1. Win a Broadcaster or one of 3 Teles! The annual Supporting Member Giveaway is on. To enter Click Here. To see all the prizes and full details Click Here. To view the thread about the giveaway Click Here.

Mesa Boogie California Tweed or Bassman LTD?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by corbo, Oct 5, 2020.

  1. corbo

    corbo TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    74
    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2018
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    1. Hey gang. Looking for opinions/impressions. I've been looking to buy an old-school tube amp that's very clean and musical with a good amount of headroom. I'll be using it mostly for clean sounds, and as a pedal platform, with any overdrive/distortion most likely coming from pedals. My styles run the gamut of pretty much everything EXCEPT heavy metal/high gain stuff. So no need for those sounds here. Basically, I've narrowed things down to two choices: Either a Fender Bassman LTD or a Mesa Boogie California Tweed. Both, in my estimation, do the tweed clean "thing" very well. The Mesa has a few bells and whistles, some I like (the effects loop) and some I could do without (the power switching). Just curious...which would YOU get, and why? Thanks in advance, and rock on, everybody!
     
    That Cal Webway and teek_s like this.
  2. teek_s

    teek_s TDPRI Member

    Age:
    21
    Posts:
    33
    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2020
    Location:
    United States
    I would go for the Bassman LTD. I'm not really into all the bells and whistles of the more modern amps, and for the music I play power switching and pedals just complicates it too much. What amp you want to get really depends on what you are going to put it through. They both are great amps, but in the end it's up to you to decide what you need. Good luck on your journey!
     
    corbo likes this.
  3. corbo

    corbo TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    74
    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2018
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    Thanks for the reply, man! My main electric is a Ron Kirn Tele w a Seth Lover hum bucker at the neck and a Jerry Donahue single coil at the bridge, most often going through a Wampler Ego Compressor, Blues Driver, A J Rockett Dude, a Strymon Flint, a Carl Martin Chorus XII, & a Phase 90. I've been leaning toward the Bassman too. But I did see some nice demos of the CT and just wanted to pick people's brains. Thanks for weighing in!
     
  4. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    8,878
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2015
    Location:
    Winchester, VA
    I'm a fan of Mesa/Boogie amps, having owned a couple in the past. Nothing wrong with a few bells and whistles.
     
    Pontiaddict, irie, DrPepper and 2 others like this.
  5. corbo

    corbo TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    74
    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2018
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    Thanks for the reply. Bells and whistles are nice, for sure. I have a tendency to get "option paralysis" when presented w too many choices. As such, if I got the CT I would certainly enjoy the built-in 'verb and the effects loop, but I would probably leave the power selector at 40w and not go too crazy with the other power settings. What strikes me about the Mesa too is the build quality...often better than Fender.
     
  6. gridlock

    gridlock Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    5,376
    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2011
    Location:
    Tampa, Fl
    My understanding is the Mesa California Tweed is not your typical Mesa with tons of push-pull knobs and features.

    I would also check out the Mesa Fillmore as another option (probably my first option).

    I’m not up on this model Bassmanbut I would imagine that you would need an OD pedal for any level of gain at moderate volumes.

    Also, if you really want old school, vintage SF and BF amps are a good option.
     
    That Cal Webway and corbo like this.
  7. Frodebro

    Frodebro Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Age:
    51
    Posts:
    16,353
    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2012
    Location:
    Seattle
    As far as bells & whistles and Mesa amps, the CT is FAR removed from their standard fare. It's a bare-bones, single channel amp that excels at the Tweed sound. Power scaling isn't really much of a distraction, it's basically a second volume control.

    And as for the build quality, you would be hard pressed to find a modern Fender that could touch anything Mesa does.

    But in the end, it all comes down to which amp does what you need it to do.
     
    Henley, 3-Chord-Genius, corbo and 2 others like this.
  8. Veitchy

    Veitchy Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,430
    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2006
    Location:
    Robe, South Australia
    If both were an option I'd go with the Mesa. They do the 'American sound' just fine and the power scaling attenuator is always handy too.

    A year ago I would't have looked at them but some of their more stripped-back models (the Calis in particular) look really good. If I could get my hands on one of those King Snake amps I reckon I'd just about be done for good. Tonally and financially...
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2020
    3-Chord-Genius and corbo like this.
  9. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Doctor of Teleocity

    Posts:
    10,780
    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2014
    Location:
    UK
    Mesa as ‘pedal platform’? :(

    i’d go for the Mesa’s reverb and fx loop extras for the best long term options for riding the guitar volume controls on the high input and getting the most from the circuit.

    Have you looked at the Filmore or lonestar models? The lonestar has got huge cleans.

    The power scaling is only a benefit in the three amps I have with it. My mesa is 15/75w Don’t need to be ear shattering for cranked tones.
     
    corbo likes this.
  10. hotrodkid

    hotrodkid Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,053
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2011
    Location:
    South Florida
    My take, (full disclosure: I have not played a Mesa California Tweed) the Fender tweed Bassman RI is a classic amp and has a classic tone. It sounds amazing with single coils and it takes pedals pretty well.

    The Mesa OTOH offers versatility with some modern features. Mesa Boogies have a long track record as sitting nicely in the mix. Fenders slice through.

    I’m kind of partial to the tweed Bassman. But I’ve had a few Mesa Boogies in my time, Mark IIB, III, 50 Cal+ and they all sounded really good. I’m sure the California Tweed by Mesa is no different.
     
    corbo likes this.
  11. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    38,977
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
    Location:
    Lubbock, TX
    Corbo, if you could play both amps, I would suggest doing so. Some of your effects would better be applied through an effects loop. You might not be attracted to the power options, but after getting acquainted with the amp you might change your mind about that...or not. I would find that aspect useful.
    Happy hunting!

