VTM 120 review by Peavey

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  • Sound: 7
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.5 Superb
  • Users' score: 10 (1 vote)
Peavey: VTM 120

Price paid: $ 270

Purchased from: craigslist

Sound — 7
I play a Schecter C-1+ with a SD Jazz in the neck and Dimebucker in the bridge positions. Needless to say, I mostly play metal which this amp is great for. It doesn't have the modern compressed metal sound you'll find with todays amps but can pull off anything from the 80's through mid 90's. A classic thrash/death metal sound is probably the best you'll get without getting into the world of pedals. This is also very good for rock if you back off the gain a bit. The VTM 120 was used by Kim Thayil of Soundgarden for their "Badmotorfinger" album and has also seen use from the band Baroness if you want an example of just a few of many sounds you can achieve.

Overall Impression — 8
For my style of music (metal and some rock) this amp is a great fit and perfect for my first all-tube amp. At the price I got it, I doubt I could do any better. There are a lot of options with the amp itself to help customize your tone without investing in a ton of pedals, although I've been told it accepts pedals well. At first I thought I needed a 2 channel amp but now am happy with 1 channel as it stretches my abilities, forces me to adapt and really you can get a nice clean sound just by rolling off the guitar's volume knob. If it were lost or stolen I would be seriously bummed mostly 'cause of the price I was able to get it at! I would probably look into something else partly because I don't see many of these amps around and also because I simply don't need 120 watts of power (although its fun to say you have it). That and I'd go for something that has a more modern sound. But overall I'm very happy with this amp.

Reliability & Durability — 10
Reliability doesn't need to be questioned, this thing is 20+ years old and still screaming. I bought this used a couple months ago and after testing it out was pleasantly surprised with how it sounded. Its a Made in the USA product from Peavey; there isn't any need to worry about it breaking down without some serious neglect and abuse. It weighs roughly 60 lbs and is built like a tank. As long as you replace tubes as needed I don't forsee any problems that could occur that aren't your own fault.

Features — 9
This is an all tube amp from the 80's which I've read can be called Peavey's take on the Marshall JCM800 but with more gain on tap. 120 watts from 4 6L6GC Ruby tubes in the power section make this amp a beast. This is a one channel amp with a front panel as follows: High gain input, low gain input, pre-gain control, post-gain control, low/mid/high EQ knobs, dipswitch panel which adjusts 2 levels of Gain, Low's, High's, 1 Mid switch and also a Compression switch, Presence knob, Send and Return effects loop inputs, Status and Power lights and finally your Standby and Power switches. The dipswitch panel mentioned is a very cool feature of this amp, allowing further customization of your tone beyond the basic low/mid/high EQ knobs of most amps. You can mix and match these to search for your ideal tone. In the manual it states that with all switches off it resembles a British voiced amp. For an amp from 20+ years ago it doesn't seem to have fallen behind on the features side of things. And with 120 watts of power, it has more than I'll ever need.

5 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Ol Blue
    I also use this amp for Rock and Classic with no pedals just a LP bridge pickup, the crunch soars to a mid gain distortion with just a tweak of the mids-high1 settings on the dipswitch and the tonestack adjusted to taste,Plexi and then some. I would use a boost or OD for leads, but you can't go wrong. I'd swear that this is the granddaddy to the 5150s-6505s, and there's 3 more models to this series, RoadMater,RockMaster and the infamous Mace. Different wattages ?-160-200 watts and each their own characters!
    I've had one of these since 1988 as my main amp. I bought it because I couldn't afford a Marshall at the time. Like the reviewer said, this thing is a 400 watt BEAST that's built like Fort Knox. I have the matching cabs loaded with 85w celestions and this amp will crank. I've never had it above 5 it is that loud and has a ballsy bass punch in the low end (configurable). If you want to hear what it sounds like, here's a link to a hard rock 5 song demo we did in 1991, I used this amp on all 5 songs. This amp ROCKS! No Avail 5 song demo: www reverbnation dotcom/noavail Thanks! Jim
    Demon of Vengeance is a badass song. I love the sound you got from the Peavey. Really chunky and perfect metal tone. When you guys recorded the guitar solos, what were the effects used? Reminds me of Iron Maiden solos by Murray and Smith and the way they recorded them on Number of the Beast and Piece of Mind/Powerslave.
    hi I bought this unbelable head and cab for 350 I am a tech frist thing I did was check every tube with my bk tube tester found one week 12ax7eh on the pre amp side all caps I checked with cap checker afire I shorted each on with a I meg rister every org power cap and tone caps were is 100 % order all the tubes were org cleaned all reastats and replaced the preamp tube with one of the best tubes ever made a sylviana yes the best ive been fixing amps for 32 years any way the esr meter I went throu every cap and they were all 100 % no leaky or shorted or dryed out caps any way this amp hasd to be played at high vol that's the only set back to get that crunch sound the hotter the tube the more sustain punch and that warm feeling on normal I give this 80s amp a 100 for gigs a 8 for home thanks frank s amps and guitar shop 856 230 n9244 thanks free est
    I have a mint shape vintage pv vtm120 ( blackface) head which still has the factory dipswitch cover on it, I had to replace every electrolytic cap in it due to them being 20+ years old and i also put new tubes in it (all four 6l6's with a matched set, and all four 12AX7's (with what was sold as a matched set of 12AX7EH). and it sounds awesome, i also have the matching PV 412MS cab with the celestion 12GK-85 speakers to go with it. as nice as it is though it is just way to much for my needs and currently i have it listed for sale in a number of places but with what i have into it i wont take less than 800 for the head/cab set. i also am willing to throw in a complete set of tubes with it for an extra 75.00. i would love to keep it personally but being as i am just now picking up guitar to learn and my limited space and no foreseeable future where i will be performing for anyone i would just be better off with a smaller tube combo amp in the 65 watt or less range. i do agree that it is one of the best amps out there and IMHO it is superior to the marshall JCM800 which it is based around but peavey made it special with the dipswitch for fine tuning your sound.