Violent Soho’s Peavey T40 Bass

Boys & girls… are you man enough to play this bass?

A few months ago, I was doing what I usually do Sunday mornings… poking around the local pawn shop to see what music gear they had. On the sales table I spotted an early 80’s series Peavey Bandit for $150.It was in great condition and still had it’s original foot switch tucked in the back.

My first ever amp was a 1992 Peavey Bandit with the SuperSat circuit which I loved as it made my dodgy metal riffs sound cool, so I had a soft spot for these amps. I’d been looking for a cheap combo for band practise and as a backup to my Mesa Boogie Mark 1, so I grabbed a Strat off the wall, cranked the reverb and was floored by the most gorgeous sound I’d ever heard come out of a $150 amp. 10 minutes later I was on my way home with this beauty in my back seat.

I emailed Tim from Tym Guitars that week and said… “Tim, I just bought an ’82 Peavey Bandit for $150. Is it just me or are these amps AWESOME?”. I was expecting a scoff and a response saying I was nuts, but he totally agreed with me. Tim had just finished reading ‘The Peavey Revolution’ and was amazed how clever and ridiculously well designed and engineered the old Peavey gear was. The amps were designed to withstand the worst of touring and if by a miracle they did stop working, to be easily repaired on the road. I borrowed the book and it’s a great read. I really recommend it.

Very, very happy with my Bandit, Tim told me that a friend of mine Luke Henery from the band Violent Soho was also a recent vintage Peavey convert and had been buying up old Peavey gear on the road while touring in the USA. Apparently they’re ridiculously cheap and everytime he saw something, he’d grab it. When Violent Soho came back to Australia, this is the beast Luke brought back with him…

This is a 1978 Sienna T40 Bass that Luke picked up for around $150. I’d never seen one of these in the flesh, and the first thing that struck me was the weight. The bass is RIDICULOUSLY heavy. I literally could not play this bass live… I’m not big enough. Luke is 2 foot taller and a lot more built than me so this bass suits him fine. But I think my collar bone would snap like a dry twig about 3 songs into my set.

The reason for a lot of this weight is this bass is so over engineered. The worksmanship, materials and fittings are awe inspiring.If you read the Peavey book, you’ll understand way. Hartley Peavey wanted his stuff to work and to keep working forever. The is the bass equivalent of an army issue Hummer.

For example, the bridge is a totally unique Peavey design (no Fender bent metal bridge here) that is basically a massive lump of steel that’s been gloriously carved/cast/polished to fit in the most massive saddles I’ve seen. They may look like Fender saddles, but these things are huge. And look at that cool cast bit at the bottom with the Peavey logo in there. It’s this attention to detail that really blows my mind.

The attention to detail follows on to the control knobs and neck plate. Peavey could of just used simple steel telecaster type knobs and a plain steel neck plate and that would of been fine. Nup.

The knobs are just beautiful to look at, solid steel with the Peavey ‘P’ cast in the middle and Stratocaster type ribbing around the edges. The feel great to grab. The neck plate is also cast with the Peavey logo and looks to have a 70’s Fender type tilt adjustment.

Even the string tree is unique Peavey… a cast triangle tree that really suits the shape of the Peavey logo. Simple and elegent.

The tuners are of course fantastic. Solid, precise and beautifully smooth. Simply… there is nothing cheap about this bass.

Also, there’s the body which has an ash body that a Fender P-Bass owner would kill to have on their bass. The finish is perfectly applied too.

So what does it sound like? Huge… as in too huge. Those pickups are just monsters. Big, ridiculous, shiny, double bladed monsters. It’s like mowing the front lawn with a combine harvester. I love you, Peavey.

They didn’t just make my amp sound louder, they made my amp shit itself. The volume difference between my Fender and this was probably double. I think through a full 70’s Ampeg (or Peavey!) bass stack they would sound like Godzilla. But through my GK800RB, 8×10 and Rat pedal, it was a bit too much for my tastes. My ’72 P-Bass has the perfect amount of drive, bass and ‘clang’ for that Jesus Lizard bass sound I love. The Peavey is perfect for dirty scuzz rock.

As I said, you have to be a real man to play this bass… it looks like I’m not. Which is painful as I really love this thing. I love that they’re so cheap that they’re basically free, that they’re engineered to survive for a thousand years and that they look so cool. My neck just wouldn’t ever forgive me if I got one.

To see this bass in action, here’s Luke showing us how it’s done.