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Tube amp for son - 5150 iii
Old 11th February 2013
  #1
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Tube amp for son - 5150 iii

Hey everyone, whould like any thoughts on a tube amp for my son. He mostly plays Metallica and is using a Fender Mustang 4 amp and has been happy so far. We have been offered a 5150 iii for $1150.00 and from all accounts this seems to be a good deal, I know it may to to big of an amp but he is performing inside & outside gigs. Thanks in advance
Old 11th February 2013
  #2
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Wow! You'll have a very happy son!
Old 11th February 2013
  #3
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If that includes a cabinet it's a good deal.
Old 11th February 2013
  #4
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Just don't forget that amps sound best when turned way up.

Just make sure you're ready to have the wallpaper peeled off if [read: when] he decides to crank it.

You might consider having a look at something with slightly lower wattage-- he'll be able to get a more "valvey" tone out of the amp. If the band has vocalists, then they already use a PA, and he can mic the amp when there's an outdoor gig (if they have an extra preamp input available on it.)

Sometimes younger guitarists need to figure this out on their own (ie, the fact that higher watts isn't necessarily better) but if you're about to drop $1200 on an amp, you might as well try and get the right one off the bat-- that would be an expensive lesson.

Anyway, good luck! I'm sure whatever you upgrade him to will be amazing as far as he's concerned.

Cheers,
Goobs
Old 11th February 2013
  #5
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The 5150 series is well respected in hard rock/metal circles, I'm sure he'll be happy with it! That said, I agree that volume wise it's likely overkill and a 30-50w might work better. I'd wonder if a used Orange TH30 and 212 cab might get him where he wants to be at about the same dollars?
Old 12th February 2013
  #6
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Being an original 5150 player and a guitarists that was inspired to pickup guitar by Metallica, that the amp will be a great buy. Unlike the Peavey variations the clean channel is much more usable so it is really an amp you can't outgrow. Most metal players that go from amp to amp including 3K+ amps almost always end right back up with the 5150 amps, its just something you don't outgrow. Now desire the tonal pallets of other amps, sure, but 9 times out of 10 metal players go to any of the 5150 amps as their staple, their workhorse amp and will use other amps on top of or for novelty based sounds.

As for the wattage, what a lot of people forget is that a 12W amp will only be half the perceived volume than a 120W amp. A difference of only 6dB. The difference between a mild whisper and a typical conversation is almost 20dB give or take. A 1.2W amp will still peel paint off of walls. Still there is no tone like a high powered amp, even at bedroom volumes. Of course they sound amazing at loud volumes but they are still amazing at low volumes too. And if he should ever want to join a band and play shows, a high powered amp will be a must.

As for the price. The 5150 III brand new is much much more than the price your are getting and is typical of a III's used price. Even without a cab. Though you still need a cabinet, and the amp must always be plugged into a cabinet or load (see loadboxes for silent recording) when the amp is on or you will blow the output transformer which can cost upwards of $300 USD not counting labor.
Old 12th February 2013
  #7
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Flying_Dutchman's Avatar
 

if he loves old metallica look for mesa boogie mark IV
5150 is a great amp, too
Old 12th February 2013
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheWinterSnow View Post
And if he should ever want to join a band and play shows, a high powered amp will be a must.
Why is that?
Old 12th February 2013
  #9
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Nick Morris's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffgoobs View Post
Why is that?
Because that is what you use typically
Old 12th February 2013
  #10
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In a metal environmental with two guitarist, an overconfident bassist with a half stack and a hard hitting drummer, you need all the extra clean headroom possible. At my band's practice, for us two guitarist to even keep up with the volume with out drummer we are at almost full volume with our 5150s. When a bassist is there, we have them at full volume and still can't fully hear ourselves over the drums or bass.

Live a good sound engineer wants to get the amps cranked to some degree where the amp begins to compress, if you are running a lower watt amp it will fall apart and get mushy on you. Then if you have a venue that doesn't have enough power to mic the drums and guitars minus the kick, you need all the power you need because your amp needs to be 110-120dB gig loud. And again a low wattage amp won't cut it, for tight metal, it will get mushy on you really fast.

