Tag Archives: Amplifier

EVH/Fender 5150 III S

Eddie Van Halen himself admitted that his musical tastes were constantly changing in pursuit of his tone chasing and updated revisionism on his musical equipment.

In acknowledgement of this fact, Eddie began modifying his own EVH 5150 III amplifiers to further suit a more personalised experience. The result is a limited edition head which is available for purchase.

Eddie never fails to disappoint with his EVH Gear brand.

Eddie with his Striped Series 5150 and 5150III EL34

Picture courtesy https://thehub.musiciansfriend.com/artist-interviews/eddie-van-halen-early-guitar-gear-tone-evh-and-more

So, what differs from the previous EVH 5150 III amplifier heads? The basic differences from the regular EVH 5150 III heads are, as noted from www.evhgear.com themselves, are:

  • Increased gain on Channel Two for greater sustain.
  • Revoicing on Channel Two for further low-mid frequency clarity definition.
  • Channel Three also features increased gain.
  • Improved low end control range on Channel Three.
  • Each Channel has an additional resonance control on the rear of each channel to fine tune low frequency response.
  • Eight JJ ECC83 preamp tubes.
  • Four Shuguang 6L6 Power Tubes.
  • Switchable output impedance (4, 8 and 16 ohms)
  • Adjustable bias control.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Eddie was inspired by his early Van Halen sound in the making of the EVH 5150 III S amplifier.

Image result for eddie van halen with marshall amp

Picture courtesy https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=491342

Aside from this, all the regular features are, courtesy of www.evhgear.com:


Model Name: 5150III® 100S Head, 120V, Black

Model Number: 2250250000

Series: EVH® 5150 III® Heads

Amplifier Type: Tube

MSRP: $3055.54

Colour: Black


Controls: Gain, Low, Mid, High, Volume, Channel Select, Prescence and Resonance for each channel

Effects Loop: 1/4” – (Send/Return)

Inputs: One – 1/4″

Line Out: One – (1/4”)

Channels: Three – (Clean, Crunch and Lead)

Voltage: 120V

Wattage: 100 Watts into 4, 8 or 16 ohms (Switchable)


Cabinet Material: Birch/Pine

Handle: Molded Plastic Strap with Nickel-Plated Caps

Control Knobs: Chicken-Head Style Pointer


Pre Amp Tubes: Eight JJ ECC83S / 12AX7

Power Tubes: Four Shuguang 6L6


FootSwitch: 4-Button Footswich Included


The basis for the update of this amplifier was to mold together two brilliant theories of the perfect sound that Eddie himself has been tone chasing in his amplifiers throughout his music career. The first was to provide a modern amplifier that would be ideal for a fresh and innovative approach for those who sought the latest in rock innovation.

The second was to replicate, in this modern amplifier, a tone that looked back at the heyday of Eddie Van Halen that he had early on in his career with his Marshall Superlead head. This is not an easy sound for a company to capture. However, Eddie himself has blown away any competitors and imitators in this regard. The best product is the one that sells itself, and the EVH 5150 III S, for these reasons, is a must have for any gigging musician today.

EVH Gear are no doubt forward thinking and boundary pushing in their approach which complements Eddie’s tone chasing vision.

EVH® Logo 3x5 Banner

Picture courtesy http://www.evhgear.com/gear/accessories/evh-logo-3-x-5-banner/



  1. Review: EVH 5150 IIIS EL34 Amp Head and 4×12 Cabinet. Guitar World. https://www.guitarworld.com/gear/review-evh-5150-iiis-el34-amp-head-and-4×12-cabinet

Peavey 5150

There is little knowledge of specifically why Eddie Van Halen teamed up with Peavey to design, model and release his first signature line of amplifiers. The reasonable guess, however is obvious. Eddie was becoming dissatisfied with both his Marshall Superlead Amplifier and then later on, his Soldano SLO 100. Both had served a purpose for the time being, yet Eddie was prepared to go one step further and teamed up with the American company, known for heavy metal sounds called Peavey.

Both Eddie Van Halen and Hartley Peavey worked together on the 5150 line of amplifiers.

