Other Amps

Old Peavey solid state amps…..hmm

1

Not the sort of thing I'd normally look at. But we went to see a band in one our local pubs and one of their guitar players was using a Peavey Pacer (I'd never heard of them) while his colleague was through a DRRI. I didn't really think one sounded any better or worse than the other actually. Talking to the Peavey guy at the end of the show, he said he'd recently had a knee operation and so carrying around his usual box (a tweed Bassman) was out of the question — hence the 45W solid state Pacer. All he'd done was swop out the stock speaker for a Vintage 30.

Out of curiosity (and helped by several glasses of Guinness) I Googled 'Peavey Pacer' and, lo and behold, one popped up on Ebay — just half an hour away and with only a few hours to go. So I pushed the button. I'm collecting it on Wednesday. It was not expensive and looks to be in virtually unmarked condition, which I know won't make it sound any better. Anyway, I have the choice of an Eminence Wizard or Celestion G12 to replace the stock speaker.

Peavey amps of this period do seem to have a tank-like build quality about them, so I'm hoping for the best with this one. If I'm not convinced by the sound of it, I'll pair it up with a tube head and use it as a 1x12 speaker cab with an emergency amp built in. And I'll remove that 'orrible logo.

2

Coming of age in the 80's the solid state Peaveys were ubiquitous and I hated them. Anything with that pointy logo gives me the chills to this day.

But lately I notice a lot of bands are using them and frankly they sound great. The bandit is desirable these days . The guitarist in my nephew's band collects them so he will always have spares. I kinda attributed this to the fact that pedals are so much better these days, but I was watching old performances of the Jam on YouTube and there was Paul Weller on stage with a Peavey solid state combo sounding just like what you assume was his trademark AC30 sound.

I guess I have been completely wrong all these years.

3

The further souther you were in the US, the earlier and the more you Peavied. In the context of the time, their early tube stuff represented a considerable cost savings and power increase over comparably-priced Fender (though often the point was that the Peavey cost enough less that you could get a new amp, period).

By the mid-70s, Peavey was ubiquitous in the Ohio River Valley - and, I guess, everywhere else. For several decades, an awful lot of stages would have fallen silent (except for drums) without Peavey amps and sound systems.

The first Peavey amp I owned was a Pacer. First NEW amp I'd ever owned. I don't remember if it was 99.00 or 199.00, but I loved that amp. It sounded great to me - and both guitarists in my band replaced our Bandmasters with them. They were lighter and more trouble-free. It didn't have the boatload of low end we were getting out of our Bandmasters, but we had to dial that down anyway. For straightforward, usable good clean tone, the Pacer was dandy.

I don't recall the fact that it was solid state was an issue of any kind; there was surely already stout tube snobbery in the amp world, but the Pacers frankly seemed a practical improvement over our heavy, two-part, tube-finicky, reverb-less Bandmasters. Peavey was obviously not the first to solidify the state of a guitar amp, but Hartley's designs were the first that - to lots of us - sounded as good as tubes (for a clean tone).

For the usual reason (gear disease), I "upgraded" from the Pacer to the Bandit when it came out, but didn't like it as well. The cabinet was shorter in height, and it had more knobs and featur(ettes). One or the other of those developments seemed to degrade the warmth and fullness of tone I'd enjoyed in the Pacer.

I quickly went from the Bandit to what I remember as a 130-watt Peavey combo with 4 6L6s and a Black Widow 12. That was a true beast, crazy heavy and brutally loud. I swear it literally melted its plastic knobs and I put aluminum on it. (I woulda sworn it was a Special 130, but all the references I can find say the S130 was solid state. Maybe it was the tube precursor of the S130, but I can't find it online. Maybe I dreamed it.)

Where did that amp go? Why'd I ever get rid of it? Whatever, it kinda set the pattern for most of my amps over the next 30 years: 1-12 open-back tube combos, though usually anything but Peavey.

I became as much an anti-Peavey snob as anyone else. Poor ol' ubiquitous cheap-as-chips made-in-Mississippi Peavey, like we've been playing through for years because it was all we could afford. How could Peavey be cool?

