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Amputating Peavey's Monster: The 6505+ Combo

In the 1980's, I borrowed my friend Dennis' Peavey Milestone bass guitar. I was hooked on Peavey's quality and my back hurt from how heavy the bass guitar was. Two years later, I gave the guitar back. I didn't want to let it go. You could kill a moose with it. It inspired me to reach into Heavy Metal a bit deeper. And so, I discovered Peavey's working class impact in a world of virtuosity.

And so, I found Peavey's 6505+ Combo. This little 60 watt guitar amplifier is a signature on many Van Halen albums and a last bastion of incredible high gain amplification at a reasonable price. I know it's sacrilege to say it, but you don't need to get a Soldano SLO-100 to sound like a Rock god. Why spend $3000 dollars on an amp inspired by Peavey when you can spend $600 bucks and get the real deal? The rest, you can Frankenstein.

My 6505+ Combo by Peavey. I removed the head chassis from the wooden shell and use the box as cat furniture.

What do I mean by that? Many boutique amps showed up after Peavey, like Soldano and Mesaboogie, copied Peavey's circuits and later built on them. Peavey's notion to make amplifiers people could afford have religated them to the cheap equipment rack, while higher priced slicker sounding amps got the big name endorsements. Another example, Carvin's all-American made X100B, clearly a great sounding amp, comes in at $100 bucks per watt (a bargain), but they don't get the big endorsers, so you don't pay the difference.

Back to Peavey.

Peavey no longer makes 6505+ and it's a damned shame. They are legendary, featuring 6L6G power tubes giving a level of distorted saturation on dreamt of by Heavy Metal's sleeping giants. Why they're not accepted as the world's best bargain is beyond me. They hang with amplifiers 4 times the price. And in many cases, out perform them.

Why amputate, then? It's the damned speaker. For some reason, maybe to keep the combo affordable, Peavey put a subpar speaker in the cabinet. There's no brand name on it. It's probably an ElectroVoice, or something.

When you hit the dirty channel you get this muddy garbled mess that's supposed to be heavy metal. But instead you get a heavy load of crap.

Lucky for us, Peavey was smart enough to leave a 1/4" tip-sleeve connection in the amplifier's chassis around back, so people could extend the speaker set up to pretty much anything summing up to 4-16 ohms in resistance. And so being the hack I am, if you plug 4 Celestion Vintage 30 speakers back there instead, what you get is nothing short of heavy metal bliss. I know this because I've done it.

That's what inspired this idea: what if I took a hack saw to the cabinet and cut the head from the speaker? Separate the speaker from the head?!! What am I doing? Isn't that sacrilege and risky? Yes. It is. But Heavy Metal philosophy more or less states if you don't like what you got, get off your ass and do something about it.

I got two 2x12 Harley Benton Cabinets featuring Celestion's Vintage 30 for about $260 bucks each. I know. It's hard to believe you can get two of these speakers mounted in a solid wood cabinet for less than the cost of two speakers (each Vintage 30 costs $170 bucks alone). Somehow Harley Benton figured out how to get these incredible speakers into a reasonably priced black tolex cabinet.

For contrast, my friend, Reggie from L.A. is building me an empty shell for the amp head. And shall paint that white. I'll put those little black corner protectors on it to make it "match".

My new Frankenstein's Monster will sport a white legendary Peavey 6505's head and two black stacks of Harley Benton cabinets. It'll be a perfect addition to my new studio, at a price that's half the cost of a single Soldano SLO-100. It'll look better than crap coming out of the factory, and it'll sound better, too. All with a price point that'll make my dad proud. That, my friend, is Heavy Metal.

If there's any thing I learned on the farm, besides a little redneck engineering, it's there's no reason why you can't Frankenstein your way to heavy metal happiness by going off brand, ignoring trends, and combining your ears with your head. You don't need to do hold your universe together with duck tape and chewing gum. If you love what you do, and you have honed your virtuosity to godly status, then, you should look good doing it.

This new rig, built on the bones of giants, and working class meatballs like me, will look better, sound better and be easier to haul around than pretty much anything my heavy metal friends have. And much of it is American made by craftsmen (thanks Reggie).

There's nothing wrong with spending the money and getting a big name amplifier, like Marshall or Bogner. These amps all sound great. But if you're like me, you don't want to haul your expensive gear to a bar. Instead, you'd rather have something that sounds great at gigs and costs around $1000 bucks with no need for pedals. Heavy Metal should be loud, proud, and inspiring. Form and function become one.

Sound coming from any Peavey 6505+ should be amazing. It's high gain amplification should meet Vintage 30 speaker voicing perfection. And it should look as stunning as it sounds. You heavy metal friends should be jealous, and inspired. And that is Heavy Metal.

If you're in need of a new head shell contact Reggie will either build you something or have something in his shop that'll work.

My finished product should land in 3 weeks.

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