Mesa Blue Angel or Deluxe Reverb

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by chedgeco, Sep 28, 2005.

  1. chedgeco

    chedgeco Member

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    Hi all,

    I've been thinking about getting a deluxe reverb but I've only played the new reissue.

    I have a line on a 70's silver face deluxe and I also have a line on a Mesa Blue Angel. I've been a Mesa guy for so many years and have always digged there stuff and the complany, so the Blue Angel's got me intrigued. I've never played one though.

    All of the above are at about the same price, 700 - 900.

    What do you guys think. Any and all responses are welcome.

    Chris... :dude
     
  2. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

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    I'd go with the Deluxe Reverb. Have a tech go through it to make sure everything is in working order, possibly put a speaker of your choosing in it, and enjoy the amp for many years to come. If you tire of it, you'll almost assuredly get all of your money out of it down the road, possibly even making a profit.

    I do like the Blue Angel a lot, but I got tired of lugging it around, as it was a very heavy amp.

    Bryan
     
  3. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

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    I just like the DR better. I found the Blue Angel I had was very fussy about speakers, and wasn't as guitar friendly as my DRs. That said, they are Fender's with all the good and bad that entails.
     
  4. Boogie92801

    Boogie92801 Member

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  5. Red Planet

    Red Planet Member

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    But only if its of the older hand Wired versions.

    Silverface is fine.

    Dont go near a DR reissue.
     
  6. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    I'll be the first to step out here and say get the Mesa.

    A really nice Deluxe Reverb is a thing of beauty, but they aren't all like that, and even when they are they're more of a one-sound amp than the Blue Angel IMO. I've owned a couple of SFs and worked on dozens, including BFs and RIs, and they do vary quite a lot, but all of them had little things that annoyed me, which is why I don't own one now.

    I got a BA a couple of months ago - I wasn't really looking for one, but it came my way and I thought I'd give it a try... it turned out to be the best-sounding amp I've ever played, for what it does - and I didn't even think I really liked non-MV amps. It still has that Mesa character - a more solid, punchy tone all round, and can be very sweet as well if you put some lower-gain (and just plain better) tubes in the preamp than the stock 12AX7s - I have mine with 12AX7, 12AY7, 12AT7, 12AX7, 12AT7, all GE and RCA. It's a more midrangy amp in general, and not just because it has a mid control. It overdrives sooner than the DR on the 6V6 setting (it's only 15W cathode-biased), and in a much more even, controllable way with none of the loose bottom-end flap that most DRs have (even with an upgraded speaker). If you want more cut and bite the EL84 and Simul settings have that and will get louder than a DR - I've never found the headroom/distortion tone compromise in the DR very useful, although I know a lot of people do like them.

    The reverb is about as deep but more 'refined' sounding, although of course it doesn't have tremolo - although even at that the DR's tremolo is quite variable (largely a function of the optocoupler 'roach', not the driver tube) and I actually prefer a good pedal, usually.

    The Mesa is definitely a lot heavier, but it's not unmanageable (it has a nice comfortable handle, which really helps), and some of the weight difference is due to the much heavier MC90 speaker - if you wanted a sweeter, more Fendery tone you may want something different, and probably lighter, anyway.

    Just my opinion.
     
  7. ethomas1013

    ethomas1013 Supporting Member

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    Depends on what you want. The BA does not sound like a DR. Try both and decide what you like best.

    I have a Blue Angel that belongs to a friend and it has been at my house for the last 6 years. This is the 4x10 version with Alnico speakers, retubed with NOS preamp and 6V6 tubes, EH EL-84 tubes. I'm not sure exactly what's in there now but there are some 5751's in there too. Good tubes definitely improved the tones, but I still don't like the amp. It's OK good for clean tones, but there is a lot of hiss, the amp doesn't respond well to being pushed with pedals. The amps natural overdrive sounds transistory when pushed to my ears. It's heavy and definitely not as loud as other amps I have played rated at the same wattage. John is right that the low end is tighter than a DR because it is severely lacking low end in my opinion. The amp sounds best when just pushed slightly with mostly clean tones and single coil pickups. I don't like the amp at all and rarely plug into it. YMMV
     
  8. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    YMMV

    Yep... :)

    I agree that this is a fault with the standard setup - but try a 12AY7 (or possibly a 5751 if it's not there already) in V2 - not V1, V2 is the most critical gain stage in this amp. This will cure at least 75% of the hiss and also take away the 'unsubtlety' and oversensitivity to pedals and make it much more transparent.

    I have to disagree here! The overdrive - especially on the 6V6s - is incredibly thick and organic, and totally unlike any solid-state amp or pedal I've ever heard. Just my opinion of course :).

