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  1. #1
    Hot For Teacher Rokstar's Avatar
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    12.08.17 @ 10:10 PM
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    Default Soldano vs 5150 vs Marshall

    Maybe this has been beaten to death, Ed was playing the Soldano when his Marshall faded. He then built the 5150. Then two more versions after that. Is it safe to say Ed felt the Soldano was close to the sound he likes? How instrumental was the old Marshall to his sound? It seems people say the EVH 5150 is a poor man's Soldano. Is he trying to copy the Soldano? Would you say each 5150 is a step closer to the Soldano? I realize there are a lot of questions here. I don't get to play these big expensive amps much so I don't know much about them... I'm going to have to start a thread about Mesas' later on...
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    I thought i heard that the 5150 was designed to be about 1/2 Plexi 1/2 Soldano...
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    Quote Originally Posted by hotforteacher921 View Post
    I thought i heard that the 5150 was designed to be about 1/2 Plexi 1/2 Soldano...
    And that's about right. The layout of the original 5150 was frighteningly similar to the Soldano SLO-100. You can, however, coax some Marshall-like tones out of it. For clean channel options, the 5150 II is much better than the original head; in general I've found the 5150 II to be more diverse than its predecessor.

    I'm sure some of our more knowledgeable tech-heads will chime in about the circuitry similarities and differences.

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    10.26.16 @ 03:37 PM
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    Ok guys. I'm an electrical engineering major and so is a good friend of mine, and since both of us are huge EVH fans, we've scoured the schematics of all the EVH associated amps hoping to find the secret to his sound. Here are some conclusions I have found:

    The Marshall 1959 Model Superlead "Plexi" is a very simple schematic. I have built a clone of the 50 watt version -- very simple, but very pure tone. There are 3 gain stages in this amp before the phase inverter, which means only 1 and a half preamp tubes are in use in the preamp section. That does not amount to a lot ton of gain, and since there is no post volume control, post volume and gain are directly related to one knob -- which is why the amp had to be cranked to sound like EVH's did. This amp also uses EL34 power tubes, which distort much more than 6L6's and give you that smooth "Marshall" or "British" sound. Part of why Ed's sounded the way it did is because he had a massive resistor somehow connected to the speakers (I'm not sure if it was in series or parallel) to knock down the overall volume, and that definitely put some extra stress on the output transformer and power tubes. He also used a variac, which would lower the voltage to the amp, which not only makes it slightly quieter and safer to run on full blast, it also automatically cold biases the power tubes, giving you the more EVHish 'Brown" sound.

    The Soldano was supposedly designed with the old Superlead in mind (SLO stands for Super Lead Overdrive) and apparently Mike Soldano based the amp itself on extreme mods he did to Marshalls. The SLO 100's schematic is also pretty straigtforward, but I wouldn't call it simple. It is definitely a total redesign and NOT a Marshall copy. Yes, there are some similarities (like the tone stack circuit), but the Soldano operates in almost an opposite manner to the Marshall. The SLO has 7 gain stages before the phase inverter, and it doesn't have to be cranked to sound good, due to an ingenius preamp design. This amp is also a primarily 6L6 power tube amp.

    The 5150 I looks to me like a super modded SLO 100. It looks like Peavey basically cut out Soldano's Overdrive/Normal channel dual operation concept, and streamlined the amp for the lead channel. The 5150 I has 8 gain stages before the phase inverter. At every turn there is a little extra circuit to shape the tone of the amp etc. etc., so much so that the 5150 circuit is extremely complicated. Also, the 5150 is a 6L6 powertube amp, and to help the amp get more of the brown sound, Peavey designed in a super cold bias on the power tubes. Everyone seems to think that was a design flaw, but I think it was definitely on purpose, and it is the reason you can get some very 'brown' sounds out of a 5150. So although the 5150 shares almost no similarities with the Marshall (except again the tone stack circuit), and the tone is primarily coming from the preamp section, it operates the same type of way where it only sounds great when REALLY cranked, due to the cold bias.

    The 5150 combo was changed to a much hotter bias, probably due to complaints to Peavey about how 'bad' the 5150 head sounded at low volumes. That is why many people prefer the 5150 combo's sound, especially at lower volumes. However, if you really want that 90's Ed sound from a cranked 5150, you will not get it with a stock 5150 combo.

    I'm not sure what all they did to change the 5150 II, because I have not found a good schematic of it. If anyone has a schematic of the 5150 II, I'd like to look at it.
    Last edited by mrjstudios; 12.20.08 at 06:43 PM.

