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Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by Richie Cunningham, Dec 17, 2020.
Anybody with opinions on these products? I’ve had a few of them.
I am a big fan of their e.q. pedal. It's a huge benefit for any amp, and especially ones with an effects loop. Has so many uses, and solves so many problems that most people resort to pickup swaps or new amps to solve.
I could go in for that pedal. Is it much different from a Boss 7-band?
Boss has two more bands, and a single level control on a slider. The sliders are very tightly spaced. It uses a modern style switch (the whole front of the pedal can be mashed to turn it on or off).
Mesa has five bands (minus one on the low end and one on the high end vs. the Boss), and separate input and output controls (knobs, not sliders). The sliders are wide spaced. It uses a small classic silver button switch.
While it's easy to say the Boss has "more," it's only advantages are the two extra e.q. bands, and the price (less than half the Mesa). The input/output knobs on the Mesa offer more control in that area, adding whole other uses to the pedal. And the wide-spaced sliders are easier to use IME. 5 wide spaced bands vs. 7 narrow spaced ones is actually nicer to deal with to my sensibilities.
Over all, the Boss is better live, and the Mesa is better for recording or home use. The Boss is easier to mash. It's cheaper and easier/quicker to replace (every Guitar Center in the country will have a dozen in stock). It doesn't have the useful, yet time consuming to perfectly set up, input and output knobs (too much monkey business for the average gig IME/IMO). The Mesa is more the sort of pedal I might set on top of an amp, within reach of my adjustments, while recording.
I was looking at them a few years back.
Saw some prof picker guitar tech
go through some. THey sounded ok.
Boogie is a good company.
Just about everything they make is good, but also expensive.
I have tried (and not bought) their Grid Slammer and Throttle Box pedals, and yeah they are good pedals but not so amazing that I wanted to part with my cash. If I had taken the Throttle Box home and twiddled with it I'm sure it absolutely could deliver, but my limited twiddlings with a Horizon Devices Precision Drive have led me to believe that that pedal is a little better and costs the same. Both were too much for my wallet.
I'm confident that whatever pedal of theirs takes your fancy will do what you want it to, but at that kind of price point that's kinda the bare minimum you expect. I'm not too upset that a £20 mini stomp I bought called simply "Djent" was a somewhat mediocre distortion pedal, but when you are up around £200 or more just for an EQ then it better be superb.
I tried the flux drive when it first came out but didn't really bond with it - probably had a mid hump I didn't care for, but I don't recall specifically why I didn't keep it. It did sound good.
I have a mesa amp (Cali Tweed), love the amp, never gave too much thought to the pedals though after the Flux drive - good incarnations of the typical drive pedals, but they never stood out to me.
I think the core problem with the pedals are, as you say, that they are good but very much "standard" .
The Throttle Box claims to offer the V shaped EQ profile and lots of gain. And it does, and it sounds sufficiently Boogie-ish to feel authentic.
In 1989 that might have been something exciting, but it's actually pretty tame by modern standards. It still sounds good, that classic period Metallica quality that still speaks to the teenager in me, and with some tweaking you can make a modern sound. All good. But we are awash with overdrive pedals, let alone full on distortion pedals.
These pedals sound better out of the box than almost anything, and they seldom sound bad even if you try. But in a fundamental sense they don't do anything more than an OD-1 and an EQ, and they cost more too.
This one is really quite nice - i got it used, not sure I would want to spend what they cost new tho. Works really nice in front of a tube amp
IMO, their design and construction looks pretty good, if that's important to you. For the pricing, it should be mandatory.
The mid cut on at least one of their pedals utilizes an actual inductor, which I think is evidence of really good circuit design, specific to what guitarists want or need.
WRT the actual overall circuit designs themselves (the one or two that I've seen), they mostly look more traditional than cutting edge. That's not a criticism as much as intended to mean that IMO, the distortion characteristics of these Mesa pedals will probably have more in common sonically with distortion pedals from the 80's or 90's.
Personally, I'd say that Mesa's EQ tricks on these pedals are the main thing that separates them from many others. Aside from that, the use of op amps and clipping diodes looks really traditional and standard.
