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Vintage Peavey Backstage Chorus 208 Amp - Info Please & Should I Upgrade?


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I am a long time amateur guitar player with a modest collection of vintage (late 60's - mid 70's) mostly semi-hollow body guitars. They are mostly imports (Greco Shrike, Conrad, Ovation Thunderhead, Goya Rangemaster, Bradley (Gibson Crest copy - like Ibanez 2355m), and the like). Also have a Ventura 175 jazz box. Been using a 1990's Peavey Backstage Chorus 208 Amp -- not bad, but I'd like a different sound (more jazzy, 60's - 70's "ish").. I play a lot of music from that era. Would appreciate thoughts on adjusting Peavey amp setting and/or other amps I might consider changing to. Not looking to spend a ton, and would hope to find a nice used one (like I found this one).





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The Backstage is from the same era as the Studio one I own.


What you should know is peavey made a ton of low end gear that doesn't come close to their pro end stuff.

The inexpensive transistorized combo amps targeted the beginners market when no one else could match them in low cost. They filled a role of getting a musician going but shouldn't be mistaken for producing quality sound.


I paid $25 for that Peavey and had to get a speaker and reverb tank for it. Wound up costing about $75 for a 65W amp which os a bit more then I normally spend on used amps. I typically target them at $1 a watt because that's all they cost to build new and used gear depreciates unless its vintage value is more. That wont ever happen on the Peavey, at least not in our lifetime. Too many made and the quality simply isn't there. neither is the quality. The small combo's like these were made with super low quality parts. Its amazing so many hold up given the bargain basement caps they use. Construction quality is one of the poorest out there too, even though I've seen worse.


The one thing they are good for is you can beat them up and if they blow up its no great financial loss. Tone wise they are close to producing fingernails on a chalk board and upgrading is simple because just about any other amp you buy is going to be an upgrade in tone.

Peavey's have a weird Tone stack for their EQ's. The response is shifted to the upper frequencies and they become nasally and muted when attenuated. Bass is neutered as well. Impossible to get deep rich bass tones that make most guitars sound natural.


In short its no wonder why you'd seek a different amp for Jazz tones. A peavey is probably one of the worst choices you could have for that unless you maybe played through a Bass amp. Even then their bass amps tend to be overly bright too.


Cant tell you what might suit you best. Its a decision only a player can/should make and unless others can hear you perform all you'll get is what suits them, not what might suit you. If I were to guess what might suit you, just as a general upgrade path, I'd think something in the Fender line like a Deluxe or Hot Rod might do the trick for playing Jazz, plus you can get most vintage guitars to sound good with them because most guitar makers targeted fender amps when they designed the guitars so they are a safe bet when buying blind.


There are so many choices available now, my best advice would be to make a list of amps including fenders to try in your cost range then go down to a music store and try them out. When you plug into something that's good you'll know it sure enough. You wont be needing strangers on a forum trying to tell you what to buy.

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  • 2 years later...
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I have had the Peavey Backstage Chorus 208 for a long time. Please go on line to see the Schematic for this amp. It 

offers suggestions for the Jazz Sound, Country Western, and Rock/Blues.

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