Peavey’s newest line of bass amp combos is their MAX series, and here we’ll be reviewing the Peavey MAX 100. When trying out a new amp, I do so with fresh ears, an open mind, and not knowing a thing about it as I want it to be its own experience without reference. With the unknown, there’s the easy freedom to let it be what it is.
As the MAX 100 comes from industry mega-titan Peavey, the instant I saw it I knew this was going to be a satisfying indulgence.
“Useful features that you will actually use”
At first glance, its two-tone grey/black good looks are a welcome change-up from the standard all-black amplifier. Looking closer, you see an evolved design with its curved top front edge, ported cabinet, and recessed controls with its features intuitively laid out and easily accessible. Appearance, check.
When I picked it up, I was pleasantly surprised with its comfortable 31 lbs. as opposed to the boat anchor most bass amp combos are. I thought to myself that the ever-clever Peavey designers must have been cooking up something using a “lighter but louder” recipe. Peavey has made oceans of amps, so they have a trick or two up their sleeve as they know a thing or two about them, as well as guitars, amplifiers, accessories, and just about anything else you can think of musically related. Portability, check.
As mentioned, I intentionally knew nothing about the MAX 100, but now it was time to dive in. I looked it over very carefully (be very quiet, I’m hunting wabbit) and saw that it’s got some skills. The more you look, the more you see. For each knob, there’s a push-button switch underneath it (ex. under the Gain knob is the Overdrive switch). It’s like each button switch expands its knob’s ability. So, you have two different levels of range with each control. Needless to say, you can do a serious amount of knob twiddling and button-pushing for a most self-satisfying amount of tones.
“Ton of bass tone”
The built-in chromatic tuner, which mutes the signal when tuning, is a most welcome feature as, if you’re not in tune, ‘ain’t nothing gonna sound right.’ A quick tune and it’s time to groove. Each tone control has a center indent, which tells me that it’s the intended starting point. OK, all tone knobs at center, volume low, and switches up gives a natural, clear, and honest representation of what your bass guitar serves up. I’m usually bass and mid-frequency heavy with treble light, so I dialed that in and, “Oh, yeah baby!”. That sounds gooood. I funked it up to feed my soul some tasty walking bass line appetizers … lip-smacking, toe-tapping. Hmm, mmm … that’s right. Next, working the Gain control along with the Overdrive switch dials up subtle overdriven tone to heavy clipping almost into fuzz territory. You can dial in refined vintage gain to the preferred amount of desirable dirt to undeniable hard rock bass distortion! (That was fun) Overdrive off. With the bass boost Contour switch on, oohhh that sounds like you slipped into something a little more … fretless. So much so that you could hear something Carol Kaye would gracefully glide right in to. Contour off, Mid-Shift on. Now that’s fresh off the grill “Oh, she’s a brick house!” (Mid-Shift off) Now with the Bright switch on, plays up the urge to slap it “Chicka-bow, chicka-bow-wow” to higher ground. And, last but now least, what’s this? Kosmos-C low-end enhancement? You better believe it! It’s hard to describe, but it’s like it opens the door to the basement of bay-ess! Jump back, kiss myself. The speaker is pointing up at me WITHOUT having to tilt the cabinet backward, brilliant! The angled speaker baffle is ruthlessly tilted back, so you get the most out of the speaker whether you’re seated or standing. So, you can play that ‘funky music ‘til you die!’
With the switches off, you can dial in a host of classic bass amp sounds, BUT with one or all the switches engaged, you get a boutique sounding bass machine hungry for action! What you come to soon realize is that there is a ton of bass tone to play with — from the easy peasy get down of “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay” to the gritty thunder growl of the “Ace of Spades.”
“So much to adore”
The headphone and auxiliary jacks are most appreciated for the silent practice and plugging in your music to play along with and to learn a new song. In addition, the passive and active inputs, premium speaker, DDT speaker protection, balanced DI with ground lift, and cabinet design to allow for superior high-frequency dispersion in tight spaces are all most welcomed and useful features that you will actually use (recording, practice, rehearsal, and performance). Features and tone flexibility … check, check.
There is so much to adore about the Peavey Max 100 with its good looks, portable weight, uber useful features and, its crown jewel, how it serves up classic to sophisticated bass tone.
The Peavey MAX 100 most definitely checks out to be a…MAX WINNER!
For more info, see www.peavey.com/maxbass
Street price: $229.99