Picture courtesy http://www.harmonycentral.com/forum/forum/guitar/acapella-41/1126327-/page6

Hartley Peavey’s father had begun his own small music store prior to him discovering rock and roll. However, in 1965 Hartley Peavey decided to focus on rock and roll and after playing in bands, began creating products for rock musicians. With a particular focus for amps modelled and released with appeal for hard rock and heavy metal musicians alike, it came as no surprise that one Eddie Van Halen pursued the idea of the perfect metal amplifiers with the assistance of Peavey.

So by 1991, Eddie Van Halen had approached Peavey and they had agreed to assist with creating the 5150 line of amps. As early as the For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge album, a prototype of the Peavey 5150 was used, notably on “Poundcake”. Eddie began using Peavey’s amplifiers shortly afterwards onstage. By the time 1993 came around, the Peavey 5150 line of amplifiers were commercially released.

The fact that the 5150/6505 amplifiers have been extensively used over the years by a large variety of guitar players proves the ingenious construction and design of them.

Picture courtesy https://pointyguitar.wordpress.com/2012/04/21/ad-eddie-van-halen-for-peavey/

It immediately became popular amongst heavy metal players for creating a unique sound for that type of music. This was the beginning of the long relationship between EVH and Peavey that did not end very well in 2004. After this occurred, Peavey retained the rights to continue selling the amp, renamed the 6505 in commemoration of its 40th anniversary as a rock and roll company.

The amp itself is a powerful tube driven amp. Different versions of it come with slight modifications. But if you are hardcore about finding out what Eddie Van Halen wanted to experience with his amp, your best bet is to go for the traditional head and cabinet, the 6505 head and the 430B 412 Cabinet.

Eddie Van Halen used Peavey amplifiers for nearly 15 years, a remarkable length of time.

Picture courtesy http://picssr.com/photos/snowfreak91287/interesting?nsid=21186431@N04

Listed below are the stats for the 6505 head, courtesy of http://www.peavey.com:

  • High and low gain inputs
  • 120 watts (rms) into 16, 8 or 4 ohms (switchable)
  • 2-channel preamp switchable on front panel or remote footswitch
  • Rhythm channel: pre/post gain, bright and crunch switches
  • Five 12AX7 preamp tubes and four 6L6GC power amp tubes
  • Channels share 3-band EQ
  • Presence and resonance controls
  • Switchable post-EQ effects loop
  • Preamp output
  • Footswitch included
  • Lead channel: pre/post gain
  • Weight unpacked: 48 lb (21.772 kg)
  • Weight packed: 54 lb (24.494 kg)
  • Width packed: 12.25” (31.115 cm)
  • Height packed: 28.5” (72.39 cm)
  • Depth packed: 14” (35.56 cm)

Additionally, listed below are the stats for the 430B 412 Cabinet, courtesy of http://www.peavey.com:

  • Four 12″ Celestion Vintage 30 Speakers
  • 16 ohms
  • Heavy-duty casters
  • Vintage British sound
  • 18 ply Baltic Birch cabinet construction
  • 120 watts power handling
  • Stereo or mono operation
  • Weight Unpacked: 96.98 lb(43.99 kg)
  • Weight Packed: 107.25 lb(48.65 kg)
  • Width Packed: 32.75″(83.185 cm)
  • Height Packed: 35.75″(90.805 cm)
  • Depth Packed: 17.125″(43.4975 cm)

Despite the fact that Eddie no longer endorses or uses this particular set of amplifiers, Peavey have managed to continue to sell a legendary and historical amplifier with great success. This is largely due to its tone, being very popular amongst heavy metal and thrash metal players for its distinctive sound.

For more information, visit http://peavey.com/products/6505/

Hartley Peavey and Eddie Van Halen’s collaboration, although fruitful, did not last over time.

Picture courtesy http://www.vhnd.com/2014/02/15/aap52/ 


  1. 2015. Peavey. Corporate profile. http://peavey.com/corporate/
  2. 2015. Peavey. 6505 – Forging the sound of aggression. http://peavey.com/products/6505/

The Early Van Halen Amp Setup

To understand more about the early Van Halen sound, one must examine the amp and effects setup that Eddie Van Halen used, not just his guitar and playing style.

