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  • Peavey Classic 30

    By Phil O'Keefe |

    Peavey Classic 30

    A Classic gets a redesign and useful upgrades


    By Phil O'Keefe





    What do you need from an amplifier? Are you looking for an amp that can handle rehearsals with the band and practice at home, with the tonal flexibility you need for recording sessions, as well as enough power for gigs? The Peavey Classic series was first introduced in the early 1990s and has by all accounts been a big success for Peavey. Today we'll be taking a look at the latest version of one of the most popular models in that line, and one that may just be all you need for all of those tasks - the Peavey Classic 30.




    What You Need To Know

    • The Classic 30 is a all-tube 30 watt 1x12 combo amplifier. Covered in an attractive and tough tweed material with a brown grille cloth and chrome corner protectors, it has a decidedly vintage look to its cosmetics. The current enclosure is slightly different in the "face" area than the previous ones, with a rounded protrusion for the Peavey logo dipping into the grille area rather than the more rectangular "TV" style face of the older models.


    • The amp measures 16.5" H x 19.5" W x 11" D and it weighs in at a easily-manageable 39.5 pounds. There are no wheels or casters, and no cover is included.  


    • The Classic 30 uses a total of seven tubes - three 12AX7's and four EL84 power amp tubes. Two of the 12AX7s are used for the preamp, while the third serves as a driver for the power amp section. The amp comes equipped with Ruby Tubes preamp bottles and JJ EL84's in the power amp section.


    • The tubes are housed inside a steel cage, which is great for protection, but something that makes accessing them at a gig a non-trivial matter; you'll need to locate the right-sized hex tool to open everything up before you can even think of replacing a dead tube, and with six screws to remove, it's a slower process than it should be.


    • The Power and Standby switches are mounted on the control panel, and a jeweled pilot light lets you know when the amp is turned on. The standby switch is another recent addition to the Classic 30 and should help improve tube life over the long haul.


    • There are two channels. The Normal channel has a dedicated Volume control, while the Lead channel comes with both Pre and Post controls. This allows you to easily dial up the amount of dirt you want with the Pre knob and set the amp's output level wherever you want it with the Post control. You can get considerable grind here, even at low volume levels. The channels can be switched using either the control panel push switch, or an optional two-button footswitch. When using the footswitch, the panel-mounted switch needs to be in the "in" or "Lead" position.


    • Another new addition compared to the first Classic 30's is the pushbutton Boost switch. This gives a healthy boost to both channels, with earlier onset breakup on the Normal channel, and more intense grind in the Lead channel when the boost is engaged.




    • Both channels share the three-band EQ. The Bass, Middle and Treble EQ controls are passive, but effective. As with all the controls on the Classic 30, they are numbered from 1 to 12 (that's two louder, isn't it?), with 6 being the midpoint. The way the top-mounted chromed control panel is labeled, this puts that midpoint slightly off-center; it's a bit different, but you'll get used to it.


    • When using a humbucker-equipped guitar, the Normal channel volume stays nice and clean up to around 4.  Somewhere between 4 and 5 is when things start to break up with more aggressive playing on my '57 Classic-equipped Gibson SG. With my Casino's P90s the breakup point is similar, although it comes on just a little higher up on the amp's volume knob, and a bit higher still with a Strat's single coils. While it's not as loud as a 100 watt amp, you'll be surprised by the amount of clean volume you can get out of this relatively compact 30W amp.


    • The Classic 30 comes equipped with a true analog spring reverb. It's not tube driven (a 4558 op amp handles that task), but it does sound very sweet and drippy. Most users will probably never need to turn it past 3 or so on the dial, but if you're into extremely drenched Surf tones, you'll appreciate what's on tap higher up.


    • Need to use other effects besides reverb? You also get a top-panel mounted Effects Loop. Whether used in the effects loop or placed in "front" of the Classic 30's single 1/4" input, this amp loves pedals and works very well with a wide variety of them.


