The X100B series tube amps were a mainstay on many arena stages and MTV videos throughout the 1980's. Artists such as Frank Zappa, Craig Chaquico with Jefferson Starship, Warrant, Warren Cuccurullo with Missing Persons, and Steve Vai all played X100B amps. Frank Zappa raved about the Clean channel on this amp. Steve Vai recorded a song called "Blue Powder" (available on his first solo release Flexable) featuring the X100B. The release of Series IV includes a master volume switchable to boost mode and a 4 button optional footswitch with LED indicators (Channel, Effects, Reverb, Boost). As a tribute to the original X100B amps, the new Series IV is badged with the vintage Carvin logo.
X100B Rear Panel (click to enlarge)
"The Carvin X100B amp is a real workhorse. It delivers pleasantly smooth yet punchy clean tones, old school tube crunch rhythm sounds and richly detailed lead tones. I used one exclusively on my very first album. I asked nicely to borrow it from my Dad. If he was using them on stage they had to be good. Try one for yourself, they are quite user friendly!"
- Dweezil Zappa
- Dual channels: Clean & Lead
- Master volume with switchable boost
- Bass, Mid, Treble, Presence and Reverb controls
- 5 band graphic EQ assignable to clean or lead channel
- 25/50/100W output switch
- Bias switch for 5881, 6L6 or EL34 power tubes
- Cabinet voiced XLR balanced output
- Foot switchable Effects Loop
- Four EL34 & three 12AX7
- Dimensions: 25.25" wide x 10.5" high x 9.5" deep
- Weight: 35 lbs
- Made in San Diego, California
Click here to read Premier Guitar's November 2008 Review of the Carvin X100B.
Kelly McKee Los Angeles
"The Carvin X-100B is the finest guitar amplifier ever made for neoclassical electric guitar. It has no more features than it needs, and no less for performance. For example, on this amp both the preamp and amplifier sections have essentially 'dialable' overdrive. The preamp produces full-smooth overdrive; but the extensive active tone controls, post distortion, allow any sound to be achieved and the amplifier can be used with it at a refined class A/B 100watts for clean headroom. Or, the power amplifier can be set to 25 watts and overdriven for a 'snarly' type of overdrive sound or whatever mix you wish for. Used with various cabinets the amp has enough bass range to compare easily with any Mesa-Boogie, and Marshall or Fender tones can be dialed in just as easily. All with very little pshhhhhhhhhhh! when on maximum overdrive- very important for my own classical style of playing. Rhythm chord parts can be played through the overdrive, with an again smooth, well defined, and very musical sound. This amplifier has a great neutral response character, balanced in the middle of the spectrum, allowing any sound to be achieved with some effort and practice, unlike many other amps which seem to produce a limited scope more easily, and thus, this amp is closer to the character of a very good musical instrument in that sense and is one of the few ever made like this. The clean channel is as excellent as they come; the reverb is filtered, and so is clean and never 'boingy' sounding. Switching is reliable, good and near silent. On manufacturing and testing quality, Carvin amps are as good as any available, and parts are easily replaceable. Even on this new one, the styling is tasteful and serious. I would recommend you have Carvin substitute 16 ohm speakers in the 212 combo version of the amp. This appears as an 8 ohm cabinet to the amplifier; alternately you can then disconnect one speaker and then have 16 ohms for overdriving the power tubes at lower levels for recording with one mic. The amp is still made in USA, which some of us feel is very important!"
David Ivie Dumas, TX
"I was looking for an amp good enough for large rooms. I read many reviews, Crate, Marshall, Peavey, Vox, and more. Reading where people had trouble with their amps and my own experience with amps, I was left looking at the Carvin amps. I wanted to get the best amp I could that would last a long time. All my research over about 1 year point to Carvin. Well, I bought one.
