VL300 LEGACY 3
BY JoRdAn WAgneR
Despite being a fixture on the American guitar-manufacturing landscape since the ’50s, Carvin remains committed to making direct customer communication and custom orders the backbone
of its business. While that practice is commonplace among boutique builders, it’s an
anomaly for a decades-old company that
counts high-profile artists—including Larry
Coryell, Allan Holdsworth, Alex Lifeson,
and Beck Hansen—among its customers
and fans. And, in all likelihood, that attention to the player has a lot to do with the
company’s ongoing relevance in a competitive marketplace.
One of Carvin’s most well-known and
loyal customers is virtuoso Steve Vai.
The wildly popular Legacy amp series he
designed with Carvin has long been the
crown jewel of the company’s amp lineup.
Now, those forces have joined again for
the newest evolution of the series, the 100-
watt, 3-channel Legacy 3.
From Generation to Generation
Depending on what side of the fence you
live on, the EL34-powered Legacy 3’s
smorgasbord of features are either totally
intimidating or a knob-tweaker’s dream.
But if you fall into the former camp, you
should note that the control array is actually pretty simple, given that it governs
The amp’s entire chassis is encased in a
metal, cage-like cover, and for a 100-watt
rig, it’s surprisingly easy to transport—it
weighs only 29 pounds and measures a
little less than a foot and a half from end
to end. You can almost imagine Vai walking the boulevard, grasping the Legacy 3
in one hand and the monkey grip of his
Ibanez JEM in the other.
to hear audio clips of the amp at
Inside its handsome beige housing (it’s
also available with a Vai green chassis cover
for an extra $27), the Legacy 3 runs four
12AX7s in the preamp and four EL34s
in the power section. The three channels
come in one clean and two overdrive flavors, all of which can be selected from a
trio of front-panel buttons, via the optional
FS44M footswitch, or via MIDI. The inside
of the chassis lights up in bright green, red
or yellow, depending on the selected channel, and you can assign LED colors manually from a switch on the back panel.
The clean channel has a dedicated
3-band EQ and a presence switch, but
the lead channels share bass, midrange,
and treble controls. Fortunately, both lead