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Carvin V3 Head

 
3-channel Full tube amplifier head


Price: $526 to $526 at 1 stores
Searched Carvin V3 Head in Reviews
 

 

Overlooked, Versatile, Priced Right featured

Sound I play a variety of guitars from Carvin, Ibanez, S8 with mild to hot pups. I usually play anything from blues to metal and this amp can cover it all very well.

3-channel amp
1&2 are both overdrive channels that can be set alike or totally different. Channel 3 is a clean channel but cranking the gain can give it a slightly "dirty" sound with the soak switch.

With all the different tone controls on this amp, a person could write a book on the possibilities of sounds available. The cleans are sparkly, clear and unique, not quite vintage Fender clean, but better than most high gain amps. I set channel 1 for a mid-heavy tone with the gain about 12 o'clock and I set channel 2 with the mids cut and the gain about 3 o'clock. This allows me to cover most 80's to modern metal acceptably.

I have swapped the stock GT tubes for JJ's 6L6es, my personal preference. This amp can cover most styles of music from clean to crunch to ultra-high gain. It is very responsive to string attack, as a tube amp should be, and I have had no issues with any pickup configuration from, single coils to SD Blackouts phase II.


Reliability This thing is built very solid and I would trust it as much as any amp with a similar configuration. I have had mine for two years and the only issue with it was my fault.


Customer Support During a tube swap, I apparently didn't have my speaker cabinet plugged in well and burned a power tube resistor. NEVER power on a tube amp without a speaker load. Even though it was my fault, Carvin repaired it under warranty.


Liked about it 1)Versatile to say the least. The tone possibilities are immense.
2)You can achieve full gain on each channel without cranking the master volume. EQX on each channel gives an even wider frequency control. Overdrive channels have a 3-position switch to add more character to the gain structure. There is even a foot-switchable Master Control that can boost your gain another 9db plus adds even more tone shaping.
3)Has 2 effects loops series and parallel with an adjustable tail switch to allow natural decay of delays.


Didn't like 1)At the time I purchased my V3, there was no lower wattage version available.
2)The plethora of tone options also means it may take several days, maybe longer to dial in your tone.
3)I was getting distorted overtones from my Boss DD-3 in the series effects loop, presumably from the high impedance inputs.


Overall satisfaction:
 
4.5

By Pamanagm
Feb 22, 2011
 
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If you're a Jemsite User, there is a good chance this amp is for you. featured

Sound So let's face it, if you're on Jemsite, you're probably playing an Ibanez, or a Jackson Soloist/Fusion, or some other kind of super-strat or ESP. You're probably into Vai or Dream Theater or something else in the shred/progressive/otherwise intelligent rock category. That being said, this amp is definitely worth a look, and not just because of the very attractive price tag. I personally play the virtuoso stuff, the 80's rock and metal, and the lead stuff ranging from Petrucci to Rusty Cooley and all that. I find I've dialed in one setting on my knobs and left them there since. I have a sound, I know it and I use it. I'm not ashamed of that, in fact, most of the greatest players have a certain sort of sound you can pick out a few bent notes into a solo. That being said, this amp is still versatile. I think it does Rock very well, just as well as any of the most boutique amps I've ever played. Another review gave it a minus for not standing out as super unique. You know, like how you can tell a 5150 or a Triple Rec or a JCM just by hearing it, but this one has a strength and a weakness in that it's sort of a chameleon that just sounds good for most everything. So yes, if I heard a solo on a record, I probably couldn't pick out a V3 for being a V3, and I use one exclusively in my rig. But that's OK, you can tell it's me playing from my fingers. I don't need you to know it's a Mesa from how the notes are all just sort of running together.

Anyway, the amp has tons of gain, but just the right amount. Granted, you can back it off and it sounds great, it's really dynamic. But I like my guitar to be a super-responsive flamethrower, and this amp delivers without needing much else in the loops. I'm finding I like to use it with my guitars that are loaded with Dirty Fingers pickups, or Blackouts. It's great with both. Don't get me wrong, I can get great cleans out of it, and cool tones that are kind of like SRV or Jeff Beck, but that's just not the sound I record or gig with.


