Peavey 6505+ 112 Combo Review
The Peavey 6505
The Peavey 6505+ is a powerful, high-gain guitar amp head. Over the past several decades it has become a standard in the metal community, and its unmistakable sound can be heard in the recordings of countless extreme metal bands.
If you are a guitar player in one of those extreme metal bands I highly recommend checking out the 6505+. However, for those of us who play at home, or are closely watching our pennies, it may be a little expensive. And, at 120 Peavey watts this is an incredibly powerful rig. It’s perfect for many players, but you may find it’s simply too much amp for your needs.
That’s about the place I’m in these days. I love the 6505, and have for decades (more on that in a bit) but I can’t justify having a half-stack in my practice room right now. So, instead I went with the Peavey 6505+ 112 Combo. It has all that amazing Peavey high-gain goodness, but in a smaller box.
There are a bunch of great Peavey amps for metal, but in my opinion the 6505 is about as good as it gets. In this review I’ll let you know what I think of this amp, as well as my past experience with the 6505 Series. You can decide for yourself if it’s right for you.
But first, here’s a little history. Cue the old-timey music.
From the 5150 to the 6505
We can trace the 6505 Series lineage back to the early '90s and the Peavey 5150. This was an amp created in collaboration with Eddie Van Halen, probably the greatest rock guitarist in history. It definitely had outstanding hard rock tones, and you could nail the classic “brown sound” if you really wanted to.
But the 5150 had something else: Brain searing, bone-bending, soul-crushing distortion. In fact, you didn’t even need to push it that hard to get some thick overdrive out of the thing, which was incredible for such a powerful amp.
Back in the days when everyone who was anyone was playing through a Marshall, I discovered the Peavey 5150. I was a believer from the first minute I heard it, and in early 1994 I started using a 5150 head and Sheffield-loaded 4x12 cabinet in my metal band. It was a unique sound, and definitely stood out among the Marshall crowd.
A little later I discovered Carcass and their now-classic album Heartwork, and heard what the 5150 could sound like in a recording situation. As heavy as they were, they had a melodic sound I felt this amp complimented perfectly. When my band later went into the studio to record, myself and our other guitar player both used Peavey 5150s.
I’ve been a fan ever since, and owned a few versions of the amp over the years. All was well until 2004 when Eddie Van Halen shifted gears, formed his own company and took with him the 5150 name.
Peavey bounced back. They still retained the rights to the amp designs, and simply reworked the image into what is now the 6505 series, which has expanded to include the 6505, 6505+, the new 6505 MH, and the 6505+ 112 Combo.
Peavey 6505+ 112 Combo Specs
Why did I tell you all of that? For a couple of reasons:
- So you understand that the 6505 has a storied legacy you can count on. The 5150 went on to shape the sound of the euro-death movement in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. It withstood the Mesa onslaught of the nu-metal years, and today the 6505 continues to drive extreme metal.
- So you can put the rest of what I’m going to tell you in this article into perspective. The 6505+ Combo is a pretty popular amp. There are a lot of opinions floating around out there, and a fair amount of misleading information. I’m not saying I’m any more right than anyone else, but at least you know where I’m coming from.
With that out of the way, let’s get into some details.
The 6505+ 112 Combo is based around the "Plus" edition of the 6505 head. It pushes 60 watts of power through a single 12-inch Sheffield speaker. The preamp utilizes five 12AX7 tubes, and the power amp a pair of 6L6GCs.
On the front panel you get the same tone-shaping possibilities as the 6505+ head, meaning a 3-band EQ along with Presence and Resonance controls for each of the two channels.
The Resonance and Presence controls, in my opinion, are the keys to getting great sound out of this amp. I set my Resonance and Low around eight and Presence and High around six. For the Lead channel I dial the mids in around four, and for the Rhythm channel I bump them up to six or seven.
There are separate pre-gain and post-gain controls for the Rhythm and Lead channels, plus a crunch switch for the Rhythm channel and a Master reverb control. This is spring reverb, not digital, and it sounds good, but maybe could be a little louder on the top end.
For distortion it’s tempting to crank the pre-gain to ten, but I like it better back at about seven on the Lead Channel. Any higher and it can get a little fuzzy. Back at seven I feel like there’s better clarify but still tons of gain.
For the Rhythm Channel I set the Pre-Gain to about three. The Crunch function can be controlled via a 2-button footswitch. Dialed in correctly, this effectively gives me three sounds to work with. I really believe this amp is more flexible than many people give it credit for.
I use the Lead Channel for heavy distortion and the Rhythm Channel for clean, with the ability to click on the Crunch for a bluesy, classic rock sound. No distortion or overdrive pedals required!
Compact, powerful and flexible, the high-gain 6505 Combo is everything a metal guitarist needs.
Some guitar players knock the 6505 for its somewhat gritty clean sounds. That's understandable, since this amp does not have a clean channel. This is something that's really important to understand. Both channels are high-gain channels. It's not going to clean up like a Fender, or even my Marshall DSL.
