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Thread: 5150 Dilemma

  1. #1
    Atomic Punk fast98dodge's Avatar
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    08.07.17 @ 08:14 PM
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    Default 5150 Dilemma

    So, I'm really debating on getting rid of my 5150 combo. I don't gig these days and there's another reason... I recently bought a Marshall Class 5 Combo and tonally, it beats the living shit out of the Peavey. I really have no desire to keep the 5150 except it's a really early one. I mean this Marshall has me so in love that I almost regret buying the 5150 in the first place. I think I should've bought a JCM 800 combo or something along those lines... Anyways, I digress...

    So has anyone retubed their 5150 to "warm" them up and take some edge off of it and how did it turn out? I saw a retube kit from eurotubes that were all goldpin and this is the desription:

    Looking for the smoothest and richest tone possible from your 5150 or 6505 combo? This kit includes a matched pair of the JJ 6L6GC's and five gold pin ECC83S's with one of them balanced for the phase inverter in V5. Minimum grit and fuzz with lots of definition and liquid gain.

    This definitely has me intrigued. If I could spend under $150 for that, I just may do it. I'm just not sure it would be enough to match the tone of this little Marshall.

    The best way to describe the Class 5 is a miniature plexi. It sounds so warm and perfect. I truly understand what the "Marshall sound" is all about. I have an OCD pedal and the combination is just magical...

    So, do I keep the 5150 because it's an early one, it's in good shape (very little wear and tear), and I don't need the money?

    Or

    Do I get rid of it because it will probably never sound as good as my new Marshall so why even keep it and sink more money into it trying to get there?
    Jet City Super Stealth
    Marshall 50th Anniversary JCM-1H and Class 5 Combo
    Austin Speaker Works KTS-60

  2. #2
    Good Enough
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    10.26.16 @ 03:37 PM
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    Do a forum search of my username and something like "5150 tubes" and you should find a lot of super detailed info....

    But ya, you can change the tone of a 5150 a lot with tubes. I've owned 3 5150 combos over the years (2 of them were a first year like yours), and I'm now on my 4th 5150 which is a Block Letter, first year head. I liked them all, and I rebuilt 2 of the 5150 combos -- one of which, I did some slight modifications to.

    The 5150 combo has some advantages over the head; it is only 60 watts, so although it is still screaming loud, you get saturated tones at slightly lower volumes, and it has a little less 'punch you in the face' sheer force to it, which tends to be a little overboard on the head.

    The main difference that the combo has, and I think this is even more important than the improved clean channel, is the stock bias setting. It is biased much warmer than the head version, and so when running some brands of tubes, you are running them at where a bias modded 5150 head would be running at (like EVH's personal amps). It is still classified as a moderately 'cold bias' amp, but going from the ultra-cold 5150 head setting to a middle ground definitely improves things if you are going for that EVH sound.

    So here's what I would suggest: I really like Bob over at Eurotubes, and I generally agree with him on most amp related subjects. However, gold plated tube pins, 'high gain' preamp tubes, and specially balanced phase inverter tubes in the 5150 are USELESS. They may provide some improvements in other amps, but the 5150 was designed a certain way that does not benefit from those things. In fact, through my own trial and error, I would say that the 5150 sounds noticeably WORSE with 'high gain' or balanced preamp tubes. And to be honest, I don't think a thin layer of gold on a preamp tube is going to do anything to its tone, for better or for worse....

    So, if you want to retain the '5150' sound, but have a much more usable amp (warm, clear, less grainy, but still 5150 sounding), definitely go with either Winged =C= reissue or JJ 6L6s for the power amp. The winged =C='s are great reissues (basically) of the legendary GE/Philips 6L6GC, which is the ultimate power tube for the 5150 (and possibly ANY 6L6 based amp...). Since most of us can't afford $400 tubes to stick in the power section alone, NOS GE tubes are kinda out of the question, and the JJ and Winged =C= alternatives are VERY good.

    Now, you have 2 choices for the preamp section. You can stick with trying to keep the overall 5150 sound, but have it actually sound good and less harsh, or you could change up the sound of the amp completely. You may like the second option more, but trust me, your amp will cease to have that '5150 sound'. It all depends on what you are going for and like.

    To keep the traditional 5150 sound while still improving things, get these:
    http://thetubestore.com/chinese12ax7.html
    I recommend that store not only because I've had good experience with them, but because they actually distinguish between the 2 kinds of Chinese 12AX7s, which are type A and type B. A lot of places don't specify -- and the ones you want are the A types. This is exactly what tube the amp was designed for, and it's what EVH used. Many people say that the Chinese 12AX7A is an 'inferior' tube to JJ's or NOS RCA's... and I'd say they are probably right. But the 5150 was ingeniously designed around these particular tubes, and so they sound the best in that amp -- and they sound like the amp was DESIGNED to sound. Tip: buy 5 or 6 of the Chinese 12AX7A's, and when you get them, throw them in your 5150 in random order. Play it for a while and if something sounds a little off, swap in the 6th one, and rearrange the rest. Usually after doing this once or twice, you'll find a combination that sounds great! Don't ask me why, but it's true...

