Review: Peavey 6505 Piranha Micro Head

(Image credit: Peavey Electronics)

“Want a little head” is not only the punch line to a bad sex joke about Amazonian rain forest tribes; it also is apparently the phrase on a motivational poster in the Peavey amp design laboratory.

It seems like only yesterday that Peavey shrunk the sounds and several features of the full-size 6505 amp into a mini head format, and for an encore they’ve introduced the 6505 Piranha Micro Head, which provides the luscious 6505 sound in a package about the size of the 8-track tape player in your daddy’s Camaro.

While its dimensions (and price) may be diminutive, the sound is huge and the feature set is surprisingly versatile as well.

Despite being one of the smallest amp heads available today in terms of overall dimensions, the Peavey 6505 Piranha delivers an impressive 20 watts of output power into 4 ohms. The amp has a low-voltage solid-state circuit to avoid bulky transformers and keep size at a minimum, but the preamp section is driven by a single 12AX7 tube to keep the tone raunchy and responsive.

Front panel controls consist of a crunch/lead setting switch, gain and volume knobs, and an ingenious EQ control that sweeps through various 6505 settings instead of the usual “mud to treble” single tone control. There are also input, aux in, and headphone jacks up front. The back panel provides a 1/4-inch speaker output jack (4 ohms minimum), an effect send and return loop, and a jack for the included 30VDC power supply. The amp also comes with a heavy-duty nylon carrying bag, which is convenient as you’ll want to take this amp with you everywhere.

While the 6505 Piranha may not be as tonally versatile as its bigger brothers, it still delivers the 6505 clean and distortion character that has made the 6505 one of today’s most popular amps. Generally speaking, the bigger the speaker cabinet, the bigger (and louder) the tone. The EQ knob’s distinctive tonal sweep and the crunch/lead settings provide a surprisingly diverse and useful variety of tones from the signature 6505 midrange chunk to blistering scooped-mid crunch, all with surprisingly big-sounding bass punch.

For the recording studio, this is a no-brainer, low-cost addition to any guitarist’s sonic toolbox, and when properly recorded no one will be able to tell the difference between this and a much larger amp head. Miked into a PA, no one will be able to tell the difference as well when you gig with it live.

LIST PRICE: $199.99
MANUFACTURER: Peavey Electronics,

• A single 12AX7 tube drives the preamp to provide rich distortion textures and dynamic responsiveness.

• The EQ control sweeps through a variety of popular 6505 tone settings, including crisp, punchy, scooped mids, and expressive midrange.

The Peavey 6505 Piranha may be outrageously small and unbelievably inexpensive, but—like the fish it’s named after—it is more powerful than it looks and its bite will slay you.

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Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.