EVH 5150III 50w heads - EL34 & 6L6


Senior member

I've been on an amp quest for while.  I've been using a mid 90's Peavey Classic 50 head, and recently got a Harley Benton 2x12 with V30's.  I looked at different amp offerings (BluGuitar Amp1 Mercury, Fender Tonemaster Twin Reverb, Marshal DSL 40CR, Marshall SV and SC20), and nothing really jazzed me.  I'm a rock / 80's metal player predominantly, but also like to play cleaner stuff as well, and some effects.

I've been curious about the EVH offerings for a while now.  They now have 3 version of 50w head - EL34, 6L6 and newer Stealth with 6L6 tubes.  I can't afford new, so have been perusing Guitar Center's used offerings.  I copied the following from a post I made from thegearpage.net (hope I'm not breaking any rules by doing this) and figured it would be good info to share....

I finally received both the EL34 and 6L6 versions. The amps were purchased with the idea that one would be going back, but I wanted to test both.  Both amps were played through a 2x12 with V30's. Both amps get really loud really fast. I don't have the foot switch plugged in and am switching the channels from the switches on the amp itself, and it's really easy to bump the volume knobs. I've never had this experience before, but both amps are used and the EL34 stinks. It smells like a bar from the 80's of beer and smoke. Sigh....

I played a Tele, LP (SD Custom in the bridge) and partscaster with hb 's (Thornbuckers) through both.

Green Channel - I like the EL34 better for this. Has a "Marshally" sound to it. What can I say, I like the Marshall sound. Great for hb's, but the Tele sounded a bit strident. The sound was a bit more "open". Can get really good blues sounds, and the overall tone cuts through a little better. The 6L6 sounded smoother, more "Fendery" (which would make sense with the tubes). The Tele sounded better here, more full without any spikeyness, but thought the HB's sounded more compressed, more even in dynamics, if that makes sense. Of the 2 amps, using an hb equipped guitar, I preferred the EL34 on this channel and with the Tele preferred the 6L6. Have yet to run my Strat though the amp, but based on the Tele, would assume the Strat would sound more at home with the 6L6 also.

Blue Channel - The EL34 sounds meaner, more raw, but needs more attack on the pick. Like the Green channel though, thought the tone was more "open". At the same time, it seemed like it needed "more" of something. The 6L6 sounds terrific on this channel. More of a modern gain sound. The smoothness of the 6L6 shines here. All the guitars sounded fantastic through this channel, but at the same time, was just a touch too smooth for me (I attribute a bit of this to the V30 speakers). Saw a couple of Youtube vid's where an EL34 user clipped a tone cap (i believe it was C19), and it gave the EL34 the same gain profile as the 6L6, just with an EL34 flavor. I'm assuming some of the rawness of the El34 would be retained while combining the creaminess of the 6L6 sound. I do think, this would be a sweet spot for the EL34. Like the Green channel, the 6L6 seemed to be a better fit for a wider variety of pickups/guitars. Seemed more consistent, while the EL34 really pronounced the differences in the guitars.

Red Channel - Yup, everyone was right with this channel. The gain is just crazy on both amps and there is a bit of hiss on the channel. Both amps sounded really good, but the gain had to be dialed back to about 9 o clock. Purely a tonal preference, but I preferred the EL34 tone. Didn't spend as much time on this channel as it's kind of singular in the mission of max gain. Having said that, dialing down the volume on the guitar gave a lot of flexibility....with some hiss.

I guess it comes down to, are you a Fender or a Marshall person. In the overall, kind of liked the EL34 better, but I'd want to experiment with removing the tone cap for the blue channel. The 6L6, for lack of a better term, seems like a safer choice, as it plays nice with every guitar I put through it, and sounds great on all the channels. At the same time though, I was missing the dirty, sleezy, raw feel of the EL34's. The El34 sounded more "rock", while the 6L6 sounded more "metal" for gain. Both did cleans very well, just depends on the tone your after. The blue channel was where they differed the most. The EL34 needs a little help (either the tone cap clipping, a boost, etc.), while the 6L6 sounds great without additional support. The red channel was a wash. Both sounded really good, but I'd give the nod to the EL34 on this one, but again, purely a tonal preference.

Looking at getting a Celestion G12T-75 from a Marshall cab and switching out one of the V30's, and retesting the amps. I've heard a couple of vids with this combo and the 6L6 amp, sounded really really good. Very full. I think the V30's negatively affect the 6L6's tone a bit, while it's doable with the EL34.

