Mesa Boogie Lonestar Special

Discussion in 'Amps/Cabs Tech Corner: Amplifier, Cab & Speakers' started by Bloozman, Mar 3, 2006.


  1. Bloozman

    Bloozman Member

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    Talk about Jeckyl-Hyde...I have a Mesa Boogie Lonestar Special...Its a great amp, and has great tone...UNTIL!!!!...You have to turn it up and really crank it...The amp is only 30 watts Class A, and what happens when you crank it up to like 8 is...FEEDBACK!!....Feedback between the reverb and the amp...It starts as a low hum and gradually builds till the amp sounds like the beginning to the Beatles " I Feel Fine" !..You dont even have to have an instrument plugged in...it just does its own thing...The only way to stop the feedback is to either turn off the reverb, or shut down the effects loop..then it stops completely..Ive had it in for warranty service twice. They have replaced all the tubes, and installed a new reverb unit with no luck...To actually use the amp and its great tone, I run a cable from the "slave" output thru my fender Tonemaster and use the Tonemaster as a power amp to amplify the Mesa's sound.. I have to carry this huge Tonemaster around just for that...Mesa refuses to concede there is a problem, and instead resorts to the old.."you play too loud" excuse. Mesa has agood reputation as far as customer service, but you wont hear that from me..I asked to have it replaced, and so far they have refused..The factory rep even heard the thing, and he just says...hmmmmmph!!. Im not some hot dog teenager heavy metal guy..Ive been playing professionally for over 40 years and play the Blues..My equipment is spotless, and maintained to the highest standards..Im about thru with Mesa :FM ...any suggestions?...Thanks in advance
     
  2. brad347

    brad347 Member

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    It sure sounds like a microphonic tube. Did you try replacing the reverb driver and recovery (if appplicable) tubes with known good, non-microphonic, low-noise ones? Seems obvious I know but...
     
  3. Bloozman

    Bloozman Member

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    Every tube in the amp has been replaced twice
     
  4. brad347

    brad347 Member

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    did you try putting the reverb tank inside something? Is it in a vinyl bag or anything?

    P.S. sometimes even new tubes can be really bad microphonic. I've had problems with microphonics in Ei tubes especially.
     
  5. Bloozman

    Bloozman Member

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    Brad...The reverb is inside a vinyl bag that sits at the bottom of the cabinet...Its so close to the speaker that Mesa put a piece of foam between the bag and the speaker magnet..Thats close!..I believe thats why Im getting the feedback..Im gonna try putting the reverb in another cabinet altogether and see if I get the problem fixed...The dealer where I bought the LSS unplugged the reverb and plugged a reverb unit from another LSS into mine...The reverb he plugged in was still in the other cabinet..NO feedback...That tells me the whole design of the amp is faulty...Mesa should reimburse anyone having this problem, and re design the LSS with a larger cabinet so that the reverb doesnt have to be located so close to the speaker...Thats just my opinion though..Im sure Mesa will just tell me Im playing too loud again...Why put an amp on the market rated at 30 watts when the user can only use half power?...Been playing many amps that Ive had at full volume, and never had this problem..thanks for your suggestions
     
  6. dbeeman

    dbeeman Gold Supporting Member

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    I'd be tempted to write to Randall Smith direct. He ahs been building small combo amps that wer eplayed at high volume (100watts) with reverb for sometime

    They can't think this is right
     
  7. jayhawk

    jayhawk Member

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    :confused: WTF!?!?! "you play too loud"??? That's the stupidest effing thing I've ever heard from an amp manufacturer.

    I haven't been a big fan of Mesa and that certainly doesn't improve my opinion of them. Good luck with the amp. It sounds like pulling the reverb pan out of the cab might be the way to go.
     
