Okay we all love amps, pedals and tube powered stuff, that’s why we’re here right? So today I am very happy to rave about my little Valvetone Impact Mark 3, which is a point to point handwired, handmade amp by Darryl Hoy, who is based in NSW Australia (and I got my signed too!@!).
Darryl is certainly no fly by nighter, he has been making guitar amps since the 70’s (e.g.Scion amps), Every Valvetone amp he builds is handmade one at a time, all point to point wiring, no PCB boards and he only uses nice vintage mustard caps and proper vintage spec components.
Now as you can see by the pic, it comes in a simple steel head chassis, so if you want to pimp it up a little, you will have to spend a bit of money on a cab or make one yourself if you are handy with tools and ply…
The Valvetone Impact Mark Three has three basic controls…
…with toggle switches for Gain and Bright.
On the back of the amp you have the standard speaker out (8ohms is optimal but it can also go to 4 or 16ohms) and a line out. Pretty standard in this regards.
It is a one channel amp that you can basically set and forget. This is an amp that is all about pure vintage handwired valve tone. It’s incredibly responsive and delivers in spades a pure but yet fat and rich vintage tube tonal range.
Strumming, I can hear every string ring out clearly, the sound is very balanced and with lots of great sparkle in the tone. Despite having only one single tone control, as opposed to having separate controls for your Bass, Middle and Treble EQ I can get all the variations in tone that I need, and if that doesn’t do enough for you, you can always use an EQ pedal but with a tone this sweet, you really don’t need to!
The BRT (Bright) toggle adjusts how much treble/upper mids you get, and I must admit I like it either fully engaged or half way. Even with the bright switch fully engaged the sound is very usable, it’s not icepicky at all, but it has a clear, almost Vox like chime, but with a nice and fat Marshall mids type of thing goin on…
Now the Gain toggle has 3 settings, off, half and full. You can use the full setting to get a quasi-distortion channel on this amp but you won’t be able to run a delay or reverb as they will be in front of the pre-amp gain and sound all messed up.
However, it is an awesome overdrive which sounds organic and is produced naturally by the amp by having the pre-amp cranking. With the full gain engaged you can get a very nice vintage hard rock tone without using any pedals.
I personally found the sweet spot with a fully clean tone, with the level cranked up a bit but with the Master Volume down, which really fattened up the tone further. Without using the gain it allowed me to use reverb and delay which I really like.
Solo notes ring out and are as chimey as a bell, but warm and woody on the lower register of the guitar. Truly, if you have good technique you can coax any tones you like out of this baby!
Darryl signed mine and shipped to me with spare valves for under $400. This amp has insane quality, awesome vintage spec components and pure tube tonal bliss, you’d be mad not to get one if you’re looking for this type of small low-wattage valve amp.
Honestly, let me say that if you are looking for a simple amp with a fantastic foundation tone so you can run your pedal board into to further sculpture and embellish your tone and sound, then look no further. The Valvetone Impact Mark 3 Valve Amp Really Ia A Little Handmade Aussie Gem!