REVIEW: Peavey 6505+ 112
The 6505+ has a storied history. Its ancestry can be traced back to the 5150, Eddie Van Halen’s first signature amp. That screamer wasn’t quite flexible enough for some players (including Eddie, it seemed), so the 5150 II was produced, featuring a more useful clean channel. When Eddie left Peavy, the 5150′s spirit lived in on the form of the 6505 and 6505+, which drew from the designs of the 5150 and 5150 II, respectively. While the head versions are 120 watt monsters, the 6505+ 112 is a 60 watt combo version with a single 12″ speaker.
The 6505+ 112 gets its juice from two 6L6GC valves and a whopping five preamp 12AX7s. It has two channels – Lead and Rhythm – with the latter offering a Crunch switch for going from cleans to aggressive distortion. Each channel features independent three-band EQ, pre/post gain controls and Presence and Resonance adjustment (Resonance doing for the low end what Presence does for the highs, letting you fine-tune the speaker response to the low end). The Rhythm channel’s Crunch boost is footswitchable, which is a very nice touch indeed because it effectively turns this into a three-channel amp. There’s also a three-spring reverb, an effects loop, external speaker outs at 4, 8 and 16 ohms, and Peavey’s MSDI microphone-simulated direct interface, which eliminates the need for miking by allowing users to route the amp’s signal directly to a recording device or mixing console. The speaker is a 12″ Sheffield model, the same driver used in the original 5150 cabinets back in the day. The cabinet itself is sealed for maximum resonance and sound projection, and to remain faithful to the closed-back 4X12 cabinets the amp is voiced for.
By the way, on a purely superficial level, turning on the 6505+ and seeing that Peavey logo light up is cool.
For testing, I used my Buddy Blaze Sevenator 7-string prototype with Seymour Duncan Full Shred and ’59 pickups, as well as my Ibanez RG370 with Seymour Duncan Gus G. Fire Blackouts humbuckers. It took only a millisecond or so to understand why the 6505 family is such a metal standard. This thing has ridiculous amounts of gain (in a good way), and some players may need to adjust their technique or all that distortion will run away from them. Even the Crunch mode of the Rhythm channel cranks out more than enough roar for many players, with a warm, dynamic, slightly Marshall-esque vibe that cleans up nicely from the guitar’s volume knob. In fact, if you’re a ‘one channel’ type of player, this would be the one to go for. It’s also the one that offers the most obvious link back to classic early EVH tones and general hard rock crunch. You can get some nice Gilbert or Nuno-ish tones here, and even some early Metallica rhythm grind. The sound is a bit more compressed and saturated with the Blackouts compared to the Full Shred, but still quite organic.
The clean mode is full and clear, especially with humbuckers. It’s not a twangy clean sound by any means, and it’s perfectly usable in a lot of different situations. It cleans up quite nicely when you want it to or it can sound rough and tough when needed.
The Lead channel pushes out so much gain that you probably won’t need to go past four or five on the Pre Gain pot. Well, you won’t need to, but it’s still fun to do so! There isn’t much dynamic range on this channel but there’s a pretty nice series of harmonic overtones, and some players will like the compression and saturation, which seem pretty similar whether you use passives or actives. If you need a more interactive playing experience, the Rhythm channel Crunch mode will probably be more your bag, but if you’re after modern metal savagery, the Lead channel has it nailed.
No matter which channel you go for, this is not a subtle amp, and if vintage is your thing there are plenty of amps in the Peavey catalog that will do that for you. The 6505 series is all about power, sustain and grit. And at this point, over 20 years since the birth of its ancestor, it’s a sonic icon.
Here’s a neat video demo by Paul from Guitar World: