Peavey 5150 Head
Peavey 5150 Head

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

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MatrixClaw 03/19/2011

Peavey 5150 Head : MatrixClaw's user review

« The Best High Gain Amp for the Price! »

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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.

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