I got thinking about the Peavey Mace – at one time an amp I pursued (a little) – from a recent WoodyTone post on Neal Schon’s early gear. In the late ’70s into ’80, Neal was a Mace user which like the old Music Man amps had a solid state preamp and a tube power amp.
But while the Music Mans had at most four 6L6 tubes, Maces had six! It seems the bands at the time – notably Skynyrd – liked that the amps could preamp-distort at lower volumes and go up to insane volumes for ’70s stages. (Skynyrd, which altered their Maces, at one point actually tried to make the amps louder!)
Maces had a built-in phaser – tremolo on the earlier (’76-’77?) ones – that some people love to this day, built-in reverb that most people can’t stand, an input that bridged the channels, and other bells and whistles. Thanks to the eventual Black Widow speakers, the amp also was HEAVY (70+ pounds? $70-$100 to ship on ebay).
Not surprisingly, the people who keep the Mace flame alive are mostly Skynyrd fans, a few Southern country twangers too. In fact, most of the decent info on the amp (which ain’t much) is on the lynyrdskynyrddixie.com forum. Here’s some info from user “Hell House” (the name of the shack Skynyrd used to practice in) on that forum:
> Those were/are actually very good amps, and [as] with all Peavey stuff, rugged as a tank! Their drawback was that they are EXTREMELY loud. They are every bit as loud as the old 200w Marshall Major heads….
> They were great as a concert amp – they could fill a stadium with guitar sound and that is why Skynyrd stuck with them [conjecture?]. Plus they had the solid state preamp, which made the amp much more reliable [did it?].
> Early on, someone showed [Skynyrd] how they could get more volume from them by bridging the power transformer taps and it worked, but unfortunately, only for a short time. “Well, it looks like we done blowed up another amp,” said RVZ on One More From the Road. And that is what they did, blow up. And frequently. Not long after the Fox [One More From the Road] show, they stopped with that mod and soon realized [the amps] were loud enough and less expensive!
“Hell House” and other Skynyrd fans swear by Maces – and their close cousins the Deuce and Heritage VTX – for getting Skynyrd tones. User Hell House again, talking about the Heritage: “Same circuit and tone stack as the Mace with master volume, but much softer power amps…. You can get the classic Skynyrd tone DEAD ON with these amps.”
(He notes that Skynyrd used JBL D-120′s in their cabs because “they just didn’t fart out at higher cranked volumes like the Peavey speakers.”)
Is this another case of an amp being semi-sought-after because famous players used it? Is it good? Does it really “sound like Skynyrd/Schon?”
Can’t tell you because I’ve never played one – yet! Chime in below if you have.
If you have GAS for this amp, you should only pay $150-$300 or so, and be prepared to shell out another $100-200 to have a qualified tech take a look at it.
> Allen Collins, at least, apparently had his Mace rewired to be more like a Marshall, possibly just for recording.
> In case you have one of these and are wondering what to make of it, you can download an older (pre-phaser) manual and slightly newer than that user guide here.
Here’s some good old Mace tone (and Allen Collins playing) from Skynyrd’s two-guitar Old Grey Whistle Test performance in 1975.
Here’s Neal Schon and Journey live, 1980, Japan. I’m assuming he’s using a Mace because other footage from this year show Peaveys onstage. Cool blues jam at the beginning.