I received my X100B half stack 2 weeks ago. The first thing that stood out was how loud it was. I have a 150wt Marshall half stack that couldn't come close to being as loud. FYI - I play rock, rock and roll, and some metal. I will have to buy some pedal; but, this amp has a beautiful sound when you turn up the drive, which is fine for some types of music; but not all music.
I have a Boss GT-8 guitar processor. When I hooked it up using mono to the X100B clean channel, it sounded the same as running the processor through the pa system. I'm impressed. I got the GT8 for recording only; but, I had to try it on the X100B. Works real good with both channels. To know then what I know now, instead of buying the Marshall, it would have been a Carvin saving me $1500 because the Marshall crapped out on me in less than 3 years. (hybrid tube/solid state with lots of built in effects that cooked, can't get parts) When you spend this kind of money, you want to know you are getting your money's worth. I can not afford to buy a new amp every 3 or 4 years. I believe Carvin is the answer to that.
I have a friend that bought a used Carvin bass amp 40 years ago and it is still working just fine. I believe I can expect the same from the X100B because it is simply an all tube amp without the bells and whistles to burn out on you costing a lot to fix. Let those pedals burn out or even a tube; it is cheaper to fix than the hybrid solid state/tube amp if you can find parts to fix it in the first place.
I read a review somewhere saying that the X100B amp is not loud enough to stand out over a drum set and it didn't have enough bass. Don't believe it. This amp will totally overcome a drum set easily and has plenty of bass.
Bottom line, buy the Carvin for the professional quality of sound and design as well as the price. This amp is good for any kind of music. And buy this amp for peace of mind knowing it will give generations of good service. It may be a little more money than some of the solid state or hybrid amps; but, you only have to buy it once."
Jacob Gerrells Chattanooga, TN
"I love this amp! The clean sounds are amazing...they are clear and the harmonics are great. The overdrive channel has a little less gain than I expected, but I have come to love it and it is now what I build all of my tones on. I got the red covering, but I don't know if it is Carvin's trademark or what, but my speakers have this weird liquid look coming out of the speakers...it is sort of cool though because it looks like the amp is crying. This amp is great for all styles of music and I would definitely buy another if I had the money."
Chris Francis San Diego, CA
"After 6 months of playing the X100B half stack with the GX412T cabinet I can say I love this amp more now than the day I bought it! Can you say that about your amp? Ha ha!
It all comes down to tone. This amp is neither a Mesa or Marshall but is an animal unto itself. Thanks to its versatile EQ sections you can get pretty darn close to those sounds if you really wanted to though. As for the cleans they really are as good as the hype. Single coil spank is well served by this amp. With the lead channel gain switch in the down (low gain) position you can get tones anywhere from AC/DC to SRV to ZZ top easily.
The X100B is also really responsive to the guitar you use as well. For example when the amp is set for high gain shred, you can roll back your guitars volume control, flip on a single coil or coil tap and get a clean sound thats 90% grit free. Amazing!
Versatility is a highlight of this amp. The Boost/Master Volume switch is such a great feature. With it set to Boost mode, your master volume becomes the control for the level difference between your boosted and non boosted signals. You can be subtle or quite extreme between your normal settings and boosted signals. This simple switch, turns your master volume 2 channel amp into a quasi 4 channel amp with clean, lead, boosted clean, and boosted, lead! No overdrive pedals needed.
The little things have not been overlooked either. On the FS44 foot switch the effects loop switch is positioned next to the boost switch. This allows you to go from your dry rhythm sound to a lead with delay with one foot stomp hitting both buttons at once. The loop also has a switch for +4/0/-10 db operation for total compatibility with pedals or rack gear. It also includes a balanced XLR line direct out for recording or going to the house PA.
This amp is really a great option when you need a ton of different tones at your finger tips. It's loud enough to compete with aggressive drummers and functional enough to be used live on its own without any pedals or extras.
I love my X100B and would highly recommend that you give this American made amp a shot before spending more money for less amp."
