If you follow my social media, you’d know I picked up a Silver Stripe Peavey Bandit a few weeks ago at a bargain. I have a special place in my heart for Peavey Bandits. I spent most of my formative years playing through my dad’s Teal Stripe Bandit. I also “borrowed” a Silver Stripe (with matching cab) from a friend in high school for about a year before he finally asked for it back. When a Silver Stripe popped up locally on Craigslist, I had to jump on it. I’m not disappointed.
My band finally had a gig this past Saturday where I got to fully put it through its paces. It was at a local watering hole in Maryland known as Taphouse 1637. Awesome bar we’ve played at a few times, it’s actually a pretty big room. Most of the time when we’re just shoved in the corner of a 60 person capacity room, I do my best to keep volume down (5 watt tube amps or 20 watt solid state). However, in a room this size (probably a 200 person capacity), I’m fine letting ‘er rip with the volume, so the 80 watt bandit was perfect.
I felt like getting weird at this gig (another thing I like to do), so I pulled out my cigar box guitar (as you’ll see in the picture above). I’m not sure what the main part of the body is made out of, but it does have a mahogany center block. Fitted with the neck from a Squier Jazzmaster and a Guitar Fetish noiseless tele pickup, it has a unique sound all it’s own. From there it went to my pedalboard, pretty much just using the amp for the clean channel. The core of my tone was a DOD Gunslinger Pedal with a Dunlop EP101 always on.
For the amp, I had it on the clean channel, volume on about 7. The EQ was set like: Low at 5, Mid at 7, Treble at 5, Prescence at 2. The bright switch was disesngaged, the resonance switch was engaged. Reverb was on about 2 or 3 (with a room this big, reverb isn’t really needed much). I mic’d it with a Sennheiser e609.
The T. Dynamics is where the magic of this amp comes in. When you turn it counter-clockwise, it emulates more “tube sag,” clockwise it takes away some of that “tube sag” and behaves more like a typical solid-state amp. There is also quite a volume difference between the two extremes as turning the T. Dynamics down effectively lowers the clean headroom. I turned that knob all the way to the left to be the most ‘tube-like,” this is also how I got away with the volume being so high.
Boy, I was actually blown away with how great it sounded in the band mix. With the T. Dynamics all the way down and the volume up, it wasn’t a “clean” clean, it had some grit to it (which I like). When I run tube amps, I love to live in that “edge of breakup” territory so when I kick on a lead boost, it allows me to both get a jump in volume and gain. With most solid state amps, you just get more volume without the gain, which is fine too. When you push most solid state amps to the point of breakup, it sounds like a wet fart, but the Transtube voodoo somehow works as advertised.
Honestly, I usually keep the DOD Gunslinger on all the time and work the volume knob on the guitar, so I pretty much have maximum gain and varying degrees of less gain, hardly ever sparkly clean. The Gunslinger has kind of an “unhinged” quality to it where it makes any amp sound like it’s about to fall apart, especially when I have the gain maxed. It also has a strong mid-range that cuts through any mix.
Kicking on a clean lead boost is where the Bandit shined (or shone?). I have a clean boost at the end of my pedalboard to essentially just take the same tone and boost the overall volume. With the T. Dynamics down and the volume up, it actually caused the amp to break up more. Not only did it break up, but it did so in a pleasant manner. The tone got fatter instead of “spikey,” but still coherent.
Maybe it was the combination of volume with essentially a hollowbody cigar box guitar (it was feeding back like crazy when the guitar’s volume on full). but digging into notes high up on the fretboard and letting them ring just bloomed. It was very tube-like. Is it going to sound as good as a $1,000+ tube amp being cranked? No. But for the chump change you can find these for, you’d be hard pressed to find better tone for the money.
When it came time to pack up, I was reminded of why I love cheap gear: no worries when mother nature decides to dump torrential rain out of nowhere. If I had my Mesa Boogie or Fender DRRI, I would have been freaking out running through the rain to get it to my truck. A solid state Peavey, on the other hand, will probably still be around after the apocalypse with the cockroaches, twinkies, and Keith Richards. It’s hard to hurt these things.
All in all, I was blown away with the Bandit Silver Stripe for both volume and tone. It’s a bit on the heavier side for a solid state amp, but still relatively portable. I highly recommend them.