I don't know if Peavey is cool yet, but at least I've unlearned my own snobbery. The Classic 30 has been my favorite ride for almost a decade, and not for lack of alternatives. And I actually enjoy working with Peavey's customer service. So credit where credit is due, and good on'em.

Hartley Peavey has one of those unique double 2-syllable names (like Elvis Presley and Ersel Hickey) that would have been an asset to any southern boy rock & roller of the 50s, but I'm glad he designed amps and built a world-class MI company right in down-home Mississippi instead. For years Peavey was (may still be) the largest home-owned employer in a state that could use more such success stories, and it's all been built on real and useful innovation, sound but never frivolous engineering and a commitment to both value and quality at a fair price.

Of all the MI companies trading on the cachet of a form of music born of a dangerous racial mixing and bred in the American south, maybe Peavey has the most genuine bonafides. Hartley was inspired to a career in music when he saw Bo Diddley at a 1957 concert and took it upon himself to start building amps in his daddy's Meridian music store. That kinda gives the amps a direct connection to the main vein. It would be either pretentious twaddle or pure marketing malarkey for most companies to call an amp "Delta Blues," but that's where Peaveys are really made - and by the descendants, both black and white, of the rural southerners who invented the music.

It's not my favorite piece of graphic art, either, and I used to remove the logos from the gear as much from aesthetic high-falutin' as ambivalence about the brand - but I've made my peace with the pointy logo. I just learned today that Hartley designed it as a senior in high school, before there was a company for it to represent. Somehow that makes me like it better.

4

I think Peavey amps are one of those things that work well live, on stage with a band mixed in. The ones I've owned just don't sound very good when you're sitting in a quiet room playing solo.

I had a Studio Transtube, which is like Marshall's Valvestate. The cleans were pretty nice, but everything else sucked.

Now, I DO like the old Meridian-made Telecaster copies. Great guitars.

5

I used a Bandit 112 for several years, but never bonded with it. PIcked it up when I finally sold my 'way-too-big for clubs Musician iii and it's two 2x12 Black Widow cabinets. I'd loved the big beast, but it was just past it's "best before" date from years of abuse on the road and it was time for something smaller. Because I liked it, I stayed with the brand.

I found the volume & gain controls were quite linear in the lower end, then went nuts once you got up over about 4/10, making the thing hard to control. It also had a switch on the face -also controlled by a pedal- marked "loud" that boosted the output, but the designers must have thought users would be playing at 7/10ths or better because it simply ramped the sound up to full volume at whatever gain you preset (or the other way 'round- it's been a while), with ear-shattering results in a smaller room. Volume pedals are much nicer.

Eventually I grew tired of arguing with it and moved on.

6

The Pacer was about he only one I was interested. But it had The Hideous Realty of Master Volume, so I passed on it. I'm pretty well set for that type of amp now. But those 70s ones were bullet proof.

When was the last time you saw anyone honkiin' around a Peavey Super Festival?

7

I wish I still had the little Peavey vocal PA my second band used to lug around. That thing was stupid loud, and impossible to kill.

8

I had a Classic 50 hybrid---2X12 50 watts that was heavy and loud. Cleans were too sterile, grit was too gritty, but mixed wasn't too bad. As the power amp was tube, I used it with a Mesa rack preamp. I still get my Tele fix from a Peavey Generation3/Steve Cropper Special. The amp lives on now in an Oi! band. Sadly, much (if not all) of their amp production has moved offshore.

9

Peaveys WERE tough,priced right,and stood up to a lot of hard gigging.Never got into their guitar amps,but their steel amps,bass amps,and PA are the bees' knees.

10

I worked with the same sound guy and the same lead guitarist in three bands in the 80's. They owned the system we used. Their PA was "all-Peavey", took up the entire cargo area of a one-ton cube van when you added the lights and scaffolding and -same as yours- it was simply bullet-proof! Power was all CS series (3 of them), with a "smaller" CS400 dedicated strictly to onstage monitors. Folded horn bass bins held up huge mid-range speakers, and the stacks were topped with high range horns sporting active X-overs. Sorry- can't recall anything more detailed, but that was LOUD enough to use in large bars and medium-size theatres (up to about 1,000 seats) without any more reinforcement. We even took the Elvis act outdoors more than once and still didn't overdrive those things!

