The 5150 is one of the most revered amps around when it comes to high gain metal guitar tones. While it’s association was initially with Eddie Van Halen, a player famed for a guitar sound that uses fairly conservative gain, the 5150 has been adopted primarily by metal players, owing to its clarity and definition with low tunings and extreme saturation.
The Peavey 5150 is a tube guitar amp, originally released as a signature model for Eddie Van Halen. The amp was discontinued in 2004 with the end of Van Halen and Peavey’s partnership, however was rebranded as the 6505 and is still in production today. Favouring focus over versatility, it is known for doing one thing really well – full on, aggressive distortion.
The 5150 features a two-channel preamp section and 120w 6L6GC power section. In the base model, the two channels share a three-band EQ, though the more heavily-featured 5150 II (or 6505+) includes a separate EQ section for each channel. Further tone control is afforded by presence and resonance controls, which like the EQ, are shared across channels in 5150/6505 and independently accessible for each channel in the 5150 II/6505+. These controls are incredibly useful for tailoring the amp to different guitars and accommodating low tunings. Both models are available in head and combo formats. In 2010, the 6534 was added to the product line, offering the 6505 with an EL34-based power section.
The 5150 shares many tonal characteristics with other modern high-gain amps, though stands out for its tight, controlled sound and more bite in the midrange than some of its contemporaries, making it particularly good for lead playing. Faring well on all variations of heavy music, the 5150 is a reliable workhorse that will always answer the call for an assertive, in-your-face tone.
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