52 Amplifier Heads, week 33—Carvin V3M

Week 33 already. Wow, we’re carvin’ through this year. I feel this week’s amplifier head needs to pack more punch than usual. Perhaps I should allow an amplifier into the series that is way over the usual wattage I’m looking for. But it has to still be suitable for my home playing/recording needs. I know … the Carvin V3M. OK, I may have hinted at what the amplifier would be with the intro sentences to this article and the article/page title does give it away week after week, but I enjoy putting these introductions together all the same.

Sometimes I surprise myself.

Regular readers of this series will know I’m looking for my first all-tube amplifier head. I am purely a home player/recorder so I don’t need something that would suit an arena environment. The Carvin V3M is a 50 watt amplifier head. That’s huge. Why consider it at all? Well one cool feature it has is the ability to switch from 50 watts to 22 watts or 7 watts. 7 watts I could live with. Maybe over time and some situation changes I could work my way up to 22 watts and eventually 50 watts. Versatile!

For me, this is a lot of writing already and I’ve only mentioned one feature. There has to be more. Of course there is. It’s why I make sure each of these articles features a list. Who doesn’t love a good list? Actually I don’t know the answer to that. Anyhoo … Features!

  • 50 watt (downscalable to 22 and 7 watt)
  • 3 channels
  • 2 x speaker outputs for 4/8/16 ohms
  • 4 x EL84 power tubes
  • 4 x 12AX7 preamp tubes
  • Line out (for cabinet voiced recording)
  • Effect loop
  • Blue or red backlit LEDs (selectable)
  • Footswitchable
  • Presence, Volume, Drive, Bass, Middle and Treble controls (for each channel)
  • Intense/Thick switch for channels 1 and 2
  • Bright/Soak switch for channel 3
  • EQX switch (for each channel)

Huge list. But this is a huge sounding amplifier. The three minute video on the Carvin website is incredibly informative. But as informative as that is, the 14 minute version is better. That video is one of the better amplifier demos I’ve seen in a while. There’s a lot on offer with this amp and most of it is covered in that video. I wish I made videos that good.

Perhaps there are some people who are thinking “But what do other video reviewers think?” Well that’s a good question dear fictitious people I just made up! Luckily I have a real-world answer or two. Those people at Guitar World magazine (who have done a few video reviews in their time) put together a pretty cool video for the V3M. Finally for me, there’s this short video that showcases the metal capabilities of this amp when layered in with bass and drums. Very nice indeed.

Before I get to my standard disclaimer (it’s just below this paragraph) I have to mention that I’ve been keen on this amplifier head for a while. That’s mainly because I have the digital version of it in AmpliTube. That’s one of the coolest amplifier emulations I’ve experienced yet. All three channels seemingly captured perfectly. I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on the real-world physical version of the amplifier all the same. Maybe next year? Fingers crossed.

Disclaimer: I’ve not played through this head. I have not experienced the sound or tone of this head other than through video. That doesn’t matter. It looks awesome, it’s obviously played by winners and I want one.

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