Tony Foster Central NJ
"The X100b amplifier is a fantastic value and an incredible sounding amplifier. I play predominantly jazz and blues, and require an amp with great clean tone and lots of adjustability. The X100b allows me to dial up a number of different tones to suit all of my needs. It has a rich, full sound and sounds better to my ear than other amps I've listened to costing thousands of dollars. I highly recommend this amplifier."
Rob Savage Spruce Grove, AB, Canada
"I use this amp for mainly Studio work. The amp is extremely versatile. I can get tones for blues, to rock, and some really thick Metal sounds. The amps that I have tried do not even come close to the X100B. This amp keeps it's tone on low volumes. as well as not forgetting that this amp is a workhorse on high volumes. This amp is a huge asset for my studio work."
Kevin Newton Neslund USA
"I have an X100B 100 Watt head that I've had since 1983. It's only had routine standard care and maintenance (pre-amp & power-amp tube replacements, bias adjustments) and the thing has always performed flawlessly. You can dial in a nearly identical Marshall MK II super Lead sound that actually has more character and brilliance than a Marshall. Carvin amps and guitars have always been the underrated and secret weapons of the industry. Phenomenal performance. Phenomenal construction. all around fantastic products."
John Elmira, NY
"I wish I didn't wait so long to order my X100B. This amp is awesome. Tone adjustments that actually work on an amp!! Thank you Carvin. If you are on the fence, buy this amp, save some money and show your other guitar player what tone is!!"
Steven A. Brunton Dublin, OH
"If you've been lurking here trying to decide whether to buy an amp you can't try out, take the plunge! This thing is a beast, extremely versatile tone-wise, clean as pure ice when you want it, or as snarly as a mad dog. The 25/50/100w switchable RMS power makes it perfect for any occasion/venue, it's well built and you cannot beat the price anywhere."
Tony Spartanburg, SC
"I've been playing guitar for over 25 years and I've owned or played through just about every amp made, including Peavey, Fender, Mesa Boogie, Marshall, Rivera, and Soldano. I recently took delivery of an X100B head and for the first time in 25 years I'm HAPPY with my sound!!! It's been about 4 months since I got this thing and I'm still in a state of WOW!! Yes, I was nervous and hesitant about buying an amp that I'd never heard and couldn't play before buying but that quickly went away once I plugged into this thing. This head blows me away every time I turn it on. I play a variety of styles and this amp takes care of ANYTHING I want to play. It'll achieve ANY sound you could possibly want short of oversaturated, can't hear the notes over-distorted. If that's what you want, get this head and a distortion pedal, but it's not the forte of this amp. Use this amp for the tone and your pedal for the distortion. This amp will get great metal tones but will not over-saturate like many other amps (think JCM800 but with more headroom). I really like that. You can still shred on rhythms and leads but you can still hear the notes in the chords and the notes in the leads don't mush together. Once you switch to the clean channel OMG!! I've NEVER had an amp that could do distorted AND clean equally well. That is until I got this head! I used the EQ section on the clean channel to get the sparkling, spanky tones that I've not been able to get on amps costing several times what this one does. Set the channel, and with a roll of the tone knob on my guitar I can go from dark, jazz sounds to a spanking bright country sound. It really is that easy. And that's just with humbuckers. I can't wait to see what this thing does with a single coil pickup!
If you're looking for a particular amp or an amp that can do only one sound and one sound only (e.g. Vox, Fender, etc.) then get it. If you're looking for an amp that can do it all then get this one. I promise you won't be disappointed."
Mark Vrana Northern Cambria, PA
"THanks, Carvin. I must say that this is the best amplifier that I have have ever purchased. It sounds great on clean and distortion is awsome. Also has great tone. For the price, you can't beat it!"
