The Weigh-Up: EVH 5150 Iconic Series 60-Watt (Gear Review)

EVH 5150 Iconic Series 60-watt review

Originally co-designed by the legendary Eddie Van Halen (and amplifier engineer James Brown) and as a way to put his revered, heavily modded Marshall Super Lead into retirement, the late genius probably didn’t expect his new 5150 amp to become one of the pillars of modern, heavy guitar tone. Seriously; if you’ve listened to Machine Head, Parkway Drive, Trivium, Gojira, Code Orange, you’ve heard a 5150 amplifier in full flight.

While the 5150 name and amp model may have moved through a couple of different hands since it’s early 90s inception, the EVH brand has been the home of the 5150 series since the company’s 2007 foundation under the Fender umbrella. With the recent 5150III line being a runaway success for the brand – especially the fantastic Stealth series – the company has decided to focus on what originally made the amps immediately classic with the Iconic Series. Featuring a line of new heads and combos, Wall Of Sound were lucky enough to get our paws on the newest 60-watt Combo.

Featuring a simple, to the point layout, the 5150 is dead-easy to get immediately stuck into and riffing and soloing. Each channel has it’s individual extra voicing, adding more versatility to the amp. The clean sound is surprisingly warm, and after adding a touch of the inbuilt reverb it makes for lush chords and chiming single notes. Let’s be real though, testing the clean channel is almost a formality, with the 5150 coming to life when activating the green channel’s crunch setting. Akin to the classic EVH hot-rodded British tone, with the gain sitting in the middle it perfectly delivers classic rock tones.

With the gain turned up a little it moves into 80s thrash territory, whilst with it almost dimed it’s a modern crunching tone that can handle the muscular modern riffing of Alice In Chains and Lamb of God, to the low tuned Meshuggah-esque styles.

The red channel is where the 5150 truly awakens. With a staggering amount of gain on board, it takes less grunt than you’d think to create a thick, chugging guitar tone; sitting at noon is enough to level buildings. It’s simply perfect for hard rock and metal of all styles, with the 6L6 preamp tubes helping deliver a darker, low end heavy sound, yet clear enough articulation for lower tunings. The burn channel is fantastic for leads, and combined with the 10Db boost on the two-switch pedal it’s a shredder’s dream. It’s also killer on rhythm guitars too, pulling back the gain just a tad gives room for a biting tone that will cut through any mix.

Thankfully, even if the player is inclined to crank the gain, the built-in noise gate holds back any excess sound coming out of the amp directly.

Physically speaking, it’s a little weighty – though the included wheels will save lumbars everywhere – but boy does it pack some serious cajones. It doesn’t take much volume for this thing to start shaking the walls – fortunately the 1/4 power switch means that you don’t have to sacrifice tone (and your neighbours ears) for volume. Needless to say the 60-watt Iconic can hold it’s own in a variety of scenarios; with it being a tremendous option for rehearsal and club-sized venues.

For recording, sticking a mic in front of one of the two EVH Celestion Custom speakers doubles it’s bigger brother’s tone perfectly, however one criticism of the 5150 Iconic Series is that the XLR output feels like a missed opportunity. All our demos were recorded using this feature, and while you can pull some solid tones across all three channels, it does pale in comparison to the awesome full-blown amp/speaker combo. This feature is hardly a make-or-break situation for the 5150 Iconic Series, but with other brands fully embracing this technology, it’s something for the EVH crew to consider investing in further.

The new EVH 5150 Iconic Series is just that – iconic. The EVH team have worked hard on preserving the great man’s legacy, whilst keeping the brand moving forward with the modern player in mind.  The combination of the green channel crunch and the explosiveness of the red channel is a gain-lovers’ dream, all at an affordable price point. Boasting the ability to easily pull out three incredible distorted tones in a matter of seconds – and not to forget a clean sound that is punching well above it’s weight – it is simply impossible to not sound amazing through the 5150 Iconic Series 60-watt Combo.

Reviewed by Andrew Kapper

Learn more about the amp, and the entire 5150 Iconic Series, here.


  • Wattage: 60 Watts
  • Inputs: One 1/4”
  • Line Out: Two – One XLR and One 1/4”
  • Channels: Two – Clean/Overdrive and Lead/Burn
  • Effects: Reverb
  • Speakers: Two 12” EVH Celestion Custom
  • Preamp Tubes: 2 6L6
  • Power Tubes: 2 ECC83
  • Footswitch: 2-Button Footswitch Included