I just discovered that the Flux Drive is like 90+% the same as the Xotic BB Pre, so that explains the mid hump thing. It's basically a higher gain TS (with fixed mids), with active treble and bass controls. Pretty straightforward.
Own a VTwin. Well, most of a VTwin. There's no signal out on the headphone or line level signal, possibly a fried op-amp, but otherwise works fine. Pedal itself is great, but it's a perfect mini example of every Mesa product I've used or been around--stuffed to the absolute margin of the box, super complicated internally, lots of knobs to turn, etc., and a cast-iron pooch to repair, hence the "most of" qualifier.
As to tone, it does what it does better than everything else I've tried, in terms of a pedal designed to more-or-less capture a tastefully overdriven tube amp. For me, when set correctly, it adds sustain, pushes a little bloom into the decay, and is (relatively) responsive to picking dynamics. That said, it's not perfect, but far better than a standard pedal--digging in drives the signal a little harder, similar to but not as responsive as a tube preamp that's on the edge.
In general, I think of it more as a portable tube pre than a traditional overdrive pedal, but it's not particularly responsive to high-gain signals in front of it. I get some interesting smeared notes with a boost in front, but haven't found a TS-type or fuzz that I'm happy putting in front of it yet.
I'd totally forgotten about the V-Twin!
The clean channel's gain stages (not counting the SS input or output buffers) are all tube - just a pair of triodes.
The gain channel has a pair of SS op amp gain stages going into hard clipping diodes, but then that's followed by a single triode gain stage. Then the remaining half of that tube is a cathode follower, making it tweed Bassman/Marshall-correct.
The tone circuit looks to be 100% the same as a Marshall JCM800 (2203 or 2204). Interesting that Mesa didn't go with their own tone stack values.
As best as I can tell, it looks like the triodes run at conventional high voltages, because they're configured like you'd find in an actual amp (IOW this is not a starved plate design).
Headphone amp chip looks like a LM386. If you're getting a signal at the power amp out (not the actual guitar amp out), there's probably a good chance that the LM386 is what failed. If Mesa socketed the chip at the factory, that would make replacement easy.
Thanks for the info, can tell you that both the power and headphone outs are nonfunctional. I did open it myself with the diagram in front of me to see if I could visually ID a problem, but everything looked clean, tight, and, unfortunately, surface-mounted. Beyond my limited soldering skills, and a couple of local techs I talked to have basically said the same thing--if they know guitar gear, they don't deal with SMD. If they know SMD, they don't know music gear all that well. So it does what it does. Eventually I'll either try to do it myself, or send it someplace for a full service.
I had a V-Twin up until I bought my Mesa F-100. I also owned a Mini Rec at that time, with that pedal.
Next I picked up a like new Toneburst. I absolutely love it as a clean boost. The tone knobs are highly effective, and it works great as a light drive boost.
I got a deal on a used Grid Slammer. It is a tube screamer with a thicker tone, more mids, that really puts a lightly overdriven amp in a really nice zone. Adding the Grid Slammer, or stacking it with other drive pedals, is what it does best.
I noticed how nice and quiet, or how well behaved these newer Mesa pedals were stacked. They also added no extraneous noise on a fuller pedal board, unlike other so called great boutique pedals that I owned.
When a Throttle Box became available at a great used price, I thought why not, even though I don’t play metal. It is a fun, fun pedal that really surprisingly makes you want to find ways to incorporate that sound. Even at the lowest gain setting, dialed all the way down, it is classic rock. Add the Grid Slammer set tastefully, and it rocks. Use the guitar knobs to taste.
These pedals sound very much like the more versatile and expensive Mesa amps. Using them is like adding more channels to just about any amp. My Fender PRRI, set clean, blows me away when these pedals get kicked in.
Last I came across a Flux Five. I just wanted the smaller version of the pedal without the EQ, but I found it was worth the extra dollars to have the EQ in this pedal. Once again, set it to a nice light crunch, or more, then add the Grid Slammer for more depth, and drive.
I sold the Mini Rec, the V-Twin, and the F-100. Kept the Mesa Express 5:25 Plus that doesn’t need these pedals. The pedals are like adding channels to the amp, with no regrets in owning any of them. Buy them used, and enjoy. They cover a lot of tonal ground.