Carvin Legacy VL100 Head
Carvin Legacy VL100 Head

Legacy VL100 Head, Tube Guitar Amp Head from Carvin.

denied 07/31/2011

Carvin Legacy VL100 Head : denied's user review

« Great lead amp with volume to spare »

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- 2 channels, clean and lead
- Controls for volume, treble, mid, bass per channel
- Presence switch for clean channel
- Drive and presence controls for drive channel
- Master reverb
- Switchable between 50 and 100 watts
- All tube (5 12ax7 preamp, ships with 4 EL34 power section)
- Switchable between EL34s and 6L6 power tubes
- Cabinet voiced lineout
- 4, 8, or 16 ohms
- Hand made, USA


While this is an incredible amp, I do have a few usability issues with it. There is no master volume control, so unless you have a place to run this guy full tilt, you are in trouble. It literally does not go below wall shaking volumes. There is a switch to run it at half power (50 watts), but remember that watts=/= volume, that really just drops it by a couple decibels.

I like that you can run either 6l6 or EL34s (also E34Ls) in the Legacy, I’ve used both and it really makes a difference depending on what kind of voicing and headroom you want.
The tone controls don’t have a huge amount of range on them.
Overall it was pretty reliable, but I did get some issues with the effects loop circuitry at one point. I bought the amp used, so I won’t knock Carvin for this, but it is worth noting.


Aside from the issues in usability, the sound is just incredible. The clean channel is beautiful, icy bell lie cleans. This isn’t really a warm clean amp, more like a fender twin style. Perfect for picked out clean parts. A ton of headroom, really doesn’t clip out at all.
The lead channel is just pristine. Very articulate, nuanced and harmonically rich. It really is just the perfect lead amp. It has a surprising amount of gain on tap, sweet spot is around 7. The louder you crank it, the better it’s going to sound.


The Legacy is one of the best clean/lead amps on the market right now. Just make sure that you have a place to crank it. Designed by guitar virtuoso Steve Vai along with Carvin USA. Carvin sell direct, keep the middle man out of the equation, and are able to deliver handmade amps at killer prices. As a result, the used prices for these are absurdly low, usually below $600. The Legacy isn’t for everyone, but if you’re after something that does cleans and leads very well, this is an excellent option.

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