ValveKing Head review by Peavey

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  • Sound: 7
  • Overall Impression: 6
  • Reliability & Durability: 7
  • Features: 6
  • Reviewer's score: 6.5 Neat
  • Users' score: 8.5 (107 votes)
Peavey: ValveKing Head
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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.

24 comments sorted by best / new / date

    shredbanez
    The Bugera amps are quite good I believe..I own one. They amps they try to emulate (successfully) are pretty good and famous amps. The first batch off the factory lines had a bug..the plastic transformer clips would melt and fry the amp. But they corrected that, and the amps are pretty good bang for the buck now. So the general idea that they are unreliable and catch on fire,which was valid once, isn't valid anymore. My amp is awesome..and its working fine. Cheers! :
    TheShadowNight
    and the new Infinium versions are even better. They self bias and will tell you which power tube is bad. They cost more but dang! You'll never have to bias that amp again. There goes your tech money into savings. If you Google 'TheToneKing' he did a comparison between a Marshall JCM 900 and a Bugera 1990 (their version). The sounds were nearly identical. I really couldn't tell the difference from all the playing he did. So why pay for name brand 80's-90's amp when more modern components give you the same? Unless you want the Marshall badge, then of course, buy a Marshall.
    evmac
    The comment that you need to use a distortion pedal for this amp to have passable gain is ridiculous. I've played a lot of amps throughout my years of playing (with and without my band), and while it's not the best gain around, the gain channel has balls. You'll probably need an OD but that's no uncommon for any amp really. I understand a 7.8 for sound or whatever it pretty respectable in reality, but when compared to the Vypyrs, Spiders, and MGs that sometimes get 9-10 on this site, it's pretty low.
    TheShadowNight
    start with the amps base tone and add stomp boxes for taste. Each amp has its personality. A tubescreamer in front of a Marshall will sound quite different than when it's a VK.
    jimipalmz
    I use it as a single channel power amp by running my rack preamp/effects processor through the clean channel of the ValveKing and for me I personally really like the results I get better much better than my old 5150 head. I set the class A/B to low power, this makes the amp extremely quiet and still hella loud no problem. For my metal sound I have dialed in a loud and clear, super crunchy, tight,well focused,very legible tone that cuts through the mix no problem. I ad a noise suppressor to my rhythm sound and when not playing it is as if the amp is shut off. It is Dead Silent. A little mid boost for the lead,sounds killer. Ive dialed in just the right combination of compression to eliminate any distortion on my clean tone. I like the stock ruby tubes and went all JJs on the preamp tubes for best clarity. ValveKing 100 Kicks Ass for me.
    Slaytan666
    hippyheaven1 wrote: best way to run this amp is with a GOOD distortion pedal.. if you treat this as a single channel amp, you cant go wrong for the price.
    THIS. I've had this head for 4 years, and I use it like a single channel amp with a pre-amp pedal, and swapped in some 6L6-WXT+ tubes. I can make it sound like just about anything. I've had many people tell me how bad-ass it sounds. And one time I dropped it from chest height (I'm 6'4") onto concrete, then plugged it in and started playing. I f---ing love this amp.
    evergrey2
    This sounds like the amp for me. Not a beginner and not a pro doing big shows. Just local gigs that are loud! Using BossGT10 which always gets the right sounds for me. Just need something big enough and affordable to handle it. Sound about right?
    JL_Shredder
    rv_phoenix wrote: Most_Triumphant wrote: that guy has never played live yet he has a 100watt head lol That's why he bought the ValveKing. It's an all-tube, OK, but in a certain way it's a nonsense tool. It's too expensive for a beginner, and not good enough for a pro. The distortion is limited and the cleans aren't good neither. Most of the time it operates like a Class A/B amp (if you want real distortion and real power, just forget about its alleged Class A circuit!), so it isn't great for records or live use neither. Not to mention that a 100W head cannot be used for practice or rehearsals. If you play it at 5% to 30% of its output, you just don't get the sound you expect from an all-tube: it's universally known all-tubes work better when cranked up.
    Agreed. It's very much an "in-between" amp in my experience. It's much better than the MG that I used to use for shows, but it's not nearly as good as the Marshall JVM or 1959 reissue. However, it will serve fairly well until the user can afford a good quality Marshall, Fender, Genz-Benz, Mesa, etc. With the addition of an Overdrive pedal, this unit has better gain than the lead channel on the more expensive JSX series (at least in my opinion). A set of higher quality tubes and a cabinet with more low end response really improves the sound of this amp. Luckily, I didn't buy the VK cab with it (instead buying a higher end peavey cab). The VK cab really ruins the sound of this amp.
    TheShadowNight
    put new tubes in ANY VK and it'll keep up with the rest of the boys. An 'in-between amp', not really. People just don't know how to tech this amp to get the tone. Nor do they put the time in to 'get' that tone the big boys allegedly have.
    blackbird51
    Slaytan666 wrote: hippyheaven1 wrote: best way to run this amp is with a GOOD distortion pedal.. if you treat this as a single channel amp, you cant go wrong for the price. THIS. I've had this head for 4 years, and I use it like a single channel amp with a pre-amp pedal, and swapped in some 6L6-WXT+ tubes. I can make it sound like just about anything. I've had many people tell me how bad-ass it sounds. And one time I dropped it from chest height (I'm 6'4") onto concrete, then plugged it in and started playing. I f---ing love this amp.
    If you need to use a distortion pedal through a tube amp, then it's not a good amp, if it doesn't sound fine on it's own, even with a tubescreamer overdrive in front of it, then throw it out. You're actually unlucky that your head didn't break when you dropped it that high (which is probably a lie) because if you broke it you would be better off man buy an American made Peavey, not some Chinese built piece of shit. Btw your transformers are probably gonna go bad soon.
