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Intro to Mesa Boogie

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by Marc Morfei, Jul 16, 2018.

  1. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Hi, I'm getting ready to step up to a high-quality amp (currently have a Blues Jr and Peavey Classic), and am trying to hone in on best choices. I am close to settling on a Princeton. But with so much $$ at stake I want to consider all the options. So I want to check out a Mesa or two. My criteria is this: under $1,000 used, all tube, 1x12, 15-30w, good cleans and punch, versatile classic rock sound, suitable volume for rehearsal and small-venue gigs. There are quite a few different Mesa models available used locally and from the usual online sources. So my question is this: of all the many models out there, what should I really be looking for? (Aside: I played a Mesa once before, briefly, and had a really hard time getting it to sound right, but I understand that is common with these amps.) Thanks for any advice!
     
  2. corliss1

    corliss1 Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    The best suggestion is to try and play as many things as you can in your area to see what you like. We aren't going to be able to tell you what you like :D

    Mesa is definitely a different sound than Fender so you should probably narrow down the Fender/Marshall/Mesa sound first, then start choosing models.
     
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  3. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    A Mark 1 reissue is one of the best amps ever made.
    Definitely my all timefavorite Mesa amp.
    The Mark 3 ain't no slutch either and has a low power setting too.
     
  4. Paul in Colorado

    Paul in Colorado Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I have a Mesa Studio .22+ that was my main amp for a long time. I replaced the speaker and made sure that V2 had a premium NOS 12AX7 tube in it. I ran an Altec 417 8H speaker in it and ran it clean with pedals. It was a great grab and go amp. For some reason, I fell out of love with it. Maybe it just needs new power tubes.

    I also have a Mk 1 RI. If I could lift it, I'd use it all the time. I don't think you'll find one under $1000 though.

    That's what I know about Mesa's. Others can tell you about Lonestar's and the other modern ones.
     
  5. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    Mesa Express 112. Or Rectoverb. Both very loud 5/25 watt amps. Or the TA15 head if you want Voxy/Tweedy/Marshall/Burn. You can crank up bluesy break-up. Clean with an edge.

    The Express has a multimode preamp that goes from almost Blackface through Tweed. The Rectoverb does Mesa dual rectifier clean.

    Both amps have a dirt channel that goes from a dark cutting clean to almost metal.

    Both have sumptuous tube reverb better than anything else modern and second only to vintage Fenders.

    They're solid milspec build amps. They won't quite do Fender cleans but Fenders aren't in general as flexible. They're not as plug and play as Fender. But not hard once you know how to get great tones from.

    I had a 110 early Express - brilliant amp I should never have sold. Had a TA15, also great amp, and a Mini-Rectifier clone.

    The channels have full eqs. The contour control is a great solo boost.

    Yes the eqs can be tricky, but no moreso than Marshall or any modern amp design. Be conservative with preamp gain and treble, then adjust the mid and bass.

    Typically you run 4-5 gain, treble 6-7, mid 5-6, bass 3-4. In the Fender-Marshall-Vox tone stack the gain and treble are highly interactive and act like masters for the other controls.

    Both channels on the small Mesas have a lower gain clean and a 'pushed' mode. The hotter channel switches from Bluesy to High gain.

    If I had a choice of a new BJ or a used small Mesa I'd pick the MB at double the price.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2018
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  6. bftfender

    bftfender Poster Extraordinaire

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    had a mesa, really enjoyed it, check this in depth review it ,explains how mesa gain stack works compared to other amps. You can dial a mesa in to so many sounds

    http://www.in2guitar.com/express.html
     
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  7. scrapyardblue

    scrapyardblue Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Something that I'm intrigued by, but as of yet unable to play through, is a PRS Sonzera amp. While their guitars evoke a lot of passion on the TDPRI, mostly negative, I haven't found much discussion on their amps.

    The Sonzera is all tube, comes in a 20 watt, 50 watt and more, switchable channels, 3-way ohms selector, demos sound really good, 1x12 and so on. The 20 watt is $799 new, so meets most of your criteria. Curious to hear what others think, preferably by someone who's played one.
     
