A Glorious Roar

For a good portion of my guitar-playing career I had one guitar and one amp. Both have served me extremely well and I still have and enjoy them both. But in the last few years I’ve suffered a touch of Gear Acquisition Syndrome (G.A.S.) and have discovered some truly amazing gear.

Amps are always something I’ve wrestled with. I’ve played plenty that I liked, but always felt like they had some kind of short-coming, some kind of compromise I had to overcome and live with. That is, until I played a 5150 a year ago.

It’s never as good as the first time. The beloved 50-watt head.

It’s never as good as the first time. The beloved 50-watt head.

As you’ve probably figured out by now, I am a major Van Halen fan. Not just the guitar-playing but the songwriting and, god yes, especially that tone. I’ve chased that tone for years and had pretty much given up on ever coming close. It’s gotta be in the fingers, right? (yes, still mostly true).

I shied away from the EVH line for a long time. I didn’t want to buy it just because Eddie stamped his name on it. But each bit of EVH gear of tried from effects pedals to the guitars to the amps have all completely blown me away. The play great and they sound great.

This amp gets as close “the tone” as I’ve ever been. The first one I played was at a guitar store in the Bay Area. I fell so hard for that amp that I bought it on the spot and had it shipped to my home in Seattle. A few weeks later I scored a great 4x12 EVH cabinet to go with it.

I loved that 50-watt head, but it did have one major shortcoming which is that the first and second channels share the same controls. I could probably have settled on some tone settings that were an acceptable compromise between the clean and dirty channels. But the real issue is that the volume difference between the two is quite extreme. I solved that by leveling-up to a 100-watt head which arrived on my doorstep this week. 

Hol-eeee crap! What a sound. The 50-watt head rocks the 4x12 with ease, but the 100-watt positively detonates. The separate controls for the first and second channels work wonderfully giving me plenty of tonal wiggle-room to work with.

An EVH 5150 half-stack, the way God intended

An EVH 5150 half-stack, the way God intended

I could go on and on about the rich even-ordered harmonics the amp produces or similar hocus-pocus. The truth is, I love this amp because of how it makes my playing sound, but also how it brings new tones and ideas out of my playing.

Need more proof?