Peavey 5150 Head
Peavey 5150 Head

5150 Head, Tube Guitar Amp Head from Peavey in the 5150 series.

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All user reviews for the Peavey 5150 Head

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Average Score:4.6( 4.6/5 based on 24 reviews )
 14 reviews58 %
 8 reviews33 %
Value For Money : Excellent
heads on fire11/04/2011

heads on fire's review"LOUD! LOUD LOUD LOUD!"

Peavey 5150 Head
* 120 watts (rms) into 16, 8, or 4 ohms (switchable)
* Five 12AX7 preamp tubes and four 6L6GC power amp tubes
* High and low gain inputs
* 2-channel preamp switchable on front panel or remote footswitch
* Rhythm channel: pre-/post-gain, bright and crunch switches
* Lead channel: pre-/post-gain
* Channels share 3-band EQ
* Presence and resonance controls
* Switchable post-EQ effects loop
* Preamp output


This amp is killer. It is very easy to get a good clean, dirty, or lead tone out of. It is a simple amplifier head, with no real frills except an effects loop, and has been a staple amp head in rock and metal music since the early 1990s. Edward Van Halen had this amp built and voiced specifically to his specifications, and so the EVH tones are incredibly simple to achieve, but the 5150 can get many other sounds as well.


To start off, this amp is LOUD! It has so much headroom, it's ridiculous. If you can get it wide open, you will be greatly rewarded with a pure crystalline clean tone with plenty of presence, a neat crunchy brown tone with plenty of meat, and a liquid singing sustain that responds to the slightest touch. I've used my 5150 for classic rock, hard rock, metal, hardcore, fusion, djent, death metal, and it excels at all those applications. It even gets a great spanky lead tone for country chicken-pickin'! The main drawback is that the 3-band EQ is shared by both the lead and rhythm channels, so one must find a setting that works for both channels. Also, I wish this had a reverb, but I'm nitpicking on that point.


This is a great amplifier in the pantheon of screaming rock classics. This is a fantastic amp for any subgenre of rock from the late 60s until now. There are certainly other amps that can get more tones, or can offer more glitz and glamour, but for a meat and potatoes player, this is the head. Highly recommended.
King Loudness10/31/2011

King Loudness's review"The original!"

Peavey 5150 Head
The Peavey 5150 head was designed in the early 90s by one Edward Van Halen as a signature amp and at the time was touted as the answer to getting Ed's famous Brown Sound. However, many modern players discovered that the 5150 had a certain crunch to it that was ideal for heavier metal settings. It delivers 120 watts of power and is run by 6L6 tubes. The 5150 has two channels, channel one having more of a "clean" application and channel two being more of the high gain side. It has a shared EQ with presence and resonance controls in addition to the standard bass, middle, and treble. It also has an effects loop as well, great for running time based effects


Getting a good tone out of the 5150 is very simple. The amp is loud and high gain but the EQ controls are very responsive and easy to dial in for great tones. Peavey amps as a general rule are very "player friendly" and the 5150 is no exception. The tones are good just about anywhere that the controls are set and it works well for a whole host of modern sounds.


This amp sounds best to me when using thicker sounding guitars such as Les Pauls, SGs or Flying Vs. The sustain is really quite good with this amp and the tones are very meaty and full, especially in a band mix. The clean tones are not the amp's strong point - the clean channel is really more of a crunch channel. It sounds great for really gritty clean tones or classic crunch sounds with the gain dimed. The second channel is where it's at for high gain molten metal tones, and it sounds especially great for chugging rhythms or sustained modern leads. Definitely a tone to be reckoned with for high gain brute force.


