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Peavey 3120 Guitar Amp

October 12, 2009 by  



Peavey 3120

The Peavey 3120 high-gain guitar amplifier head is a versatile three-channel amp with 120 watts of power and a trio of distinct voices capable of producing guitar tones from crisp and clean to total high-gain-balls-out saturation.

Each channel possesses separate treble, middle, bass and volume controls, with the dirtier rhythm and lead channels additionally loaded with their own gain controls. Additionally, like Peavey’s JSX and XXX models, the overall output is controlled by a master volume.

The Peavey 3120 gives rock guitar players a triple-threat tone onslaught with generous amounts of gain, 120 watts of power and three fully independent channels of all-tube, tone-shaping satisfaction. The Lead and Rhythm channels feature gain and volume controls and an active three-band EQ, while the Clean channel offers nicely rounded tones crafted by a passive three-band EQ and volume control. A global master volume governs the amount of power put out by its four EL34 or 6L6GC power-amp tubes, while the gain controls on the Lead and Rhythm channels adjust the amount of 12AX7 gain saturation.

The amp’s rear panel hosts a traditional Peavey tone control feature: a three-setting damping switch that alters speaker resonance to create tight, medium and loose tones, from a precise punch for rhythmic attack to a full, widely resonant sound that enables you to alter the way the amp interacts with the speakers. Also on the rear panel is a footswitchable effects loop with dedicated send and return controls and a line out with level control.

If you’re too eager with your pursuit of rock to connect the included three-way footswitch, you can flip between channels on the front-loaded three-way toggle switch. The three-way footswitch also allows you to switch the mono effects loop in and out – the rear-placed send and return jacks have their own level controls.

The 3120 is hardly Peavey’s first attempt at a 120-watt three-channel head, but where the 6505+, for example, squeezes additional gain (thanks to it’s switchable crunch option) into a pair of channels, the 3120 follows the JSX and XXX series by providing three independent channels across it’s well-equipped yet sensibly laid-out front panel.

How does the 3120 sound?

Lately it seems with amp technology the partition between rhythm and lead channels is becoming more of a selling point than a practical feature; deeming the three channels excessive and, in some cases, pointless. While the clean channel has its own distinctive voicing, the lead and rhythm are only separated by its level of gain. You can play lead through the rhythm channel and rhythm through the lead channel. Not entirely true with the Peavey 3120–Testing both dirty channels with volume and gain set to seven, the lead channel is brighter and more aggressive than the rhythm channel due to the to extra drive from the preamp. The only complain (similar with the 6505) there’s a big leap in the drive level between the clean channel and the rhythm channel with the gain settings turned down low.

For metal riffing, we find that setting the lead channel with a tight damping ensures that choppy riffs are suitably percussive. The medium and loose damping settings (located on the back panel) relax the resonance of the overall tone – for example using a looser damping at lower volumes can help thicken out your sound. It’s worth noting that the volume does vary significantly between the three settings, which is also something similar you’ll find with the JSX and XXX.

For clean tones the 120-watt head provides plenty headroom, but overall, the cleans are flat and sterile — you may find yourself trying to tweak the EQ for more character. It simply doesn’t break up or give warm, tubefully organic, chimey voicings. That said, the Peavey 3120 isn’t a vintage-voiced tone box – most metal-heads will trade volume for blackface. It brings the Marshall JCM800 2203 to mind, an amp loved for its rock drive, less so for its clean tones.

3120 is Xtreme

This is a great head for xtreme rock, metal and related styles. The Peavey 3120 provides several tones that offers plenty of detail and texture when using different guitars and their tone controls. If you utilize the rhythm and lead channels for their specific settings, the amp proves to be flexible for rock and hard rock music.

The clean tone may be a little flat, but the upside is that it has a plethora of headroom and will take pedals and processors just fine, which will benefit a lot of current playing styles. Moreover, it will allow you to riff, shred and blast your favorite styles.

The Peavey 3120 is most at home with a selection of sounds that will suit rock genres and will excel for live shows. The price? Compared with the competition, just over $1,200 is fair for an American-built amp, making it a worthy contender any rock guitarist.

Peavey 3120 Head


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