Comparing older Mesa combos

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Doctor of Teleocity
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just a note

I seem to repair more fender amps then followed mesa's as a close second right now I have 2 on the bench
1) dual caliber DC-3 Blown transformer and associated parts including a full set of EL84's that got smoked
2) dual rectifier Roadster , 50 watt mode works fine , 100watt does not, cause to be determined yet

these are about my 7th mesa's Ive had in here , dealing with mesa is OK but convouted and if you arent using mesa tubes they wont help you also they have used propriatoy parts only available through them , like relays although these are standard manufactured they are only available through Mesa ...........HMMMM
 
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ScottJPatrick

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I believe the Rocket 44 was the Subway Rocket Reverb pre-amp combined with the output section of either the DC3 or F30 (can't remember exactly, basically 4 x el84 giving about 30 watts output) The Express 5:25, either 10'' or 12'' would also be a good option and easier to find these days.
 

McGlamRock

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I've been using an F-30 for a long time. I bought it new in 2002. It's clean channel is very clean and is a great pedal platform (that's how I use it).

Someone said the drive channel was unusable, but I respectfully disagree.
There are 2 overdrive settings. I like the first drive channel setting a lot. To get it dialed in the way I like, I keep the gain VERY low (I usually have it between 9 and 10 o'clock).
The second OD setting is called 'contour'. That setting has bit more drive, so I don't use it as much. But I would if I played more hard rock/ metal.

IMO The only sound the F-30 cannot do well is the "edge of break up" sound.
FF7BA960-8491-4CD2-BB23-FFE7D309619C.jpeg
 
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rojo412

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With the newer models available, it sounds like the Express 5:25 with a 12 would be a very interesting choice. It has a lot of the functionality of this Recto in a much more compact package. And should I still need the power, there's the 5:50 combo available, too.

The Rocket 44 is a much simpler layout and certainly not as pricey as either of the above. It has a lot of the power level of the Recto, it has 2 channels, but it's not going to offer the truly individual tone shaping for each channel that I'd get from the Express. So it may boil down to whether that is something I truly need to have.

Both seem to be easy enough to find, but it will just depend on how many features I'd really want to have available.

As for the F30, it sounds like you both are actually sort of in agreement there. It wasn't so much that the gain channel is "unusable" as it is that it doesn't have the more subtle "in between tones." It's gain or it's not. And hey, that's not a terrible thing, pedals tend to be able to help cop enough of those things, should they be needed. If the gain channel is meaty and that's your thing (which it is mine to a degree), it could work just fine.
@McGlamRock Have you had hiss issues with the amp?
 

arlum

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I played an F30 for a number of years. Small enough to fit on the floor board behind the driver's seat, loud enough to keep up with a drummer in a medium sized venue and beautifully voiced for use with effect pedals. It was an odd one for Mesa because it really didn't fall directly into either the Mark or Rectifier series. Cleaner than either. Maybe something like darkish Vox AC30 with less gain. It was super smooth and really sounded great for Blues, Blues Rock and Vintage Hard Rock. Not built for Metal at all but I wasn't playing Metal.:)
 

marshman

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My bandmate/best bud had a Nomad that was parked here for rehearsal purposes and I loved playing it. Dual EL34 (6L6GC option) 1x12 with 3 discrete preamps, all footswitch selectable. Gain increased in each channel. Was set up clean-raunchy-AC/DC. I liked to play it when he wasn't around, though I would just use the middle channel and my guitar volume knob. When we gigged, though, it was properly dialed in and sounded great. Over the years we ended up tube rolling some good NOS stuff in it, but I firmly believe that circuits that complex don't respond to tube rolling the way simpler amps do.

Cons: heavy as hell, loud as hell.

Good Luck
 

McGlamRock

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As for the F30, it sounds like you both are actually sort of in agreement there. It wasn't so much that the gain channel is "unusable" as it is that it doesn't have the more subtle "in between tones." It's gain or it's not. And hey, that's not a terrible thing, pedals tend to be able to help cop enough of those things, should they be needed. If the gain channel is meaty and that's your thing (which it is mine to a degree), it could work just fine.
@McGlamRock Have you had hiss issues with the amp?

Any hiss that I've noticed from my F-30 is caused by old electrical wiring that's not properly grounded. For example, in my 90 year old apartment, all 3 of my amps hiss :(
When I play gigs, all of the places have better electrical wiring so there is no hiss. It took me a long time to make that connection. Before I realized the err of my apartment's wiring, I took another amp to a couple of places to try and "fix it." It is disconcerting to hear your amp hum when you have a show coming up. A while back I remember a few shows, while warming up during sound check, I thought to myself "thank goodness that hum I noticed at home last night went away" LOL
I took the F-30 with me on a 4 date tour a couple months ago and it was totally hum free at all the venues. For now, I'm actually staying in a very nice temporary place and the F-30 is completely quiet here too- it's great! (a water pipe burst in my apartment just before Xmas, but that's another story)
 

rojo412

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@marshman I agree on that. Had a Nomad 100 and it was VERY loud, you couldn't turn it down to bedroom levels and have it actually sound decent. And it was a brick shipyard for weight, too. Sounded good when it wasn't hissing and turned up to band level though.