All in all I think the Peavey 5150 is a truly cool high gain amp. Though it might be a bit of a one trick pony, it does that trick extremely well. It's perfect for the modern metal player who needs serious doses of high gain tones at high volumes. They can be had for about $700 used if you look which is a very good price for a high gain, great sounding head that's made in the USA, definitely worth the look.

nickname009's review

Peavey 5150 Head
* 120 Watts RMS
* Five 12AX7 preamp tubes
* Four 6L6GC power tubes
* HI and LO Gain Inputs
* 2 channel preamp
* PRE and POST gain Controls on both channels
* Bright & Crunch Switches
* 3-band EQ
* Presence and Resonance Controls
* Post-EQ effects loop
* Preamp output
* Footswitch included

This is the original 5150, block letter version with I believe RUBY tubes.
It's your typical 2 channel amp with rhythm and lead, best known for high gain distortion sounds and not so much clean.


Pretty simple to use if one is used to playing peavey amps, they almost always have the same set of controls. It's like a universal set of knobs to include onto every amp they've ever made. Especially the pre and post gain features, with the bright and crunch switches too.

No manual is generally needed, it's pretty easy to get a decent tone and tweak further for specific changes.


I first have to say that this amp sounds great generally only at high volumes and not bedroom practice volumes. Yes it's obvious but there are some players out there who don't know. Even though my review of this head is nearly 10 years + too late, I'm sure nearly 99% of the guitarist population knows about this amp, has at least heard of it and most likely plugged this in, or maybe a variation of it.

So what does it sound like? Like the past 10 years+ of all metal albums out there. I can't imagine how many players have played through this model amp, it has become so widely known and so many variations and modifications have been made for it, to it. There's even been clones of these amps made by other companies etc, the list goes on.

This has been the go to amp for anything high gain related. Especially with some sort of boost put out in front. Super tight, raunchy distortion. Perfect in this respect.

As for cleans, no this amp is not known for cleans, although depending on how you tweak it, has potential to be very usable. It is no fender mind you but it does have a clean channel. Though it is rather sterile sounding compared to the jangly fenders and what have you, it's definitely still usable in a live situation.


The 5150 is so famed it's hard to completely tell you every detail about it because you most likely already know. It's a metal amp, a great one with an overdrive, and has become the industry standard high gain amp for metal players.

Is it versatile? I wouldn't say so. The cleans are nothing to write home about and I don't see any blues/jazz or just non high-gain players plugging into this. But what it does, it's very good at. VERY good at.

It's heavy though. All of them are, so be prepared to be lifting something like a ton of bricks every time you transport the damn thing!

wwhhhaatt's review"workhorse"

Peavey 5150 Head
The Peavey 5150 is a 120 watt high gain tube amp. It runs off four 6l6 power tubes and has five 12ax7 preamp tubes. There are 1/4' inputs for high gain and low gain, two speaker outputs, 4/8/16 ohm selector, pre-amp out, and post EQ effects loop.. This is a two channel amp with a shared EQ of bass, middle, and treble. Each channel has it's own pre-gain and post-gain knobs and the clean channel has a crunch and bright switch. The channels can be selected on the front panel or with an external footswitch which can also turn the effects loop on and off. There are also controls for power amp resonance and presence.


There are not too many frill with this amp and it laid out very straight forward. Setting it up is easy and getting it to sound good is just as simple. I love amps that can sound good with the EQ controls at noon and this is one of those amps. A basic understanding of amp heads will get you through this no problem. I did not receive a manual nor did I need one to know what to do.


When playing this amp I am more than likely in metal mode. The clean channel is there but it does not sound very good. It is flat and uninspiring but can be livened up with some delay or reverb. I usually run this amp with the controls set around noon with the bass being slightly lower and the mids up a bit. The amp has so much gain that I usually leave that dial below 4. Even with the gain up higher it it surprisingly detailed sounding. Of course you can get into buzz saw territory by running the gain high and cutting the mids but I have never been a fan of that sound. This amp is also loud very loud. The post gain dial is so sensitive that little adjustments make it go from bedroom level to ear splitting very quickly. That added headroom is great to have as the amp sounds better when you turn it up. At stage volumes this thing just hits you in the gut. Palm mutes sound ridiculously heavy and power chords cut with authority.


These amps can be found cheap and are great to have around even for a backup. They are also built tough to withstand constant abuse and volume.This amp has fallen from the top of a full stack and still works. I have had the same tubes in this amp for probably close to five years and it still sounds good. My other amps sound better overall but I find myself re-tubbing them about once a year.

