Peavey ValveKing® 112 Amp
Compact powerhouse with old school tubes and springs!
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted – 9-10-2012
Around 38 years ago I bought my first Peavey amp on the recommendation of the guy who owned the music store I patronized. Peavey was an unknown in our area but that amp looked and sounded good so I took a chance. Suffice it to say that I was not disappointed – at all, not even a little! Today deciding to buy the Peavey ValveKing® 112 Amp involved no speculation at all. These people have not lost a thing in the decades between my Peavey purchases!
The Peavey ValveKing® 112 is a two channel, single 12” speaker amp that is also available in twin 12” speaker and standalone powerhead configurations. With so many amp companies going solid state these days it was refreshing to see that tubes were the choice to jack up the preamp section of the Peavey ValveKing® 112 Amp. This amp uses two 6L6GC and three 12AX7 tubes to generate the tones only a tube camp can deliver. And, that power is used to drive a specially voiced 12" ValveKing® loudspeaker. That results in 50 watts of power that sounds like a bunch more if you are not in a very large space.
While Peavey was in a traditional design mode they also added a retro double spring reverb box to the Peavey ValveKing® 112 Amp. I love the rich reverb the springs make and this was no small consideration in my decision to buy the Peavey ValveKing® 112 Amp. A single Reverb dial controls the surprising amount of overall reverb applied to the sound coming through either channel.
The Peavey ValveKing® 112 Amp has two ¼” inputs that when used individually give you high and low gain input flexibility to better suit the instrument. The first input is for most guitars and is roughly 10 dB louder than the #2 low gain input. The #2 input is meant for exceptionally high output instruments that could distort in the #1 high gain jack. When both the #1 and #2 jacks are used simultaneously they both function as low gain.
Sporting a clean and an independent lead channel the Peavey ValveKing® 112 Amp is as versatile as we can expect out of one box! Channel changing is done with a pushbutton on the control panel or through the optional footswitch.
Both channels have full-throated bass, mid and treble controls that don’t lose their functionality as other controls are adjusted. In the Lead channel you can control the three EQ bands to better design the tone throughout the “Gain” range. The Lead channel also has pushbutton boost features that let you add some extra kick to the Gain and/or Volume.
The clean channel also has a Bright button along with the three EQ band adjusters. The Bright button lets you tone down the treble strings a bit when you need a softer, smoother tone. Push the Bright button again and all of the strings get their twang back. And all of these controls are totally independent of the clean channel volume knob. A pushbutton below the clean channel gain Bright button switches you to the Lead channel.
The Peavey ValveKing® 112 Amp also includes a buffered in/out loop for effects pedals. This is a switching jack in that when you plug an effect into the Effects Return side the circuit is interrupted until you plug the other side of the Stompbox into the Effects Send side. Both plugs are standard ¼” jacks. Whatever effect you introduce through this loop is applied to both the Clean and Lead channels.
The Peavey ValveKing® 112 Amp has a semi-secret control on the rear panel that is actually patented! Peavey calls it a Texture™ control because as you rotate it clockwise (towards wide open…) it delivers full power A/B through both tube sets. When rotated fully counterclockwise the Peavey ValveKing® 112 Amp acts like a single-ended high gain tube stage. I should note that in this fully counterclockwise position the overall output is as much as 60% lower than when “cranked” to the full clockwise mode. I suspect that they left this Texture control on the back of the amp because it sets the amp to your taste. Once you figure out the sound that you like the Texture knob will probably stay put anyway.
Unique to the Peavey ValveKing® 112 Amp is a resonance button on the rear panel. This button tweaks how the lower sounds are treated. In the Loose setting the most low-end sounds are produced with a small sacrifice in clarity. In the Tight mode the amp gets all of the low-end response it can but with a little cleaner signal overall. Here again, I think you will find the setting you like and leave the Resonance button in one position most of the time.
If the single 12” speaker isn’t sufficiently rocking your world the Peavey ValveKing® 112 Amp can be plugged into an external speaker cabinet. The external cabinet needs a minimum 16? rating. Also, you can skip the “stacked” idea because when you plug into the external jack the internal speaker is disabled.
I can say without reservation that my attraction to Peavey equipment based on years of working band use years ago applies to the modern day Peavey ValveKing® 112 Amp as well. This is a well-made, thoughtfully designed amp that has a wide range of capabilities that make it great for one-room players like me or those who venture out in public for money. The Peavey ValveKing® 112 Amp looks to be as tough as anything I have seen and brings more punch than I expected.
The range of tones you can generate with the Peavey ValveKing® 112 Amp is largely limited by your creativity. The EQ controls actually change the sound and let you tweak the Peavey ValveKing® 112 Amp to best fit your guitar and playing needs. I like the simplicity of the Clean and Lead channels and how easily you can make the jump from rhythm to lead with totally different sounds.
The Clean channel is capable of producing ultra-clear but full-throated sounds in a wide range of tones and producing all of them at surprising volume levels without distortion. Click into the Lead channel and you can dirty up the sound as much as you want with the very responsive Gain control. You have full control over the volume regardless of how much Gain is dialed in because like the Lead EQ dials, everything works independently of each other. And when you need a quick jump in Gain or Volume all you need to do is push the corresponding Boost button.
The twin spring reverb is super clean and has a great range. If you can’t find a reverb level within the Peavey ValveKing® 112 Amp to suit your style you might want to reconsider your expectations. The control is responsive but the change from very little to lots of reverb is smooth over the range and easy to set to your liking.
The Peavey ValveKing® 112 is a great amp for those with small to medium needs and a modest budget. With a street price of around $400.00 (9-10-2012) this amp is as good of a value as it is versatile. I am more than happy with the range of sound the Peavey ValveKing® 112 Amp can generate and the ease with which it can be set up to your liking. I’d like to have seen a footswitch included but that is a result of us wanting a low price first. You can get the Peavey footswitch for this amp for about $45 (9-10-2012) so it’s not a deal breaker.
If you want a solid amp for a wide range of playing needs the Peavey ValveKing® 112 Amp is more than capable. I have yet to get it near ½ of the available volume but have scared all of the animals in the house as well as a few outdoors. With the available power and the ability to plug in a larger speaker cabinet the Peavey ValveKing® 112 Amp will work just fine in many stage or studio environments as well. The good news is that you can “go pro” with the Peavey ValveKing® 112 Amp without blowing a pro-sized budget to do it.
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