    I agree, and in fact the measured power isn't quite what Mesa claim. I found closer to 12W (true RMS) than 15 on the 6V6s, about 25W on the EL84s and 30W on the Simul-Link - but it's partly because it compresses so nicely when it's pushed hard. It's not even close to as loud as a fixed-bias 40W amp like a Super Reverb, or something with much more efficient speakers like an AC30.

    I have to disagree there too, it has far more low-end and low-mid than any DR I've ever heard, it's just solid and tight instead of loose and flappy - but mine is the 1x12", and the MC90 is a really beefy-sounding speaker, completely different from any alnico 10".

    I agree that the best tones are in the 'just-pushed' area, but I use mine with a PRS Standard 22 (with Duncans, '59 and Custom Custom which is a very thick pickup), and it just sounds fantastic...

    I can't disagree that you don't like this amp though! It does seem quite fussy too, and although I knew it was the right amp for me within seconds of plugging into it, it still took a few hours of tinkering to get the best out of it, and it really does sound quite a lot different now - so much so that I'm actually surprised Mesa designed it the way they did if they really intended it to be run on all-12AX7s.

    My problem with Deluxes are almost the mirror image - all the tinkering in the world can't make them quite how I like, even though they're not too far away originally. I've tried different tubes (pre and power, even 6L6s), solid-state rectifiers, different speakers, and nothing takes away that slightly 'gutless' sound that turns to raspy mush if you do try and make it more powerful.

    Just my opinion of course, YMMV :).
     
  9. Boogie92801

    Boogie92801 Member

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    I 'll add that the Blue Angel is a great sounding amp (as is the maverick). I also think that a good deluxe reverb is a classic tone too though and a very versatile amp for a giging musician (no high gain stuff).

    I looked for a good deluxe reverb for a long time and agree that they differ from amp to amp and a good speciman can be pretty pricey. I played alot of amps and bought a few in my search. I still have a maverick and a bandmaster reverb but I came across two amp that anyone who wants a deluxe should try; Matchless lightning and a top hat deluxe. I bought a Lightning. I thingk either one of these amps are a good alternative to a deluxe reverb.
     
  10. Ayan

    Ayan Member

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    I've owned both types of amps over the years -- two vintage DRs, in fact. The DR would be the one I would take if I was given the option to get either one for free at this moment (if I had to pay for the amp, I would take a DR if the deal was good, and I would pass on the BA). These are, IMHO, some advantages to the DR:

    1. "Download" Value: a vintage DR will only continue to fetch more and more money with time. You will never lose any money if you want to get rid ot it later, unless you paid too much in the first place. Mesas of all types, with the single exception of the IIC+s, seem to continue to go down in value.

    2. Serviceability: a vintage DR can be fixed/rebuilt/tweaked/modded and returned to stock/etc. to stock very easily.

    3. A DR is more robust sounding than a BA, given the same speaker configuration. It is also louder.

    4. Blue Angels have a tendency to hiss, and pretty loudly too.

    5. A DR will sound (subjectively) good throughout a wider range of volumes than will the BA.

    6. Although some PCB amps may be built very well and all of that, the build on those old Fenders is simply indestructible.

    Cheers,

    Gil
     
  11. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    :confused: Taste is one thing, actual physical volume is another. The BA is quite a lot louder than a DR on either the EL84 or Simul settings, and has a significantly more solid tone. (I agree it's quieter on the 6V6 setting.)

    I've used both too, and the DR simply isn't as loud or as solid, especially in the low mids (which is how I think of 'robust', maybe we're talking about different things).
    Also not true simply because the BA has a wider volume range. IMO it sounds better (my taste), but can definitely be more varied over the whole range of what a DR will do (eg you can get power-stage breakup using the 6V6s if you want, or tight and clean with the EL84s, and the mid control gives a wider range of voicing) and is still able to stay more controlled-sounding beyond the point the DR has begun to flap out.

    I'm not saying the Blue Angel is perfect - far from it, the hiss problem in particular is annoying, although you can fix it with different tubes - but I can't imagine how you can hear the DR as louder and more robust. I've never been able to get a DR to hold the bottom end and low mids together at usable gig volume - no problem with the BA.

    I agree with the rest.
     
  12. ethomas1013

    ethomas1013 Supporting Member

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    I should clarify that my original comments were with regards to the BA in 6V6 mode since the original question was for a comparison to the DR. My statement that "I don't like the amp at all" is with regards to running the amp in 6V6. I do like the amp in 6V6/EL84 combined mode. With that in mind, here's some more observations in relation to John's comments.

    He has a NOS 5751 (not sure which brand) in V1 and a 12AX7 in V2 so I'll try swapping them and see what that does to the hiss.

    Maybe putting the 5751 in V2 will improve this to my ears. It just doesn't overdrive as smoothly as I expected and the breakup is a little gritty in an unpleasant way. Could be a different brand of 6V6 tubes would help because he has NOS Phillips in there which I do not like. I have some 50's RCA and some JJ's that I should try as a comparison some day.

