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Peavey Amps Guide: Are they Good and What for?

Peavey amps are fairly well established, especially for the heavier styles of music. You’ll see a lot of metal and rock bands using a range of Peavey amps live and in the studio for recording.

But how good are they, really? Do Peavey amps deserve their popularity? And if so what’s makes them so popular, particularly within the world of heavy music?

peavey amps guide are they good

Let’s take a closer look at Peavey amplifiers, their history, how they’re made, the artists that use them, the styles of music they’re suited to and whether they would make a good choice of amp for you.

History of Peavey Amplifiers

Peavey was founded in 1964 in Mississippi by Hartley Peavey. Hartley was building amplifiers as a teenager during the 1950’s and in 1964 founded Peavey Electronics when he moved his production to a small area above a music shop.

Still CEO of Peavey today, Hartley is a continuous presence as Peavey has gone from those small beginnings to becoming one of the largest manufacturers of audio and musical equipment.

The 1970’s saw Peavey growing with amps such as the Dyna Bass, Musician and Vintage series. Moving forward Peavey focused on solid state technology which had gained in popularity during the 70’s and 80’s. This reached its peak with the Peavey Bandit, arguably the most famous solid state amp to date.

The Bandit is still being produced and sold today and is seen as one of the most reliable and best sounding solid state amps of all time. Many famous musicians either started with it or have owned and played a Peavey Bandit at some point in time.

By the 1980’s heavy rock and metal was huge which meant high gain amps were in demand. Peavey responded by releasing both the VTM and Butcher series to compete with the likes of Marshall.

Moving in to the 1990’s high gain amps became even more desirable and that’s when Peavey brought out of the most famous of all: the Peavey 5150. Released in 1992 after years of development with Eddie Van Halen (who popularized it), the 5150 took the hard rock and metal world by storm.

It’s versatility across 2 channels and searing high gain sound from the lead channel made it the go to amplifier for all types of heavy music. Even after Peavey and Eddie Van Halen went their separate ways and Peavey rebranded the amp to the 6505 it remains a staple both on stage and studios for some of the most well known rock and metal artists.

To this day Peavey are a major player in audio equipment across the board and it’s presence and influence can be seen in the legacy of amplifiers and the many artists still using them.

Does Peavey Still Make Amps?

Yes, Peavey still make amps and guitars. Whilst they have faced some financial challenges in recent years they are still going strong and manufacturing amplifiers and guitars.

Much of their product line is produced in China now but some of their amps are still made in the USA.

Whilst some worry that getting musical instruments or equipment made in China will mean an inferior product that isn’t the case anymore. So many of the large music brands have much of their product range manufactured in China and the quality is very good. You may even struggle to tell a difference between USA and China made products.

If you are set on a USA made amp though, and it will undoubtedly cost more, then the Peavey models still made in the USA can be seen below.

Where are Peavey Amps Made

Most of their line of amps are made in China. The Budda range of amps are still made in the USA though.

What Peavey amps are made in the USA?

The Peavey amplifiers made in the USA are:

  • Budda Mark Nason MN-100
  • Budda Superdrive 30
  • Budda Superdrive 80
  • Budda Superdrive 45
  • Budda Superdrive V20

What Peavey amps are made in China?

Most of the Peavey amplifiers are made in China now:

  • Peavey VYPYR X1
  • Peavey VYPYR X2
  • Peavey VYPYR X3
  • Peavey Solo
  • Peavey Audition
  • Peavey Backstage
  • Peavey Bandit 112
  • Peavey Rage 158
  • Peavey Rage 258
  • Peavey Classic 30 112
  • Peavey Classic 50 212
  • Peavey Classic 50 410
  • Peavey Delta Blues 115 Tweed
  • Peavey Classic 20 MH Mini
  • Peavey 6505 MH Mini
  • Peavey 6505
  • Peavey 6505 Plus
  • Peavey Butcher
  • Peavey invective .120
  • Peavey invective .MH Mini

Who Uses Peavey Amps

Peavey amplifiers are used by many musicians across lots of genres but you will probably see them being used most by rock and metal artists. Peavey high gain amps are among the best and most widely used in heavy rock and metal, featuring on some of the most famous songs and albums of all time.

Eddie Van Halen worked with Peavey to develop the 5150 amp, which became a staple for hard rock. In recent years the 5150 has been rebranded to the 6505, and huge metal megastars like Machine Head, Trivium, At the Gates, Bullet for My Valentine and Deafheaven have all used the 5150 and 6505.

But Peavey amps are also used frequently by blues, country and pop musicians. The Classic 30 and 50 is popular with country and blues artists, with Tim McGraw and Carrie Underwood’s guitar players using them.

