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Fractal Audio AMP models: PVH 6160 Block (“block letter” EVH 5150 / Peavey 6505)


* EDIT: Up-to-date information is available in Yek's Guide to the Fractal Audio Amplifier Models *

PVH 6160 Block: based on “block letter” EVH 5150 (now: Peavey 6505)

Peavey is a large international manufacturer and supplier of musical equipment, since 1957. It owns Budda and Trace Elliot. Wikipedia

The EVH 5150 was Eddie Van Halen’s first signature amplifier, made in collaboration with Peavey. After the endorsement ended, this amplifier was continued as Peavey’s 6505, which is exactly the same to the EVH 5150.

Why the name? It’s the police code for a crazy person on the loose.

EVH’s signature amps are well presented in Fractal Audio’s model collection:
  • 5153: EVH 5150-III
  • FAS 6160: modified model of the EVH 5150, less fizzy, with a bouncier feel
  • PVH 6160 Block: original “block letter” EVH 5150 (now: Peavey 6505)
  • PVH 6160+: Peavey 6505+ (previously: EVH 5150-II)
“Block” refers to the first run of the EVH 5150 which had “EVH” on the right side of the face plate written in block letters. After Electro-Voice complained this was replaced with Eddie’s signature. Around the same time the original Sylvania tubes were replaced with other tubes, supposedly of lesser quality. That’s why “block letter” 5150 amps are held in higher esteem than the later signature ones. There are no other differences between “block letter” and “signature” models. More info.

“These amplifiers (collectively the 5150 series) and speaker cabinets were the result of a collaboration with Eddie Van Halen. The 5150 has gained popularity with modern hard rock, hardcore punk and metal bands and guitarists due to its large amount of distortion. Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains uses this amplifier. While touring with Van Halen, Cantrell asked Eddie Van Halen, "if I could buy [one] off him at the end of the tour with them, and when I got home there were three full stacks and two guitars waiting for me."In 2004, Peavey and Eddie Van Halen parted ways, with Eddie taking the 5150 brand name with him. This resulted in the renaming of the amplifier as the 'Peavey 6505', with slightly updated styling but original circuitry. The 5150 II, which contains an extra preamp tube for more headroom and gain on the Rhythm channel, is the old equivalent to the new 6505+. In 2010, Peavey released a new amplifier for the 6505 line, the 6534+. It is much like the 6505+, but the 6534 has EL34 power tubes instead of the 6L6 power tubes on the standard 6505 amplifiers.”​

“Primed by up to six 12AX7 preamp tubes and driven by four 6L6GC power tubes, the 6505 delivers the tone and high gain power that modern players demand. Plugging into the high gain input doubles the input gain for devastating overdriven tones. On top of that, you can create a second "lead" tone by engaging the Crunch option on the rhythm channel. In the master section you will find the patented Resonance and Presence controls. Resonance acts as a low-frequency boost, while Presence acts as a high-frequency boost, both allowing you to sculpt your tone. All of this tonal power is housed in an exterior that is built for the rigors of the road.”​

“Peavey designed and released the Peavey 6505 amplifier as the original 5150, for one specific artist. But in the hands of many other musicians and producers, it quickly took on a life of its own and redefined the sound of modern metal music. Renamed the 6505 in honor of Peavey's fortieth anniversary (1965-2005), that legacy continues today. This is the story of how the 6505 changed the sound of metal forever.

Nineteen ninety-two was a crucial year for guitar-based rock music. Thrash metal had peaked. Hair metal evaporated. Grunge went Platinum. And the guitar amplifier that would soon eviscerate them all was about to inspire a new generation of players and producers to remake metal in its image.

At the headquarters of Peavey Electronics, a team of engineers was putting the finishing touches on the 5150, a new breed of high-gain guitar amplifier outfitted with nine tubes, a hyper-responsive tone stack, and the soon-to-be patented Resonance control—the lynchpin to its groundbreaking tone.