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  8. uriah1

    uriah1 Telefied Gold Supporter

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  9. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Thanks, good advice so far. Yeah, it always comes back to playing and hearing each amp in person, 'cause we all want something different. But easier said than done. Everything sounds good in that nice listening chamber they have at GC. Used stuff, you might have to drive a long distance, or have it shipped. I should have mentioned up front the ones that are available used near me right now are Mesa 5:50 Express, F-50, Dual Caliber DC3, and Lonestar 1x12. I live near a big city so sooner or later everything pops up on Craigslist eventually. I have to say the Princeton LE 12" I tried at GC a couple weeks ago sounded amazing. But $1,100..... ouch.
     
  10. JL_LI

    JL_LI Friend of Leo's

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    I love my 5:25. The detailed review in the link above is dead nuts on. I can't imagine life without my Telecaster and my 5:25. Basic setup isn't too difficult. For cleans, turn the gain to 11 o'clock and bring up the treble until you have the twang you want. Add mids for complexity. Add bass for richness and back off one clock number as mud appears. This gives you a clean but not polished sound. Get more volume than the volume control gives you with clean boost or the level control of your compressor. More gain puts more edge on the sound. Switch to crunch and the sound doesn't get dark. It gets brighter. Darker sounds are in the blues and burn channels. This amp is so much more than a Fender or Vox. Buy one and you'll get the best of both and much more. And don't be put off by that nonsense about Mesa's being difficult to set. You'll be happy on day one and overjoyed after a week.
     
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  11. bftfender

    bftfender Poster Extraordinaire

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    i share your local CL..always do well out of philly, i just traded my mesa 5;25 express 2 months ago.You are right, there is a few choices there, some are really decent priced !
     
  12. bftfender

    bftfender Poster Extraordinaire

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    so right, i will have to admit even tho i sport marshalls these days,,the 5:25 was prob the best all around amp i ever played. And it can hold its own live andwhen you hit the 5 watt setting, i never heard harmonics like that...the cleans and OD available in this are amazing !!
     
  13. bftfender

    bftfender Poster Extraordinaire

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    miss this lil bugger br1.jpg
     
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  14. homesick345

    homesick345 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Mark V-25

    it's really a great amp - period.
     
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  15. jrblue

    jrblue Friend of Leo's

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    The F 50 is an excellent amp and about as straightforward as you'll find in a Mesa. I owned one and found it suitable for just about any situation. I find virtually every Mesa to be way too gainy for me, and often noisy, so I swapped one or more preamp 12AX7s for NOS 12AU7 and/or 5751s, and loved (loved!) what this did to the amp. (The guys at the Mesa store on Sunset in LA, where I got the amp after trying everything in the store, suggested this approach.) Mesa amps run really (really!) loud, so an F50 will handle most situations. Note: all the comments about Mesa's controls are true. If you just read and follow the manual, you can dial in any tone. The nimrods who just use the same settings they use on their Fenders or Marshalls are most often the ones who "can't get a good tone" out of a Mesa. I also have the much-criticized Nomad 45 which is my favorite amp ever -- it's why I sold my F50 -- but which sounds like someone playing musical chainsaw through a Rat if you set the controls the way you would for most other amps.
     
  16. Tone Chase

    Tone Chase Tele-Meister

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    I have several Mesa amps.
    If the F-50 is a good price, that is likely a very good amp to consider.
    I have a F-100. Is sparkles with a Telecaster or a Strat when playing clean. Once again, it is a stunning match for a Telecaster.
    You can get Marshall tone out of this amp as well. Simply dial down the treble on the amp to 0, then add in what your ears tell you. It sounds awesome at 0 treble with some guitars.

    My F-100 is about 100 lbs and a Twin killer, at any volume, even at a whisper. The F-50 should follow suit. Great amps if you love a big clean Fender sound and more.
     
  17. cntry666

    cntry666 Friend of Leo's

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    Other than the Lone Stars I’m not a Mesa fan. It depends what sound you want but the more high gain Mesa sound terrible to me.
    Under $1000 tube amp I’d check out the new Marshall Origin, Sonzera (as mentioned earlier), Vox AC30 or something like that.
     
  18. atk1

    atk1 Tele-Meister

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    Lonestar!
    [​IMG]
     
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