    As a test, I plugged my late 70's Princeton Reverb into the BA's 4x10" alnico speakers. The PR has WAY more low end than the BA through the same speakers. I have to run the bass control on the PR around 3 and the bass control all the way up on the BA to get similar levels of low end. Then I plugged the BA into a closed back 2x12 cab loaded with Eminence Private Jacks. The BA through the PJs sounded better with much better low end than the 4x10" alnico speakers. I'm not really a fan of 10" alnico speakers to start with, but the PR sounded fantastic through those! I'll be the BA would sound better through a pair of Celestion Blues.

    IMO the best tones are running all the tubes together. In that mode, slightly pushed with a Strat, I do like the amp but it still sounds a little sterile to my ears and doesn't have as much character as my Princeton Reverb.

    Agree 100% Putting some NOS tubes in there and tinkering until you get the right ones will greatly improve the tones from this amp. With the stock tubes, I hated the amp. When he changed tubes, I found it much more usable, but still not quite the right clean amp for me. Even though it's not my amp the owner has left it at my house for 5 or 6 years so I have come to think of it as my own and I do plug a Strat into it occasionally. When (if?) the owner finally takes it home, I won't miss it at all.
     
  13. waxnsteel

    waxnsteel Member

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    Keep in mind that controls on the BA don't respond the sam as they do on other amps. Volume changes tone, and the treble changes the rest of the EQ, and after about 11 O'Clock it's extra gain. I love the amp, and I agree with John on his assessment.
    I've played a deluxe reverb reissue, and liked it, but I gotta say my tone preference lies with the BA I use input 2, and set it on the edge of breakup, and use pedals, and didn't find any adverse reactions to pedals. On input 1, I didn't think it was as friendly.
    There are a lot more tones in the BA than the Deluxe. Of course, that's my opinion.

    I haven't messed with the tubes yet, other than subbing 6L6's for the 6V6's, and I think I'll stick with the 6V6's. I gotsta get some 5751's and play. The BA is definitely it's own animal, but there also aren't a whole lot of them out there.
     
  14. ethomas1013

    ethomas1013 Supporting Member

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    Yes, and that's probably my single biggest problem trying to dial in the amp... Turn up the treble and the amount of mid and bass changes.

    I haven't tried comparing input 1 vs input 2. I wasn't aware there was a difference. What's the difference? I'll try input 1 and 2 with a Fulldrive the next time I plug into it to see if I like the way input 2 accepts pedals a little better.
     
  15. george4908

    george4908 Member

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    I owned a 1x12 BA for a while and A/B'ed it with my '68 DR. No, they don't sound alike. You can dial them into a similar zone, but John Phillips' comments on the differences are pretty spot on to my ears. I sold it because I wanted a two channel amp, it was heavy as lead, and I never felt it was particularly pedal-friendly. I bought a Tone King Continental (which is much closer to a DR sound) and haven't looked back. But in and of itself, the Blue Angel was a fine sounding amp, no question about it. Smooth breakup, very full sounding, and terrific reverb. I didn't really need or use the switchable power tube settings -- I tended to leave it on "both" as I went for max clean headroom.
     
  16. chedgeco

    chedgeco Member

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    Wow, Thanks guys.

    I actually spent some quality time with a couple of DR's today.
    A late 70's silver face and a new reissue. The clean was good but I guess I've been spoiled, or maybe it's corrupted, by the Boogie Mark series cleans. I just seem to gravitate to the attack of the diode rectified clean. There was a brown tolexed, Jenson equipped Hot Rod Deluxe there that I liked better, once again diode rectified. Punchy and full of attack, and cheaper.

    I was testing lead tones with a Mosferatu pedal, and both DR's just seem fizzy/fuzzy or maybe it's buzzy. I don't know, it just didn't sound right.
    When I plugged the pedal into the HRD, all of the attack and none of the fizziness was there. :rolleyes:

    I'm looking because I need an amp that I can leave at my church without having to worry about it. Obviously it doesn't need to be a loud amp, that's why I was thinking DR. I was thinking a great clean amp and put a Mosferatu, Zendrive, or maybe an OCD in front of it.

    Then I thought of the BA. Hey I'm a proud Mesa guy why not. Then there's the plethora of clean amps to be found that I've never even tried... Uh Oh :eek:

    I'm so confused... :confused:
    oh well this is all for not if I can't sell my Tele.