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    Hot For Teacher Rokstar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrjstudios View Post
    Ok guys. I'm an electrical engineering major and so is a good friend of mine, and since both of us are huge EVH fans, we've scoured the schematics of all the EVH associated amps hoping to find the secret to his sound. Here are some conclusions I have found:

    The Marshall 1959 Model Superlead "Plexi" is a very simple schematic. I have built a clone of the 50 watt version -- very simple, but very pure tone. There are 3 gain stages in this amp before the phase inverter, which means only 1 and a half preamp tubes are in use in the preamp section. That does not amount to a lot ton of gain, and since there is no post volume control, post volume and gain are directly related to one knob -- which is why the amp had to be cranked to sound like EVH's did. This amp also uses EL34 power tubes, which distort much more than 6L6's and give you that smooth "Marshall" or "British" sound. Part of why Ed's sounded the way it did is because he had a massive resistor somehow connected to the speakers (I'm not sure if it was in series or parallel) to knock down the overall volume, and that definitely put some extra stress on the output transformer and power tubes. He also used a variac, which would lower the voltage to the amp, which not only makes it slightly quieter and safer to run on full blast, it also automatically cold biases the power tubes, giving you the more EVHish 'Brown" sound.

    The Soldano was supposedly designed with the old Superlead in mind (SLO stands for Super Lead Overdrive) and apparently Mike Soldano based the amp itself on extreme mods he did to Marshalls. The SLO 100's schematic is also pretty straigtforward, but I wouldn't call it simple. It is definitely a total redesign and NOT a Marshall copy. Yes, there are some similarities (like the tone stack circuit), but the Soldano operates in almost an opposite manner to the Marshall. The SLO has 7 gain stages before the phase inverter, and it doesn't have to be cranked to sound good, due to an ingenius preamp design. This amp is also a primarily 6L6 power tube amp.

    The 5150 I looks to me like a super modded SLO 100. It looks like Peavey basically cut out Soldano's Overdrive/Normal channel dual operation concept, and streamlined the amp for the lead channel. The 5150 I has 8 gain stages before the phase inverter. At every turn there is a little extra circuit to shape the tone of the amp etc. etc., so much so that the 5150 circuit is extremely complicated. Also, the 5150 is a 6L6 powertube amp, and to help the amp get more of the brown sound, Peavey designed in a super cold bias on the power tubes. Everyone seems to think that was a design flaw, but I think it was definitely on purpose, and it is the reason you can get some very 'brown' sounds out of a 5150. So although the 5150 shares almost no similarities with the Marshall (except again the tone stack circuit), and the tone is primarily coming from the preamp section, it operates the same type of way where it only sounds great when REALLY cranked, due to the cold bias.

    The 5150 combo was changed to a much hotter bias, probably due to complaints to Peavey about how 'bad' the 5150 head sounded at low volumes. That is why many people prefer the 5150 combo's sound, especially at lower volumes. However, if you really want that 90's Ed sound from a cranked 5150, you will not get it with a stock 5150 combo.

    I'm not sure what all they did to change the 5150 II, because I have not found a good schematic of it. If anyone has a schematic of the 5150 II, I'd like to look at it.
    Awesome! Very detailed!!! Thanx you've really removed a lot of the opinions and mysteries behind these designs! We need to find you the 5152 & 3 schematics now! I'm really interested to hear your take on those amps! Have you looked into the Mesa dual rectifier design at all?
    She's a ho, fo' sho'.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rokstar View Post
    Awesome! Very detailed!!! Thanx you've really removed a lot of the opinions and mysteries behind these designs! We need to find you the 5152 & 3 schematics now! I'm really interested to hear your take on those amps! Have you looked into the Mesa dual rectifier design at all?
    That's some good info there, thanks. I have an original 5150 head, and while it doesn't sound like a Marshall, it does have its moments where it can get pretty close to Eddie's VHI sound. It does I'm The One, Feel Your love Tonight, Atomic Punk, Little Dreamer, Eruption-most of the stuff off that album the 5150 head can be dialed in to sound quite close. I've never really associated Eddie's VHI sound with Marshall anyway, because to my ears that recording does not sound like a Marshall at all, at least not any that I am familiar with. I've always assumed there was a lot of studio magic going on during those sessions because Eddie's tone was never the same on any VH album after I. 1984 sounds like a Marshall, VHI does not.

    I notice I cannot get Eddie's tone from Unchained with my 5150, but Mean Street sounds pretty good. For some reason, anything from WACF through my 5150 sounds pretty authentic, but I cannot match anything from VHII or Diver Down...I'm not that good though, so that probably has a lot to do with it as well.

    I don't have a bias mod and I don't plan on getting it done. I quite like my 5150 as is, although it is easy to dial in a very fizzy and buzzy tone, the infamous can of bees a lot of people have complained about with this amp. I've been more and more curious about the combo recently and I might take the plunge...but the original 5150 head can be one mean mofo.

  7. #7
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    Sorry, meant to quote MRJ, but you get the point.

