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 Post subject: EVH 5150 III 50 watt MIM
PostPosted: Sun, Oct 13, 2013 3:12am 
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Hack
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Joined: Tue, Sep 20, 2011 10:36pm
Posts: 29
Location: South Eastern Wisconsin
Please note that I've been a long term Engl and 5150/6505 user. I've owned tons of other amps though over the years... This includes VHT/Fryette, Soldano, Splawn, Mesa, Fuchs, +more.... Basically all of the high gainers I could get my hands on. I gave this amp a 2 month trial period and decided that the Axe fx II was a better route for my current volume restrictions and recording needs. I'm no fanboy of the digital realm and will always prefer tubes - for right now it's the route I've gotta take though.

Moving forward...

FEATURES
Starting with the packaging, I was incredibly impressed with the double box and the tank-like assembly. Fender really went the extra mile when it comes to ensuring these get safely to the dealers and customers. Upon opening it and taking everything out - I was very pleased with the free speaker cable included with the amp. The footwitch very easy to operate and accesses all three channels and the effects loop with ease. The added midi makes this little guy a complete power house. The only thing to really note about a lack of features is the lack of a presence control for channels 1-2. The presence and resonance (back of amp) are global. Obviously channels 1-2 share the same eq. Lb for lb at this price point the midi ability and the overall sound makes me overlook eq and lack of 2nd presence control. It's got a boatload of features for being 1k. The only thing I would add is a master volume. After years of playing the Savage 120 I really like the extra control. Of course this is completely overlooked at gig volumes.

SOUND
Like I said in the opening of the review - I've owned a good 80% of the big name high gainers on the market. I heard some great clips of this amp and decided to give it a go, I was not disappointed in the slightest. I'll review each channel of the amp
Ch 1
If you're looking for a classic clean that takes pedals well and actually has some use for a gain knob - this amp is for you. I'm a complete OD whore and admittedly I spent the majority of the first day I had this thing playing with pretty much just the clean channel. It's got that classic fender tone but adding gain on the amp side actually adds a good amount of character. I was quite impressed with this channel. It completely smokes the Peavey 5150/5150II within seconds (we all know that's not why you buy a 5150 lol). All in all I feel like this is one of the best clean channels I've had on an amp capable of being quite brutal.
Ch 2
This channel is just excellent. I don't want to say it nails Marshall tones - but it definitely gets into the ballpark of nailing more classic tones (with the gain down). The sweep of useable gain is pretty awesome and if you were to use it standalone I could see not even using OD pedals to get tubescreamer type tones. On lower settings it's got gain in all the right places and can really shine through in a mix. However - with the gain cranked up you can use this as a 2nd high gain channel (depending on how much gain you like to play with). I found that with some of my guitars I could get a more brutal and BIG sound with the gain nearly dimed on this channel (or boosted). Also to note it's very useful for reamping or recording 2nd guitar tracks. If you don't have two amps to record with this second channel sounds far enough from the 3rd channel to get some really awesome tones that make your mix sound much bigger. All in all it's an excellent channel. I know there has been some complaints about the volume drop from channels 1-2 when switching. It can be fixed with a relatively easy mod - but honestly I don't see how this can be a complaint. Per the price point this thing had already astounded me prior to switching on channel 3. I'm pretty sure any of the guys on here that have owned a lot of amps will tell you that no amp does everything perfect. You're far better off dealing with it and not voiding your EVH/FMIC warranty by adding a mod you'll likely never need in a live scenario.
Ch 3
Ohhhh shine shine shine... I friggin' love this channel. I'm guilty of the Ola Englund disease (No slight on Ola, he's a great guitar player and even better producer) and find myself trying to nail a single tone with every amp. Thus far I've become pretty good at getting the same sounds or similar enough to not think twice about it. That being said I tried dialing in my typical eq starter settings and found that this amp has a particularly tight midrange. It's almost unnatural feeling until you get used to the sweep of the eq and ditch your typical b/m/t settings. It's pretty tight in the bass but I found myself dialing in more conservative amounts of it to achieve the same tightness I'm used to. The useable range of gain surpasses the traditional 5150/6505 variants in the sense of actually being "useable". All in all it's got an excellent amount of saturation and I had no problems in any tuning with any of my guitars getting a great tone. When paired with the right resonance and presence settings it gets nearly as brutal as any of my engl heads. Fluid lead lines is where I was most impressed with this amp (as expected per EVH). My own personal experiences with this amp and all of the others is dialing your gain back. I know I know the in room saturation sounds so awesome but when mic'd up I feel like a lot of new users and players in general try to dial up too much gain. This amp is far more brutal with less gain. Then again tone is sooooo subjective... This is just me sharing MY experiences!

RELIABILITY & DURABILITY
I can't speak entirely about the reliability of this amp because I didn't gig enough with it (before my live project ended) but I will say that it held up to some pretty loud volumes without error. I can see this amp lasting a long time. Upon examining the interior of the chassis and the boards I can say that it's quite a clean build and they really spared little expense on it. The FMIC 5 year warranty sounds like a pretty good deal. Most other manufactures only offer a single year. I'd imagine this would hold up for the long haul.

THOUGHTS AND RANDOM BABBLE
Above I mentioned the midrange being a little strange to compensate for. I think this had a little to do with the engl 2x12 pro cab. Not that I had actual problems achieving a good tone or anything - I just feel like the v30 isn't quite the perfect speaker for this amplifier.

All in all I will say that this is likely the BEST bang for buck amp for any guitarist looking to achieve better tones. It sits wonderfully in mixes and can dial in nearly anything you'd need. I'd honestly take this amp over half of the high dollar amplifiers I've owned over the years.

Feel free to ask questions guys! I'm glad to help anyone in their tone chasing!

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PostPosted: Mon, Jun 02, 2014 3:11pm 
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Joined: Mon, Jun 02, 2014 12:09pm
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Nice


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PostPosted: Mon, Jun 16, 2014 1:14pm 
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Joined: Sun, Oct 20, 2013 7:14pm
Posts: 165
I've been debating if I should get one of these. You mentioned volume restrictions, how does it do with low volume play? I'm considering this or a mako mak 4 or something. Everyone seems to love these. Pretty versatile with three usable channels?

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Ibanez RGA 121
Gibson SG 61 reissue
Mako Mak 4 : VHT 2/50/2
Mesa Mark IV
EVH 5150 III Mini
Mesa recto 2x12


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