    To be precise, there is no power scaling in any Mesa amp of which I am aware. “Power scaling” is a particular method of voltage variation to achieve power reduction. Mesa achieves the power options through different applications of the power tubes.
     
    corbo likes this.
  12. corbo

    corbo TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    74
    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2018
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    Thanks. I kind of had my eye on the Fillmore, too..
     
  13. scooteraz

    scooteraz Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,560
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2007
    Location:
    Peoria, AZ
    I have the California Tweed. That is what I went with when I had the choice. The Cali Tweed is NOT your normal Mesa amp, the only “bells and whistles” it has are the power modulation (SUPER useful) and an effects loop. Beyond that it is a gain, bass, mid, treble, presence master volume and reverb knob. If you don’t like master volume amps, just dime that control and it is no longer an issue. It has a switch input to turn the reverb on and off.

    Bassman LTD has 4x10 and the bigger tubes. But not a lot less on the controls. It has two volumes, and the same basic set of tone controls as the CT. But no low power mode.

    They seem to be about the same weight. The tweed is a bit more expensive.

    I love the tones of my CT, so I’m biased. It works great with pedals as well.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2020
    3-Chord-Genius and corbo like this.
  14. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    38,977
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
    Location:
    Lubbock, TX
    I have not seen a schematic of the Cali Tweed, but I am going to think that the preamp it is based in the 5F6A world. Their literature and spoken work seems to lean that way. Scooter as could ascertain this for us with a simple test. Dime the gain and the tone controls. Use full output from the guitar. Is the signal usable or does the treble and bass ‘go to pieces‘? If it all hangs together, then the tone stack is farther down the chain as in the tweed Bassman. If it falls apart, then it is more closely related to the AB763.
    If you could find a used Pro Sonic, that might be preferable to either one of these amps....for me. Ommv.
     
    corbo likes this.
  15. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    8,311
    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2010
    Location:
    Somewhere Over The Rainbow
    Hands down I would chose the California Tweed. It's better constructed and is a bare bones Mesa other than the Power Scaling which is quite unique. It's going to give you all the tweed you need plus adds Reverb and an effects loop.

    IMO Fender has missed the boat with power scaling. That would be a useful 'vintage modified" feature for some of there amps.
    I have a built in attenuator in my Tone King Gremlin. It's an awesome feature.
     
    3-Chord-Genius likes this.
  16. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    38,977
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
    Location:
    Lubbock, TX
    Once again and with all due respect, the term power scaling refers to a PARTICULAR method of reducing output power. It is not attenuation. It is not power tube selection or power tube operational condition selection as is done in many Mesas.
    Fender has done very little in the manner of output power electability other than in the Pro Sonic, which has three levels of output power. Those three different output levels are the results of power tube operational differences.....cathode biased/tube rectifier for 30 watts, ixed bias/tube rectifier for a 50 watt output, and fixed bias/solid saptate icier for a 60 watt output level. Those three options yield notable differences in sound.
     
    corbo likes this.
  17. scooteraz

    scooteraz Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,560
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2007
    Location:
    Peoria, AZ
    Hmmmmm, I’ll have to try that. I don’t usually dime the gain and tone and master.....Whatever the basis of the pre-amp, it works well for my purposes. OTOH, I may have a chance to try that tonight, and will let you-all know.
     
    corbo likes this.
  18. scooteraz

    scooteraz Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,560
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2007
    Location:
    Peoria, AZ
    To be fair, Mesa calls their system ‘Multi-Watt’”. It is not power scaling, per se, but a variety of tube modes and combinations to give from 2 to 40 watts.


    Mesa plays with pairs of output tubes, and changes them from pentode to triode mode, and that makes that pair (with the biasing they use for that) produce about half the power. On the Cali tweed, you have 4 pentodes, then 2 pentodes and 2 triodes. Then two tubes in pentode only, then two tubes in triode then two tubes in a single ended class a mode. That produces, 40, 30, 20, 10 and 2 watts, respectively. I believe some power scaling ideas have changes to where the output tubes work on their curves via changes in supply voltage and the bias voltage/currents. Tone King (and my old Princeton Recording Amp) has a built in attenuator that absorbs excess power.

    I haven’t looked into how Fender does that on the ProSonic.

    However Mesa does it, it works great on the Cali Tweed (and my 5:50 Express + as well).

    I do have other (non-Mesa) amps that I like. But the CT is special.
     
  19. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    38,977
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
    Location:
    Lubbock, TX
    scooteraz, you don’t have to dime the master volume...keep that as low as you wish. What happens happens in the preamp as far as what I noted above. With a 5F6A, all of the classic big Marshalls, an SLO, a Mesa Rectifier, a Fender Pro Sonic, Blues/Hot Rod amp, Peavey 5150/6505/Classic 30/Delta Blues, and many other amps fashioned after the 5F6A one can run the tones anywhere one wishes at any preamp gain setting without the signal going to pieces in the preamp. Many people find the AB763 type of preamp more ‘responsive’ to tone pot adjustments than with say a Bassman RI. This is because every tone setting adjustment is amplified by all except the first gain stage and therefore the response is more notable.
     
  20. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    38,977
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
    Location:
    Lubbock, TX
    Power scaling is done with voltage adjustments. Some amps adjust the entire B+ rail.....all of the voltages in all of the circuit. Some amps adjust only the voltage supply to the power tubes and the biasing. This is actually not as new as many might think, and it did not originate with the ‘London power scaling’ approach. The MusicMan amps from the 1970s used voltage reduction to the output and the biasing to achieve a power reduction.
     
    DrPepper likes this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.