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    10.26.16 @ 03:37 PM
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rokstar View Post
    Awesome! Very detailed!!! Thanx you've really removed a lot of the opinions and mysteries behind these designs! We need to find you the 5152 & 3 schematics now! I'm really interested to hear your take on those amps! Have you looked into the Mesa dual rectifier design at all?
    Ya, thanks man. I'd LOVE to get my hands on a 5153 schematic too!! I doubt that will happen for some time though. That amp is such a great design, I think they will really try to keep it hidden and out of the hands of competing amp companies. Although I think my friend figured out how the instant channel switching works.... we are going to try to build something similar and see if we can get the same results going on his theory...

    I have looked into the mesa design a little, since I was planning on building a custom amp that was going to have a 5150-ish lead channel and then a mesa-ish crunch channel. They keep their schematics REALLY guarded, and the ones out there have errors built in on purpose to throw off would be copiers. One thing I do know though that is a key player in the mesa sound -- the tube rectifier. All of the amps mentioned above, the 5150, SLO-100, Marshall, etc. have solid state rectifiers, so they don't get that 'sag' like a mesa does (I have never owned a mesa, so I can't speak much about them).

    Also, if you have any specific questions about the amp just ask -- I was trying to cover overall differences in my above post.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vhin04 View Post
    That's some good info there, thanks. I have an original 5150 head, and while it doesn't sound like a Marshall, it does have its moments where it can get pretty close to Eddie's VHI sound. It does I'm The One, Feel Your love Tonight, Atomic Punk, Little Dreamer, Eruption-most of the stuff off that album the 5150 head can be dialed in to sound quite close. I've never really associated Eddie's VHI sound with Marshall anyway, because to my ears that recording does not sound like a Marshall at all, at least not any that I am familiar with. I've always assumed there was a lot of studio magic going on during those sessions because Eddie's tone was never the same on any VH album after I. 1984 sounds like a Marshall, VHI does not.

    I notice I cannot get Eddie's tone from Unchained with my 5150, but Mean Street sounds pretty good. For some reason, anything from WACF through my 5150 sounds pretty authentic, but I cannot match anything from VHII or Diver Down...I'm not that good though, so that probably has a lot to do with it as well.

    I don't have a bias mod and I don't plan on getting it done. I quite like my 5150 as is, although it is easy to dial in a very fizzy and buzzy tone, the infamous can of bees a lot of people have complained about with this amp. I've been more and more curious about the combo recently and I might take the plunge...but the original 5150 head can be one mean mofo.

    I don't know if anyone will ever get that Unchained tone (especially live from that era)!! But yes, all the stuff you mentioned can be covered pretty well to extremely well with a 5150, depending on the song and your setup. I really do think it is the head's cold bias that gives you that 'brown' sound, and allows even a modern high gain amp to sound like a cranked-variac'd Marshall at times.

    Hey, if you wanna take the 5150 combo dive, go for it -- it is a slightly different but great amp. Actually, I've got one of my 2 I'm looking to possibly get rid of soon. It is a combo head -- it has been modified so that it has the speakers removed so you can actually lug it around. It also has a full range bias mod in it so that you can set it to the stock 5150 combo bias, or turn it much cooler like the head. Anyway, I'm looking to find an original 5150 head, so I'll have 1 head and 1 combo, so until then, I need to keep my 2nd as a backup.

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    Hey MRJStudios, great post. Your explanations were efficient, and simple to understand.

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    Check this site out for the early VH amp sounds. He'll make you a custom amp if ya want. It's much cheaper than the signature amps that EVH and co. rape you with.
    http://www.roccaforteamps.com/reviews.htm

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    Good sound clips! I'm trying form some opinions on some amps, by listening to some clips. The Mesas are the hardest to decide what they sound like based on clips as most samples are really death metal type riffing I hear... far too harsh sounding...
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    Banned! Holy Fuckin Shit's Avatar
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    You can always get a distortion pedal if you want the "death metal" sound. The roccaforte amps are fuckin awesome! The clean channel is great too!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Holy Fuckin Shit View Post
    Check this site out for the early VH amp sounds. He'll make you a custom amp if ya want. It's much cheaper than the signature amps that EVH and co. rape you with.
    http://www.roccaforteamps.com/reviews.htm
    Dude... their Hi-Gain 100 model (the closest thing to an EVH amp they have, which looks to me like a Marshall copy) is $2200!!

    The 5153 is only $2000! And that is the most expensive EVH amp so far...

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrjstudios View Post
    Dude... their Hi-Gain 100 model (the closest thing to an EVH amp they have, which looks to me like a Marshall copy) is $2200!!

    The 5153 is only $2000! And that is the most expensive EVH amp so far...
    And the 5150 III is hitting the used market now as well, some selling for around $1,200. I'll perhaps buy one in the future if they drop below $1,000.

 

 

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