Price paid: $ 150
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Features — 7
The Peavey Valveking is a 100 watt economic amp. 2 channels, clean and lead, with separate EQ per channel. The clean channel has a bright switch, useful if your pickups are too warm for a clean channel or if you just want more sparkle to your tone. The lead channel has a boost option, so it's almost like having 3 channels (clean/crunch/lead). I wish the boost had a knob to control it. There is master reverb (I don't use it much, but it sounds good on the clean channel), resonance, and presence. No master volume, only one volume per channel. On the back, there's a knob designed it simulate class A. This knob really doesn't do much other than lower your volume a bit, and it's really only noticeable all the way towards the A side. I keep it on A/B at all times. FX loops on the front work fine. It has low and high input jacks on the front. Lastly, the footswitch (which I bought separate) switches between the channels and the gain boost. No problems with it at all.
Sound — 6
I use this amp with my Charvel So Cal for metal, no lighter than Dio or late '70s Priest but no heavier than '80s Metallica or Anthrax. The lead channel has enough gain on tap to cover this range. However, it is bass heavy. I have resonance and bass at 0 and it's still too much to be useable. It's the speakers (see overall impression). As a result, it doesn't take pedals (in my case, modulations in the fx loop) too well. It's also noisy on all channels with the first input, though I don't know if a VK in newer condition has this problem. The clean channel takes my high output pickups well with no added dirt at all, but again, it is almost unusably bassy too.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I bought it for $150, so it was banged up on the sides, small piece of wood missing from the frame. However, everything is fine sonically. I think it will last a long while. One just has to keep in mind that tubes are fragile. As long as I make sure I transport it carefully and don't leave it on too long, I should be able to depend on the amp. I was a little skeptical of the plastic knobs and jacks, but the amp was easily a couple years old when I bought it, it's a year older at this point, and it doesn't have any issues.
Overall Impression — 6
Pros: It can cover wide ranges of distortion, from blues to classic rock to early/mid '80s thrash, without a boost. The clean channel is versatile, can take various pickup setups and still stay clean.
The biggest con with the amp is that it is unusably bass heavy on the lead channel when you play alone, only somewhat on the clean. I've deduced it's the speakers causing this since my old guitar had a Dimebucker and my So Cal has a Duncan Distortion, and it's too bass heavy with both (Duncan Distortion is supposed to be less bass heavy than Dimebuckers). I slightly solved this problem by sticking 2 EQs in the fx loop and dropping the low end frequencies all the way down. Con #2 is that, even with the bass frequencies removed, the distortion (especially on the boost channel) suffers as you turn on the gain (i.e. past 4).
My verdict is that in a full band setting at full band volumes, the muddiness isn't as bad, so you can get through gigs without drowning everyone out. The distortion isn't very good regardless of your playing setting, so I upgraded the amp to a Peavey Triple XXX because it would give both a speaker AND distortion upgrade. Overall, not a bad amp to have as a first tube amp, especially since you can pick them up dirt cheap nowadays.