The V3's 100% tube signal path delivers pure tone from warm to shimmering to infinite sustain and crunch. Three channels offer expanded tone circuits and overdrives for everything from Blues to Metal. Channels 1 and 2 are identical overdrive channels. However since each offers 3 different Drive settings and EQX Expanded Tone Circuits, you'll be able to dial in numerous variations on each channel. New channel assignable reverb adds a new dimension to your sound.
The 3rd channel is the clean channel, but with its own Drive control and 3 position switch, you'll be able to use this as an additional distortion channel as well. The Volume Boost is ideal for leads and solos, kick it in when you need to cut through. Two Smart Loops offer assignable effects to your channels. Simply select your channel and select your Smart Loop. The assignment is saved and recalled when you play through that channel. MIDI offers storage of channel switching, Volume Boost On/Off and Smart Loop On/Off. Built like a tank, the V3's ruggedness keeps you playing night after night.
- Master volume: Controls output of all 3 channels. Boost or cut your entire rig with one control.
- Boost: Add up to 9 dB of volume boost, switch it on/off via the FS44 footswitch and MIDI.
- Bright: Boost highs starting at 5kHz for added clarity.
- Mid Cut: A unique mid cut helps dial in a master scooped tone from mild to extreme.
- Deep: Adds low frequencies at the sub-harmonic level
- Reverb: Assignable to any channel.
- Smart Loops™: Total control of your effects, remembers your effects loop settings for each channel. Just assign a loop(s) to the current channel, Smart Loops permanently saves it until you change it.
Channel 1 & 2 Overdrive
3 Drive Modes:
a) "Center" - a classic rich, open overdrive with lots of headroom.
Turning up the Drive knob adds sustain and warmth.
b) "Thick" - brings on the chunk with a massive low-end, textured mids and blistering highs. Turning up the Drive knob adds sustain to the highs, grit to the mids with low-end bark.
c) "Intense"- the most gain and sustain with notes that leap out with startling articulation. The low-end is deep and percussive. Mids and highs smoothly blend and still cut through. Turning up the Drive stretches the envelope of sustain to the edge.
EQX: Toggle between standard EQ and Expanded EQ. This switch opens a wider frequency range for the TREBLE and BASS.
Presence: Boosting 8kHz to help cut through.
Channel 3 Clean
3 Drive Modes:
a) "Center" - a classic rich, open clean sound with lots of headroom. Turning up the drive adds tube warmth and sag.
b) "Bright" - adds high end to the preamp, inviting high frequencies to chime and sustain as the Drive is turned up.
EQX: Toggle between standard EQ and Expanded EQ. This switch opens a wider frequency range for the TREBLE, MID and BASS. Presence: Boost 11kHz for glassy, shimmering highs.
V3 Rear Panel (click to enlarge)
- Cabinet is made from plywood, not particle board
- Covered in black Tolex with metal corners
- Dimensions: 25.4 inches wide X 9.5 inches deep X 10.5 inches high
- Weight: 35 lbs.
- Made in San Diego, California
- RMS Power: 25, 50 or 100 watts
- Output Impedance: 4, 8 or 16ohm switch
- Input Impedance: 220,000 ohms
- Channel Tone Controls: BASS, MID, TREBLE, PRESENCE, EQX
- Ch 1 Sensitivity: 1mV for clipping
- Ch 2 Sensitivity: 1mV for clipping
- Ch 3 Sensitivity: 16mV for full output
- Channels: 3 switching
- Channel Assignable Reverb
- MIDI functions: channel, effect loops and Boost switching, 100 available patch locations, 5-pin jack
- Voiced Line Out: 1.5 VAC @ 100 watts RMS
- Preamp Tubes: Five 12AX7's tubes
- Power Amp Tubes: 4-EL34 matched tubes
- 120VAC, 300VA; 6A Circuit breaker; 120V/240V selector switch
- Cabinet Size: 24.25" wide x 10.5" high x 9.5" deep
- Cabinet: 7-ply premium hardwood
- Net Weight: 35 lbs
- Warranty: One Year
- Made in San Diego, California
Check out Guitar Player Magazine's January 2008 100W amplifier roundup, featuring the Carvin V3, right here.
