Personally, if I'm gonna go to the effort to schlep a tube amp around, it might as well be a "high end keeper". The only time my Two Rock doesn't go with me is when one of my other amps is a better fit tonally.
If I'm more concerned about cartage, I'll just take my POD XTL and run it through my GK lunchbox.
Great Metal amp(dont worry, im a modest amp owner myself, at the moment).
It'll last a lifetime. It can be a bit buzzy, however, not using sovteks really helps. Huge volume, And the clean can be pretty smooth sounding with proper ax7's. I wouldn't go NOS across the board though.
For the cost, I think its the best you can get.
Dont get sucked in by the 5150II. It has an extra preamp, but isnt fixed bias and IMHO doesnt have the same vibe. The original run of these amps are the best. Plus looks cooler than a 6505:BOUNCE
I don't own one nor have I ever played one but I've "heard" that the heads are baised cold out of the factory on purpose for that "sound" they're known for while the combos are biased warmer and more traditionally which, if true, may be why I've heard more kudos for the 2x12 combo than the head. At least as far as overall versatility goes.
The other guitarist in my band uses one...in the right application, it's a good amp. There's more gain on tap than anyone would ever possibly need, but that can be dialed back. The amp has a very aggressive tone to it, lots of bite, and it stays tight.
I found the 5150 II head to be much quieter than either the 5150 head or especially the combo. I purchased the combo a few years ago - but took it back about 4 days later because the hiss was so annoying - traded it back in and bought the head. It's a great amp - that you can find for a good price.
I've got one of the originals. A 1996 5150 combo. I replaced all of the
tubes with JJ's and I think it sounds great. The JJ's kill a lot of the
"fizziness" that you hear people talk about. they also kill a lot of the hiss in
the lead channel. Now it even cleans up nicely, but as EightManVT already
stated, this is not a good low volume amp. It sounds good at low volume
but the volume difference from say 1/2 to 3 is f'n huge! On 3 this thing is
shaking **** off of the walls in my house! Even on 1 this thing is f'n loud!
This amp sound the best when you have it running between 3-6
volume wise. It really sings there , but it is very loud.
I also use an ISP Decimator pedal in the loop to completely kill any noise in
the lead channel when I do turn it up, this works very nicely.
For the price that you can get these for on EBay, if you need a good
Rock/Metal amp, there not much that can beat it.
I use a USA jackson soloist (most of the time) and I get a great range of tones out of it.
Good Early VH crunch (roll back the gain turn up the mids) GREAT megadeth type tone etc.
BTW this is all on the rhythm channel with the "crunch" turned on.
with the crunch off and the gain rolled back to about 5 on the Rhythm channel
I can get a prettygood bluesy sound out of this amp.
A little looser crunchier sounding than the lead channel.
The lead channel is another animal. tons of gain on hand.
A lot of death metal bands use these and for good reason.
The lead channel has tons of gain and it stays pretty tight
Now I'm not going to say this is the best rock amp out there......come on
now I've playing off and on since 1978, I know better, but for the price?
It's a loud kick ass combo that gets the job done!
If money is no object there are other better choices, but I paid $525.00
for mine and it came with a cover, wheels already installed and the original
owners manual, and it was in brand new condition (Original Owner sold it
to me). Price out a Soldano Slo 100 or a Bogner XTC 101B and or a VHT
CLX and tell me what the price difference is. Those are all probably
"better" amps than the 5150 but "better" is also a subjective term.
More versatile? definitely, Better?????
Oh ya and plug it into a Marshall 1960Av cab with vintage 30's in it and be
prepared to go "wow"! these things sound great when paired with celestions!
+101 on needing something in the loop to tame the hiss... I had one for a few years and a buddy still has one (sitting unloved in a corner).
Changing the first preamp tube to a lower gain tube would be a start... like a 5751 instead. less gain on tap, but still LOTS of gain. also a good power conditioner, to eliminate any extra line noise. as well as using as few extra effects into the front end as possible (less circuitry and cable, less noise)
THey are cool metal amps, but for me, they were too much of a one trick pony.
I love my 5150. There's a guy on the plexi palace forums that goes by EVHoholic or something that has some amazing clips of him getting the "brown sound" with a 5150 and some Marshall cabs. Allegedelly the head is stock too.
Installing a bias pot will help rid the amp of some buzziness and allows for more range with the resonance knob. It would be far from my 1st choice if I were going to do something bluesy, but for heavier Rock and Metal they are great amps. I hear they do a better classic Rock tone when paired with Greenbacks or the 5150 cabs with Sheffields.
+1, If you're gonna go there, the Celestions help it out alot. When I was in my high-gain phase, I used one of the original heads with a Greenback reissue cab. I borrowed a 5150 cab for an out of town deal once and it was a totally different amp.
The studio I frequent has one of the combos (used mostly to hold beer cans, I'm not sayin, I'm just sayin) and um, well, the few times it gets fired up, the microphones don't exactly flatter it...