  8. Bloozman

    Bloozman Member

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    Ok Guys..This is the best...Ive been battling with Mesa over this for like 2 months now...today, the dealer where I bought the amp at called the Mesa rep...The Mesa rep got out his personal LSS and set it exactly as mine is set when I get the feedback...guess what happened?...yep, the reps amp started howling too..I asked if it was a design problem...the guy said.."well...your car radio goes to 10 also, but if you turn it up too loud it sounds bad right?...thats the same issue here"....I wanted to fall off the chair laughing...at least I now know that the problem isnt limited to my amp. It sounds like Mesa Boogie has a design flaw...Im gonna take the reverb tank out, and put it in a makeshift box, and try it that way with extension cables. If I get no feedback from it, then it definitely is a design flaw, and I expect Mesa to stand behind it and settle the issue once and for all, or Im gonna take Mesa and the dealer to small claims court for a refund..Im also gonna write Randall Smith a letter as suggested...Thanks to all for your help..
     
  9. amper

    amper Member

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    There's a few things missing from this discussion. Before I get in to that, however, I will say that any dealer worth their salt ought to take the amp back and refund your money, no questions asked, if you are dissatisfied with the product within a reasonable time span.

    A. Did you play the amp with the settings you prefer *before* you bought the amp? What settings are you using, anyway?

    B. How long did it take you to discover the problems you are experiencing?

    C. Just about all of Mesa's designs, including the Lonestar Special, are relatively high gain preamp designs. The possibility of oscillation and microphonics goes hand in hand with such designs, especially when placed in such a small cabinet. My F-50, set to extreme settings, will experience some issues as well, but again, this is practically inherent in the design. Those extreme settings would sound like crap, anyway.

    D. I've played a Lonestar Special. It can be deafeningly loud. I'm very skeptical of your claim that you need to slave the amp in order to get to a usable volume level. That said, maybe you just need a louder amp?

    E. Perhaps you might a little insulation on the reverb tank in order to help isolate it a bit more.

    I have to say, overall, I think that the Mesa rep is more right than you, given what you've related so far. I hope you come to a happy resolution to your issues.
     
  10. brad347

    brad347 Member

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    This is hi-f*cking-larious to me. I too have never been a Mesa fan but this just takes the cake. Little amps especially are supposed to be turned up, that's what they make 'em little for... I'm sure it can be really loud but some people play loud. That dealer was definitely talking out of his rear end. Good luck to you.
     
  11. twangbanger

    twangbanger Supporting Member

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    amper said " those extreme settings would sound like crap anyway." Are you a mesa rep or something? If somebody wants to crank their amp up and it sounds like s#@^ thats their choice but to say that a obvious design flaw should be ignored or that you should put some insulation around the reverb tank on a amp that you paid well over a grand seems silly to me . If its to loud maybe your to ???????
    Rob
     
  12. riverastoasters

    riverastoasters Member

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    Oddly enough if he switches off the reverb he can hear those settings.

    So Bloozman, how do they sound?

    I might get to check this with my LSS tomorrow, but maybe not.
     
  13. Bloozman

    Bloozman Member

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    Ill try and answer the last few in one post to save space...
    _____________________________________________________________

    Amper...

    No, I didnt use those settings before I bought the amp...It woulda been too loud in the small store I boight it in. Also, It takes time to dial the amp in...It took about 2 months after purchaseing the amp before I got the settings I liked, but then the feedback started...

    The Dealer has offered to take the amp back several times...problem is..I love everything else about the amp.It has all the right features, and the sound is perfect till I crank it.. Actually, The dealer is the only bright spot in this whole ordeal!!

    Amper...you can be a s skeptical as you want, but until you hear this thing, you have nothing to base your opinion on but assumptions...Someone isnt going to buy an amp and make up stories about it

    I am going to try wrapping a towel around the reverb tank and then re-insert it in the bag and re-install it....that is a good suggestion, thanks!

    someone else suggested that I insert a cable from the send to the return jacks..Im gonna try that as well. I also thought of scrapping the reverb, and getting a holy grail unit as a stomp box

    ___________________________________________________________

    Brad...

    Thanks for the moral support...having an amp problem is 1 thing, but the attitude of the Mesa people is another, and is more aggravating than the amp is...The amp isnt that loud cause all I can get out of it is about 50% power before the feedback starts
    ______________________________________________________________
    Twangbanger..