We carried that pile of stuff around southwest BC and northern Washington state from 1983 through 1990 and the only failure I can recall was the monitor amp.

They may be frowned on by some, but I'd have another Peavey PA system in a heartbeat.

11

Walter I still have my little Peavey vocal PA and it still gets used all the damn time. I bought it used for 400 bucks with speakers in 1989 and have dogged that shit out of that thing. You can't break it. And vocal sounds come out of it every time so it stays.

I also have a Pacer on semi permanent loan. Surprisingly useful really lightweight loud as shit. Not the first thing I pick up to head to a gig by any means, but for jams and such where you're not sure of the surroundings, it's totally cromulent.

12

Do you really mean "cromulent?" That seems opposite of what I understood you to be saying.

13

The further souther you were in the US, the earlier and the more you Peavied. In the context of the time, their early tube stuff represented a considerable cost savings and power increase over comparably-priced Fender (though often the point was that the Peavey cost enough less that you could get a new amp, period).

By the mid-70s, Peavey was ubiquitous in the Ohio River Valley - and, I guess, everywhere else. For several decades, an awful lot of stages would have fallen silent (except for drums) without Peavey amps and sound systems.

The first Peavey amp I owned was a Pacer. First NEW amp I'd ever owned. I don't remember if it was 99.00 or 199.00, but I loved that amp. It sounded great to me - and both guitarists in my band replaced our Bandmasters with them. They were lighter and more trouble-free. It didn't have the boatload of low end we were getting out of our Bandmasters, but we had to dial that down anyway. For straightforward, usable good clean tone, the Pacer was dandy.

I don't recall the fact that it was solid state was an issue of any kind; there was surely already stout tube snobbery in the amp world, but the Pacers frankly seemed a practical improvement over our heavy, two-part, tube-finicky, reverb-less Bandmasters. Peavey was obviously not the first to solidify the state of a guitar amp, but Hartley's designs were the first that - to lots of us - sounded as good as tubes (for a clean tone).

For the usual reason (gear disease), I "upgraded" from the Pacer to the Bandit when it came out, but didn't like it as well. The cabinet was shorter in height, and it had more knobs and featur(ettes). One or the other of those developments seemed to degrade the warmth and fullness of tone I'd enjoyed in the Pacer.

I quickly went from the Bandit to what I remember as a 130-watt Peavey combo with 4 6L6s and a Black Widow 12. That was a true beast, crazy heavy and brutally loud. I swear it literally melted its plastic knobs and I put aluminum on it. (I woulda sworn it was a Special 130, but all the references I can find say the S130 was solid state. Maybe it was the tube precursor of the S130, but I can't find it online. Maybe I dreamed it.)

Where did that amp go? Why'd I ever get rid of it? Whatever, it kinda set the pattern for most of my amps over the next 30 years: 1-12 open-back tube combos, though usually anything but Peavey.

I became as much an anti-Peavey snob as anyone else. Poor ol' ubiquitous cheap-as-chips made-in-Mississippi Peavey, like we've been playing through for years because it was all we could afford. How could Peavey be cool?

I don't know if Peavey is cool yet, but at least I've unlearned my own snobbery. The Classic 30 has been my favorite ride for almost a decade, and not for lack of alternatives. And I actually enjoy working with Peavey's customer service. So credit where credit is due, and good on'em.

Hartley Peavey has one of those unique double 2-syllable names (like Elvis Presley and Ersel Hickey) that would have been an asset to any southern boy rock & roller of the 50s, but I'm glad he designed amps and built a world-class MI company right in down-home Mississippi instead. For years Peavey was (may still be) the largest home-owned employer in a state that could use more such success stories, and it's all been built on real and useful innovation, sound but never frivolous engineering and a commitment to both value and quality at a fair price.