"This amp shreds, it does two times the work of Mesa at 1/2 the price. This amp has been added to my arsenal, and I have bands fighting over it night after night. And on top of that it is made in the USA!"
-Don Lithgow from DML studios has recorded top bands like Blink 182, Finch, Unwritten Law, New Found Glory, Off Track, Ike Turner.
Christopher Nickels Everett, WA
"Been using it both for practice and regular live shows in some very large venues for almost a year now, and it is a very flexible, user friendly amp that is capable of getting quite a lot of great tones. It responds quite well to different tube swaps to get the right amount of gain from heavy metal to classic rock, to blues, and is reliable. The midi function is great to either mate it with a midi controller pedalboard, rack effects system or other on the floor effects processor so your floor device can change amp channels.
I regularly have people come to the stage and ask what kind of amp I use. I highly recommend it."
Levi Triplett East Helena, MT
"When I saw this head I knew I had to have one ,and it exceeded my expectations greatly. It is so versatile and simple to use that it is unbelievable. I play it with a variety of music that requires more specific guitar tones, and it works spectacularly well. Thanks Carvin for building such an awesome amp, I will use these amps forever!"
Anthony Bennett Houston, TX
"I have used my V3 for about one year now with excellent results. In my opinion this head works well with low tunings as well as standard pitch. One of the main reasons I chose this head was because of the tightness of the distortion as you can hear on the samples. I was having trouble finding an amp that could handle low tones that didn't cost 2,000 plus dollars. This amp is the answer for me. It's shreddy and brutal. As far as the tubes go, I liked the EL34 tubes it came with and have also tried some EL34 Ruby tubes which are also good however more noisy than the tubes when the amp was at idle. I use this head with and ESP 7 string with active EMG's and an Ibanez 6 string with DeMarzios and an oversized Marshall cab. Overall I recommend this amp to anyone looking for a solid tube head to form their own tone identity. Great job Carvin."
Tim Elizabethtown, KY
"I bought this to replace my old 5150II. I didn't want to pay a large price on a new head. I looked at Carvin catalogs for years and saw the V3 and read and read up on it. Enough reading, lets give it a shot! Just BRUTAL!! I love it! No O.D. pedals necessary at all! The only pedals I use is delay and wah for solos. And w/ matching 4x12 cab w/ Celestion 75s, aggressive. I like things simple, and V3 does the job for me. The guys in the band loves my sound and at show everyone is impressed."
Colombo Jilez Escondido, CA
"I've had mine for almost a year and the V3 head with the Vin30 4x12 Cab rocks. With features such as the serial and parallel fx loops, vol boost and (almost too many) EQ functions, you can't beat the 3 all-tube channels. This is my 2nd Carvin tube stack, starting with the MTS 3200 purchased in 2001 and has been rock solid ever since. I love Carvin, they are just down the road from me and I plan on picking up a Bel-Air 2x12 combo too....just to have :)"
Bryan Lowery Hollywood, CA
"The Carvin V3 is amazing! This is the most flexible amp on the planet. Sound of a Marshall,Boogie, and Bogner mixed into one little Amp that can do it all. This has Tone to die for. Reliability and good client service. End your search today and just get the Best. The Carvin V3 is to guitar players as water is to life!!!!!! Rock on Carvin!!!!!"
Matthew Alvarez Round Rock, TX
"This amp is a BEAST! I bought the V3 in hopes that Carvin could dish out an amp with not only tube power, but also tube tone that could make me stand out from the everyday tube amps you see out there. My band plays technical death metal, and this amp provides so much low end and clarity to our sound to be distinguished from the other bands in our genre. All American made, tank like structure, endless sustain, gorgeous tone and sustain, and looks to kill. This amp, for a lack of better words, is perfect. I have been converted to Carvin!"
Ralph Prince Prarie Grove, AR
"I have played guitar for over 25 years now. And like most guitarists, I have been on an endless quest for the "perfect" sound. I have had my V3 for about eight months now and I can tell you, my search is over. The V3 can dial in any sound I need from the heaviest sustain, to the sweetest clean and all points in between. I cannot imagine myself ever wanting any other amp. My hat is off to Carvin for having done it yet again. This amp is simply amazing."