    I agree...Since when does an amp manufacturer get to tell users how to play anyway?...lol..The amp was $1700.00, and I also got an extension speaker for like another $300.00..Ive got 2K tied up in an amp that I only get 50% power from...sounds suspicious to me at the least
    ____________________________________________________________
    Toasters....

    With the reverb off, the amp sounds great!...The reverb is awesome though, thats why Im gonna try and fix the thing myself...Removing the reverb and placing it in another cab works...If nothing else does, Im gonna ask Mesa for a blank head cabinet, and install the reverb tank in that and use it as a seperate unit..The dealer assured me thats an option..Im experimenting this week...however that being said..Its a shame the customer has to fix the problem in an amp under warranty..Mesa tech support wants nothing to do with this problem...Im gonna write to Randall Smith(Pres of Mesa) at the right time..I have dates times etc of phone calls...One technician told me to "take it back to the dealer...We didnt sell you that thing, the store did"...Imagine that!!
    ________________________________________________________
    Thanks to for everyones input, even Ampers Philly attitude was enjoyable...Ive looked at a lot of amps in the past few months thinking I was gonna dump this thing...Nothing sounds as good, nor has the features I use like this Meda does..I hope they fix their design as this is a good amp overall..Im gonna fix this problem myself, and write Mesa off for good however..I wonder if Amper would be so understanding to the company if he bought a car and could only depress the accelerator pedal half way to the floor before the car stalled??..Mr.tough guy Philly would be back at the dealer the next day..Id bet on it!!
     
  14. Bloozman

    Bloozman Member

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    P.S.....for all you LSS owners, try these settings...

    Channel 1
    Gain=minimal, as I play this channel as clean as possible
    Tone= doesnt matter
    Master=8
    Output=8
    Reverb=5
    Effects send=5



    See if you experience the hum that turns into the howl like I do. ..Thanks
     
  15. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    Bloozman - you are quite right, it is the reverb unit feeding back (you knew that anyway).

    FWIW, I am a fan of Mesa amps and I've heard good things about their customer service in the US (I'm in the UK, so I haven't experienced it directly)... but that is a fault pure and simple. There's no excuse for the reverb to feed back even when the amp is at high volume, because the gain from the reverb return to the power section is quite low (and predictable). It's not a matter of using too much gain or volume, and if they all do it it's a design fault as opposed to a bad amp or reverb tank. Fender BF/SF amps have hugely deep reverb and they don't feed back.

    One thing you might try if damping the unit doesn't work (or if it stops it working properly, if the damping material touches the springs) is to locate the reverb tube (in most Mesas it's a single 12AX7 that handles both the drive and return) and replace it with a 12AT7. This will give you a bit more reverb drive (more 'dwell') but less gain on the return - giving roughly the same amount overall but IMO a better-sounding effect - and which might help stop the feedback since it is clearly only borderline anyway if it only does it with the amp cranked. Replacing the PI tube with a 12AT7 as well will further lower the gain in the power section slightly and also IMO improves the depth of tone - I do both these to all my Mesas.

    Just to check too - you're not running the amp with the speaker disconnected when you slave it into the Tonemaster are you? If so, you're putting the output transformer and power section at great risk.
     
  16. Bloozman

    Bloozman Member

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    Thanks for the help John..I will try the new tube, and BTW...Im using the mesa speaker along with the Tonemsater...Thanks again...Maybe I can get this thing going right!!
     
  17. ripoffriffs

    ripoffriffs Supporting Member

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    Bloozman,

    Maybe Mesa or their rep can settle this by giving you a LSS head as replacement or give you an LSS head empty cabinet, then transfer your amp & reverb in it. Then you can sell (or return the combo cab with $100 refund, the difference between head and combo) the empty combo cab & speaker and buy another extension cabinet with the proceeds.

    This is one reason (as well as the weight) why I don't buy combos.

    Also, IMO, the reverb is turned too high up in one of your posts. I've owned several Mesas (but not the LSS, not yet anyway), and when you turn up the Overall Master, the reverb gets turned way too up that reverb gets out of control.