Most people don't realize that a 120W amp at full volume while loud, still isn't that loud and most of that volume isn't clean headroom.
Old 12th February 2013
  #11
I absolutely agree that for tight, high gain modern metal tones, one is usually best suited by a high-powered (50-150 watt) head, and the 5150 amps are an excellent choice. You don't really need power tube saturation for these types of tones - you need tight bass and a lot of headroom, and that requires wattage. The distortion for these types of tones is coming more from the preamp section anyway, and you can dial in great heavy tones without cranking the power section (and many engineers do). Sometimes cranking up the amps can even hinder you, as it sometimes makes the speakers work too hard and you lose tightness/transient response as a result - so if you plan to really crank it you need a speaker cab that can handle the volume without breaking up too much.

I do agree that cranking a low-wattage amp is a great sound, but most cranked small amps are too flabby in the low end for tight metal tones (but can be perfect for more traditional rock guitar tones). If someone can show me a 15-watt combo that can hang with a 5150 half stack for heavy tones (in terms of tightness and definition at high gain) I'd love to see it.

Finally, remember that a large part of huge high-gain tones is a large speaker cabinet - you want that moving air and that cabinet resonance. There are some great 2x12s out there, but I'd probably still go with a 4x12 (Mesa is a great place to start and can be had around $500 used all day long).

My two cents from someone who does a LOT of hard rock and metal, both as an engineer and as a player.
Old 12th February 2013
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheWinterSnow View Post
Being an original 5150 player and a guitarists that was inspired to pickup guitar by Metallica, that the amp will be a great buy. Unlike the Peavey variations the clean channel is much more usable so it is really an amp you can't outgrow. Most metal players that go from amp to amp including 3K+ amps almost always end right back up with the 5150 amps, its just something you don't outgrow. Now desire the tonal pallets of other amps, sure, but 9 times out of 10 metal players go to any of the 5150 amps as their staple, their workhorse amp and will use other amps on top of or for novelty based sounds.

As for the wattage, what a lot of people forget is that a 12W amp will only be half the perceived volume than a 120W amp. A difference of only 6dB. The difference between a mild whisper and a typical conversation is almost 20dB give or take. A 1.2W amp will still peel paint off of walls. Still there is no tone like a high powered amp, even at bedroom volumes. Of course they sound amazing at loud volumes but they are still amazing at low volumes too. And if he should ever want to join a band and play shows, a high powered amp will be a must.

As for the price. The 5150 III brand new is much much more than the price your are getting and is typical of a III's used price. Even without a cab. Though you still need a cabinet, and the amp must always be plugged into a cabinet or load (see loadboxes for silent recording) when the amp is on or you will blow the output transformer which can cost upwards of $300 USD not counting labor.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheWinterSnow View Post
In a metal environmental with two guitarist, an overconfident bassist with a half stack and a hard hitting drummer, you need all the extra clean headroom possible. At my band's practice, for us two guitarist to even keep up with the volume with out drummer we are at almost full volume with our 5150s. When a bassist is there, we have them at full volume and still can't fully hear ourselves over the drums or bass.

Live a good sound engineer wants to get the amps cranked to some degree where the amp begins to compress, if you are running a lower watt amp it will fall apart and get mushy on you. Then if you have a venue that doesn't have enough power to mic the drums and guitars minus the kick, you need all the power you need because your amp needs to be 110-120dB gig loud. And again a low wattage amp won't cut it, for tight metal, it will get mushy on you really fast.

Most people don't realize that a 120W amp at full volume while loud, still isn't that loud and most of that volume isn't clean headroom.
Yup. This guy gets it.
Old 12th February 2013
  #13
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As someone who has done my share of metal, I have to agree with TheWinterSnow and BLUElightCory. The smaller, lower wattage amps are great for blues, rock, country, etc., but metal requires headroom for "clean" clean tones and tight, punchy high gain tones.
Old 12th February 2013
  #14
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Having not played metal, I'll bow to your greater expertise. That said, the Orange TH30 will give you all the brutal low end you could want at much more studio friendly volumes. And the issue of not needing to turn up a master volume amp, I'd have to disagree a bit: Mesa Mark amps and even my Tremoverb sound way better cranked than running all preamp.
Old 12th February 2013
  #15
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Sir Chris's Avatar
 

5150 at that price is decent if its just the head. If it includes a cab even better. Orange TH30 I think would be better but that's my taste.

Now someone said something about guys that switch from amp to amp end up back to a 5150?.....pffft. ok w/e. I have a mesa triple rect and never looked back. Smokes the **** out of anything Peavy. All "metal" players on touring acts that I know of never consider dropping their Mesa rig, Orange rig, or even an Engle rig for a Peavy. Unless of course Peavy is offering it for free. Even then I know players that would rather pay artist cost for their rig then to switch to Peavy.

