Price paid: $ 850
Purchased from: C.A. House Music
Sound — 7
I am currently using this amplifier with my Kramer Striker 211 Custom. This guitar is fitted with a Seymour Duncan JB model Trembucker in the bridge position, a disconnected middle pickup, and a Seymour Duncan JB Junior in the neck position, and an original Floyd Rose with a brass block. This amplifier has a fairly wide range of tonal possibilities, but it was mainly created for rock and metal, and it shows. When used on its own, this amp is fairly quiet, even when the gain is on 11, and the gain and volume boosts are on. If an overdrive pedal is added, one must either buy a noise suppressor, or learn to be quick with the volume control on his or her guitar. The gain channel ranges from some nice, crunchy tones reminiscent of Deep Purple to the brutal tones reminiscent of bands such as Metallica, Pantera, Testament, and Megadeth, but it always has a lot of crunch to it. If you're looking for smoother gain or more fluid tones for soloing, you'd need to purchase a good overdrive or distortion pedal. After about 6 the lead channel does not get that much louder. At lower volumes, the clean channel sounds nice, warm and clean, and when the bright switch is engaged, it has a nice sparkle. As the volume is pushed past 7 it begins to get a little crunchy if you're not picking very softly. Overall, this am sounds pretty good, but it certainly doesn't have the gain of a Marshall or the clean channel of a Fender. However, it is certainly better than any solid state amplifier that I've come across.
Overall Impression — 6
I play many styles of music, and this amp can match most of them pretty well. However, the lack of a crunch or rhythm channel really limits my ability to change tones quickly between songs. The Lead channel could use a bit more gain for my Neoclassical style of playing, but this can easily be achieved with a distortion pedal. The clean channel could certainly use a bit more clarity at the higher volumes, but it sounds good for most practices and small gigs. Having been playing guitar for nearly 16 years (since I was 4), I can say that this is probably the best amp that I've owned so far, but I'm certainly saving money for a better amp (perhaps a Marshall JVM). If I could go back in time to the day that I bought this amplifier, I would most likely have spent the extra $250 and bought a Carvin X100B instead. Of course, the good things about this amp certainly outweigh the bad. After comparing this head to a Line 6 Spider IV Head (a solid state modeling amp), the Valveking showed that it had much better tone which definitely made the extra few hundred dollars worth it. For those who play Thrash Metal, Black Metal, Death Metal, etc. This amp is probably as far as you need to look to find your tone, but if you play some more tonally demanding styles and have the time to save more money, I'd go with a Carvin X100B, Marshall JVM or JCM, or Mesa Boogie for harder styles, or some kind of Fender amplifier for lighter styles. Overall, this amp is nice for harder styles of playing, and has a decent clean channel, but in a lot of ways, it is a one trick pony.
Reliability & Durability — 7
This amplifier is VERY solidly constructed, and can be depended upon for any gig (as long as the tubes are changed at least once a year). As a rule, I always bring my Marshall MG-Series head to gigs just in case, but so far, this amp hasn't yet broken down on me. I certainly baby my equipment, so I can't really tell you about its ability to take a beating, because it's never even been bumped into. Many people like to compare this amplifier to the Bugera 1990 head, but the Valveking certainly has better construction and will not catch on fire (unlike Bugeras).
Features — 6
I bought this amp in fall of 2010. In general, this amp is fairly versatile and features two channels (accessible via a footswitch or buttons on the control panel). It comes with on-board reverb, gain boost, volume boost, texture control (which allows you to blend class A and class A/B textures), presence and resonance controls, dual speaker cab outputs, individual 3 band EQ controls for the clean channel and the gain channel, 2 inputs (input 1 being slightly higher gain), and a bright switch (which adds a bit more treble to your tone). It is powered by 4 6L6GC power tubes and 3 12AX7 preamp tubes. Although you can get a variety of tones from this amp, there should really be a 3rd channel. You can switch from the clean channel to the lead channel easily, but there is no crunch or rhythm channel. This brings about the need for adjustments between songs which require a different gain levels.