    Later and Thanks again... Chris
     
  17. Ayan

    Ayan Member

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    John, with all due respect, just as I'm sure you had the experiences you described, I had the experince I described. I really don't have a dog in this fight... besides, I took the BA chassis out of the cabinet many times and not once did I see you hiding in there. :D

    I hope we can simply agree to disagree on this one. I assure you, the '68 Deluxe reverb I had sounded good clean all the way up to 6 or so (I don't care for the "barking" type of breakup I would get after that). The BA I had, on the other hand, sounded particularly good at low volumes, with a lot more harmonic content than the DR, but it would "fall apart" more rapidly than the DR with increased volume settings and SPLs.

    For the record, my BA was a 1x12 and I tried it through the DR speaker/cabinet and vice versa. My '68 DR cab/speaker sounded definitely bigger than the BA 's with both amps, BTW.

    Cheers,

    Gil
     
  18. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    We'll just have to agree to disagree :).

    Apologies if I over-reacted slightly ;). I didn't realise you were talking specifically about the 6V6 mode - I certainly agree that the BA isn't as loud like that - it's closer to a Tweed Deluxe than a BF, both in power-stage design and power output. I do find it overdrives very usefully though, and although it gets a bit mushy when you really thrash it, it doesn't have that flappy looseness of the DR which if you turn the bass down to prevent, makes it go raspy or 'barky' as you said. That's exactly why I don't use a DR...

    I obviously haven't played your particular DR, but I have serviced at least a couple of dozen, and owned two SFs - one of which I tried a lot of stuff with, including 6L6s and different speakers. None of them could get anything like the usable volume and solid punch of the Blue Angel I have now. Maybe my BA is just a special one :). (Joking, I'd actually expect them to be very consistent.) But I did once know a guy with a '69 DR - with a 16-ohm McKenzie speaker - which sounded incredible and far louder than any other DR I've come across. I never did find out exactly why, although I think the speaker may have been the most important factor - I think it may be with yours, if the BA sounds louder and bigger going through it.


    Another thing that may be relevant is that I'm using it with the 8-ohm speaker driven from the 4-ohm output, as suggested by Mesa, to get the correct match with 6V6s. This sounds much better, to me. In fact, I like the clean tone on the other two settings like this as well, and since I don't really use those for overdrive, I leave it permanently set to 4 ohms.

    I actually think this is a design flaw too, for those who do want to drive the amp hard in all three settings it's a pain to have to reach round the back and swap the plug - it should be arranged so you can do it just from the front panel. This is one reason I originally tried it with 6L6s, which does give the correct match in all three settings. In fact, if you want it to sound clearer and a (little) bit louder, try this! No amp alteration needed, it will rebias itself a little cooler and IMO shifts it a bit more in the direction of a DR than a Tweed. I liked it like this too, but I marginally prefered it with the 6V6s (I'm using Brimar CV511s, BTW - British military-spec 6V6s) so I went back to them.

    Definitely try the 5751 in V2. The amp is very oddly designed here too, in that only half of V1 is actually used. The second half is connected as a cathode-follower, but it doesn't go anywhere! In the Maverick, this is used to drive the tone stack more effectively in the 'fat' setting on the clean channel... on the BA the fat is done differently. It looks as if the BA was originally going to be like the Mav, but then they changed their minds...

    V2 is used fully (both stages in series so it multiplies the effect of any tube noise) and comes after the volume and tone stack, so nothing you can do with the controls helps - it's like running a non-MV amp wide open and controlling the volume from the guitar, basically.


    There are a lot of things in this amp that don't make sense to me - it's very far from perfect, and almost badly designed in some ways IMO - but it just sounds amazing! (to me :)) I never really expected to like it - I came to it from channel-switching, higher-headroom amps - but when I tried it I realised that I did like power-stage overdrive after all. It was struggling with amps like the DR that made me think I didn't...

    :)
     
  19. ethomas1013

    ethomas1013 Supporting Member

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    I have tried to like Mesa amps, but I hated the clean sounds of every Bogie I have owned - Maverick, Studio 22+, Single Rectifier, and a Mark IIc (ugh!). Stiff, lifeless, sterile all come to mind as accurate descriptions. If you like a Mesa clean, the BA is hands down by far an out of the park home run the best clean sound in the Mesa line of amps.

    I'm not saying these are bad amps, well yes I am saying the Mark IIc is a bad amp, just not the amp tones for me. I like Voxy and Fendery cleans, and the BA seems like it would be able to deliver both on paper, but in the end it's still a Mesa clean sound.
     
  20. ethomas1013

    ethomas1013 Supporting Member

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    No need to apologize. I wasn't clear in my initial comments that I was refering to 6V6 mode.

    And thanks for your insights into the BA design. I'll also try running the speakers from the 4ohm jack in 6V6 mode.

    A friend of mine bought this when he decided to learn how to play guitar and he's no good at all after 7 years of trying. I think he has given up, and he doesn't want to move it because of the size and weight. So that's why it sits here at my house. As long as it's here, I would like to try and get the best tones out of it that I can. I imagine it will probably be here for another 7 years.....
     

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