EVH 5150 III 50W Head review by Fender

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  • Features: 9
  • Sound: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.7 (7 votes)
Fender: EVH 5150 III 50W Head

Price paid: A$ 1249

Purchased from: Musicians Friend

Features — 9
The little brother of the EVH 5150 III 100W Head, it packs arena volume, tone and performance in a compact package. Can be used with with 1, 2 or 4 x 12" cabs and with it's 2 speaker outs it can even be set up to power 2 quad boxes at the same time.


- Effects loop
- Front panel instrument 1/4" mono jack
- 1/4" stereo jack
- Headphone jack
- Line out jack
- 2 parallel speaker output jacks
- 3 channels, Channel 1 and 2 share EQ
- Master presence control
- Channel 1 and 2: gain, low, mid, high and volume controls
- Channel 3: gain, low, mid, high, volume and master resonance controls
- Selectable impedance (4, 8 or 16 ohms)
- 4 Button foot switch
- Accommodates MIDI footswitching

It could do with a built-in reverb but aside from that it's features are spot on.

Sound — 10
This amp is loud and sounds amazing played loud. However still sounds great at lower volumes. I mainly use it for gigs, recording & rehearsals but have no problem jamming it at home at lower volumes. It does have a headphone jack for people that are concerned about noise. I play many different genres of music and this amps sound accommodates for all of them.

Green Channel (CLEAN):

The clean sound on this amp is great, it's not the best cleans I've heard but it is in no way horrible. I use a delay and sonic maxi-miser in my effects loop, this seems improves the cleans tremendously. There is a volume jump but i like the dramatic jump from cruisy cleans to dirty distortions.

Blue Channel (HIGH GAIN):

Before buying the amp I thought the Red Channel (Super High Gain) would be my favorite but along with a huge amount of gain the blue channel has an incredibly warm sound. If this was the only channel on the amp I would still buy it purely for this channel. Along with sounding great it is very versatile and can be tweaked to suit/play any genre you care to.

Red Channel (SUPER HIGH GAIN):

MOTHER OF GAIN! Grab some Vasso because you are about to be f--ked in the ears and I say that in the best of ways. This channel still holds that warmth from the blue channel but then slams it with two tons of oh so much gain. If you can't handle the raw power behind the gain on this channel you can always scale back the gain knob for a beautiful crunchy distortion. 

All and all the sound on this amp is top notch and if you can't tweak it to suit your style you need to go back to your bedroom amp.

Reliability & Durability — 10
The amp looks solid and I have yet to have any problems with it. I have played many gigs with it including one where I traveled interstate, on a plane, without a road case and it still plays just as good as the day I got it, maybe better, if that's even possible? The hardware and all the components inside look as if they will last. I have not had any problems nor has any I know that owns one. It is made by Fender and endorsed by Eddie Van Halen and I would not expect him to put his name behind something he didn't believe in. So far it's 10/10 from me but I did read of a couple of cases where bits had come loose. However I've read many more positive reviews then negative.

Overall Impression — 10
Overall the EVH 5150 III 50W Head is the best amp I have played in a long time. It is not hindered by it's size/wattage in any way and the only advantage I could see from getting the 100W version is it having more head room. I'm in a blues based groove/thrash metal band who play many shows around Australia and it works perfectly for me. However I do dabble into other genres especially when jamming by myself and let me tell you this amp has it covered. For me this was an important purchase and I spent a lot of time comparing different models and brands of amplification before deciding on this one. Ultimately the EVH 5150 III won out in all aspects including Sound, Features, Reliability & Price. I would not discourage anyone from buying this amp.

6 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I actually own this amp. It does not deserve to get such a high score. The volume jump is not nice, there is no upside to such a dramatic volume change. The only reason why I kept the amp is because I have a volume setting on my line 6 m9 that allows me to adjust the loudness. I have that set at around 50%. That being said, the blue channel is TWICE the volume of the green channel. That is a huge deal, and a terrible flaw that could never make this amp a 10 or a 9. This is no joke, make sure if you want this amp to have something that will cut the volume when you change channels because if not, then this amp is almost unusable.
    I agree with you that the volume jump between channel one and two is somewhat annoying, but you could just go from one to three and maintain similar loudness (at the cost of some additional gain that is) This Amp is great for playing songs in one or two channels as long as one of those two is channel three, otherwise there will be a awfull volume increase
    The 5150III is a new type of 5150. It's not a specific as a 6505+ which means it is more versatile. If you want the 6505 tone, then get a 6505. If you want to have something like a 6505 that can be used to play other stuff, then that is where the 5150III excels. Playing Iron Maiden on a 6505 is what it is. With the 5150III you can get closer to the Marshall tone than the 6505 by adjusting the settings. You can basically play a lot more gain related metal and rock songs with this. So versatility is why you should get the 5150III and not 6505 or 5150 mark I and II for that matter. It is a different amp.  The stock tubes that come with it are the cause of 99% of the problems. The pre-amp tubes aren't good. This is one of those amps that you should strongly consider getting new pre-amp tubes for and it will sound better. So if you think it sounded good in the store, you will have a blitzing amp with better tubes.  The main caveat with this amp is that although it has 3 channels, you can only toggle between 1 and 3 or 2 and 3, not 1 and 2. 1 and 2 are on the same settings bank and there is a significant volume difference. So if you set the volume it's for matching 1 to 3 or 2 to 3. You can't match 1 to 2. If you want to do that, get the 100W version instead... but this is 1/2 the price and the 50W is loud.
    I purchased a used 5153 50 watt for Xmas. About 3 weeks ago, I noticed a volume drop that would rectify after a few minutes. It's not the power tubes, I swapped them out and checked the bias, nothing abnormal there. Today the volume drop escalated to full-on white noise that could only be cleared by switching the standby switch on and off. The volume drops and white noise would only happen after 20-50 minutes of playing. After the amp got nice and hot. All of this at low to moderate volume. If you google 5150 pcb problems, you will see a couple videos talking about volume drops. Man am I pissed. This piece of crap goes back to the store tomorrow.