Austin 400 review by Peavey

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  • Sound: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 0 (0 votes)
Peavey: Austin 400

Price paid: $ 200

Purchased from: some guy from craigslist

Sound — 8
When I first had this amp, I was running one guitar... My 1979 Epiphone Genesis Standard, with two humbuckers that had (not common for the time) coil tapping... I was playing what is now called classic rock and NWOBHM style metal. For anything I needed to do, this amp hung with the big boys just fine. For a solid state amp, the gain sounds quite organic... Not as dry and sizzly as you would expect from a Peavey from the '80s! The additional "saturation" stage gives some of the highest gain distortion available back then (think the lead run from the Scorpions' "Still Loving You"... Uber gain!), or if you like to keep it nasty, you can cut out the saturation stage and get some gnarly Sunn style grit (ala Mountain's "Mississippi Queen"). The cleans are crystal, and can only be beaten by maybe a Fender Twin or Roland JC-120... We're talking world class clean tone here to volume levels that most sane people would fear playing at! After finding another one of these apparently super rare beasts about two years ago (I sold my fist one to get a 1974 Sunn Concert Lead half stack in 1988... Biggest mistake ever, even though I dug/still dig the Sunn), I've run several guitars through it (Ibanez Artcore AG75TDG hollowbody, BC Rich Mockingbird ST, '80s Vintage Hamer Vector V, Squire Tele, Epiphone Dot Studio and my original Epiphone Genesis... Still have it!) The amp seems to color the tone of any axe run through it to sound like its being run through an early '80s Peavey, so if you're looking for total transparent tone, this ain't the place to get it. However, the sounds it produces are extremely musical and pleasing to the ear, and for my style, it is a great number two behind my Peavey Windsor head/Marshall 1922 2x12 cab!

Overall Impression — 9
Ok, I'm an aging metalhead... Bet you'd never guess that by my name, right? Lol! But, I grew up and learned how to play during the '70s, so I have a deep rock and roll/bluesy side too. I've been playing for about 37 years, and have many other amps, guitars out the yazoo, and a full bass rig/several basses too. This amp, even though it is solid state, has been a faithful tool in producing my signature tone since day one. After I sold my original one, I immediately missed it, and in the mid '90s I started a *decades long* search for a replacement. Which I FINALLY found in 2011! So yes, if I lost it/ it were stolen or (God forbid I was stupid enough to do this AGAIN) sold, I would try to track down another! Only problem is, these amps were apparently favored by steel players in Nashville and not so much by rockers on the east coast... So, in my years of looking I only found one in NJ (the one I bought, who said he got it from some chick in Medford NJ. Apparently my original died a horrible meaningless death in the late '90s, or so I was told by the guy I sold it to), several in Nashville (that are being jealously guarded by the steel players who own them), and one on the west coast which was selling for $425, with replacement speakers instead of the original Scorpions. So, I'm guessing there weren't too many made in the early '80s lol! I love the super intense 80s style searing gain, the reverb is to DIE for, and I have fallen deep for the insanely clear, mellow sounding acoustic channel in this second chance to explore this versatile hybrid beast from my past. There's nothing on the market, past or present, to compare it to, which is why I went bonkers trying to find another in usable shape... And I did! The only thing I wish it had was the capability to run external speaker cabinets... I know it's ungodly loud as is, but sheeeeeit... It'd be absolutely insane to have this thing going through even *more* speakers lmao... It'd be its own personal PA system! If you happen to see one for sale and you play both acoustic and electric, and you're sick to death of sound guys butchering your acoustic tone, BUY IT! You'll never see or play through anything that is quite like it, it's truly a one of a kind design that Peavey should reintroduce!

Reliability & Durability — 10
Rock solid, able to be dropped from a 12 story building without causing damage of any sort... Except, or course, to whatever it hits lol! The cabinet is huge for a 2x12, mostly due to the additional high range horn (it's *very* tall, almost half stack cabinet tall). But there isn't anything I've ever seen that is as solidly built as this amp! Since it is a solid state amp, you don't have to worry about tubes going bad. Granted, you don't have that uber-tube warmth, but in the category of reliability, it's an acceptable trade off. This thing is a TANK, it weighs about 85 lbs, and I would have no doubts about using it to hold up the corner of the stage while jamming through it if need be. It's that solid! It was my one and only amp for many years, and never broke down, during my many hours/days/months/years of practicing or gigging. They just don't make stuff like this anymore!

Features — 9
This 220 watt, solid state 2x12 open cabinet combo was made in approximately 1984... I had one as my first amp back in the mid '80s, and it was more amp than I realized at the time. It is a true hybrid amp, being able to convincingly handle acoustic and electric guitar. I've never seen anything quite like it since, and it took many, many years to find a replacement for the one I let go back in the day (peer pressure was strong and Peaveys did not have a good rep in the metal community in 1986... The fact that this is essentially a country style amp didn't help matters either lol). Channel 1 is voiced for acoustic guitar/steel guitar use (utilizing a high range horn tweeter that runs in tandem with the two Scorpion 12s), and has pre and post volume, high and low gain inputs and a four way, stacked parametric eq. It produces soaring clean highs, clear articulate mids and solid lows... I can get my Epiphone EJ200 jumbo *quite* loud before it will feed back, and the sound with my SX lap steel guitar is simply amazing. Channel two is the electric side, it features a quite complicated and versatile gain stage (pre volume, post volume, and a saturation control that adds gobs of 80s style sizzly scooped-mid uber high gain at the click of a footswitch button), and also has the famed, highly versatile Peavey four way stacked parametric eq (which for those who never used Peaveys in the '80s, is a bass, stacked mid pots... both low and high, and highs. It's a built in full eq circuit, but with knobs for super solid reliability). Both channels run through the master volume, presence (major efffect on the tone, gives an almost painfully clear treble boost) and reverb (which is one of the deepest, most liquid sounding spring reverb tanks I've ever heard before and since). Channel 1 (acoustic)on/off, saturation (which adds/removes the saturation to channel 2), and reverb are all controlled by the proprietary Peavey plastic three button footswitch, which has survived unscathed to this day after many years of use. It also features an FX loop, not sure if its series or parallel, and pre-out /post in jacks. No external speaker jacks are present (which kinda bummed me out initially, because I wanted to run it through my '80s 2x15 Black Widow loaded bass cab for even more bottom grindage), but at the volumes I can attain with this beast, it doesn't really need any additional help!

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