The first Peavey 5150 was produced in the 90s for Eddie Van Halen, and subsequent models have pushed the boundaries for controlled, articulate tone.
In the early 2010’s, Eddie Van Halen began producing amps under the EVH banner. Enter the EVH 5150III (continuing the namesake after Peavey 5150 I & II). The EVH 5150III comes in a variety of models, from 50-100 watt heads with matching cabinets, or robust combo amps. The EVH 5150III 6L6 2X12 combo amplifier is one such variation, a 50 watt amplifier with matched Celestion 2X12 speakers. This 2X12 combo has enough features to satisfy a bedroom guitarist or studio musician alike. Featuring a sweepable power control, the amp can be pushed hard without annoying neighbours, as well as an addition speaker cab input for extra mic’d cabinets when recording or live. The EVH 5150III 2X12 is a three channel swiss army knife, and you’d expect nothing less from EVH himself.
Channel one is the cleanest of the three and is very clear, almost like a DI. It takes effects and drives well, while it retains the bottom end character that every model of 5150 is known for. Channel one and two share EQ controls, however have independent gain and volume knobs (ingeniously designed to be a combo chicken head and rotary-style knob that only occupies one knob space). Channel two is a grittier clean, with more character and bite that could easily be a main rhythm tone. Channel two responds better than channel three to dynamic playing, and your playing is articulate and clearly defined Channel two also takes drive well, and pushed with a Tube Screamer or similar you can dial in pretty classic 5150 tones with modern edge and control, as well as dial back the gain for cleaner but iconic lead tones. Channel two also gates well, because of the dynamics and strength behind the notes. The third channel has the most gain of the three, but by no means muddy or messy. Even without pedals, channel three on any of the 5150 III series reminds me of a hi-gain amp pushed to its limit with an additional drive pushing its pre amp. The third channel is tight, aggressive, snarky but controlled. The third channel delivers the cabinet womp, but cuts through without being overbearing.
Besides three entirely usable and practical channels, the 5150 III 2X12 combo amplifier also has a great reverb, but beware, this reverb can sound wet. It sits nicely at barely 7 o’clock, and beyond the 9 o’clock mark it becomes very prominent, but not unpleasantly or messily. It quickly goes from a little reverb mixed in behind a tone to a definitively effected sound. The combo also has a dedicated headphone output. When headphones are connected, the speaker output is muted for silent recording or practice. The back panel of the amp also features a resonance knob for fine-tuned bottom end response. The internal speakers can be disconnected and hooked up to external cabinets in an isolated space for recording or live use, or in addition to the internal speakers for different flavours on stage.
As expected, the 5150III combo is a home run, and functions exceptionally, even with such big shoes to fill. The advantage of the combo makes it great for home practice, but extra speaker outs make it a great option for studio use as well. This amp is designed to cater for any player pursuing a tone that will make their own mark on the world. The design on the knobs compliment the sleek looks of the amp itself, as the dials and controls are all function with no unnecessary embellishments. Power level attenuation from 1-50 watts is a massively useful feature, as well as clean channels that are ready to be effected, and dirty channels that are ready to go. There’s beautifully dynamic colour and tone from the three-band EQ, presence and resonance controls. This amp is everything you need and nothing you don’t. It’s the tone we all pursue, tidied up in a robust 2X12 box.
Hits and Misses
Instantly usable gain channel/s
Lots of options for routing
Tone colour and control options are great
Reverb very wet
Clean channel very transparent