Reliability I gig with it. I'd be tempted to bring some kind of meaty solid state head just to keep in the car or the bus, just in case. Because you never know. But it's a little tank, it's as solid as a tube head can be. Hasn't let me down yet. And Carvin is great with their stuff. Speaking of which...


Customer Support I'm happy with Carvin, in sales and in support. I don't call a lot of companies for support, I used to be a pro guitar tech, and besides I'm a guy, so god knows I hate to ask anyone for help with anything. But these days we see how everything is getting to be cheapened and/or outsourced. Carvin seems to be one of the last holdouts who has their own support, and they actually care about you being satisfied. And that's good enough for me. By today's poor standards for service, they are a home run.


Liked about it -Price
-Tone (very customizable and nails it for rock and metal)
-The look, with the diamond plate. I wish I hadn't been first in line for one, now they have LED's inside that change color when you change channel. I'd love to step on high gain and have it get all red and angry.


Didn't like My diamond plate didn't come installed. I do custom guitar work, I can deal with it, but it's still not very pro. Also, the fit wasn't perfect either, it's still bowed a tiny bit in the middle. Something they would have fixed in the shop and not let go out half-assed like mine is now.
Otherwise it's a great head and I couldn't be happier. Onboard digital effects (good ones, not garbage like the first Spider Valve) would be a cool addition. They can't cost that much, it's probably a $100 integrated circuit. Maybe they could offer a V3FX or something down the road for a slightly higher price. I'd pay it.


Overall satisfaction:
 
4.5

By JShred
Aug 31, 2010
 
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Very versatile Tube head with an appealing price. featured

Sound When the Carvin V3 arrived at my house straight from Carvin I was not expecting what I got.
I ordered mine with Brown Saddle leather and A diamond plate faceplate (that I had to install). ALl of it came out to a grand total of just over $900 delivered.
The first two channels are voiced alike, but they can be tweaked and adjusted to be very independent. Personally I don't believe the similarity of the channels to be a drawback at all, it simply gives you the option of having 2 crunch channels, 2 lead sounds, or a mixture of both. Every channel has switches that act like frequency filters and eq cuts...very handy. Another feature that hasn't been mentioned yet is the unique "smart loops" function, put simply (you know how in a normal fx loop in any other head, you step on a stomp box for example and get the nice delay for your solo?, with smart loops when you step off the pedal the delay tails off instead of dissappearing abruptly)


Reliability Every carvin I have owned had excellent quality for price and except for tubes, rarely needed any work.
Carvin has an excellent return policy too.


Customer Support Carvin has been hit or miss when I called, but the email responses I have gotten about their guitars and amps have left me happy.


Liked about it -Massive bass
-Smart loops
-Price


Didn't like -Having to replace the front plate myself.
-Doesn't make you say "hey that's a V3" when you hear it.
-Stock tubes are kind of mild.


Overall satisfaction:
 
4.0

By THEE HAMMER
Oct 22, 2009
 
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Underrated Beast featured

Sound The sounds you can get from this amp are amazing. It leaves you with lots of tone controls for each channel and a master section with mid-cut, presence and depth regulation. Each channel has 3 characteristics you can select with a switch and you can expand the 3-way EQ for each channel with the EQ-expand switch.
Hence dialing in sounds is not as easy like with more straight forward amps, but you can definately get lots and lots of sounds.
What I like most is that while you can get a huge range of sounds, the Carvin still has a little bit of that strange Vai'isch mids, that are so typical for a Carvin Amp. They only go away if you crank the mid-cut all the way. So sound character is also present.
Some say it is not a real 3-channel as the channels 1 and 2 are basically the same. However I use channel 1 as the high gain beast channel, which has some similarities to my Dual Rectifier and channel 2 as a crunchy channel. It definately gets the job done. The channel 3 clean channel can also go from twangy fender to a slight crunch with the flip of a switch.


Reliability No problems so far. I always wondered if the footswitch cable was up to the job, but so far it lasted months of gigging.