Chuck Scafidi San Diego, CA
"This amplifier is an extremely versatile piece of equipment! The tone is phenomenal!!! The overdrive is smooth and rich. It retains clarity superbly; all the notes ring out strongly. It's clean channel is super glassy. It's clear and the tone of the guitar really comes out. The construction is as solid as it gets, and I plan to have this amp for a very long time. The price is unreal! This amp is a great piece of gear, is extremely well-built, has excellent tone, and the people at Carvin were so helpful and knowledeable. This amp is essential for the guitarist who puts tone and reliability first."
Mark Lemieux Langley BC Canada
"I just received my new Carvin X100b MK IV reissue last week, covered in an absolutely great looking 'Western Finish Tolex'. I can't tell you how absolutely thrilled I am with this awesome amp. I have three older X series amps, (two X60 combos and an XT112 combo) and with my number one X60 combo, [purchased from you in 1985], I couldn't even count the number of gigs and jams I have used that amp at and it is still going strong, the most reliable piece of gear I have ever owned. This new X series MK IV is simply the best ever! The addition of the master/solo boost option is something I've always wanted on an X amp, a pot controlled boost level for solos set to your preference, and also the small switched to change the amps configurations, instead of the older push/pull pots. The digital reverb is also a huge plus. All I can say is that I have many amps here in my small home recording studio from Carvin and other manufacturers (You could say I'm a bit of an amp/gear addict!), and this new X100B is definitely the best! The cleans are fantastic, warm and responsive and the gain channel is great on regular or high gain mode, from vintage smooth to all out raunchy with the flick of a small switch, without losing its warmth and clarity. The amp is also responsive to your picking attack, the sign of a great machine. I am completely blown away by this amp especially for the more than reasonable price its offered at, the build quality, finish, look, and of course the excellent tones that are easily achieved out of it. Thanks Carvin for building an excellent product and returning the mighty X series to musicians everywhere!"
Jason VanNatten Salem, VA
"My first Carvin amp I ever bought (and still own) was an MTS3200 and I loved it, until I bought the X100B. The MTS is a great amp but the X100B has more versatility for me and my style. Having the ability to boost for leads and a foot switchable effects loop makes it easy to cue my solo settings without having to tap dance all over the pedal board. Plus, notes are smooth and warm with no fuzziness even at high gain settings. A friend came to watch my band and commented on how loud it was and I'm only running it through a 2x12 Cabinet with Carvin British Series speakers. This amp is awesome and I'm happy to say that I own one."
Anthony Modesto, CA
"I compared different amps before settling on this one. Marshall JCM 800, Fender Twin, B52, Vox AC30cc, vintage silverface Fender Princeton, and vintage Sears Silvertone 2246 (the model I think?), and this is the most versatile amp I have ever played....The cleans are amazing with plenty of tone, compare to Fender or Mesa. The distortion can be very mild, kindof a crunchy blues, or straight up in your face while still being extremely musical. Though I don't usually use too much gain, this amp has plenty of it. I like the switchable bias on the reverse side, and the adjustable ohms for different cabs. The knobs have just enough resistance to let you know you are handling a quality American made amplifier, not the product of some Chinese sweat shop. And the metal switches on the front for Gain setting, channel switching, etc. are quality as well (used also by Manley, Avalon and many others and if you know about studio gear you know what I'm talking about) The reverb is flat out awesome, not too much not too little. Stomp boxes really sound good run straight in, though not too much is needed when you posess tone like this! I used to use a Big Muff Pi for crunch before I got this amp, and it sits now. The distortion compares to Marshall JCM 800, but with its own personality. If you want a quality product made in California with lots of versatility for an awesome price, BUY IT!"
Matthew D. Hill USA
"After much hemming and hawing over what would become my first tube amp purchase in over a decade, I settled on the X100B on reputation alone (well, reputation and various video and sound clips around the 'net). I've got to say, I've played through scores of amps, and the X100B head is a thing of beauty. Probably the best amp purchase I've ever made. Now, my Red Jungle Bark X100B head sits proudly atop my mountain of gear, like a beacon to the rock 'n' roll gods. Great work, Carvin."
