stock tubes. I had the amp re-tubed by a good tech, and I haven`t had any issues at all since. On the plus side, the amp is very consistent. I've never had any goofy noises come out of it, never had switches get stuck (randall...) and nothing has broken yet. The only real issues concern the quality of the stock tubes. Luckily, a full re-tube of good tubes is pretty cheap. Now that I have better tubes in the amp, I use it without a backup on a weekly basis.
Features — 8
This amp was made in China, probably in 2009 (it was purchased early 2010). The amp features 5 12AX7 tubes in the pre-amp and 2 6L6GC power-tubes, giving it an output of 60 Watts. The amp has two channels, rhythm and lead. The rhythm channel features controls for: pre-gain (level), post gain (drive), treble, bass, mids, and a crunch switch. When engaged, the crunch Switch gives the amp more of an EVH "brown-sound". The lead channel features the exact same layout, sans the crunch switch. The front panel also includes separate presence (high end attack) and resonance (low end attack) controls for each channel and a universal control for the Accutronics 3 spring reverb. The back panel of the amp is pretty standard fare. There are 2 external speaker outputs (the internal speaker is linked to one, so you can unplug it) with a selectable impedance of 4, 8 or 16 ohms. The back panel also features an effects loop, a footswitch input and a MSDI mic simulated XLR output. Housed inside the massive cabinet is a single 12 inch Sheffield speaker. My only real complaint with the spec's is the single top handle. Whoever thinks that a single top-mounted handle is adequate for a 60+lbs amp is mental. This amp needs recessed side handles. No footswitch is included, but a Marshall MG 2 button Switch works just fine (and costs less than a Peavey).