Eddie is a technical genius when it comes to production of sound.

Picture courtesy http://www.flickriver.com/groups/584497@N21/pool/interesting/

It is well known that Edward had a stock Marshall amplifier in the early days, although there is much confusion over the exact type and modifications of the said amp. The primary amp that Eddie used was a stock of many that he owned mid to late 1960s Marshall Superlead amplifier in the transition stage where Marshall amplifiers changed their build1. It is noted as well since Ed liked to put his amps on full blast, he used an Ohmite Variac to lower the voltage and change the sound.

There are Marshall Superlead reissues out there, check them out online, eBay is a good place to start as Marshall do not sell them on their website.

Picture courtesy http://www.pinterest.com/pin/187180928237410760/

Another trick that Eddie used was to use a dummy load box system through the amp. Essentially this would place the effects and other additional sound modifications more directly through the amp, and adjusting the reproduction of sound effects as a result. This made the effects less noisy, and sounding more realistic as a result in terms of sound production. Eddie also used a couple of sixties style basket weave cabinets along with his main Superlead amplifier. This was probably to modify and contain the sound emitted from his amp. When it came to effects pedals, Ed used a fairly basic setup. He was known to use the MXR effects pedals for basic effects2 (including a MXR Flanger and Phase 90 pedal). He also used on Eruption a standard Echoplex tape delay system to achieve that sound at the end of “Eruption” on Van Halen I. His pedalboard would grow and change over the years.

The EVH Gear website does sell some interesting pedals, amongst other things, if you cannot follow the original setup.

Picture courtesy http://www.highprofilemedia.com/oldnews.html

By the way, Eddie never uses a distortion pedal, preferring instead to use the in-built distortion in the amplifier itself3. This is just a basic early setup of Eddie Van Halen’s gear. Here is a link to assist you in achieving that classic Van Halen early setup and sound: http://www.rig-talk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=43828 This is a link to an online forum where a more in-depth analysis of Ed’s early setup for the first Van Halen album is.

The true appreciation of Eddie’s genius is not just found in his music, but also in his equipment.

Picture courtesy http://www.harmonycentral.com/forum/forum/LivePerformanceCategory/acapella-54/409280-

Additionally, below is a diagram of Eddie Van Halen’s early amp setup. The basis of his setup was fairly stock, although was slightly modified over the years. Please see the diagram below for a basic reconstruction of the setup EVH used for the main part of his career.

This is a perfectly good reconstruction of how Eddie Van Halen set up his amp rig to play with on-stage, or in the studio.

Picture courtesy http://www.legendarytones.com/edward-van-halen-brown-sound/

According to Legendary Tones where this diagram originated from, there is a several step process for linking Ed’s guitar to the end chain of the output of sound:

  1. MXR Midboost (used only occasionally, depending on which guitar Ed used)
  2. Marshall Superlead (late 1960s), as mentioned before, with some modifications possibly in place, although mostly stock otherwise.
  3. Ohmite Variac as mentioned before, yet set at different levels, depending upon studio/stage requirements, mostly around 89 Volts. DO NOT under any circumstances, set the voltage higher than normal, as this will damage the amplifier and possibly be dangerous to the user.
  4. Dummy load box used to deal with effects and output more easily.
  5. MXR Flanger.
  6. MXR Phase 90, sometimes Ed used this on stage, rather than linking it into the signal chain. This was totally dependent upon what song or sort of performance Ed was doing at the time.
  7. Echoplex EP3.
  8. Occasionally Eddie would add an EQ box, dependent once again, on the sound and need for the output.
  9. H & H Power Amp. Please note that Eddie did initially not use this until the early 1980s. It was designed to shape the signal before reaching the speaker output.
  10. Marshall, JBL and later on, Celestion speakers used for the end output of the signal.

This is a rough guide to the amp setup Eddie Van Halen used in the early days. Of course, Ed loved the sound of his Marshall amplifier, which is present on all the early David Lee Roth albums. It is a fantastic sound and is very audibly recognizable and simple to setup.


  1. http://www.legendarytones.com/brownsound.html
  2. http://www.angelfire.com/ri2/bob2/evh.html
  3. http://equipboard.com/pros/eddie-van-halen