If you need a no frills metal amp it is tough to beat the 5150 at any price range. There are other high gain amps with more features and a more refined sound but the raw tone of this amp is great for that style. This amp is on tons of records and criminally underrated by gear snobs.

MatrixClaw's review"The Best High Gain Amp for the Price!"

Peavey 5150 Head
Specs include:

120w of pure American voiced power
5 - 12AX7s in the preamp
4 - 6L6s in the power amp
Footswitchable Lead and Rhythm (clean) channels
Effects loop
3-band EQ (lows, mids, highs)
Resonance and Presence controls
Bright and Crunch switch on Rhythm channel
4, 8, or 16 ohms
Made in the USA

This amp is the same model as Peavey's current production 6505.


The 5150 has a simple and minimalistic layout, which is very easy to get used to. Super easy to get a great tone out of it, though the Rhythm channel can be a bit finicky with getting a good clean tone out of it.


I have owned many, many 5150s over the years (probably somewhere close to 10). Having playing it through everything from a Strat to a Les Paul, a Tele to a Jackson, they have never let me down. Currently, I'm using it through a Soldano 2x12 with Eminence V12 Legends and a Parker Fly Stealth, mainly in Drop C.

Mostly, I play metal, and while this amp isn't necessarily the most versatile amp on the market, it is certainly the best I've heard in its price range for the genre (and trust me, I have owned pretty much EVERY high gain amp there is to own in the sub-$2000 range). This amp has a very strong mid-range presence, and it is almost impossible to achieve a "scooped" sound with it, unless you're using an external EQ in the loop. This amp will cut through a live mix like a knife, with your mids at 3, and is quite possibly the best sounding amp I've used for recording (maybe tied with a 2 Channel Mesa Dual Rectifier).

A lot of people complain about this amp not truly having a "clean" tone on it, and personally, I think they're nuts. While I can see not being able to achieve a shimmering clean tone out of the 5150 with super high output pickups, pickups similar in output to the Duncan JB are more than capable of getting an entirely passable clean tone out of this amp, you just need to spend some time learning how the EQ controls and Bright/Crunch switches work on the channel.

The Lead channel is capable of the heaviest of heavy, with a tight, super-cutting tone. The secret to the clearest distorted tone out of this amp, however, is using an overdrive pedal (I use a Maxon OD-808) over the Rhythm channel with the Crunch setting engaged, the pre-gain set a bit low on the channel and the overdrive pedal with the drive set at 0 and the volume all the way up. While it might not pack quite the saturated punch that the Lead channel does, it's one of the clearest high gain tones you will find on ANY amp (even more so than my Diezel Herbert).

However, perhaps the biggest increase in tone that can be made with the 5150, is the addition of the "bias mod" circuit. This adds an adjustable bias pot, which allows you to run the tubes at the correct voltage (they come biased very cold from the factory), and get rid of nasty cross-over distortion. Not only does this mod open the amp up quite a bit and reduces the sterileness of it, but in some cases also gives it more saturation and gain (like it needs extra gain as it is! :P )


I have been recommending these amps to people for years, and for good reason. You can get them dirt cheap on the used market and they sound GREAT! I keep buying more expensive amps to try them out, and keep coming back to the 5150. With this amp and a 2 Channel Mesa Dual Recto, you're able to nail just about every high gain tone ever recorded. While the more expensive amps sound great, having tried nearly all of them, I've yet to find one that is really worth the extra cash over these two amps. While I own a Diezel Herbert, and it sounds AMAZING, would I pay that much money for one again? Definitely not. Am I going to sell it anytime soon? Definitely not.

I honestly can't say enough good things about the 5150... While this may not be the perfect practice amp (it's a bit buzzy at super low volumes, but has a great Master Volume once you get it past 1.5 or so), it's an awesome head that I would recommend to anyone playing heavier music, whether their budget is $500 or $5000.

