Epiphone Valve Special
Epiphone Valve Special

Valve Special, Tube Combo Guitar Amp from Epiphone in the Valve series.

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goodbyebluesky 03/24/2008

Epiphone Valve Special : goodbyebluesky's user review


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The Epiphone Valve Special is a true class A tube combo. It delivers 5 watts of single-ended power through an epiphone 10" speaker. It has a single input, and an 8 ohm speaker output (more on that later). An effects loop would have been nice but is nonexistant in this price range so I don't hold it against them.
This lineup of amps and heads from Epiphone is most likely their answer to the Fender Junior amps. Having high quality tube sound in a simple package thats affordable appeals to everyone from a sound-savvy beginner, players that frequent small venues and are looking for an uncomplicated setup, to studio use since their low wattage makes them easy to crank up. The whole Epiphone Valve lineup is incredibly affordable.

The Valve Special combo is a step up from the Valve Junior because unlike the VJ it offers seperate Gain and Master Volume controls (the VJ has a single level) and a moderately usable EQ, along with reverb and onboard effects. It also has a standby switch, which the lesser models do not have, so thats a bonus.


This amp is a breeze to plug into and play with minimal fuss. To be honest, I never looked at the manual. I easily got a good sound out of it with every guitar I own.


This amp is not as versatile as many would like it to be, since it is a single channel amp. With that being said, I still get a wide variety of sounds from it, but keep in mind it will not give you a metal sound, or even a high gain sound without outboard effects/stompboxes. What it will give you is a fairly British sounding bark at high gains, moderate sustain, but still with clarity on the indivudual notes. More of a slightly crunchy overdrive that never enters "distortion" territory.
My favorite strategy is plugging my Ibanez Ghostrider (Les Paul style) guitar in, maxing the Master Volume, and playing with the gain to get a perfect balance between chime and dirt. One tip for you if you have Gibson style pickups that clean up as you lower the volume (like mine do) is to use more gain than you want, and use the controls on your guitar to clean it up. It yields a creamy clean sound that is to die for if you are used to sterile solid state amplifiers. Sometimes I drive the amp with a TS9 Tube Screamer and get some great lead sounds that satisfy my need for Santana-like sustain.
The reverb on this amp is very good, better than that of any of the other tube amps in this price range like the Fender Junior amps. Its fairly full up to 70% or so then gets flabby after that, so don't expect true Fender tube reverb or drippy surf style reverb. It works perfectly for me, as I like a good amount of reverb on my clean sounds.
The built in effects on the Special suck. It would have been better to just leave them off, or just give a decent chorus effect in place of UNusable multi-FX. The delay is too drastic and will turn off most players with a tasteful ear, and the flange is absolutely, terribly cheesy. I do not use them at all.
One more cool feature is that rather than hardwire the speaker to the amp, Epiphone purposely used 1/4" connections that can be dissconnected to use the 8 ohm output to drive a seperate cab in place of the stock 10". The stock speaker is not bad, but I did get some good results by driving the speakers of a 212 combo I had laying around. Its cool to have the option of driving different configurations, so its harder to outgrow this amp.


I've been paying this amp for nearly a year. Most of all, I like the simplicity, and the creamy sustainy clean to mildly overdriven sounds sounds. Its versatile enough to gig out small venues w/minimal outboard effects. FYI, I did swap in some JJ's Eurotubes and it made this amp sing like it does for me. I strongly reccomend doing this and not settling for the stock setup.
I have tried the Epi Valve Junior, the low end Crate tube amps, and the Fender Blues Junior and Pro, and I think this amp wins when the chips are down. The reverb is better, is a bit more versatile in terms of the controls and what tones you can dial in, and is cheap. I picked mine up for under 200 on ebay including shipping. Its a great value for the price even if you bought it new.
I would buy it all over again if I had to.