You can get a very usable clean sound out of it, though, using the settings described above. You also may try backing off the volume on the guitar itself.
On the back panel, you’ve got your effects loop, an extension speaker jack along with an impedance selector switch, a ground lift button and a jack for the footswitch.
There is also a Microphone Simulated Direct Interface (MSDI). The point of this is you can run a line to a mixing board for recording or sound reinforcement. Personally, I’ll likely never use it seriously, but may mess around with it at some point. I’d prefer to mike the amp in a band or recording situation. If you do use it I’m curious to hear about your experience.
This is a large combo, weighing in at over 60 pounds. In the past when I used a 5150 212 Combo I had a little moving dolly for dragging it around. I’ll probably get something similar for this amp, and if you intend to move yours a lot I suggest considering it.
Hear the Peavey 6505+ 112 Combo
6505+ 112 vs. Head
If you're a gigging musician you can haul this beasty to a show and mike it. It is a great option for a metal guitarist looking for a loud, great-sounding combo. Surprisingly (or maybe not) the 112 combo seems to sacrifice none of that brutal 6505 tone, even though it’s giving up a few speakers and some bodyweight. You won't get the same projection as with four 12-inch speakers, but the thump is there thanks to the size of the cabinet.
When I was younger I thought you needed a half-stack if you wanted to play in a live band. The truth is, as awesome as half-stacks are, they are not necessary. A powerful, great-sounding combo will work just fine.
With half the wattage of the 6505+ head you may be worried that the 112 Combo doesn’t have the firepower to hold up in a band. Realize that a 60-watt tube amp is still extremely powerful, with more than enough available volume to be heard in any band situation. Rest assured, this is a really, really loud amp.
The lower power rating does mean the 112 Combo is a bit more controllable at lower volume levels. This makes it a good choice for home hobby players. Trust me when I tell you, if you decide to make a 6505 half-stack your main basement amp your neighbors will not appreciate it.
If you think the head version of the 6505+ sounds better then of course none of this matters. If I found myself in a band tomorrow I’d be fine using my 112 Combo, but I’d be thinking about moving up to the head version in time.
Both are solid choices, and you should make your decision based on your budget and needs. As I mentioned above, just don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need a stack to perform in a band. You need an amp that sounds good and is loud enough in rehearsal situations. To get that in a smaller, more portable package is a bonus.
6505+ 112 Combo vs. 6505 MH Mini Head
A few years back Peavey released the 6505 MH Mini Head. It’s essentially a 6505 head shrunk down to Lilliputian size. It puts out 20 watts, switchable down to one watt. The idea is to present another option for guitarist who don’t need 60 or 120 earth-shaking tube watts just for playing at home.
It’s a cool little amp, and it sounds amazing, but it does present a conundrum for those interested in the 112 Combo. Which should you get? I went through this process before I got my Combo, and here are my thoughts:
The MH isn’t expensive, and it’s a really cool little amp, but realize you’ll need a separate speaker cab. You’re looking at the same cost as the Combo for the MH plus cab, if not greater. That considered, I went with the Combo.
If you already have a guitar cabinet and you think you’d dig the Mini for home use, go for it. If I had a spare 2x12 or 4x12 cab lying around I’d probably already have one.
Both amps have MSDI-out, so you can use either of them live by either running a line to the board or miking your cabinet. The Combo has the edge when it comes to tone shaping, as the MH only has one EQ section.
The Combo also has the power to hold up in any band situation. No worries there. But my concern is whether or not the MH will do the job for band rehearsal.
Twenty watts tube is loud, but maybe not loud enough to overcome a hard-hitting metal drummer or another guitarist with a 100-watt Marshall stack. I’ve read some accounts where players say it does fine, and others where they say it isn’t loud enough. So, make sure you do your research before deciding!
Peavey 6505 212 Combo
Just to give you even more to think about: Peavey once had a 212 Combo version of the 6505. This thing was a monster, based on the standard 6505 head. Like the 112 Combo it had half the power, but two twelve-inch speakers. They called it a stack in a box, and it sure sounded like it.
I used the 5150 version of this amp at home for a long while, and I loved it. If it still existed in Peavey’s lineup today it would be the amp I am recommending to you.
The 6505 212 Combo did have a few drawbacks. For one thing, it was huge, weighing it at around 85 pounds. As I said earlier, I had a little dolly for moving mine around. Secondly, it featured only a single EQ section. Again, not something that bothered me, but I suspect when the more affordable, portable and flexible 112 Combo hit the scene it started the 212 on the path to extinction.
If you can grab a 6505 Combo used for a good price, I suggest checking it out. While it is gone from Peavey’s current lineup, it is certainly not forgotten, at least not by me.
I think it’s pretty obvious that I’m a huge fan of the Peavey 6505 Series, and the 6505+ 112 combo in particular. Give them a shot and you might become a fan too. The old 5150 worked for me in a big way back in my metal band days, and the 212 came through in later years.
This amp still continues to impress in the form of the 6505. There are a lot of great amps for metal, and some of them costing a whole lot more, but in my opinion the 6505 crushes them to dust.