peavey rockmaster head

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by korfu, Apr 6, 2015.

  1. korfu

    korfu Member

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    hey all,
    so I've been yearning to get a hold of a peavey rockmaster head but can't seem to find one in europe (the uk or sweden preferably). i found one on eBay from the states but with shipping, taxes etc it will end up pretty expensive, also the 110v vs 220v thingy.

    I'm considering other peavey monsters from the 80s such as the roadmaster, the mace, the butcher and the vtm but can't find these amps over here as well

    any suggestions or tips where i can pick one up or should i drop this "dream" and pick something else? what would be an equivalent? laney gh100l?

    oh, I'm not really after the gain channel, but instead a super loud clean amp i can put my pedals through.

    most appreciated
    peace
     
  2. a_d_a_m

    a_d_a_m Member

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    There are different incarnations of the Roadmaster. The early ones that say Super Festival Series are 200w and have 4 power tubes with a SS preamp. I own one, 1976-77, looks like this.
    [​IMG]

    I don't know much about the later Roadies other than they're lower wattage (120? 160?), have six tubes, and I think have a cooling fan. They look like this:
    [​IMG]

    Between the Mace and the early Roadies & the Butcher, I am fairly sure the Mace has a better clean channel. I don't use clean much, but even the Roadie SFS can get pretty clean if you're crafty with the bazillion knobs.

    What kind of music are you predominantly looking to play with whatever head you buy?
     
  3. Guitar Josh

    Guitar Josh Resident Curmudgeon Silver Supporting Member

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    The rack preamps are fairly easy to find. My understanding is that they are exactly the same circuit as the heads, minus the power section. Combine with a 50/50 and you are good to go.
     
  4. korfu

    korfu Member

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    thanks for that!
    wow, your roadmaster looks pretty heavy!

    the music in my new project is pretty avant garde: noisy and loud but also melodic, clean and quiet. i use my guitar as bass as well with the ehx pitchfork. a lot of one string playing generally and not too much strumming.

    hmm, there is a peavey mace vt out on ebay for $300, with shipping and taxes it will end up under $500...

    also i found a peavey classic 50 head, are these any good?

    cheers again
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2015
  5. bigtone23

    bigtone23 Member

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    I'm guessing you want an all tube or at least hybrid Peavey. I have owned most every hybrid Peavey made in the 80s. Owned a few all tube ones, too. I'll run down some that I had that you might like.

    The Mace heads (particularily the 70s 320T version) are mostly snapped up by Skynyrd fans and have a relatively "premium" price because of that. They are loud and clean, though! I had at VT era Mace for a few years around 1983. Wowza! The hybrid VT/VTX Series had lots of other great amps-the Deuce VT (a 120w version of the VT Mace) and Heritage VTX were also 120W hybrids like the 160W Mace. The Classic VTX was essentially the 65 watt version of the Heritage-a great amp, too. If you can get just the chassis from one of these 2x12" amps and build a headbox, it would be cheaper to buy and ship. The MX (VTX) head is also a 120W hybrid-loud and clean and has it's own built in flight case, too. These are also somewhat rare, but great amps.

    The Rock/Roadmasters are relatively rare being the only all-tube offerings (with the Encore 65) of the early 80s, if I recall correctly. The VTM and Butcher are also great, but the secret is out on these and now are slightly harder to find for a bargain. If you can find a late 80s/early 90s Triumph 120 head or combo, they would fill your loud and clean all-tube need. The dirt channels are OK, but the clean channel is great. I had a 60 watt combo of these and it was a great pedal amp.

    A solid state monster is the Renown (160W), Renown 400 (210 watts) and Special 130 (130watts). SUPER loud amps. The tone wasn't terribly different from the hybrids, really.

    The Classic 50 is a great head, not as loud as the above Peaveys, but not as heavy either and way more plentiful, relatively.
     
  6. mix2much

    mix2much Member

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    The Classic 50 is a very good amp.
     
