reverb—sits on top of the tone, and the
guitar and amp’s basic tones are filtered
through it. The Legacy 3’s reverb, however,
enhanced the sparkle of the highs and
midrange, and thickened and expanded the
tone in general—exactly what a great reverb
should do. To get tones more akin to playing in an airplane hangar, I had to push the
control past 1 o’clock, yet even then it still
sounded and felt very natural.
Switching to the second channel highlighted how powerful the amp sounds
and feels. The master volume is smooth,
without any slap-you-in-the-face volume
leaps, and both the second and third channels have lots of gain on tap—though it’s
not the stuff of modern metal, and the
output is more round and full in the mids
than what you’d find in, say, a Mesa/Boogie
Dual Rectifier or Peavey 6505+. You have
to play the guitar with a little more force
than usual to get maximum sustain, and
you could even call it unforgiving in the
sense that you’re just not going to cover
up your mistakes in a wash of distortion.
But if your playing is very precise, you’ll be
Pros: clear, dynamic clean tones. great reverb.
useful wattage control.
Carvin VL300 Legacy 3, $899 direct, carvin.com
Cons: gain can be muddy. difficult to get crispier
Ease of Use
psyched at how rich single notes can be at
the highest gain settings.
As previously mentioned, the high-gain
tones are pretty dark—with the EQ controls set at noon, the tones can be pretty
muffled. However, boosting the midrange
and decreasing bass helped tightens things
up and add articulation.
Next I plugged the Legacy 3 into a
Marshall JCM800 4x12 with Celestion
G12T-75s. Though this cab has a much more
trebly response than the Emperor, I still need-
ed to really push the presence and treble con-
trols to get a good balance—even a Telecaster
sometimes failed to conjure the usual bite
and twang through the Carvin. That doesn’t
mean those tones are inaccessible through
the Legacy, but you may need to use more
aggressive settings than you might on a simi-
larly powered Marshall, for instance.
If you’ve followed the evolution of the
Legacy line and Steve Vai’s playing, and you
love the tones generated by the two, the
Legacy 3 is sure to please. Though the treble
and presence controls can require more
aggressive settings, the amp still has great
range—and the clean channel and reverb are
the real surprises that make it worth a look.
With myriad tone-shaping tools and routing
options, it’s ideal for players who love effects.
Like Vai himself, it’s a forward-looking amp
with a keen sense of timeless tone.