John Feist Parkesburg, PA
"I've spent countless amounts of time and money in a quest for tone from an amp that could do it all. None could deliver! I was stuck using 2 or 3 different amplifiers for the past 30 years to cover those tone's. The wait is over! The V3 nails it! This is the best amp I've ever owned. The sound clips do not do this amp justice. The tone gets squashed going through all the digital computer crap. Just buy the amp and wire it to a good box of vintage 30's then have a seat with your favorite guitar. Guaranteed you won't be leaving anytime soon. It's that GOOD! Warm, pristine clean's to blues, rock and rip your face off! Without leaving the chair!"
Big Bone Daddy Lehighton, PA
"I've been playing for along time. Started playing out in bars in 1970! And theres always been that quest for the "golden tone" that combination of warm sustain and smooth over drive, yet keeping clarity and articulation. And of course coupling it with the perfect guitar. And all this with a muscians salery!! It seems a never ending endevor. Well I have to say, I have had, and still own an assortment of amps, guitars, and pedals. But since I got my V3 I've dumped my overdrive pedals. And haven't used any of my other amps. This thing is huge!! I play in a cover band now and, we do everything from M. Jackson to Nickelback. and this amp covers it! I love it. The only other amp I plan on buying is the V3 combo. Believe me this amp Does it all. From hot clean country to heavy saturated distortion."
Glenn Smith Lakeland, FL
"I've owned three Marshalls which were nothing compared to my V3! The variation of tone and gain on all three channels makes the V3 a MONSTER guitar amp. Thank you Carvin!"
Paul Angle N. Dallas, TX
"I've been a long time user of Carvin amps and guitars exclusively for over a decade. I have had 2 SX100s, and a 2x12 X212B. I now currently have the mighty V3 monster. Simply a killer half stack. Carvin's are also very easy to change out tubes or try different ones, took me like 5 mins to learn the bias trim adjust.
I dig Carvin, I simply will not mess around w all the other over-hyped, over-priced made overseas 'used to be classic amps'. This is all USA baby!!! I have never been let down by Carvin's looks, build or tone. Before you spend a ton of bucks on some 'you think name brand' amp, do try a Carvin, I'll bet like me you never look back!"
Joseph Feagin Houston, TX
"As a guitarist I am always trying new products to get the best tone. When I found the V3 I thought the price tag must of been a mistake, it sounded better then amps costing hundreds, and even thousands more. Even after nearly 3 years of ownership I still have not found another amp that comes close to the V3. Overall I don't think I could be any more satisfied with this amp."
Christian Fox Rome, GA
"I bought this amp head back in October of 2010 and I have had great results with it. This amp is so much more than the rock sound it is known for. I've been able to get great blues, funk, jazzy cleans, chunky rock, and screamin lead tones out of it and the 3 channels are very versatile and useful. I can't think of anything that I would change about it. It sounds great, makes me sound great, and puts a smile on my face everytime I plug in and play. I get compliments on it very frequently and people are always impressed by the tone and features this thing offers. Thanks again Carvin, I love this amp!"
Johnny McKinney Shelby, NC
"I have been researching this amp for freakin ever. I finally get to play one and THAT WAS IT. After hours and hours of playing Metal, Blues..and Country...yes Country and putting this amp through its paces, I come to the comclusion that this amp is a major must have. This amp can go from Fender clean..(with more eq options) to brutal Marshall mids to a kick to your face Mesa, and it has EL34s. If anyone is in question of what it sounds like, trust a guy with 35 years of playing and performing with known acts that this amp is the real deal when they say, "Most Versitile Amp on The Planet". And she is made in the good ole USA!!!"
Steven Howard Cincinnati, OH
"Let me start by saying this is the 'DO IT ALL'amp. I have owned so many of the big named amps looking for the versatility in tone and midi switching that the V3 offers I had given up hope. After winning one of the big box stores 'Shred' competition a fellow competitor suggested I check it out. I am currently working on two different projects with totally different styles and the V3 delivers in full from chicken picking to full on brutal metal. There is nothing this amp cannot do! If you demand tone and versatility, this it!"