  7. korfu

    korfu Member

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    wow!
    thanks for all this info... super fun and interesting! you know your stuff!
    ahh man, just because you wrote rare regarding the rock/roadmaster I'm even more determined. but the triumph and mace vt might be easier and the way to go. the combo amps you mention seem super nice but I'm def after a head. also, thanks for the heads up on the vtm and the butcher, might cross those off my list!

    so what would be the benefit of having an all tube vs a hybrid?

    what do you think about this one?:
    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/131476829177?_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT

    heres the rockmaster i mentioned before:
    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/181644580941?_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT

    thanks again mate! well appreciated!
    cheers
     
  8. bigtone23

    bigtone23 Member

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    You are welcome. I have a soft spot and mad respect for 80s-early 90s Peavey and love talking about them! This era is really durable, and for what it's worth, the early to mid 80s ones are pretty easy to work on and use really good parts like full sized CTS pots and Switchcraft jacks. The later 80s and 90s ones started using smaller parts and more cramped circuit boards. Don't let it stop you, they are still built amazingly and the build quality buries most current commercial amp makers. FWIW, I have owned about 14 Peaveys from this era and never had to repair one for anything, not even tubes!

    Seems guys are holding on to their Rock/Roadmasters and Encores as I see very few of them pop up--I suspect that these are mostly all still working strong and most find no practical reason to sell them, or Peaveyphiles are collecting and holding on to them. I imagine if one is sold, it's mostly through inside trades and sales on message boards and not ebay. I have seen Southern rock guys who have a half dozen Mace 320T heads and combos in their basement!

    The 80s Butcher, and even more so-the VTM-pop up more often as there are more of them, but usually at "premium" prices because guys mostly know what they have and there is solid demand. $300-500 is a premium price considering these were found for less than $150 just a few years ago. The VTM is really amazing-it's virtually a JCM800 2203/4 with the modification DIP switches on the front that really allow you to tailor the amp to your needs in terms of tonal shaping, gain levels, etc...

    The benefit of all tube vs the Hybrids is that little touch responsiveness and the over drive tone on the tube pre is a little different, too-just a touch sweeter and smoother-especially when overdriven. If you are using the amp as a loud, clean platform for pedals, the tube pre is not as important.

    That VT Mace on ebay is exactly the head I used to have. Pretty decent price, too. It's a 6 x 6L6GC 160W monster. Loud and clean? YES. The two channels sound slightly different and can both be either clean or dirty. It's a relatively darker and thicker toned amp, but it's easy to mod the tone stack a touch or match with brighter speakers if you like brighter tones. Really cool sounding phaser, too! You can turn the sweep off and tune the phaser to anywhere in it's range for some really cool filtered tones. This particular amp doesn't seem to have the footswitch, but it's really good to have as it's 4 buttons for channel select, combine, reverb and phase. You will want it. http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/KoolKats-...336?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4acc160a10

    That Rockmaster looks great, wish it wasn't tied to the cab.

    The Triumph is a really cool all tube, too. The first generation was kind of their take on the Boogie MKIII, the clean channel is amazing, the crunch and ultra had a fixed midrangey EQ applied to it and tons of gain. The PAG version from the 90s was more flexible tonally. I had a first gen 60 combo that I used with pedals and was very, very happy with it.

    Also look for a MX Flite Case head. I had one and it was great-even used it as a bass amp. 4 x 6L6GC 130W hybrid with a lower power switch for around 60 watts, built in cooling fan and the best part it was built into a flight case with removable front and rear panels! This is the only way it came as a head. It also came as a 1x12" combo.
    [​IMG]
     
    StrangeSmells likes this.
  9. korfu

    korfu Member

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    Thanks again mate!
    super interesting read, i can fully understand your soft spot for these bastards!

    yup, tried to buy only the rockmaster head from the ebay ad but that was a no-go. wouldve been pretty sweet. however i did go for the mace vt, no one bid on it so got it for 300 bucks. super pumped to try this!

    so, as im based in europe, im gonna try and switch this to a 220v, having a friend whos pretty handy with amps and electronics i hope this should go pretty smoothly, worst case ill get a transformer.

    as i use pedals for most my on/off effects ill wait and see regarding the foot switch, but thats a good tip if i feel the need for it. thanks!

    another question, what would be a suitable cab for the mace vt? i reckon a peavey cab would be ideal but what would be an alternative to something this strong?

    oh mama! here we go!