Let's face it. Peavy is like the Ford Focus of amps where's Mesa is more like a Corvette.

Sent from my Nexus S 4G
Old 12th February 2013
  #16
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I feel the 5150 and all of its variants from Peavey and EVH are an anomaly in the amp market. It only does one thing (maybe a little more), but it arguably does it better than any other amp out there, and the best part is its not very expensive relative to its competitors.
Old 12th February 2013
  #17
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The 5150 is a classic for metal but from what I've heard the III doesn't do it's predecessors justice, I'd lean towards an Orange TH for that price range.

Just my two cents, if you have any notion that your son may move away from metal at some point in his life, get him an AC30, he'll thank you for it later.
Old 12th February 2013
  #18
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You don't have to be a metal player to like the 5150.

I have had one of the early combo versions since about 1998. I'm not a metal player. The music I make varies across a wide spectrum of styles, from light stuff to hard rock.....and I have been able to use it in recording pretty much all of those styles of music. These amps don't sound great at low volume...but once you start to crank them a bit they are brilliant. They sound way different than a Marshall, a Mesa etc...but I manage to get all manner of tones out of mine to suit all sorts of genres.
The opinion of the poster a few above me who rubbishes them obviously has his own view........but in my book I'd now struggle to take any of them very seriously after reading his view, and the final Ford v Corvette comment.
Old 12th February 2013
  #19
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Yes, I will also plead ignorance here, as at the end of the day, playing metal in a band is something I have not actually done myself. Blues, yes... rock, yes... funk, yes... reggae, yes... even Phishy jam band music, yes. But never metal, so I might be simply trying to give advice based on superimposing my sonic testing onto a genre whose context is so different that I'm thinking about it incorrectly. I'll concede this.

I just assumed that a band who has vocalists would mic the guitar cabs while playing at a gig, and feed that into the monitor mix, and then simply play with the proper dynamics to get the right mix.

If you're in a situation where everybody needs to "out loud" each other on stage in order to be heard, then yeah, maybe he will need 120 watts of tube power, and I'm out of my league with giving advice. Genuine apology if I seemed like I was misleading you down the wrong path. My first amp was 50 watts, and it was so overkill that I couldn't ever turn it up past like... 3. When I finally got to crank the amp, and heard what driven power tubes sound like, I realized why my pedals weren't quite nailing the distortion sound I wanted. I wanted a thick, ballsy, valvey, tubey, harmonically rich, glassy, juicy distortion. Think AC/DC. So I got a lower wattage 22-watt amp, so that I could turn it up to the 7-10 range. Once I did that, then Oh. My. God. Sonic heaven. But I guess that would be more of a 'hard rock' sound than a metal sound.

In any event, I've clearly been out-metalled, knowledge-wise here, so I'll just step aside gracefully and let the thread continue.

Good luck with the selection!

Cheers,
Goobs
Old 12th February 2013
  #20
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Adding to my previous post...I started playing guitar in 1979, and had played through a lot of different amps. When I tried out a 5150 combo in a shop 15 years ago, I knew instantly that was the sound I'd been looking for over a long time. So I bought it.
One of my brother's was playing in a Van Halen tribute show in NZ a year or two after that, and he borrowed my combo. He loved it and went out and bought one himself too. We both have them still. He has other great amps as well, so doesn't use it all the time...but like me he's kept his one over the years and often pairs it with other amps in concerts.
Old 12th February 2013
  #21
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The 5150 and all its variations have been the most prolific metal amps in the last decade and a half. Nothing has been recorded more or toured with more by modern metal bands. They are good amps with a certain sound. May not be everyone's cup of tea, but it is definitely more than capable for metal. Producers like Andy Sneap, Colin Richardson, Zeuss, and Jason Seucof swear by these and they make it onto most of their productions.

You just don't hear the radio bands like metallica using them. They have warehouses full of unique boutique amps to play around with.
Old 12th February 2013
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Chris View Post

Let's face it. Peavy is like the Ford Focus of amps where's Mesa is more like a Corvette.
If we're talking purely high gain tones, then the 5150/6505 is the apple and the Recto is the orange. If you know how to dial them in either one can be absolutely crushing, but neither one smokes the other.

The real advantage of the Recto over the 5150 is the build quality and versatility (especially the new 2010 and later Rectos, which are incredibly versatile). I'd also say that Mesa's amps just LOOK cooler too. The price tag reflects that.
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