    • While Peavey's website says it comes with a 12" Steven's Trusonic Speaker, the review unit came equipped with a 12" Celestion Midnight 60 G12N-60 16 ohm speaker. The Classic 30 is capable of running with either an 8 or 16 ohm load, so since Peavey equipped it with a 16 ohm speaker, you can also run an optional external 16 ohm cabinet along with. An Extension Speaker jack on the rear panel facilitates this.  





    • The rear panel is where you'll also find the Classic 30's IEC power receptacle, along with the quarter inch remote footswitch jacks for the Reverb and the Normal/Lead channel switching and Boost on/off.



    • The Classic 30 is a LOUD amplifier. While it sounds pretty darned good at lower ("bedroom") levels too, it really comes alive at higher SPL settings. While its ability to more than hold its own on stage in a full band situation is an advantage for many players, if your main use for this amp is bedroom practice and / or recording, the Peavey Classic 20 mini head, with its switchable 20W / 5W / 1W power section and XLR and USB recording outputs may be a better option for you.


    • The tubes have a slight tendency to work themselves loose over time and rattle a bit. An after-market tube retainer can be added to address this if it is an issue, but it would be nice if Peavey included one as a standard feature on the amp. Outside of this relatively minor issue, the amp was solid and reliable for me, as per its reputation.


    • While Peavey thoughtfully includes the  two-button channel / boost footswitch (Peavey Part #03054360), the  footswitch for the reverb is not included. If you're looking for one, Peavey Part #03051000 is the one you want.



    I run into guitarists on a regular basis who are rockin' amps that are a lot bigger than what they really need. If you're playing small clubs, or jamming with friends in your garage, a 100W amp is probably overkill for you. In fact, I challenge you to give one of these amps an audition sometime. I think you'll be surprised by just how loud this little 30 watt powerhouse can get. It has no problem hanging with a full rock band, and it's a lot easier to carry to and from the gig than a 2x12 combo or half stack would be.

    Loud is great, but an amp needs to sound good too, and the Classic 30 delivers. It's not a high-dollar hand-wired point to point boutique amp, but plug a good guitar and some pedals into it and, assuming you're a half-way decent player, you won't be disappointed with the tone. It's not a Metal amp, but for Jazz, Country, Blues, Americana and Rock, it's a born performer. True, the small cabinet size of 1x12 combos tends to lead to a sound that can be a touch boxy and constrained, but if that's an issue for you, try plugging the Classic 30 into a larger cabinet or adding an extension cabinet. It really opens it up and shows just how big and authoritative it can sound. Classic clean tones and Peavey's distinctive and versatile overdrive and lead tones are further enhanced by the boost option, and all of them combine to give this amp a lot of flexibility. The reverb is drippy and sweet, and being able to control that, as well as the channel switching and boost with footswitches is another plus. Too bad the reverb switch isn't included, but that's a minor omission that many players will not miss.

    While it's unfortunate that the Classic series is no longer being made in Mississippi, I'm frankly surprised Peavey was able to keep building them there for as long as they did when practically everyone else had moved production of similarly priced amps overseas long ago. Regardless of where the present models are being made, the Classic 30's boost, standby other new features are very useful, and it remains a solid, well-made amp that sounds great for a variety of styles. One is out there ready and waiting to serve you reliably and well. Go get it!




    Peavey Classic 30  all-tube 1x12" combo amplifier ($999.99 MSRP, $699.99 "street")


    Peavey's product web page    




    You can purchase the Peavey Classic 30 II at:




    Musician's Friend    


    B&H Photo Video    


    Guitar Center    














    Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.  

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    The Peavey "Classic" series of tube amps are not only a good value for the money, they're consistently some of the best tube amps you can buy without going into triple the money. I believe with all of my being that if you put a boutique badge on these amps people would pay twice the list price.  They're also on the better end of reliability.  Thanks to Phil for this well-done piece.

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    Great review, I have the older model than what is pictured. Bought it originally in the 1990s and have changed the tubes once with sovteks since, workhorse of an amp with sweet tone. Definitely rivals the Fender hot rod series and might just win.

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