    Your second option would be to go with some lower power preamp tubes. I have only experimented with this a little bit, but I've heard a lot of 5150's where people have done this and been happy with the results. A few guys on this forum can comment more about specific tube types and brands, but the general idea is replacing V1 and/or V2 with 12AT7's or 12AU7's. Those tubes have a little less gain and sound different, so you alter the gain structure of the amp. Some popular ones are NOS Telefunken ECC81s, or NOS Mullard 12AU7's. Again, it probably will not sound 'like a 5150' anymore, but you might like the new tone better anyway. (Yet another similar method that I wouldn't recommend at all is replacing all 5 preamp tubes with regular JJ 12AX7's. I did not like them at all in my 5150 combo -- it made it sound dark, grainy in the low end, and almost muddy. But if you're 5150 sounds way too bright with your setup, they might work for you.)

    I would recommend trying one of both of the above methods and not selling your amp just yet -- you only have to buy 1 set of power tubes, and if you want to try both strategies, only 1 and a half sets of preamp tubes.

    And to clarify -- I'm talking ONLY about the Peavey 5150 here. For example, I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you buy all JJ tubes from Eurotubes for a Marshall amp. I'm not saying any of the above mentioned tubes are better or worse in EVERY amp -- quite the contrary. But the 5150 is one of the pickiest amps probably ever designed when it comes to tubes, and this is the stuff I've found as I've tried and learned different things.

    I apologize for writing so much, but you asked for it...
    Last edited by mrjstudios; 11.30.11 at 12:14 AM.

  3. #3
    Atomic Punk fast98dodge's Avatar
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    Don't apologize, that's the type of info I'm looking for. I'll do some research and will probably have questions later... Thanks!!!
    Jet City Super Stealth
    Marshall 50th Anniversary JCM-1H and Class 5 Combo
    Austin Speaker Works KTS-60

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    12.17.17 @ 12:31 AM
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    Fast98- Good choice on the Marshall Class 5. Your description of that amp is spot on and with a pedal pushing the front end those amps are killer. I'm actually recommending one of them now to someone with a Roland Cube who wants their first tube amp. I have a Marshall DSL100MLB head that I picked up new a few years ago at the end of that product's run, and I absolutely love it.

    If you truly don't need the money you should hold onto that 5150, especially considering the vintage and the shape that it's in. It's a buyer's market now and probably will be for quite some time. You wouldn't be getting top dollar for it now anyway. Sounds like you really just want to knock the edge off a bit, and MRJ has offered a ton of great info. If it were me I wouldn't even try to get it to sound like the Marshall. The 5150/6505 has definitely earned its position in the history of modern guitar amps. You now have the Marshall sound so let the 5150 sound like a 5150.

    I was in a similar position when I bought my Marshall. I had been using a Mesa/Boogie Mark III 60 watt combo that I bought new back in '88. I considered selling it a few years ago but couldn't part with it, and those amps are very desirable and it's in basically perfect condition. These aren't Dual or Triple Rectifier types of amps, this was back when Mesa had a true "Fendery" clean, a Marshall-like crunch channel, and then that singing sustain over the top channel like old Santana.

  5. #5
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    11.25.17 @ 09:06 AM
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    I like the latest JJ's in my 5150. I say latest as I think the ones from a couple years ago seemed to make the amp sound dark and a bit scooped. Not as much sweet mids.
    MRJ hit the nail on the head in that the 5150 was meant to work a certain way and with relatively "cheap" tubes in mind.
    For a couple of years I used Ruby's for power tubes, and a bit of a variety in the preamp with JJ, Phillips, and a JJ with 12ay7 replacing the "x" on the V4 I believe where it is. This made the amp a little less buzzsaw, quieter (less hiss), and made it just sound a little more Marshall-y warm. There's still plenty of gain beyond 6 on the pre, but around 5 1/2, where I like it, it sounds great and is much more comparable to my old Marshall 800 or 76' JMP Super.
    I'd still keep the 5150. I don't use mine as much as I used to either, but it still holds up with the tube swap.

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    04.02.15 @ 07:26 AM
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrjstudios View Post
    Your second option would be to go with some lower power preamp tubes. I have only experimented with this a little bit, but I've heard a lot of 5150's where people have done this and been happy with the results. A few guys on this forum can comment more about specific tube types and brands, but the general idea is replacing V1 and/or V2 with 12AT7's or 12AU7's. Those tubes have a little less gain and sound different, so you alter the gain structure of the amp. Some popular ones are NOS Telefunken ECC81s, or NOS Mullard 12AU7's. Again, it probably will not sound 'like a 5150' anymore, but you might like the new tone better anyway. (Yet another similar method that I wouldn't recommend at all is replacing all 5 preamp tubes with regular JJ 12AX7's. I did not like them at all in my 5150 combo -- it made it sound dark, grainy in the low end, and almost muddy. But if you're 5150 sounds way too bright with your setup, they might work for you.)
    I love the Mullards in my 5150! They seem to smooth the corners off the tone if that makes sense. There's less hiss and the tone seems fuller with less of that 'buzzsaw' sound that is common with the 5150. They don't radically alter the sound of the amp, just improve it, but there is a little less gain on tap, but still more than enough for most of us, just alter the settings a little.
    http://www.facebook.com/Tommywho5150

    And with that I'm off to the kitchen to make myself a lesbian omelette...LLFHS in response to one of Graeme's post's


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