Peavey’s 6505 series amps have been a mainstay of metal players since they debuted in 1992 as Eddie Van Halen’s 5150 (Peavey had to change the model name when they parted ways with EVH). In more recent times, tiny amps from Orange, Vox, ZT, and others have proved that extremely small heads and combos are useful tools for practice, recording, and even small gigs. Peavey has combined these two concepts in the 6505 Piranha, a fire-breathing metal-directed amp head that’s not much bigger or heavier than a motel bible.
The Piranha’s solid-state power section pumps out up to 20 watts through Peavey’s matching 4Ω 8" speaker cabinet (available separately). The front panel offers a button to switch between Crunch and Lead channels, a single EQ knob that morphs the tone from notched to throaty, Volume and Gain knobs, an auxiliary input that goes straight to the full range power amp section, and a headphone jack. The rear panel houses the speaker-and effects-loop jacks, and a power switch. The Piranha’s buffered loop can also be used for re-amping or as a stand-alone preamp.
Since I didn’t have the 4Ω Peavey cabinet, I ran the Piranha through a custom cabinet housing a 12" 8Ω Eminence Texas Heat speaker. Though it likely cut the amp’s maximum output, it was still loud enough that I had to limit the time spent playing at full volume in my small studio. Nevertheless, I was able to revel in the fully controllable and musical feedback it provided on nearly every note, even on the lower gain Crunch channel.
Turning down the Volume and Gain to save my ears, I was able to explore the surprisingly wide range of tones coming out of this tiny head. Despite being marketed as a metal machine, I could evoke a variety of less extreme rock sounds like AC/DC crunch and Stones-style rock and roll. The amp’s dynamic response even put blues on the table. I could imagine trying different 12AX7s or even swapping in a lower gain 12AT7 for a whole range of other, less gain-y tones (note that the 12AX7, however, is part of the otherwise solid-state preamp). Though warm clean sounds are not its strong point, with a little gain added the Piranha provided a harmonic richness that belied its size and price.
Even through the recommended 4Ω cabinet, I doubt the amp would be loud enough for a rock or metal gig. But if you dig the Piranha tone, you could always run the FX send into the return jack of a more powerful amp. (At this price, you could also buy four Piranhas and play in quad!) In the studio this tiny Peavey could easily prove invaluable. Yes, it lacks the bass thump of its 100-watt cousin, but its focused sound would slot perfectly into a dense mix of keyboards—or combined with other guitar tracks recorded on standard-sized amps. You could also crank it for feedback effects without worrying about mic leakage. And for practicing metal or hard rock without ear damage or eviction notices (it even sounds good through headphones), the Piranha is a must have.
PRICE $125 street
CONTROLS Volume, Tone, Crunch/Lead switch, EQ
TUBES 1 x 12AX7, solid-state power section
POWER 20 watts
EXTRAS Buffered effects loop, auxiliary input, headphone jack, padded carry bag included
SPEAKER Tested with a 1x12 custom cabinet housing an Eminence Texas Heat speaker
WEIGHT 3.31 lbs
KUDOS A wide range of dynamic amp tones in a tiny package.