I play a 1998 American Standard Strat with SD hotrail stacked humbucker in the bridge.
The overdrive channel is warm and sweet up to about 1 O'Clock. After that, I'm not real fond of the overtones that start to creep in. My favorite sound is Strat on neck pickup with the drive at about 10:00 o'clock. It's warm with just enough bite and drive to make that hollow-sound neck pickup really sing.
The CLEAN CHANNEL, however ... is the main reason that I have now supplemented this amp with a B-52 AT212 (a SWEET amp for the money, by the way). If you want to sound like BB King this is the clean channel for you. If you want to sound like anything else forget it. It's a nice sound, don't get me wrong. But there's basically ONE clean sound. No matter how you dial it up it's a warm, slightly bottom heavy clean sound with just a bit of breakup. That's all she wrote.
You can increase the quality of both channels with a set of JJ Electronics tubes. I was skeptical but after reading some stuff on this site went to www.eurotubes.com and talked it over with Bob (very knowledgeable and very friendly guy). Those JJ tubes are several cuts above the stock Sovteks. I don't know why I just know it sounds a lot better.
So I give it a 7 in this category primarily for its lack of versatility.
You know, it's a Peavey so after the next ice age some archeologist will dig one of these up, plug it in and go "wow, a 21st century Peavey and it still works."
However, mine just recently acquired a nasty little static problem that my service guy is having a tough time diagnosing. This may have as much to do with the repair guy as anything. I don't abuse it but after three years of heavy use and one problem I don't assume it's shoddy workmanship.
If your gigs are important don't gig without a backup regardless of what you've got.
I've been playing about 22 years. I've owned a Crate (piece of crap), a Roland JC 120, a Peavey Backstage Plus (in my teen years), lots of guitars and a few pedals.
I have a love/hate relationship with this amp for the reasons described above. There are moments when I get that sound and just go "Yeah." Then there are moments when I want to put my foot through the front grill. When I bought this it came down to this and the Fender HotRod Deluxe. With the Fender you have the opposite problem: nice sparkly Fender clean sound but an overdrive that sounds like nails on a chalkboard. I just thought this amp had a better overall sound and it was like $150 cheaper.
If it was stolen today I'd probably replace it with something else. I really wanted a Mesa/Boogie Lone Star Special 1x12 but I can't come up with $1600 for a combo. If I could muster up that I'd save an extra $800 and buy a Bogner Shiva - now that's an amp!