The boffins over at Peavey have figured out a way to cram tube-like sounds in their Rage 258 amp using their new TransTube technology. The result transforms a compact 25 watt amp from a lightweight into a clean playing champ that goes beyond most practice amps. The sound seems larger than should be possible with the super 8” Blue Marvel speaker and sounds great at the other end of my retro Strat reissue.
I bought this thing in a small guitar/amp store that felt obligated to point out to me that this was not the EFX version with numerous onboard effects features like flanger, delay, octaver, touch wah, reverb, chorus, phaser, etc. But after trying the plain-jane 258 model and working through the different sound and tone settings, I was more than happy to save the extra $50 bucks. But if you're looking for a wider range of tones and effects, then by all means check out the Peavey 258 EFX model. Technically it's been discontinued but you can still find it in some shops.
The sound out of this amp is loud and clear enough that you could almost (but not quite) get away with playing a small club or school gym. Loud enough anyway that my wife has told me a few times now to “turn that thing down!” Peavey literature explains that the reason for the clear sound quality at high volume is a result of the power amp behaving much like a tube output section. The preamp responds with natural compression that increases as the amp gets louder. This little amp plays huge and the 3 band EQ offers very legitimate tone difference through each setting.
Case in point, switching from “clean” to “lead” and pointing the pre/post gain at each other while selecting the “vintage” mode allowed me to bang off a heavy metal homage to Neil Young’s classic “Out of the blue”. A slight adjustment to the gain and I was doing another pretty good imitation of the scrappy rock/metal sound that Joe Walsh put out for “Walk Away”.
Switching back to “clean” and opting for the “modern” setting with my Strat on the neck pick-up provided that un-mistakable Mark Knopfler plunk ‘n twang groove. All in all, the settings on this amp offer a legitimate range of distinct sounds that I would have expected from a larger more expensive amp.
My first inclination in looking for a practice amp was to go smaller, with less wattage/more portability. But with 25 watts and plenty of volume playing out of one of those nifty little Blue Marvel speakers and only 16 pounds of carry weight; there’s no need to go any smaller when you can pick up one of these little boom puppies for a mere hundred bucks and some pocket change.
The standard Peavey Rage 258 has the following features:
- 25 Watts RMS power
- Super-Duty Blue Marvel speaker
- 3-band EQ
- 2 channels
- Tape/CD aux input/direct out
- Pre and post gain knobs
- Master volume
- Stack/Modern/Vintage voicing switch
- Headphone jack
- Dimensions: 19-1/4" W x 15-1/2" H x 9-1/2" D
- Weight: 16 pounds
If you haven't figured out Peavey's numbering convention by now, 258 means 25 watts, 8 inch speaker. They also have a 158 model (15 watts, 8 inch speaker) bass amp. The Peave Rage 258 lists for $149 and sells for around $120 at Guitar Center.