I completely understand that it can seem a might intimidating at first sight. Its hard enough getting to grips properly with a conventional amp - let alone one that has 33 amp models plus effects and a power-attenuator! But actually, it's surprisingly straightforward & logical... once you get your head around the basics. This might help to sort a few things out:
First off, the 99 factory patches are just that - pre-programmed tones. These tones are merely meant to provide a range of 'example' tones - some are more 'useful' than others, whilst some are there to show off more of the 'extreme' tones the amp is capable of.
Probably the most confusing part of the amp is how Vox has divided up the AMP MODELS into green, amber & red positions. But its also done the same thing with its PRESETS - also green, amber and red. To add confusion, each of these settings mixes amp models and effects - so if you turn the amp model dial...you're changing the EQ & effects position TOO!!
There are 3 sets of 33 factory patches. You can tweak any patch BUT you can't save those 'tweaks' in the same factory location. You can only save your own patches in the 8 USER PRESET locations. You can save either a 'tweaked' (or even 'un-tweaked' factory preset) in a USER location, or you can create a patch from scratch in MANUAL mode & save it to a user preset. The manual explains how to save a patch (p15). MANUAL mode is WYSIWYG - 'What you see is what you get'. What you hear is based on the REAL amp knob positions.
The button on the far left sets WHICH 33 patches are in play. These are divided as below:
GREEN - these are amp models with just a few 'light' effects, which are intended to give a range of 'typical' more basic amp tones
ORANGE - similar to above but with more effects - a lot of these patches are intended to help give users a 'flavour' of the type of sounds you can get from the amp
RED - these are 'signature song' tones modeled to give an approximation of certain famous songs
So, lets say you want to scroll through the 33 'signature song' tones. You set the left button to RED. You have 11 amp model positions on the amp model dial. OK, so where's the other 22? If you press the button just left of the 'Gain' knob, you have 3 amp model options - green, amber, red. This button changes the amp MODEL.
The problem with these factory patches is that they all contain effects - so you're not hearing a 'pure' amp model which makes it impossible to learn about the pure tone of each amp - which is THE essential starting point. Also, when you change the amp model you're also changing the effects & the EQ. So the problem with experimenting in pre-set mode is that if you've found a nice mix of reverb & delay but want to hear how a different amp model sounds, the moment you turn the amp model knob you're changing the effects & EQ TOO! This is both confusing & frustrating.
The problem is that most 'newbies' go straight to the factory presets because they're after a 'quick fix' tonally speaking. BUT, and this is the truth, this is the WORST place to start to learn about the amp and about amp models IMHO. This is because the Valvetronix amps are not 'plug 'n play' & they do take a little time & effort to get your head round.
So, to start learning about tone and what the amp can do, my advice is IGNORE ALL THE ABOVE FACTORY PRESET STUFF (for now at least) and leave the effects alone. Set the amp to behave in a more logical way - i.e. more like a 'normal' amp. To do this, switch the amp to MANUAL mode and turn the effects OFF (save perhaps for a little spring reverb and perhaps a little tape delay). Now when you move through the amp models, only the amp model (not effects or EQ too) will change!! So you can begin to get a feel for the amp models different tonality where the reverb & EQ settings are the SAME,
Start off slow with some classic amp tones - no more than 5 to start with. For example: Fender Bassman, Vox AC30 Top Boost; Vox AC15, Fender Blackface 2x12 and Marshall JCM800.
Spend serious time with ONLY these models - don't jump to conclusions and think after two strums you don't like it! Subtle differences in settings can transform what you hear - just as with the real amps, each model has its 'sweet-spot'. Experiment with the Gain and EQ and get the feel of each amps response, and where it breaks up and then goes into more gain.
Starting with the Bassman is a good place to start because its such a musically complex & responsive amp model. Experiment with the gain to get that classic growly tone that's a bit more than 'break-up' but well before you get into full distortion. Now raise the gain but roll off the volume control on your guitar to clean up the tone and then raise it up for a bit more beef. Feel how the amp responds to both your guitar controls and small changes in Valvetronix EQ/Gain changes. Get the feel of the EQ. These are modelled on the way the real amps work. So, sometimes the EQ will work independently. On other amp models the EQ responds interactively - so for example the treble will respond differently depending on where you have the mids/bass set.
There is lots of good info & help over on the FAQ section at Valvetronix.net.
Understanding how the gain, volume, master volume power-selector work together is crucial. In a nutshell, it's about 'balance'. You need the power-selector raised to allow the amp to breathe. The Master volume is like a tap - the higher you crank it, the more the valve is being 'pushed' to give you that great valve-tone. But overdo it...& just like an all-valve amp, the tone can become mushy. So for best results set this at 1-3pm max on the dial. See here for more info:volume-master-volume-gain-power-selector-how-s-it-all-work-t1072.html
So, which amp model is which? Vox isn't too helpful here...but don't worry - these have been 'sussed' here: vt20-vt40-vt80-vt120-amp-models-t4099.html
And this one lists the 33 RED 'song presets' (split between each of the green, amber & red amp model positions). Plus, it lists details of what the effects are in the second spread sheet tab:https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc ... mdHc#gid=0
That should be more than enough to help get you started on the 'golden path' to great tone. Remember to start SLOW...and read the manual & work your way though it carefully. Valvetronix is NOT a 'quick fix' amp. But with a little patience you'll discover why it's arguably the best amp of its type in the market today and capable of stunning tonal versatility.