Unless some revolutionary new amp comes out that really blows me away, this amp won't be going anywhere, or be traded for anything.

Hatsubai's review"Not just for that EVH sound"

Peavey 5150 Head
The Peavey 5150 made its debut in 1991 with the collaborative effort of EVH to get his own signature amp. It's a 120 watt, two channel amplifier with a shared EQ. However, as many people in Europe discovered, this thing is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Sure, EVH may have designed it, but it does not sound similar to his Marshalls of the past. This thing has a ridiculous amount of gain on tap, and it's been successfully utilized by the melodic death metal scene in Scandinavia.


Layout wise, the amp is very simple. In fact, it's somewhat limiting due to the shared EQ. You only have a clean/crunch button for one channel, along with its own volume knob. The effects loop can be finicky and is prone to dust issues causing the amp to sound like it's shorting out. If this happens, spray some contact cleaner in there and cycle the jacks a bit. The amp also has a preamp out feature, along with a ground select switch to help cancel any hum that you may get due to bad power at gigs.


While the amp is lacking in terms of overall versatility, the sound is where this thing excels. First of all, the clean channel is dismal. If you're looking for an amp with a clean channel, I'd look elsewhere. With the crunch switch engaged, you can get a great EVH sound, and boosting the crunch channel can get you a good metal sound. However, the lead channel is where this thing really excels. This high gain, low midrange grunting amplifier has been famously recorded by bands such as Arch Enemy, Carcass, Dark Tranquillity, In Flames, Machine Head, The Black Dahlia Murder, The Haunted and the list still goes on to this day. For those into more extreme metal, I recommend boosting the lead channel as it gives a tight, percussive sound that sounds absolutely massive.


Even to this day, the 5150 is one of the most utilized amps in heavy metal. This isn't just for the EVH fanboys, and it can actually do more than just metal. Pair it up with some Greenback speakers, put it on the crunch channel, and you can get a great blues/rock sound. While it lacks overall versatility in terms of functions, it is one of those amps that delivers the goods every time. On top of that, they're extremely reliable and have proven themselves on tour for decades. Just be warned -- if you're looking for a good clean channel, look elsewhere.

moosers's review

Peavey 5150 Head
The Peavey 5150 Head is a tube based guitar amplifier head designed by Eddie Van Halen.  The amp delivers 120 watts of power and has both rhythm and lead channels.  The head has 1/4 inch connections in the front for your instrument inputs, with both high and normal gain options.  It also has a 1/4 inch speaker output to send this to a speaker cabinet.


The Peavey 5150 Head definitely has a lot to work with in terms of parameters.  The rhythm channels is very simple, consisting of both pre and post gain knobs as well as buttons for bright and crunch.  The lead channel has the same pre and post gain knobs, and in general it has a three band EQ including knobs for low, mid, and high.  There is also a 'power amp' section with parameters for resonance and presence.  Getting a great sound from both the lead and rhythm channels isn't too difficult, and if you don't get it right off the bat there are a lot of options to work with here.


The Peavey 5150 Head can really rip in terms of its tone quality.  I do like the lead sound over the rhythm, but both channels sound pretty great overall.  I've only used the head a few times for a recording session, in tandem with a Peavey cabinet and a Fender Stratocaster guitar.  I found that I was able to get most of the sounds that I wanted inside of this amp, so I didn't use it in tandem with an external effects.  The rhythm tone is crunchy and thick, while the lead sound really cuts through and has a good deal of sustain.  The 5150 Head gives you a lot of raw power in general, as this amp can get incredibly loud.


For an amp head of this caliber, the Peavey 5150 Head has been set a pretty reasonable price.  Of course you need a speaker cabinet to go along with it, but Peavey speaker cabinets aren't too expensive either depending on which one that you choose.  I'd recommend this head for lead guitarists over rhythm ones, as this amp really seems to cater to lead sounds over rhythm.  The rhythm channel will definitely get the job done most of the time, but it isn't like the lead channel.  If you're looking for a great sounding amp head without a huge price tag, I'd encourage you to try out the Peavey 5150 Head.
MGR/he who smokes bitches02/14/2005

MGR/he who smokes bitches's review"Peavey 5150 Head"

Peavey 5150 Head
I bought the 5150 from musicians friend for about 700 buckaroonies.

everything. At first I saw this compared to the 5150 II and saw that the second unit had a lot more knobs. Better right? NO. Yeah, i can get whatever i want out the the head, i just have to play around with it. Dont believe all of the crap you hear from other reviewers about it having a dirty clean channel. It all sounds better than fine.

