The highly-touted Peavey Windsor is an all-tube 100-watter, from four EL34s, that rivals the tone and response of the legendary British amps. Like many other amps in its class, the Peavey Windsor is a single-channel unit, however, the Windsor boasts Peavey’s texture control, resonance circuit and footswitchable boost make this one channel exceedingly versatile and a blast to tweak different tones. If that doesn’t grab your interest, then maybe the price of the amp will: $399.00 for an all-tube 100-watt head.
What features does a $399 tube-amp have?
The Windsor has a timeless look; black tolex jacket, an ivory weskit and a brushed-gold front panel. Similar to many British guitar amplifiers, and like I mentioned earlier, the Windsor is loaded with four EL34 power tubes, and a trio of 12AX7 preamp tubes that contribute the amplifiers crisp tones. Vis-à-vis, this is where the form and function similarities of the Windsor end with it’s British brethren amplifiers.
Peavey decided to place nearly all the Windsor’s features on the front panel. This may be annoying to single-channel loyalists who are inspired by a simple front faceplate, but guitarists who uses the Windsor during live shows will most certainly appreciate the amp’s sensible layout. The effect loop is placed on in the center of the front faceplate, the placement of the effect loop makes for easier stompbox/effect set-up, while it visually separates the amp’s peramp and poweramp controls.
As you can see in the image of the Peavey Windsor above, you’ll see to the left of the loop’s jacks are the preamp’s gain, bass, middle and the treble controls, along with the push button boost switch, which is also used to activate the footswitch (Peavey includes the footswitch with the amp). Like the Marshall JCM800, the Windsor has two input jacks on the front faceplate. The “HIGH GAIN” and “LOW GAIN” inputs were integrated so players can match the output of their guitar’s pickups to the Windsor’s responsive gain structure. On the right side of the effect loop input jacks, you’ll notice the control function knobs used to tune the power amp’s output. These control knobs include the master volume, resonance, presence and texture circuits. Gearheads will find the amp’s exclusive texture control especially useful, as it allows the guitarists to vary the Windsor’s output between a spongy Class A power to balls-out attack of the Class A/B affair. The amp’s back panel is more simple with dual speaker outputs, a three-way independence switch and the single footswitch jack.
How does a $399 tube-amp sound?
Lets start by turning the gain knob all the way down. Amazingly, the amp still produces a fair amount of saturation. The first gain stage is also easily overdriven using a fairly hot pickup — I would suggest experimenting between the High and Low gain input jacks with different guitars. What sounds good for one guitar may not be as desirable for the other.
The Windsor has a brilliant upper midrange, which helps illuminates the amps character. However, I wouldn’t describe the amp as bright. Its midrange spikes add to the Windsor’s punchy chords and percussive single notes. These characteristics make the Windsor well suited to warm and dark guitars. Take for example a Les Paul Junior, it sounds chunky and aggressive through the amp. However, at times, the Windsor’s highs sounded a bit thin and sterile in comparison to its stout midrange and punchy lows. To achieve a thicker and richer tone from the Windsor, simply swap out the four Ruby EL34 power tubes and replace them with quality EL34L power tubes; personally I would suggest JJ, Electro Harmonix or Sovtek brands — all a matter of opinion, of course.
More so, If you want to alter the amp’s personality overall, then the texture knob is your friend. Settings in the Class A range provides the amp with a calmer vintage voicing tone. Then on the other side of the spectrum, dial in the texture control to the Class A/B realm, this unleashes the Windsor’s raunchy British personality. The boost switch is another fascinating feature. By activating the Windsor’s boost system gives the amp a surge of midrange focused gain, giving the amplifier a brassy tone that is strikingly similar to a cranked Marshall Plexi.
Many guitar amplifier companies have attempted to manufacture low-cost tube amps to recreate that legendary British tone, but the Peavey Windsor is the first amp to successfully pull it off. The Windsor hammers out midrange punch like an AK47, it’s lows feel like a 30-ton tank, and the signal is easily sustainable into harmonic bliss. Plug in your Les Paul, Fender Stratocaster or full metal-assault Jackson, the Peavey Windsor is simply a kickass rock-n-roll guitar amp that produces all-tube-driven British sound at a fraction of the cost. Price of the Peavey Windsor head; $399 or less. Discuss the Peavey Windsor at www.Gear-Monkey.com guitar forum.