Customer Support It was purchased through Musik Schmidt in Germany, so I only have experience with their customer support, which is absolutely great.


Liked about it Very versatile amp.
Nice own character.
Can be customized (mine came with brown saddle leather)


Didn't like It is a bit hard to dial in sounds, because of the many possibilities.
Did not find other things.


Overall satisfaction:
 
5.0

By Tank
Oct 12, 2009
 
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Highly versatile, great sounding amp at a killer price

Sound I play in a power trio so I need a wide variety of tones very easily accessible to me. I don't own any amps with less than 3 channels for that reason. I found this one locally (used) for a great price so I decided to jump on it based on the great reviews I'd read. I've had it for a couple of years now and I've used it at dozens of gigs, countless rehearsals and a handful of studio sessions. I personally think the amp is relatively close in sound to the Peavey JSX head, but with a little more warmth/character to the tone and with more options/features. Like my high gain heads you're not getting lush Fender cleans out of it, but the cleans are nice, crunch sounds are very versatile and the hi gain tones are pleasant (if you take the time to dial the amp in).

I currently have mine loaded with JJ 6L6 power tubes and EH preamp tubes. I find that I like the overall character of the amp a bit better with this setup than with the EL34 power tubes. On Channel 1 (hi gain) I have the EQ expander switch engaged and the Intense switch engaged. I run the presence at 6, treble at 6.5, mid at 5.5, bass at 5, drive at 6 and volume at 6. On Channel 2 (crunch) I have the EQ expander off and the intense/thick switch set to neutral. I run the presence at 4.5, treble at 5.5, mid at 4, bass at 6, drive at 3.5 and volume at 8. On Channel 3 (clean) I run the EQ expander on and the bright/soak switch in the neutral position. I have the presence at 7, treble at 7.5, mid at 4.5, bass at 5, drive at 4.5 and volume at 7. In the master section I run the bright at 7, the midcut at 2 and the deep at 5.5.

I get great tones out of this amp whether I'm using pedals or rack based effects. It has one of the more advanced effects loops setups I've seen with two loops (one series and one parallel) that can be assigned per channel... very cool.


Reliability I've had mine for a couple of years and bought it used from a guy who toured regionally, so it's definitely seen a lot of use. I've never had an issue with it, even when I played an outdoor gig in 99 degree heat. A very reliable/durable amp that's well built right here in the USA.


Customer Support N/A


Liked about it 1) Flexibility - this amp has so many knobs, if you don't like the tone it's only because you're not spending enough time with it (in my opinion)
2) Midi control - I really like amps that are midi controllable... this one is no exception
3) Sound - I get good, consistent tones from this amp and have gotten many compliments on my tone when playing through it


Didn't like 1) The channel order... every other amp I've ever seen starts with the clean channel as number 1... this one is in reverse. I use a midi footswitch simply so I can reverse the logic (button 1 activates channel 3) so I don't get confused.
2) The footswitch... I know they've got lights in the current footswitch, but on the original V3 models the footswitch had no indicator lights on it (another reason why I used a midi footswitch) and it's doesn't stay put (they didn't put any rubber or anything on the bottom to keep it from sliding around).


Overall satisfaction:
 
4.0

By djrjems
Jul 08, 2012
 
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I was expecting more. A lot more.

Sound I play only Ibanez guitars. I used an RG550 with stock pickups and an RG565 with a Fred in the bridge and a Fast Track II in the neck. Couldn't find a tone that worked for me at all. Clean tones were great, but I hardly ever use that channel. The overdrive channels were way too fizzy and lifeless. One thing that I liked is that it was extremely customizable. You can literally tweak everything about your sound on it. Whether or not you like the sounds coming out of it are another thing. I spent a lot of time tweaking everything


Reliability Seemed to be built pretty well.


Liked about it A lot of options
Great clean channel
Looks great


Didn't like Gain channels were really buzzy and lifeless
Lacks character
Again, I didn't like the gain channels. There's not really much else to dislike, but that is hands down the biggest factor when deciding if I like an amp or not. It has to sound good.


Overall satisfaction:
 
1.5

By Kwirk
Jun 23, 2011
 
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