I’ve owned this amp for about 2 years now. At first I went to my local music store to re-fret my guitars, I saw a pack of Crate Vintage Club amps lying around at a very low price. They were discontinued years ago, so they were not really brand new..and also not dead mint. I’ve never heard of this amp before. The sales person told me that they are all tube amp, so I gave it a shot…and I was blown away right on the spot. There are 5 Vintage Clubs at the time, two 50 watter, two 20 watter, and one beat-up 20 watter with no reverb. I picked one, the VC 20 with reverb, and went home a happy man.
First let me tell you about the feature: It is a one channel full tube amp, controls are on top: gain knob, a punch (boost) button, three equalizer knobs, and reverb. There are no digital effects on it, so the reverb has to be a spring reverb (yay!). It has a headphone jack that I never use and an external speaker jack. It’s rated 15 watt, and the “punch” button adds another 5 watt (hence the name, VC 20). two EL-84 tubes, two 12 AX7 and 12″ speaker. The classy old style cream colored tolex was a little bit dirty when I got it..still a little dirty even when I cleaned it, but it does give the “vintage” look to it.
How to describe the sound? Well, the best that I can describe it is Marshall JCM800 in a small combo amp that you can take anywhere. Absolutely perfect for blues, old school rock and many other styles. Adding some stomp boxes, I think this one may be suitable for virtually any style, but it’s obviously better using its vintage side. I personally go for “crunch” sound, so this amp suits me well. The bass is not too tight, and it gets flabby when you push it to do hard metal distortion.. but who wants to do metal on a 12” open combo anyway? Just connect it to a cabinet guys, and you’re all set. I gigged with it and it sounded super, and everyone of my friends who hears it gave good praise.
I did encounter some problems with this amp. A month after purchase, I played at my room with it, went out to get a drink, by the time I went back to my room, it’s dead. It took me a while to revive it (because there is no manual or schematics about this amp on the internet, even on Crate website), but after it was fixed, this thing is solid as a rock right to this moment.
I love this amp. I am extremely happy to say that the Crate VC20 is heavily considered to be one of the best I have ever played through. Its an overall bargain, versatile, tube amp. My next thing to try is experimenting with changing the tubes and the speaker, although for now I’m happy enough already. I’ve seen a few of these VC20 amps around and I’m thinking of getting another one because they pack so much bang for the buck.