@McGlamRock There's certainly no doubt that bad wiring can cause that. But I've got a decent electrical setup in the house here and have noticed some amps worse than others. The Nomad above was a prime example. And I even took that a few other places and still heard it. The Recto I have now, not a peep.

From what I gather, the amps that hiss NOT involving house wiring, tend to do so because it's time to replace a cap and/or resistor inside which may have gone bad. And I do think that it also can be related to certain designs which use certain caps/resistors which die faster than others OR previous owners wore them out and never had the head worked on.
That Nomad could very well have needed it. The previous owner was a bandmate of mine who was pretty hard on his gear. And he sold it to me cheap, so my guess is, he knew durn well that it was time for an overhaul. But me, that was way before I looked into any of this tube amp stuff. I was just jazzed to snag a Mesa for cheap!
 
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old wrench

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I've got a Studio Caliber DC-2 which is undoubtedly the most versatile amp I've ever owned.

It's a 20 or 22 watt amp, but it's definitely got more power and volume than my Deluxe Reverb - a loud drummer is not going to drown you out ;)

But, you can get great low volume tones out of it as well with appropriate settings on the gain, master, and output level controls

The cleans are good and the reverb is OK too, but Mesa Boogie is really known for it's gain tones and this amp has plenty of that.

It has two completely adjustable channels with an amazing (to me) range of tones, plus the "contour" channel.

It's also got an effects loop where you can dial in the amount of signal - wet or dry, and a direct-out for recording.

It's my "do anything" amp :)

All of the Mesa combos are a little on the heavy side, but that's because of the way they are built - heavy-duty.

.
 

wildschwein

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I've had a Rocket 44 for about a decade and it is the most compact 1x12 you could probably get. I have always manged to get a lot of great sounds out of it although it is geared towards being more midrangey overall. I wouldn't want to walk around all day with it but it's pretty light and easy to move around compared to some amps:
 
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markal

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I had the Express Plus 5:50 for a while. It was loud and it was heavy, but I used it at bar gigs several times. I liked the clean sounds but struggled a bit with the dirty sounds. It was maybe a little sterile and stiff. I also found that I spent to much time fiddling with the many options and controls. That was probably because I wasn’t thrilled with the sound and was trying to dial it in, but the constant fiddling got old. In the end I never really bonded with it and sold it.

I’m somewhat interested in the 5:25 because I might like the el84 version better. But I’ve never played it.

Good luck.
 

Wally

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I had the Express Plus 5:50 for a while. It was loud and it was heavy, but I used it at bar gigs several times. I liked the clean sounds but struggled a bit with the dirty sounds. It was maybe a little sterile and stiff. I also found that I spent to much time fiddling with the many options and controls. That was probably because I wasn’t thrilled with the sound and was trying to dial it in, but the constant fiddling got old. In the end I never really bonded with it and sold it.

I’m somewhat interested in the 5:25 because I might like the el84 version better. But I’ve never played it.

Good luck.
I might posit that if you did not bond with the 50 that the 25 might not offer much different??? Power tubes don’t determine as much as does the circuit, ime. Ymmv.
 

Lowspeid

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I’ve owned both the 5:50 and 5:50+ combos, and I currently own a 5:50+ head. I really like the 5:50+. You get 3 power levels (5, 25, and 50 watts), and 2 different post-preamp eq options (5 band graphic, or “contour”), and 4 different voicing that all sound good. The clean voicing sounds absolutely fantastic on all 3 wattage levels, and takes pedals SO well! I set the red channel on the Burn (highest gain) voice with the gain set really low to get an almost TS-type push (but SO much more dynamic). I use the EQ and Solo to quickly switch between my Tele and Les Paul. And with the head version I can use LOTS of different cabs and speakers.
 

Lowspeid

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I’ve also owned the Fillmore 25 (very different Boogie!), played rectos, and spent time playing a friend’s F50. All good, but I keep coming back to the Express 50’s. There’s something about the 6L6s that just sound so good to my ear.
 
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rojo412

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Sounds like I've got a pretty decent variety of options to keep an eye out for, so again, thank you all for the help.
 

Jazzcaster21

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The F series amps hiss loudly at idle, but otherwise are also fine amps.
I am glad to hear that someone else has that problem.

My F50 hisses quite a bit and I wondered why that is. Other than that, it's a great amp. I had it cranked the other day in the house - something I don't get to do often unless it's on a gig - and found that in the clean channel with the pre-gain all the way up and the master around 4 or 5, there is some good break-up but not too much.
My Tele sounded pretty good, full volume, on all the pups as well.

However, I am like the OP in that I am scaling down to a smaller MB - probably the Fillmore 25.

As far as weight, the F50 is around 40-45 lbs. Not too bad.
 




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