The Peavey 5150 is a tube guitar amplifier that is well known for its high gain and heavy tone. The amplifier was originally a signature product for Eddie Van Halen, but went into mass production 1991. Peavey has since renamed the 5150 amp 6505, although Eddie retains the rights to use the 5150 brand. There are various ways to modify your Peavey 5150, from upgrading the power tubes to replacing the grill. The important thing is to only modify your 5150 when you know exactly what you'd like to adjust.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- Replacement tubes
- Replacement output transformer
- Solder iron
Audition your 5150 and keep a log of areas you wish to improve. Work your way through the different sounds, starting with the clean channel and finishing with the lead channel. Make notes of any particular characteristics that you wish to improve. For example, there may be hiss on the clean channel or you may seek a darker tone when the amp is overdriven. Take care with this process so that you don't spend time and money altering your amp for the worse.
Research the easiest solution. In many cases a simple tube upgrade is sufficient to improve the tone. The original Peavey 5150 head comes with 5 12AX7 preamp tubes and 4 6L6GC power amp tubes. The modern 6505 has the same stock tubes. If you'd like a tighter, warmer sound from your amplifier, find a suitable lower gain replacement. If you'd prefer a thicker, harsher sound with even more gain, find a high gain replacement. The Tube Store website has a handy comparison chart that you can use to find compatible replacement tubes that produce higher or lower gain. Once you've found a tube you'd like to use, order a set of them.
Install your new tubes. Disconnect the 5150 from the power supply and leave it to cool if you've been using it. Unscrew the back panel and gently pull the existing tubes out. Don't twist and pull as you would a light bulb; the tube will just slide out. Install your new tubes and test the amp.
Upgrade the output transformer to improve the dynamics and frequency range of your amp. You can get output transformers from electronics companies or amp mod specialists. Mercury Magnetics manufacture transformer mods for the Peavey 5150. This is quite an advanced modification. Remove the chassis from the head to access the transformers. The output transformer is the biggest metal block in the circuit and is located between the tubes and the speaker. Disconnect it with a soldering iron and remove it from the chassis. Install the replacement and solder it in.
Tips and warnings
- Wear latex gloves when handling tubes.
- If you're unsure of anything, have a qualified pro handle your mod. The Peavey 5150, like most tube amps, carries a potentially fatal voltage.
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