A few of the most well known artists using Peavey amps:

  • Ben Bruce of Asking Alexandria – Peavey 6534 Plus
  • Brad Walst of Three Days Grace – Headliner 1000 1000-Watt Bass Amp Head
  • Brian Eschbach of The Black Dahlia Murder – Peavey 6505
  • Corey Beaulieu of Trivium – Peavey 6505 Plus
  • Denny Hemingson of Tim McGraw’s band – Peavey Classic 50 Combo
  • Ed Eason of Carrie Underwood’s band – Classic 30 and 50 Combo
  • Jonas Stålhammar of At The Gates – Peavey 6505
  • Josh Burke of The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus – 6505 Plus
  • Kerry McCoy of Deafheaven – 6534 Plus
  • Kevin Thrasher of Escape The Fate – 6505 Plus
  • Michael Padge Paget of Bullet For My Valentine – 6505 Plus
  • Misha Mansoor of Periphery – invective™ .120
  • Paul Rousseau of Silverstein – 6505 Plus
  • Phil Demmel of Machine Head – 6505 Plus
  • Rory Clewlow of Enter Shikari – 6505
  • Shiv Mehra of Deafheaven – 6505
  • Simon Neil of Biffy Clyro – Delta Blues Tweed Combo
  • Ted Nugent – 6505 Plus

Across many genres and styles of music Peavey amps are used and that is because of their versatility and quality.

Peavey Classic 30 112 Guitar Combo Amp
The Peavey Classic 30 112 Combo

What Makes Peavey Amps Good

Whilst Peavey amps aren’t as sought after or desirable as some other brands they have a few things going for them: reliability, price and their gain.

They’re often cheaper than their alternatives and most Peavey amps are built so that they last forever. This makes them popular for touring because you know you can rely on a Peavey to be built like a tank and never fail on you.

Their older solid state amps like the Rage and Bandit are considered amongst the best solid state amps ever. They’re also virtually indestructible too! You can find countless stories of people dropping, smashing and generally treating them terribly and yet they still carry on working.

And of course their high gain amp models like the 5150/6505 are classics that are still used regularly by many artists today. Think of them like the Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier or Marshall JCM 800/900 – almost iconic in heavy music.

Overall they’re a very solid, reliable, good maker of amplifiers that may not be as exciting or sexy as some of the more boutique brands but will absolutely get the job done.

EVH 5150III 50S 6L6 Guitar Amplifier
The EVH 5150III Head

Why are Peavey Amps so Cheap?

Much of the production being in China helps to keep the cost and prices down. Being able to say an amp is made in the USA or UK definitely adds a bit to the price.

Also Peavey aren’t nearly as well thought of as the likes of Fender, Orange or Mesa Boogie. That brand reputation can allow others to price their amps higher even though they may not necessarily be any better.

What are Peavey Amps Good for?

As Peavey have a big range of amps in their lineup you can find one for most styles of music.

For example if you need an amp for metal or high gain then it’s hard to go wrong with the 5150/6505. It’s an amp that has been synonymous with heavy rock and metal for decades and used by some of the biggest guitarists in the world.

Also the Butcher is very well thought of in the metal world and is a sort of darker sounding JCM 800. Peavey are seen as being a ‘metal brand’ and whilst it’s unfair to pigeonhole them as such they do have amps excel at that sound.

Alternatively many blues players like the Classic range, which is like so many Peaveys is dependable and affordable. The cleans and great and it has a bite to it that can when driven works brilliantly for blues and blues rock.

Country musicians have used Peavey amps for decades and within the current range of amps the Delta Blues is still very popular. The fact they do a pedal steel amp also makes them an obvious choice for country musicians.

Even straight up rock bands like Biffy Clyro have been known to use the Peavey Delta Blues.

So whilst their prominence in metal is well established the versatility that has made them popular in other genres of music shouldn’t be overlooked.

Are Peavey Amps Good for Beginners?

Peavey have made some absolute classic solid state amps over the years. Whilst they may not be a traditional ‘beginner amp’ nowadays, something like a Bandit or Rage would make great choice.

They can be extremely loud but also have great master volumes and sound fantastic even at those lower volumes. They are straightforward amps that won’t break and will give you a great range of useable sounds even as a beginner. And they’re dirt cheap to pick up used!

There is also the Vypyr series of modelling amps that is very popular with beginners. This gives those new to the guitar the chance to have all different types of amps – from high gain to British crunch to Fender cleans – in one amplifier.

Combined with lots of in built effects and a simple to use interface it makes the Peavey Vypyr well suited to beginners dipping their toes into amp sounds

Peavey Vypyr VIP 2 Modeling Instrument Guitar/Bass 40 Watt 12" Amplifier Amp
The Peavey Vypyr VIP 2 Modelling Amp

Are Peavey Amps Good for Blues?

Absolutely. Whilst Peavey is probably more associated with metal and rock many of their amps are used and work well for blues.