Lastly, never thought I'd say this, but of the guitar, I preferred the partscaster and Tele over the LP for tones. They are both Warmoth bodies/neck and they both play and sound really fantastic.
I've been following your amp quest on TGP. Seems you and I have trod that same ground, to some extent. From our convo there you probably already know my experience and opinion, but I'll share it again here for those who don't:

BluGuitar Amp 1: Wanted so bad for it to be a game-changer. It is not. It still sounds like a solid state amp. It's neat, but will be forgotten. There is an issue with distortion bleeding into the clean channel. BluGuitar says this is normal. I say "BluGuitar Amp1 for sale, lightly used in my non-smoking home studio."

EVH 5150iii EL-34: Again, I wanted so bad to love this amp. I love the way it looks. I am a Marshall fan to the bone, and I loved the idea of a more Marshall sounding 5150. Unfortunately it was a total dog, IMO. I compared it side-by-side with the 6L6 version, and not only found it lacking, but utterly devoid of anything likeable or usable. The beating heart of the 5150 lineup is the Blue channel. The Blue channel on this amp sounds like garbage. Also, I am not into modding amps, clipping diodes, adding chokes, or any of that nerd crap. It has to sound correct out of the box. This amp does not. In short, I didn't like it. :)

EVH 5150iii 6L6: Hands down winner. Again, the Blue channel is the beating heart of the 5150 lineup, and the 6L6 version doesn't just nail it, but is the genesis of it. The Blue channels of all the other iterations are just trying to ape what the 6L6 started. The Green channel is a nice Fendery clean. So nice, in fact, that you're starting to see this amp in the backline on many country stages. The Red channel is over the top, but at least it holds together, and can serve as a lead boost for metal solos. This amp is destined to become a classic. This Marshall guy loves this amp.

EVH 5150iii Stealth: This amp looks so awesome! That alone makes me want one, but my experience with the EL-34 will only let my enthusiasm rise to "cautiously optimistic". Can't wait to try one, or at least see a video with it compared to the 6L6 version.
I just picked up one of these, and it is amazing. I too, am an 80's rock guy, and this thing to me is the ultimate. Way more gain than you would ever need (I haven't felt the need to move the gain past 11 o' clock), plus amazing cleans. Fender-y cleans to Marshall crunch to 5150 style high-gain. And you can switch between 6L6 and EL-34 if you want by just by flipping the bias setting. Crazy loud, but has good tone at low volume (100/30w switchable)...


Those Victory Krakens are no joke, like a 5153 6L6 and a Diezel VH4 had a baby.
I got to use one on a session last year for a rhythm track, and I was thoroughly impressed.
Well, I'm keeping the 6L6.  I've been testing/playing both amps extensively since I received them.  Did a 3 day run with the 6L6, and in the overall, it fits my needs better.  I do very much like the Green channel from the EL34, however, I'm finding the blue channel limiting.  Don't know how to say this any other way, but with the EL34, I feel like I'm fighting in some way, where with the 6L6, I'm flowing with it.  Would love to have the green channel from the El34 added as an addition to the 6L6, but don't see that happening.  Also, I'm doing more single coil stuff lately, and the 6L6 seems to pair with the single coils better.

Hoping they evolve the El34 a bit though.  In some ways, I prefer it to the 6L6, especially the green channel.  That green channel gets that sultry neck pickup with the tone knob rolled back a smidge, really well.  Very earthy.

Also, the EL34 that I received was used, and it smells like someone doused it with Fabreeze in an attempt to get rid of the stink of "I've been played at a smokey bar for 15 years, have had beer doused on me and was the recipient of collateral vomit spray".  My entire basement is now swathed in this fragrance.  Yeah, this one is going back.
rauchman said:
Don't know how to say this any other way, but with the EL34, I feel like I'm fighting in some way,

This has been my experience with every EL34 based amp I've ever seen.  They just tend to play really stiff.  'Fighting you' is very descriptive of the response of this tube.

EL84s, on the other hand, are really musical, responsive, and generally a joy to play through.  Although they share a similar part number, the EL84 is a different pentode entirely in that it is designed to have gain (to lower the cost of the desk-top radios that it was designed for).  It's the only pentode that I know of like that.

I'm guessing if you found a 5153 that used EL84s, that would be the end of the world  :)
After reading these i am way to excited for my amp to come in mid ocTUBER
What are some of your effects you all run through the loops😉
weeeeel, in general you want to run your delay/chorus/flanger through the loop because those sound best post-distortion.

But if you want specifics, you should run a Mayfly My Evil Twin in the loop baby!! :)
Post me a link so i can see some candy i am going through some overdrives i know i wont use and am in the process trying to replace them with other effects