Chris Sheehan Rochester, NH
"I just received this today. This review will be short but I want to say it meets and exceeds my expectations. I have 2 Marshall tube heads that are going to become dust collectors. Having the range of the 3 channels and the flexiblity of each one with the thick to intense switching is great. One thing that also impressed me a lot is, at idle, it isnt a noise monster at all, like most of my other tube heads. even when cranked, it is whisper quiet when not playing. I don't need to put it in standby when taking a smoke break, like i do my other heads. Dont take that as it isnt loud when playing. It screams. When they designed this, they didnt miss a beat! I wasn't going to mention it, but the 3 light colors are cool also!"
DeBo Anderson, IN
"When I started to look for an amp to update my sound, I looked first at Marshall, Mesa, and Bogner. I liked the features and some of the sound options you can dial in with Bogner and Marshall. What took me back, though, was the price. I have a Carvin DC135 that absolutely smokes and two Legacy cabinets. I checked out the reviews for the different Carvin amps and nearly settled on a Legacy head. But, in the end, I went with the V3L because it has three channels. So, I ordered it, received it, and plugged it in to my Celestion Vintage 30 cabs. It didn't take long to find the sweet spot for each channel. I no longer use my old metal pedal as the "intense" overdrive fills the bill. Man, this thing is a beast. Every note is full, clear, and saturated when I want it. I can run at 50 watts with the master on 2 and the channel volume on 4 and I don't need to be mic'd in medium venues. It has a really cool cabinet voicing feature that my sound guy loves for running line out. This amp is one awesome piece that can handle any venue and style of music with ease."
Brian Cook Whitmore Lake, MI
"Bought this amp 1 month ago. Out of the box this amp rocks. Best sound, tone, sustain, and gain I've heard. I have owned many amps over the years: Fender, Marshall, Peavey, Crate. None of them sounded this good without some type of effects. I would recommend this CARVIN amp to anyone who wants that true pure tone youve always sought. For the price you cant beat it..."
Johnny Hernandez (DJ ZED) American Falls, ID
"I had never heard of Carvin and I was looking for a new amp and a new guitar just a new sound, my friend brought over a Carvin V from the 80's and left it for me for a week I fell in love with it it has a feel and a sound I had never heard, so I researched Carvin online and compared them to all the 'big name' brands finally called Kevin and ordered a V3 half stack and a single cut away guitar (I have not got the guitar yet I will write another review for it at a later time). I honestly did not look at the price cause money was not a issue but I was blown away on how inexpensive it was, and sure I was a lil worried at first that cheaper amp meant cheaper quality, then the amp arrived and IT WAS BEAUTIFUL. I was a lil worried it would be very hard to dial in tones and the sound i was lookin for cause soo many knobs and settings on front and back of the amp (I used a Gibson SG standard and a Shecter Coffin Hellraiser guitar to test and give this amp a hard work over) the amp is amazing the sounds are so pure and smooth you can dial in everything from country to jazz to thrash and prog and you name it! Honestly this amp has all the good features of a Marshall and all the growl of a Mesa Rectifier but yet still has its own sounds!!! The clean channel is the warmest clean i have ever heard the two overdrive channels are amazing and can be custom dialed to do anything you want!!!! And the amp looks good the colors of the lights for the channels are amazing I RECOMMEND THIS AMP TO ANYONE looking to break away from the normal"
Paul McKinney, TX
"I am convinced this is quite possibly one of the best amps in regard to tone, versatility and price. I got mine before the new backlighting feature, after 3.5 yrs the amp still amazes me. I have setup different tube configs and all have been great. My current fav is 5881s on 50watt setting using JAN 5771s in V1 and V2. I use a large pedal board and this amp responds and sings with my array of various pedals. I dig it. Carvin all the way for me. Carvin is the best kept secret in the guitar realm! I been playing over 35 years now and all I use are Carvin amps and guitars!! A great USA company let's keep them going!"
Darrin J. Esterkamp Powell, TN
"What an awesome tube amp. The price is great and the sound is great. I don't know how anyone, after trying this amp out, could spend 2 to 3 times more money on an amp with the same features. The clean channel is pristine and the 2 overdrive channels will allow you to play any type of music your heart desires. I am now a devoted Carvin fan with another amp purchase coming in the near future. Carvin, you have done it right and keep up the great work. For all you musicians out there, support the USA manufacturing workers and give Carvin a try. You will not be disappointed."