Those who are familiar with Eddie Van Halen’s work, probably know the history behind the EVH 5150III and the roots it shares with Peavey’s 6505. These two amps were based on the same design, but offer two very similar flavors of tone. Many consider EVH 5150III to be the more elaborate one of the two. Either way, if you are looking for an awesome heavy tone tube amp for under $1000, you will hardly find a better model than the EVH 5150III.
The 50 Watt version of the EVH’s 5150III brings pretty much the same controls as its bigger, more popular 100-watt brother. You are looking at three channels, where channel 1 and 2 share the same controls. In essence, you are left with two clusters that include a gain knob, a three-band EQ, and a volume knob. Lastly, there is a presence knob at the far right end of the control panel. Overall, the controls on this head are pretty intuitive as they are. Both EQ sections are very responsive, allowing you to dial in exactly the type of tone you are looking for. As always, you can definitely recognize Eddie’s influence when it comes to the controls.
EVH’s 5150III is packed with a full set of JJ’s tubes. You get seven 12AX7s in the preamp stage and two 6L6 tubes in the power stage. Combined, these produce some 50 Watts of power. The back panel is full of various connectivity options as well. Extension cab outputs combined with full MIDI compatibility if you want to make this a part of a more complex rig, effects loop and more. What EVH aimed for was the very same type of versatility only in a smaller package. For the most part, they have succeeded in doing exactly that. On top of its great functionality, EVH 5150III comes in an extremely attractive cabinet that gives it an aesthetic touch.
The tonal range of this head is impressive, to say the least. You get a very versatile clean channel that is both crisp and crisp. If you push the gain over the 12 o’clock position, it will start to growl. Switching to channel two adds another gain stage to this channel. In other words, you get a thick crunch. One cool thing about the channel 2 is that rolling off the volume on your guitar determines how much of that growl is going to be in your signal. Lastly, there’s the channel 3 that is pure gain overload. This is where the magic happens if you are going for a heavy tone. For a 50 Watt head, EVH 5150III is capable of pushing both a 2×12 as well as 4×12 with ease.
EVH 5150III is a compact beast of an amp that brings a very distinctive signature of sound to its users. The combination of very defined cleans, great crunch, and full gain madness makes it one of the most versatile options on the market. If you always wanted the 100 Watt version of this amp but couldn’t quite afford it, this 50 Watt model will be the answer to all of your needs.