Of all the MI companies trading on the cachet of a form of music born of a dangerous racial mixing and bred in the American south, maybe Peavey has the most genuine bonafides. Hartley was inspired to a career in music when he saw Bo Diddley at a 1957 concert and took it upon himself to start building amps in his daddy's Meridian music store. That kinda gives the amps a direct connection to the main vein. It would be either pretentious twaddle or pure marketing malarkey for most companies to call an amp "Delta Blues," but that's where Peaveys are really made - and by the descendants, both black and white, of the rural southerners who invented the music.

It's not my favorite piece of graphic art, either, and I used to remove the logos from the gear as much from aesthetic high-falutin' as ambivalence about the brand - but I've made my peace with the pointy logo. I just learned today that Hartley designed it as a senior in high school, before there was a company for it to represent. Somehow that makes me like it better.

– Proteus

Protillingus, concurrently to the last gun shop I worked at in Lungcancer Ahia, I was the instrument guy at their pawnshop. We took in a decent amount of what I'm sure were some of ol' Tommy Coffman's Peavey purveyances.

They blew out a bunch of stuff at one point to make room and for 100 quid, I became the "proud" owner of both a 130-watt Heritage VTX and a first-generation Deuce. They were weapons!

I was wondering about a couple things re: the Deuce so I called Meridian and wound up talking to Chris, the tech that actually designed the Deuce! Marvelous ol' fella.

At one point, he said, "Now, we came up with th' Deuce an' th' Mace fer Skynrd an' y'ain't never gonna use thet amplifa'r t' th' pa'r levels it was dee-zanned fer without goin' t' JAIL."

14

Down in the dungeon and almost forgotten, I do have another mighty lump of Peavey amplification — a 1982 Citation head (guitar version, not the bass amp). This is enormously heavy for a solid state head, very loud (rated at 160W) and is just about bomb-proof. I haven't played it in a while but I must have thought it was decent enough to keep. I'll give it a blast later this week and see what happens.

PS: "cromulent" — Bob, I must remember that. Next time someone asks me about an old bit of gear I'll just say: "Oh, y'know, it's not brilliant, but it's cromulent." Or is that something of a terminological inextactitude?

15

Re: the Coffman Connection. Of curse both Shive's and my Peavey gear came through those hallered doors. (I still have whacked dreams where I'm working there.) I'm sure I got the employee discount of 10 over cost on the Pacer and Bandito (or a little less than the average margin most MI retailers get on most things now, but actually decently generous from a guy who wanted the vaunted "full mark"up of 100% on everything).

When we were equipping the Bean, the Peavey rep Carl Wilkenfeld (sure, I remember THAT name but not if I closed the garage door yesterday) got us SP-2 cabs and Peavey power amps for the in-wall monitors at something less than dealer cost (after first proving to us that we'd get dead flat response). I think we actually did, and they'd blow us clean out of the control room.

More Peavish southern Ohia memories: Easy Nights' first PA, a pair of "colyums," 2-12s, 2-10s, and 3 piezos each, with a 260-watt monitor amp and small mixer. It pretty much stayed either in the back of my pickup truck or on Stacks-the-drummer's porch through all weathers year-round except when actually in use. After it was retired as vocal PA (in favor of Cerwin-Vega cabs, a CS-400, and a Biamp mixer), the columns and amp, along with an early Tapco mixer, became my KEYBOARD rig. They stood tall two feet directly behind me, with the piezos just about at ear level; for a time I must've heard frequencies from the Arp I've consequently never heard since.

(Ancient history here, old men reminiscing. We'd do it in the rocking chairs at Cracker Barrel if it wasn't late October and chilly out.)

Shive sat upon the Coffman Combo Guy throne before I ascended thereto, and as long as I worked there a note he'd written to Peavey customer service (and their response) was pinned to the bulletin board in the shop. It concerned the incredible abuse a particular pedal steel amp (Session? Nashville? something 400 watts or more with a Black Widow 15) must have endured for its output transformer to melt and fuse much of the chassis into a molten blob. Pretty funny note. The response commiserated with mention of similar destruction the Peavey shop had witnessed - and a list of the parts it took to fix the amp.

That's what I call "copacetic."

16

Cromulent of course is a made up word, but I always took it to mean "acceptable"

Mrs. Krabappel: "Embiggens"? I never heard that word before moving to Springfield. Ms. Hoover: I don't know why; it's a perfectly cromulent word.

