Thursday, July 20, 2017

Yamaha VA-10 Guitar Amplifier Review

Howdy!

While cruising the Long Beach Antique Flea Market recently, we ran across a cool little Yamaha VA-10 guitar amplifier, and since it was dirt cheap it came home with us. I had not seen one of these before, and after doing a little research online, I learned that these were made in the late 1990s and they cost 11,000 Yen (around 90 bucks back then).

The VA-10 is a very portable amplifier, measuring around 13 by 9 by 7 inches, and weighing in at a little under 7 pounds (without the 6 D-cell batteries). It is loaded up with a 6-watt amplifier and a pair of 4-inch drivers, and it is loaded into a durable plastic case. There is a leather handle screwed to the top of it, which I assumed was something a previous owner did, but this is not the case. Looking at old catalogs, they show the leather handle too, so I guess it is original equipment.

There are quite a few things on the front-mounted control panel and they include:

- Two ¼-inch input jacks (high and low)

- VOLUME knob (and no GAIN knob)

- 1/8-inch AUX IN jack

- Headphone jack

- Power switch

- DISTORTION (ON/OFF, DIST., LEVEL)

- CHORUS (ON/OFF, SPEED, DEPTH)

- DELAY (LEVEL)

There is not much going on at the back of the case -- just the power jack (for the optional PA-3 AC adapter) and the battery compartment. Supposedly this thing will run for around 10 hours on batteries.

This Yamaha has no untoward buzzing or hum. I tried out a bunch of settings, and got the best results with the volume at 12 o'clock, bass and mid at 2 o'clock, and treble at 12 o'clock. Plugged into the high input, I put the distortion at 8 o'clock with its level at 11 o'clock, and the chorus at minimum speed and full depth. With the delay was set to 9 o'clock there was good sustain and a usable warm overdriven sound (I was using a Strat, by the way). Anything higher on the distortion produced a very harsh and grating tone.

Overall volume is not great, but this thing is what it is. It is pretty much a practice amp or something you can use on a street corner to busk with, as long as there is not too much traffic noise.

On the used market, these Yamaha VA-10 amplifier are pretty scarce, and I do not think many were sold in the US. When they do come up, they usually sell in the $40 to $50 range. It is a cool little unit that sounds good and has the flexibility of battery power, so if you are looking for something to jam with for solo practice, it would be a really good choice if you can find one.

Mahalo!

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