New amp day… EVH 5150 iii 100 watt!

I took the plunge and got the EVH 5150 iii 100 watt head! I was attracted to the 50 watt mini, but the lack of a true separate clean/crunch channel turned me off. I have to say, i was worried about being homesick for the XXX (i’ve used it for like 7 years), but so far this thing has blown me away. I am using it with my bevy of Ibanez 7 strings with mostly Dimarzio pickups in them (one has BKP Aftermaths), through an Avatar 2×12 cab (one V30, one G12H).
The cleans are just fantastic. That was probably my biggest complaint about the XXX… the cleans were good for a high gain amp, but not good in the real sense of the word. They were bearable. The 5150 iii has a nice warm clean tone that can also get bright and sparkly if you want it. You can even crank the gain on it and get a nice amount of breakup going on. If you also dial up a lot of presence, it gets a really strange, stringy overdrive going on; it almost sounds like an acoustic with a distortion pedal in front of it, which is kinda odd! Can’t wait to hear how the cleans sound with some reverb and chorus on them… i need to buy some damn effects.

The crunch channel is sweet. i’ve probably spent the least amount of time on this channel, really. It covers all the mid to high(ish) gain tones. I might look into some kind of tube swap that would enable me to get a little but more gain out of this channel; as it is now, it has just BARELY less on tap than what i usually use for rhythm tones when playing my own stuff. I mean, BARELY… i’d like to just get a little more gain and compression out of it. But the actual TONE is killer. I imagine you could get a killer brown sound out of this channel if you were so inclined.

The lead channel is a beast. It does what the 5150’s are known for, only better. It isn’t as ragged or piercing as the original model can be (which can be good or bad, depending on your taste), but to my ears, it can get even more savage and brutal. The low end is some of the tightest i’ve ever heard, and it has more gain on tap than you’d ever need. I bet it sounds ridiculous in a mix, too.

I have a Bad Monkey, which i used today to try boosting it. I left the low/high knobs at noon, cranked the level knob all the way, and left the gain knob all the way down or just barely turned it up. It made that crunch channel sound KILLER for rhythm! It really added the sizzle i wanted. I’d still rather have that kind of gain on tap rather than relying on a pedal all the time, though…. with the lead channel, the Bad Monkey made it even tighter and nastier, without adding much noise. Its easy for it to get a little too gainy, so you don’t want to over do it. But yeah, it sounds insane. I’ll make some videos or something soon.

The presence knobs on the amp are interesting, especially on the crunch/lead channels; they don’t just add high end, they really alter the voicing of the gain. With the lead channel, if you crank the presence and reduce the treble, you can get it to sound almost exactly like the original 5150 combo. Very compressed, somewhat buzzy, and extremely brutal. I’ve been dialing in the presence knob until i got the character of distortion i’m after, then tweaking the EQ until i got the tone i wanted. You can really get a lot of different tones out of the amp just by spending some time with the presence knobs.

But overall, i’m very pleased! I can’t wait to try this thing out at band practice volumes (and with a live band mix). Its got to be the tightest, most versatile and toneful amp i’ve ever used. Plus now that i don’t have to look at trucker girls on the faceplate, i feel like i own a grown-up’s piece of gear. Huzzah!
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~ by ben eller guitars on 06/15/2012.

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