    cheers again
     
  10. el greco

    el greco Member

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    I've played many Peavey heads through the years. From my experience with Peavey tube amps, nothing beats the Peavey Penta head if you're looking for a great clean or mild gain sound.
    It's a 5 channel tube amp with 4 x EL34's in the power section of the amp. The 1st channel is a very big, fat, clean sound. Even with the gain control full up, there is only a minimal amount of overdrive with full bass, sparkly treble and warm midrange that isn't peaky.
    The 2nd channel is also top notch with a gentle dose of overdrive for a rich Plexi inspired tone that works nicely for rhythm or lead.
    The other 3 channels are higher gain and also offer very interesting tone, but I never used those much because of the high preamp gain they had.
    Very heavy amp, but also very reliable even when it's pushed to it's limits.
     
  11. The Funk

    The Funk Member

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    I remember those as the cheap amps we wanted to get rid of in high school. They didn't do the late 80's-90's gain thing and they were heavy as all get out.

    My, how times have changed.

    A friend of mine used to have a Mace combo. That phaser was awesome!. He always played clean so it was a good amp for him. Weighed a ton, sounded nice.
     
  12. bigtone23

    bigtone23 Member

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    There were somewhat fenced opinions of them back then for me and my friends, too. We all wanted Marshalls, Ampegs, the new Rivera Fenders, Boogies and such, but the Peaveys were the affordable amps being about half the price of the 'name' brands. Some of us found a used BF or SF Fender or maybe a Marshall (but those didn't channel switch, and have preamp distortion, bells and whistles--haha), but those were in short supply where I grew up in rural Colorado. There were Silvertones, Kustoms, Univox and such to be had, but they were not proper 'rock' amps for us. Peaveys were everywhere as most of the bands that passed through were touring and played country or rock covers--which was Peavey's market. Because of the ubiquity, we all tended to own quite a few Peaveys and traded amps regularly to find the one that worked best for us.
    One of my high school friends played guitar in a band and had a Mace VT and Sunn 4x12, the other guitarist had a Mace VT and Peavey 4x12 and the bassist had a MKIII bass head with a folded horn 15" cab. Plenty of firepower coming off that stage! Many country guys were trading in their Twins for Renowns, Heritages, Deuces and Classics as they were more versatile, cheaper and reliable. The built in phaser on these is awesome!! Peavey should make that into a pedal.
     
  13. bigtone23

    bigtone23 Member

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    That's too bad about the Rockmaster. Guess that may be the easy way to get rid of those nondescript Peavey 4x12 cabs--attach it to a desirable head!
    Glad you got the Mace--it's a bad mama-san! Designed to fill arenas back in the 70s and 80s!
    Did you check with the seller if it has any of it's 50,000 mile maintenance done in the last decade or so? If not, that amp is about 35 years old and will need the usual stuff done: cap job, clean the pots, replace out of spec or burned resistors and ICs... There is a good chance that amp is 100% stock and still running fine, but having it tuned up will insure safe and solid performance for the next 20 years.
    Some guys mod this amp here and there. Often done is an adjustable bias as the set fixed-value is on the cold side, which is good for long life of the tubes, but sacrifices a little tone. Some also do some small tweaks to the tone stack to open up the tone a touch, too. The power tubes have 100 ohm/5W screen resistors-many change these out to a more 6L6 friendly 470 Ohm/5W as they are more stable. The bias supply voltage has to be tweaked a touch with these new resistors and their effect on the voltage.

    FWIW, here is the manual for the head: http://assets.peavey.com/literature/manuals/80345001.pdf
    and the Schematics:
    power amp http://www.6v6power.ru/inf/Amplifier/Peavey/Peavey Mace-Deuce (VT Series) Power Amp.jpg
    pre amp
    http://forum.allaboutcircuits.com/attachments/peavey-mace-deuce-vt-series-preamp-jpg.81207/

    It appears that the power transformer has 220 and 240V taps on it already. That should make the UK conversion easier.
    The channels do sound different from each other: the "normal" channel is more midrange-y sounding vs the more full frequency "effects" channel. You can switch using a standard ABY box, but the built in phaser is killer and the reverb not bad at all, so you might want the footswitch to be able to access them. Another really convenient thing is the 1/4" and XLR preamp outputs are frequency compensated to mimic cab mic'ing.