17

Definition: "Appearing legitimate but actually being spurious."

18

Like Wabash, I have one of the old hybrid Peavey Classics. There were at least two versions of these: the early ones (like mine) have a pretty decent tremolo. Not a great Magnatone-Princeton-Valco kind of brilliant tremolo, but a very serviceable tremolo. Later ones had a phaser instead.

It is built like a tank, and it is LOUD -- 50 watts that will shake the walls.

It has (at least to my ears) a very nice clean sound, in line with a big-honking Silverface. Something like a Pro Reverb on a budget.

Drive it hard (via the master volume) and it sounds like a bunch of robot bees mating with rusty nuts and bolts in a tin can. It is aggressively unmusical buzzing and farting and carrying on.

Luckily, it takes pedals well.

Mine, unfortunately, mostly just sits. It's way too loud for the house, and way too heavy to want to lug anywhere. And honestly, it's too much amp for most any venue that would let me play.

19

Definition: "Appearing legitimate but actually being spurious."

– Ric12string

Which of course leads one to the tautology "Cromulent is a perfectly cromulent word".

Although how cromulent it is may be changing: https://www.merriam-webster...

20

Hmmm. This definition presupposes a motive of a fictional character in its use which is a bit problematic for me. It makes sense I guess, but I was going with the original contextual intent, as remarked on in Bax's link -

"Writer David X. Cohen came up with cromulent as one of those words. It means "acceptable" or "fine.""

21

Spike, please know that I am not intending to bicker with you. Just trying to find out what this word really means. And it seems as if the meaning is evolving somehow.

22

Built cheap, but designed well. Tone can't compare to a solid-state Randall from the 80's.

23

I think it means that something is truthy.

24

Getting back to the Peaveys, I think the old ones are definite contenders for Most Amp per Dollar awards, although "most amp" may refer to the corpulence (not to be confused with their cromulence).

I also agree with Proteus: his Classic 30 is tremendously versatile, usable and just all-around nice. I'd put it up against most any modern Fender offering. Every time there's a round-up, it's one of my go-to amps, because I know I can find a way to make it work with me.

25

I'd put it up against most any modern Fender offering.

I think this is fair. It's a bit darker and perhaps "rounder"-sounding, without quite the scooped sparkle of Fender's prevalent black-n-silverface voice, which seems to suit me. It's less tiring to listen to, with more body by comparison. Maybe that's a bit of EL Voxiness - but, conversely, it seems to have more low end, in a Fenderish way, than actual Voxes.

So. Maybe the tonal lovechild of a Fender and an AC - or, more negatively put, a compromise. Anyway, works for me. Also, the dirt channel (which I rarely but should use) is actually much better than most pedals, and sweeter on my ear than that of any Fender I can think of.

The reverb, though, is not as richlushdistinctive as a Fender's. It's perfectly cromulent, but not superlative. Guess I could change the pan. But there are pedals for that.


Back to the Pacer. I'd like to play through one now, just to see what I think 30 years later.


Billy, not being a circuit guy, I'll take it as Peaveypraise from you that you consider them well-designed. And I think Hartley would take "built cheap" as a compliment as well, as he's always been adamant about value for a "fair price." I watched a ütube interview with him last night in which he expounds on the credo that he's never charged "what the market will bear," but instead a reasonable mark-up from his actual costs.

Now, of course, he would say that: from the git-go, the whole Peavey thing has been low price, and with that well- and early-earned reputation, he'd be hard-pressed to develop a boutique what-the-market-will-bear business model. We just wouldn't accept it. It would be like Volkswagen marketing a Rolls-killer under the VW brand name. Who'd take it seriously? All the Japanese car builders had to slowly develop separate up-market brand names for their new high-end cars.

In that sense, Peavey probably does charge "what the market will bear" - for Peavey-branded gear. Chicken-and-egg thing. That's the posture he intended from the beginning, he adopted it, and it's his.

But if by "built cheap" you mean junky and unreliable...the track record seems counter to that. It's not boutique, bespoke gear - but it's purdurngood, and it holds up.


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