When it finally hit stores that year, the 5150 turned a lot of influential ears around the world, especially hard rock and metal guitarists who were looking for a new sound to complement the extreme new music coming from the underground. Guitarist and budding metal producer Andy Sneap was working in a Nottingham, U.K., guitar store when the first 5150 hit the street.
"I first heard the 5150 when I was actually selling them in a guitar store in my hometown," said Sneap. "I was also working as the 'metal guy' at a local 24-track studio, so that was around the same time I started using the amp in the studio.
"The Peavey 5150 was a huge step forward for high-gain amps to me. Previously we had tried to mod amps or do little tricks with pedals before the preamp. This was the first amp you could plug straight into for that heavier, thrashier tone." The story continues here.

"Positioned in the amp's master section, Resonance alters the "damping factor" around the speaker's resonant peak—in effect, the amp controls the transient response of the loudspeaker. The higher an amp's damping factor, the more control the amp exerts over the speaker. Resonance reduces the damping factor at lower frequencies, causing dramatic changes to the low-end response and allowing the speaker to recreate the low frequencies with clarity and punch. The patented Peavey Resonance circuit was key to bringing metal's new lows to the masses."
“A defining attribute largely responsible for the 5150 sound is the fixed bias. Commonly described analog a car engine and its respective idle, the 5150 bias was set to a lower value (lower engine "idle") which resulted in the Power Tubes running at a lower energy commonly known as "cold-biased." While the electrical theory behind this can easily be examined and theoreticized, the 5150 and its configuration resulted in a more controllable gain setting (ie. having a more forgiving sonic range than similarly "hot-biased" configurations. This engineering choice set the 5150 up to intrinsically sound its best with minimal augmentation. Since tube-amps are still uncontested in music amplification as far as tonal quality is concerned, (see hard-clipping) the optimal setting for tubes are when they are pushed to natural distortion (ie. Increases in "volume" or Bells(dB).) Thus, by allowing such a heavy amount of gain to be applied without sacrificing tonal definition, the amplifier could then be pushed due to the "colder" biasing requiring more current, versus a "hotter" setting from the beginning (volume knob or potentiometer knob "value of 1".)”​

MXR has released a "5150" pedal.

The original 5150 head puts out 120 watts through 6L6 tubes. It has two inputs: Normal Gain and High Gain (twice the gain). The model is based on the High Gain input.

"I have a "holy grail" Block Letter 5150 (supposedly). It sounds way better than most 5150s for some reason which is a good thing for you guys. I think it's partly due to the fact that it has a bias mod so it's biased a bit warmer than a stock version."​

The amp has two channels: Rhythm and Lead. The model is based on the Lead channel.

The amp’s controls are: Pre Gain (model: Input Drive), Post Gain (model: Master), Low, Mid, High, Resonance (model: Depth), Presence.

Here’s the 5150 manual.

The original 5150 4x12 cabinet came with Sheffield speakers, similar to Celestion G12-H. We’ve got these as stock cabs from Red Wirez but to be honest I don't like those. There's also a stock "4x12 6160 Mix" cab, which sounds better, but I'm not sure if that's an IR of the original 5150 cab or the 5150-III cab.
These days Peavey uses V30 speakers in the 6505's 4x12 cabinet.

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Power User
Hey it's everybody's favorite Mississippi Marshall!

It's one of the most prolific high gain amps of all time, easily, and it's insane how well it records despite often sounding harsh, fizzy, and loose in the room. Great amp!


I used to use this amp all the time way back before G3. I haven't touched it since then, I may need to give it another go!


New Member
I love the 6160 Block. It's so powerful and bombastic, yet defined and controllable. Only downside is the tendency to drown out every other instrument in the room.


Power User
Update: just had a noodle, realised why I didn't like it in its default preset: I had to rip down the Master Volume. It defaults to 5, I had to get it down to 2!

After that, and then a 800Hz boost with a low roll-off before it, it absolutely slayed. Great amp!
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