As mentioned earlier there are quite a few blues musicians using Peavey amps, mostly the Classic series and Delta Blues. In the 70’s and 80’s Peavey solid state amps were popular with blues musicians and you can see a lot of live performances have Peaveys in the background.

Whilst today the options for blues is really limited to the Classic series or Delta Blues both will do a good job for blues or blues rock.

Peavey Classic 50 410 Guitar Combo Amp
The Peavey Classic 50 Combo

Are Peavey Amps Good for Metal?

Yes! There are multiple Peavey amps that are designed for metal. Peaveys high gain amps are legendary and have been used by famous metal artists for decades.

The 5150/6505 are synonymous with all types of heavy music for the past 2 or 3 decades. Chances are if you like metal then you’ve heard the 5150/6505 without realising on many songs and albums.

The Peavey XXX is another amp that was popular amongst metal bands (although is now discontinued). It was an absolute beast at 120 watts with a monster ‘Ultra’ gain channel.

Recently Peavey released the Invective .120 which is another behemoth, 120 watt mega amp. It was designed with Misha Mansoor of Periphery and is marketed squarely at those playing heavy music. It’ll no doubt be perfect for metal and only solidify Peaveys reputation as one of the top choices for all types of heavy music.

Peavey Invective MH 20/5/1-watt Tube Head
The Peavey Invective MH Head

What about Peavey Cabs?

Peavey cabs have a bit of a mixed reputation. Some find them to be great whereas others really dislike them. The Peavey stock speakers get a fair amount of criticism too but that depends on the cab as they use different speakers for different cabs.

Build quality of the cabinets is solid like most Peavey products but unremarkable. Up against the competition there isn’t much to set them apart or that makes them better.

There are so many cabinet options that it may be a better idea to shop around a find cheaper option that will be just as good. Sometimes amps sound best paired with their own cabs but often you can mix and match and it doesn’t make any difference or will actually sound better.

Peavey 112 1x12 Guitar Cabinet
Peavey 112 1×12 Guitar Cabinet

Are Peavey Bass Amps Good?

Whereas in the guitar world people can be a little sniffy and snobby about Peavey their reputation amongst bassists is good. That’s because their bass amps sound good, are incredibly reliable and well made and nice and loud!

They last forever and are very straightforward, no nonsense amps. Guitarists like a lot of bells and whistles and fancy options whereas a bassist is more content with an amp that sounds like it should and isn’t going to break.

The only real negative is that most Peavey bass amps are extremely heavy. So that’s something to keep in mind.

Peavey MAX 150 150-Watt Bass Amp Combo
Peavey MAX 150-Watt Bass Amp Combo

Is Peavey better than Marshall?

It depends entirely on what you like. Some people will prefer Peavey to Marshall, some will prefer Marshall to Peavey. It comes down to personal preference.

Each amp will have it’s only different sound and Marshall and Peavey in general sound different to each other.

What was the Undercover Boss Incident all About?

In 2015 Peavey took part in the reality TV show ‘Undercover Boss’. The premise of the show is that the boss or CEO of a company goes undercover as an employee in their own business to get an insight into how it really runs.

Usually it would result in good publicity for the company and some almost certainly constructed pulling-of-the-heart-strings moments where the boss is finally revealed to the employees and gives them promotions or raises. Everyone looks good, the audience goes “Awwww!” and the production company are happy.

But things went very wrong when Peaveys chief operating officer Courtland Grey took part. After meeting employees in one of the manufacturing plants based in Meridian and finding they had faced reduced hours, less vacation time and were generally struggling to make ends meet. One employee had even found a better paying job and handed in his notice.

We get the inevitable moment where Courtland Grey reveals who he is and promises the workers he met extra vacation and pays off their student debts. In the case of the employee leaving he agrees to find a way they can keep him on and work together so he can make enough to freed his family.

Unfortunately after the episode was filmed things didn’t go quite as planned. Peavey, facing ever mounting financial pressure, ended up closing the plant Courtland Grey visited. The employees he met were given 60 days notice, and that one who had turned down another, higher paying job was kept on at the last minute but felt betrayed that he was going to be let go.

Peavey did their best to control the damage, releasing statements and a letter on their website addressing some details that were wrong and accusing the show of editing things to make them look worse. But all in all it was a disaster for Peavey and left a bitter taste in many peoples’s mouth.

How much you let that affect your opinion of Peavey is up to you. It looks like they handled the whole thing badly but at the same time they were facing extremely difficult circumstances to keep the company going. And they can be commended for holding out longer than most before moving their manufacturing to China.

But it was clearly a damaging and embarrassing moment for Peavey that a lot of people haven’t forgotten.

So, are Peavey Amps Good?

Peavey don’t have the best reputation and are considered by some to be inferior to the more well known and boutique brands, but in a lot of cases that isn’t fair. It’s unlikely Peavey amps will ever be really sought after but that doesn’t mean they are inferior.