I didnt like paying a lot of money for it. But i dont like wiping my butt and I got over that ok.

I would suggest buying this from a music store instead of ordering it from a catlouge or ebay. I had mine spend about 3 weeks in a shop because UPS screwed up the tube filaments and that was also the catalouges fault because somehow they installed ruby tubes in it which peavey never uses standard and they dont do to well with shipping.

Just buy it. Im 17 and I cant afford anything but this truely is the best thing you cant get for any amount of money. Its very practical and if i would spend 700 hundred dollars on anything it would have to be the best. Just dont buy solid state.

This review was originally published on

MGR/Ben's review"Peavey 5150 Guitar Amplifier Head"

Peavey 5150 Head
I was searching for an entry level tube amp for a couple of different styles. I was looking on ebay at a couple of Marshall's. Namely a JCM900 50 watt head. Then I was approached about buying a used original 5150 head for $420. Well I thought to myself, thats a decent deal, peavey makes good amps, go for it. So I bought the amp in a private transaction, and the rest is history

I've had this amp about a year or so now, and its great. I put JJ tubes in and used the amp with a Carvin 2x12 with vintage 30's. With the right eqing you could get a lot of different sounds. Mainly complain about the clean, but if you lower the preamp gain, use an eq and a reverb, and punch in the bright button, it makes for a very nice clean sound. Also if you punch in the crunch button on the same rythem channal, you could get a gritty texas blues sound. Now we come to the lead channal. This channal is all about big gain. Since it was designed in part by Eddie Van Halen, you know you could get that Van Halen crunch out of this thing. It could really comp just about every other modern high gain sound

Well its heavy, at times noisy, and the stock bias setting is very cold. Its rated at 120 watts, this means lots of tubes, a big transformer, and a lot of wiring. This makes for an amp that weighs in at just about 60lbs. The rectangler shape of the head makes that 60lbs real heavy. The amp is a bit noisy, but with good tubes and a noise gate its quite controllable. Also the bias is fixed and set very cold. I've decieded to modify the amp for a bias trim pot. This should warm up the amp a bit, and add some picking dynamics. Generally just change a little of the character.

For $420 used, I have a rather well built amp. Peavey makes quality stuff, and they stand behind it. You won't get the maticulous construction you get out of a Soldano or a Bogner, but its sturdy and thats what matters.

In all I spent $420 on a big monster tube amp, that sounds good and could be toted to a gig. Combined with the $330 carvin cabinet, I have a complete rig that costed me under $800. To me thats a lot of bang for the buck

This review was originally published on
Echo tango07/26/2013

Echo tango's review (This content has been automatically translated from French)" Once released, the beast is!"

Peavey 5150 Head
5 x 12 AX7 preamp with 4 x 6L6GC power. 2 channels shared EQ. Controls of presence & resonance itou.120 watts at your feet ...


the manual tells you less operating mode footswitch jack (stereo forced to drive effects loop and switch channels). To get a nice sound volume must be opened and the ears ...


The EQ is very effective. I played with guitars equipped with Seymour Duncan SH4/SH2, EMG 85, and Seymour vintage rails and Hot Rails. We still can draw a nice sound. Look for what is, but it takes not for ages. FYI I plug a 4X12Framus equipped V30 (rewired by me) and it sends! That said it's still a receiver oriented "metal / rock" ... to my delight!


A beast Hard'n Heavy. Before speaking ill try and be seduced. Bought secondhand I Retube (rinsed original lamps ...) Personally I love this beast that screams "rock and roll" to each note