    rv_phoenix
    `... clean the sound of an amp with insufficient cleans, like all Class A/B amps. Truth is it is difficult to play Prog without pedals. In this case, the only solution would be hi-end pedals, like Pete Cornish or Voodoo Lab. Common pedals, such as Boss or MXR, will increase the overall hum and also the load on your pickups (when playing live, using long cables), without improving your overall sound. It's a naive and innocent illusion you can 'hide' the failures in your gear, they will all show up eventually. However, nothing compares to the sound of a good guitar, played through a good cable, straight into a good amp, provided with good speakers! THEN it rocks! (P.S. Excuse me for posting a 2 'chapters' message: my keyboard plays dirty tricks with me. That's because I must invest in a better computer, instead of investing in music equipment.)
    rv_phoenix
    iceh88 wrote: i agree with most people on here, Peavey makes some great amps but the speakers and cabs just arent the best. I love my VK100 head and when paired up with a better cab like a orange or a mesa this amp does the job. I use a EQ and BBE maximizer to get great tone and i think if more people with this head invested in some good tone shaping pedals they would see a great outcome.
    I agree with he first half of your post. Peavey makes good heads and, if provided with the right speakers (like their hi-end combos), there's nothing to complain about. But I kinda disagree with the second half of them. Usually, pedals add 'dirt' to the sound. Unwanted dirt, I mean. It is very rare that a pedal can actually
    iceh88
    i agree with most people on here, Peavey makes some great amps but the speakers and cabs just arent the best. I love my VK100 head and when paired up with a better cab like a orange or a mesa this amp does the job. I use a EQ and BBE maximizer to get great tone and i think if more people with this head invested in some good tone shaping pedals they would see a great outcome.
    rv_phoenix
    JL_Shredder wrote: Luckily, I didn't buy the VK cab with it (instead buying a higher end peavey cab). The VK cab really ruins the sound of this amp.
    You caught the very essence of Peavey's problem. They are reluctant to the idea of using some qualified purveyor of speakers (like Celestion or Eminence, for instance). They insist on producing their own speakers, and these speakers stink. The VK cab, as you said, ruins the sound of a more than decent head. And it happens the same with the VK combos, I know it because, before deciding for a Vox Night Train set, I've studied and tested all of Peavey's offer. All of their classic amps (like Classic 30 or 50), designed to compete with Fender's line, suffer from poor quality speakers. So, as you've properly said, you better buy this intermediate head and another cab, at least until you can afford a better one. But the head can do it decently for small and medium gigs. The only real problem is recording, there it shows its limitations.
    JL_Shredder
    That's why he bought the ValveKing. It's an all-tube, OK, but in a certain way it's a nonsense tool. It's too expensive for a beginner, and not good enough for a pro. The distortion is limited and the cleans aren't good neither. Most of the time it operates like a Class A/B amp (if you want real distortion and real power, just forget about its alleged Class A circuit!), so it isn't great for records or live use neither. Not to mention that a 100W head cannot be used for practice or rehearsals. If you play it at 5% to 30% of its output, you just don't get the sound you expect from an all-tube: it's universally known all-tubes work better when cranked up.[/quote] Agreed. It's very much an "in-between" amp in my experience. It's much better than the MG that I used to use for shows, but it's not nearly as good as the Marshall JVM or 1959 reissue. However, it will serve fairly well until the user can afford a good quality Marshall, Fender, Genz-Benz, Mesa, etc. With the addition of an Overdrive pedal, this unit has better gain than the lead channel on the more expensive JSX series (at least in my opinion). A set of higher quality tubes and a cabinet with more low end response really improves the sound of this amp. Luckily, I didn't buy the VK cab with it (instead buying a higher end peavey cab). The VK cab really ruins the sound of this amp.
    Plan009
    Full price this amp isn't worth it, but if you can get one at around $300, it's not half bad. My head died and left me with only a Marshall MG100 combo, so I was desperate to get something fast. The distortion isn't great, but the cleans are good and with a decent pedal, you'll get some good tones.
    rv_phoenix
    Most_Triumphant wrote: that guy has never played live yet he has a 100watt head lol
    That's why he bought the ValveKing. It's an all-tube, OK, but in a certain way it's a nonsense tool. It's too expensive for a beginner, and not good enough for a pro. The distortion is limited and the cleans aren't good neither. Most of the time it operates like a Class A/B amp (if you want real distortion and real power, just forget about its alleged Class A circuit!), so it isn't great for records or live use neither. Not to mention that a 100W head cannot be used for practice or rehearsals. If you play it at 5% to 30% of its output, you just don't get the sound you expect from an all-tube: it's universally known all-tubes work better when cranked up.
    TheShadowNight
    If you want a 'true' class A, class A/B, get a Blackheart BH100H. That amp head has the true switch that does that. Peavey does their best to emulate it. Regarding the cleans 'aren't good neither', your tubes are the weak spot. The VK will turn into a monster if you put in good power tubes and hand pick the preamp tubes to your liking. But all of that takes time and most people aren't willing to put in 2 or more hours to find 'that' tone. Easier to complain and sell the amp. Well, sell it to me and I'll pull that sweet tone out of it. Stock the VK is marginal. New tubes and it ROARS! Nuff said!
    dirt.ball.5
    I just got this amp running equalizer pedal through noise supressor...thrash tone all you need..this amp is a beast for the $.
    OmarLopezRodrig
    this amp sucks!!!this amp has the worst channel delay ever...horrible!!when you switch from clean to distortion there is a slight delay that throws off tempo.