Terry Orr Canada
"You don't see many Carvin amps where I live in Canada, too bad. I found a nice condition X100-B series IV for sale and bought it immediately having heard many great things about the original X-100's. The amp was number 91/100 of the original signed reissues. It was the best sounding clean and dirty amp I have ever heard. The cleans rival a vintage Fender and the dirty channel was totally tweakable and the most organic sounding overdrive. The amp sounded alive and very responsive to every nuance, exactly the way I remembered hearing those amazing tube amps when i was a kid in in the late 60's. The flexibilty of the EQ, and abilty to dial in exactly the sound and drive level I wanted for any song was amazing. Unfortunately a few days after the first getting it home the first tube shorted then a couple other problems emerged and it was time to return it to the store for a refund as I was unsure of the reliabilty of this one unit. I believe these problems were a fluke situation and would seriously consider buying a new version of the same amp. I was so impressed by this amp after only owning for a few days that I already miss it. I've owned a lot of gear and never felt that impressed with an amp sound and features overall. The digital reverb was even spectactularly organic sounding. I'll make do with my Fender Hot Rod Deluxe until the time comes to get another X-100B. Now I can dream about the color I'll have it done in."
Jaydn Turley Vancouver, WA
"I have an EL34 based X100B, and it sure kicks. I keep it at the lowest watt setting possible, and the clean channel is so perfectly gritty when gigging, and I'm definitely heard! The eq boost is a great feature especially for this amp's design. I've a/b'd it with the equivalent other American made amps, and some vintage amps, but I don't ever feel the need for something different."
Richard Wetzel USA
"I am a longtime pro guitarist and have owned many amps over the years. My recent workhorse is a USA Fender Blues Junior that has been mightily upgraded with the "Billm" mods and more. It sounds great but lacks the available power and the versatility of dual channels. I've had my X100B head for about 10 days now and I am knocked out in all ways! Both clean and drive channels are great as is the beautiful reverb. I could go on about the quality build, lovely C&W vinyl and all the versatility, but all that has been bragged on. I now have the ability to stay very clean at high volume. I'll use my old BlueTube pedal for crunchy rhythm on the clean channel and the drive channel for great solo tones. The big surprise was how well the tone held up with the Master Volume on "1", making this beast useful for "bedroom" levels. Amazing! Carvin has been a pleasure to work with - helpful and professional! Thank You Carvin!"
Timothy Weesner Elkhart, IN
"I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS AMP! The X-100B is quiet at 100 watts, almost no hiss. The 100/50/25 watt switch is agreat addition, and should be standard equipment on all amps. This is a very vesatile amp, and compliments ANY guitar you plug into it. The clean (Rhythm) chanel is the best i've ever heard. The Lead (dirty) chanel is dirty enough to get great raunchy tones, yet still seperates the notes of chords while producing natural harmonic overtones. You can use this amp for almost everything. 25 watt - practice, 50 watt - small clubs, 100 watts - larger nightclubs etc. and the tones...great for everything from blues, southern rock to hard rock. Add a good distorion/fuzz or OD pedal to your signal chain, and you can play Heavy Metal. This is the best amp purchase I have ever made!!!"
Charlie Alexander Shreveport, LA
"I bought my X100B half stack back in the late 80's, when I was living in Lake Charles, LA. Its a great amp & has givin me over 20 years of great service & it's still as good of an amp & works just like the day I got! It's a great sounding amp & very versatile, and with 20 plus years of playing through, you don't get anymore dependable than that! Best of all, it's American made!!!"
Randy Dunn USA
"Just received my new X100B yesterday. It sounds amazing! I intended to plug in for just a few min to make sure everything was in working order... three-hours later I was still going! I cant say enough good things about this amp & guitar combo. Funny note; I had the same salesman (phone orders about six months apart) for both the amp & guitar- Steve- he was great to work with both times ;) Huge thanks to everyone at Carvin!"