Operating Theatre: Peavey VTM 120

The Peavey VTM 120 is [looks around to see who is listening] a great fucking amp. Don’t tell your friends, because you can still get ’em relatively cheap. It’s essentially a JCM 800 clone with a set of DIP switches “to avoid any Imperial entanglements.” Sebastian Phillips, my bandmate in Exhumed, swears so much by his that he has one for each coast. He even got our other guitfiddler, Matt Harvey, to get one as a back-up for his 5150 (or 6505… I can’t keep track).

Of course, even a good amp has a bad day. This trooper made it through a marathon six-week tour, but upped and quit on us the very last day. It just stopped turning on. Luckily, Matt had that back-up, so Sebastian didn’t lose his groove. I took the amp after we unpacked our shit and did my doktor thing.

The first thing I did was take out the power tubes. That way I could turn the amp on safely without it being attached to a speaker cabinet. Curiously, it turned on, but the power LED was being persnickety, going on and off as I flicked it with my finger. I thought, how silly, we must’ve been dumb and not realized it had actually been on the whole time. The LED is replaced easily; you just pull it out of the holder and plug a new one (with clipped leads) right back in.

ASIDE: It’s not important here, but you could plug in any color LED you wanted if you were inclined to delve into such aesthetic trivialities.

BUT THAT WASN’T IT. While fiddling around with some other stuff I’ll get to in a bit, I realized one of the capacitors in the power section was kinda loose.

In all their geniosity, Peavey had placed all these heavy power caps on a circuit board with just their tiny leads to hold them in place. They must’ve seen the error of their ways and decided to fix the problem the same way your mom would build you a Halloween costume out of cardboard; they used hot glue. Unfortunately, they didn’t do a great job; the one cap had come unstuck and the lead to the solder pad was only making intermittent contact.

It was an easy fix. I re-glued the shaky cap to its neighbor AND gave it a little bed of hot glue on the other side so it would stay comfy and in place. I re-soldered the lead to the pad on the other side of the circuit board and voila… the VTM 120 is ready to rumble again.

BUT WAIT! There’s more… This VTM 120 had been pieced together from a couple others. The high EQ adjustment had been snapped, and it wasn’t an official Peavey potentiometer, anyway; I opted to replace it for Sebastian.

It was just a cheap dime potentiometer. The official Peavey ones have additional legs to secure them to the circuit board in a NICE display of over-engineering (unlike the hot-glued capacitors). I checked out the schematic which is available online, found it was a 250KΩ pot, and ordered it from one of my favorite places for parts, www.tubesandmore.com

I slapped that into the pre-amp circuit, and now Sebastian can adjust his highs for some squealy shreddin’ solos. As for a nice vintage knob, I’ll leave that for him to find on eBay.

The power cord was also wearing down by the plug and the internal wires were showing through the black housing. I replaced that with a 12′ power cord also from www.tubesandmore. The hardest part is getting the old cord strain relief free. The easiest way is to cut the old cord as close to the strain relief as possible and then pull it through the other side. Then it pops right out. I was able to reuse the same strain relief once I’d soldered all the power cord wires in place.

Finally, the chassis was missing two out of four screws on either side that secure the amp inside. These are 2″ stainless steel 10-24 oval head Phillips pscrews, available at almost any hardware store. With those in place, I finally feel like I can give the patient the all clear to go home to its daddy.

5 thoughts on “Operating Theatre: Peavey VTM 120

  1. checkout the Peavey Ultra 60, Ultra 120, and the solid state version of the 120, The Supreme 160.

  2. Thank you for doing this blog. I can’t remember how I stumbled upon it awhile ago, but I did and it’s been equally informative and entertaining. You fucking rule.

    Thanks, Ross! Stay safe, brother!

  3. Looking back, I can’t believe that I forgot to mention how I used to own the VTM 120 in the late 80s/early 90s. That thing was a beast. Kinda wish I still had it.

  4. I got a VTM 120 a few months ago and replace the 400ohm resistor choke with a transformer choke and also upped the resistance of the screen resistors to 470ohm.

    I didn’t realize there was a shielding plate – or it looks like that – in the amp. Could you perhaps take some more pics of it – if you’re ever in the amp again? Wonder how much it helps.

    1. i will, but it could be awhile… it’s now back in at its home 250 miles away from me and not likely our band is getting together much for quite some time!

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