In fact many Peavey amps are excellent and along with sounding great are also built really well and last forever. Don’t let the spikey logo font and association with hair metal put you off – getting a Peavey may end up being the best choice you make and one that ultimately saves you some money too.

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About Andy Fraser

I'm Andy and I've been crazy about music, and specifically the guitar, for longer than I can remember. As a former guitar teacher I've been immersed in the world of music for years. It's this passion and enthusiasm about all things guitar that drove me to start this website. A place where I could talk about the gear, techniques and general awesomeness that is the best instrument. I began playing somewhat late compared to a lot of people. I was 15 years old as it had taken me a while to find the confidence to believe in myself and take that step to learn to play an instrument. It started my lifelong love of music and playing in general. Since then like so many before me I've become an addict and gone through more guitars, amps and gear than I care to remember. I taught guitar for some time but unfortunately was forced to stop due to ill health. This lead to me starting this website so I could still share my love for and what I've learnt about the guitar. Guitar Inside Out is my way of sharing that love and passion with the music community and hopefully inspiring and helping others to enjoy it as much as I do. Learn more about Andy

14 thoughts on “Peavey Amps Guide: Are they Good and What for?”

  1. Great article,..At least Peavey has kept some (Budda Line) amp manufacturing here,…and some guitar 🎸 making here which is more than other companies have done. That’s commendable in this difficult global economy. I just bought a pre owned Peavey Escort 2000…. excited to try out soon.

  2. I have a Peavy 18 inch subcompact old subwoofer and its slightly blown but still rock the house very good brand one of these days im do install it in my car some day hope it will work im pretty confident

    • I am an old school head and I was surprised to see no mention of the 1820 cabinets.. I had the Mark x series of bass bi-amps rigged with the 1820 cabinets and what a power house for splitting the upper signal from the bottom.. punch but clear punch at any volume.. Black Widow 18″ coupled with two Scorpion 10″ speakers .. and with a bi-amp to meet at the X-over in these cabinets.. this was and still is state of the art sound for bass.. I have used Acoustic 360 and Ampeg SVT and Fender Super Showman rigs sometimes chained to get out there before we lined direct into PA and while the PA is the way to go for stadium volumes I want the control at my back to dial in what I like..

  3. Peavey Bandit, particularly the Red Stripe & Silver Stripe models, are still considered by many the closest you can get to a Marshall tube amp in a solid state. If you’ve got one you know.

  4. This is so true. As a kid coming up all the country guys had peavey and I hated them. Fast forward to the mid 2000s when I was in a regularly gigging hard rock band; I played through a 5150/6505 and knew instantly I had to have one.

  5. I don’t believe I could put all of my Peavey equipment in one photo. As for Peavey versus Marshall? I solved that problem by pairing a Peavey Mace with a Marshall origin 50! Totally kicks ass! Vive Peavey!!!

  6. Peavey Special 130. My bread and butter amp for many years. The Special 130 replaced my old Fender Twins years ago. There hasn’t been a better amp made by anyone. Mine are 40+ years old and are as reliable and toneful as they were when new. Never, ever had a problem or issue with mine.

  7. Good article. Kudos to you for being balanced and not overly subjective. All music gear brands, ALL of them have made poor products in bad rimes, (Even Gibstone and Blender) missed the mark over the decades. Its a consumer goods market, and quality waned with the times. That said, they were the last Name to succumb to the NECESSARY evil of overseas outsourcing. They hung on, and Over the years, made some gigworthy, and great sounding gear. The Musician series was legendary, Duece, Bandit, and the Classic and the combos are still going strong someone’s garage. I still have my Backstage 20. Thanks Hartley for making gear thats stands the test of time. As a rocker once said “you shoulda brought the peavey” (Joan Jett, Light of day; c.1987)

    • Appreciate the kind words, and you’re right, they do deserve credit for holding on as long as they could.

      And come the end of the world when we’re all gone they’ll be a battered Peavey Bandit left over, still going strong.

  8. One thing missed here…back in 1970, Peavey had a special deal for touring musicians: If your amp failed while on tour, just take it to any Peavey dealer and exchange it for a new one. We got a Peavey I.D. card and you show that and just exchange amps. that ended when Fender and some other companies sued Peavey for that policy as they lost sales, big time.
    I still have a silverline Bandit, Classic 20 and a Bravo.
    Peavey got a bad name from other amp companies propaganda, along with brand snobs. I played a club with my little Classic 20, with Weber Blue Pup ceramic speaker. I was laughed at by the house band’s lead player. After the set, People came up and shook my hand and the house band was blown away at the sound.

    • Amazing story! I’d never heard about the Peavey ID cards. A great way to reward brand loyalty. Thanks for sharing.


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