    The main output of the head is 8 ohms and the aux output is 4-you can use either jack safely. I'm not sure what size of cab you are willing to tote or what sound your ears like, but most importantly, make sure the cab can handle at least 200 watts, preferably 300 to make sure it can handle the transients. The standard, current issue Marshall 1960 cab sounds great and already has a 4 ohm input on the jackplate. The head is a little narrow relative to a standard Marshall head, so it fits on cabs nicely.
     
  14. Gallery

    Gallery Supporting Member

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    Here's my Peavey Rockmaster Preamp. This was the heart of my rig from the late 80's through the mid to late 90's. I rotated a lot of other amps in, but I kept coming back to this preamp. I played with guys who had much more expensive racks full of the latest greatest most popular gear at the time and everyone was always amazed at the tone of this cheap rack unit.

    I've tried to bring myself to sell it multiple times, but I just can't do it.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. bigtone23

    bigtone23 Member

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    Those preamps are great! The EQ on the dirty channels is super versatile. It's basically the same preamp found on the Bravo (the crunch and ultra are combined) and Triumph PAG. I love the tone of my Bravo.
     
  16. feet

    feet Supporting Member

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    how would you describe the tones of the preamp? rather, what do they compare to? are the cleans fendery? are the two drive channels marshally? almost 5150-ish? i know the power amp means a lot too, but i wonder.
     
  17. bigtone23

    bigtone23 Member

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    The clean channel (to me) is mostly Fender with a hint of Vox. The dirts are Marshall based Peavey. Perhaps one can hear a little of the 5150 voicing in it as it's quite high gain. Pretty sure James brown had his hand in the design of this pre. He was the guy behind the 5150, Classic Series, Bravo, etc... all the early 90s legendary amps that still hold their own in the market today.
     
  18. Gallery

    Gallery Supporting Member

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    Yes the dirt is very similar to the 5150 which is inspired by Marshall. Back in the 80's I could do Queensryche or Testament tone with the Rockmaster. However, the mid scooped high gain tone was the first amp of that time to do that sound and do it really well. The cleans are not what you buy this for. Most people buy them for the dirt. But, I would agree that it falls somewhere between Fender and Vox, not quite as thin as Marshall cleans. FJA mods has a few videos that show what can be done to make the Rockmaster sound even better.
     
  19. feet

    feet Supporting Member

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    that's sort of what i was hearing, but since i don't know any better, i wanted to confirm. i have a jfa rockmaster pre (into a classic 50/50, somewhat perversely) that i used for quite some time. it was my first "real" setup. and since i never spent any real time playing through fenders or marshalls, i wanted to confirm my suspicions. it was my thrash/rock rig for many a year, but i've played voxes ever since. i recently dusted the thing off and it sounds nicer than i remember, and i was trying to pin down what it was that i was hearing.

    for those wondering, i don't recall exactly what the change was after the mod, but it is pretty good for what you'd expect and what you'd pay. the cleans are probably nicer than you can reasonably ask for and the gain channels are quite damaging. i wish the ultra was a little less compressed, but that's me. the crunch goes from zero to sixty a little to fast for my taste, too. however, it is astonishingly loud and a hell of a pedal platform. i find that unless i'm intentionally trying to hurt people, i'll play dirt boxes through the clean side, to tie this back in to the op.
     
  20. Gallery

    Gallery Supporting Member

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    Me too.

    It's not necessarily a one-trick pony per se, BUT the one trick it does incredibly well is Thrash, which was exactly my scene in the late 80's when I bought it, before I moved on to hardcore and eventually grunge/alt.

    I felt that the JCM 800 did hardcore and grunge better but needed a pedal in front to do Thrash. The Rockmaster could do Thrash with just guitar >> cable >> amp. My friends were all putting stomp boxes in front of their Marshalls and I was killing it with guitar >> cable >> Rockmaster.

    The best thing about the Rockmaster was that a poor kid like myself could afford it and could sound better than my friends with rich parents. It was pure luck that I found it used at the local Sam Ash. So much nostalgia in the little 1 unit rack. I just can't sell it.

    I keep thinking I want send it to FJA, but I've heard that the way he works is, I'll get to it when I get to it, and I just don't want to deal with that.
     

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