    This post fills a couple of people in here with glee as they love to bash Mesas. I just picked up a Solo 50 Single recto and I wondered why I had never done it before. If you set it right (i.e., moderate settings in the tone & gain knobs), the overdrive tones, in mild to wild levels are just like what I hear in my favorite records. I just might get an LSS head in the future.
     
  18. Bloozman

    Bloozman Member

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    Thanks for the suggestions RIP..Im going to ask Mesa for an empty head cabinet to put the reverb tank in, and use it like the old Fender units...as a seperate unit...The amp gets NO feedback with the reverb removed..I think thats the best way to go..what a shame..Great sounding amp thats a lotta trouble...
     
  19. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    That does sound like a hell of a lot of complication and hassle to solve a simple problem. (BTW, are Mesa still mounting the reverb tanks through a slot in the bottom of the head? If so, that's another design mistake IMO. I haven't looked closely at a Lone Star head though so I'm not sure if they're like that or not.)

    At the worst, all you need to do is to change a component value in the amp to bring the closed-loop gain down to just below the point the reverb feeds back with both it and the MV up full - as it should have been designed in the first place IMO. I'd try the tube swap before even considering that though, since it may be enough. I don't know which is the reverb tube in the Lone Star, sorry - but it should be easy to identify, just remove each preamp tube one at a time and see if everything except the reverb works... when it does, you're holding the reverb tube :). (A common position in newer Mesas is the second tube from the power-switch end, so I'd start there - the one at that end is usually the PI.)


    FWIW, I don't know why people so love to bash Mesa around here. Yes, they make mistakes too... that's the nature of making amps commercially, especially complicated ones. Possibly they should be more thoroughly tested in all possible control configurations, but you may find that for most people it doesn't matter because they will never use them like that, and giving the controls 'too much' range can make it possible to get sounds that can't always be got if everything is more conservative. I used to think that any amp where you couldn't turn every knob to 10 at the same time without it being unstable was a bad design - but once you have enough gain, no-one in their right mind would do that anyway, since it sounds horrible. Nonetheless, you can then get sounds that can't be achieved with a lower-gain amp, provided you set the final volume sensibly. I do think that having a reverb which feeds back is poor design though - because I know it can be avoided, still with more effect than almost anyone would want at any volume.
     
  20. pjrhd28

    pjrhd28 Silver Supporting Member

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    A couple of observations:

    1. I have a LSS 1 x 12 and tried the settings suggested. I started on the 5 watt setting but then moved up to 15 and 30. No howl, no feedback, no nothing. I'm not saying that you don't have a problem; I'm just saying that it didn't happen with my amp. I even increased the reverb/gain TRYING to get something to happen but couldn't.

    2. At those levels, especially with little or no gain, the amp is not that loud. My point here is that this setting is not really pushing the amp and anyone who thinks its similar to playing a car radio at 10 is flat out wrong. I'm not saying you should play a car radio at 10 or that you should expect an amp to perform perfectly when its pushed to its limits; I'm just saying that in this fact scenario, the amp is not being pushed. I play much louder at some of the Blues jams I attend (imagine channel 2, no drive, but gain maxed out with the master, output, and solo at about 2 o'clock. I can feel my pants leg moving when the sound rushes past my leg).

    3. If you haven't already, try the Boogie Board http://forum.grailtone.com/index.php . There's some real tech guys over there that might be able to help you.


    4. Based on what's in this thread, I am very disappointed in the response from MB. The amp is under warranty and they should fix the problem, period. In similar situations, I often find its just a matter of finding the right person (it sure looks like the MB sales rep ain't the right person).

    5. It is a great sounding amp ESPECIALLY at lower volumes. Anyone who's looking to buy one-MAKE SURE YOU PUSH IT. There's not a lot of clean headroom and at the volume I described in the blues jams, it loses a lot of its character. My guess is that if I were a touring pro and miked my amps, that 5 watt setting on channel 2 would take the cake.

    Good luck with the issue and I think if you find the right person at MB, they'll take care of you.
     

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