Review: EVH 5150 III 15-Watt LBX Head

(Image: © EVH Gear)

The term downsizing is usually associated with something bad, but in the case of the EVH 5150 III it’s been quite the opposite.

EVH started the 5150 III line with a full-sized 100-watt head, followed by the smaller (both in size and output) 5150 III 50-watt head, and most recently they’ve rolled out the 5150 III 15-watt LBX head, which is a compact “lunchbox”-style amp.

The most impressive feat of this progression is all of the EVH 5150 III amps retain the signature tones developed by the discerning ears of Eddie Van Halen, so whether you need a powerful, versatile amp for big gigs or a tiny amp to take to studio sessions, the sound remains the same. In addition to being an affordable option for Van Halen fanatics, the EVH 5150 III LBX head is a great choice for guitarists who need the biggest high-gain tones from the smallest possible package.

FEATURES

The EVH LBX is powered by two EL84 output tubes and five ECC83S preamp tubes, which provide an outrageous amount of gain, particularly for a 15-watt lunchbox amp. The amp features a two-channel design consisting of the famous EVH “blue” (crunch or classic VH) and “red” (high-gain) channels that share a single set of controls: Gain, Low, Mid, High, Volume, Presence, and Resonance (the latter knob located on the rear panel). Channel switching is performed either via a front-panel switch or with the included footswitch.

Rear-panel features include a 1/4 speaker output with selectable 16-, 8-, or 4-ohm impedance, a mono effects loop, a full- or 1/4-power level switch, and standby. The head is housed in a sturdy metal cage-like enclosure and weighs about 15 pounds.

PERFORMANCE

Whereas most lunchbox amps are considered practice amps, the EVH LBX is more than powerful enough for onstage performance. In fact, it is by far the loudest 15-watt amp I have ever played. Some critics point out its lack of a dedicated clean channel, but sweet, musical clean tones are easily dialed in simply by using the Blue channel and turning down the guitar’s volume. Besides, most mini amps can produce good clean tones, but very few can compete with the massive, tight high-gain tones that the LBX delivers in spades. The Blue channel produces chest-walloping chunk, particularly when using a 4x12 cabinet, and the high-gain channel can easily go head-to-head with many of the most-coveted (and expensive) high-gain boutique amps.

LIST PRICE $965.50
MANUFACTURER EVH, evhgear.com

• A pair of EL84 output tubes and five ECC83S preamp tubes deliver massive high-gain tones and volume output that can compete with many more powerful amps.

• The dual-channel design provides the famous EVH “Blue” channel with plexi-like crunch and the “Red” channel, which delivers massive-sounding high-gain tones.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Impressive volume output, a dynamic, responsive crunch channel, and massive high-gain tones place the EVH LBX at the head of the class in the ever-expanding lunchbox amp category.