Mesa Express 5:25 vs. 5:50 Anybody try both?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by joeprs, Jan 13, 2008.


  1. joeprs

    joeprs Member

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    I went to GC today in hopes of trying a 5:25. I ended up trying the 5:50 1x12 because that was all they had in stock. I know the 5:50 has 6L6's and the 5:25 has EL84's with a 1x10. This is from Mesa's website:
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif] Take the 5:25, running EL-84's out of London straight to the studio for the Ultimate BIG sounding, little amp. Or, catch the 5:50 running 6L6's out of Fullerton, heading uptown to the gig.[/FONT]


    I liked what the 5:50 can do, but don't need 50 watts, even though I would mostly use the 5 watt mode in the house (it's still loud at 5 watts). I know if I spend more time with the amp, I will like it even more. I had the luxury of playing in a private room and no salesperson even noticed I was there, which was nice. Although, a salesperson's help might have been good as far as the setting go, if he know's what he is doing.

    Another reason I am interested in the 5:25 is the 1x10. All of my other amps are 1x12, so I would like something different.

    I'm assuming the 5:50 is cleaner and with a bit more headroom, but would appreciate what someone here in the know has to say.

    I play mostly classic rock, blues and a little jazz which either amp should be able to do.
     
  2. The Captain

    The Captain Member

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    I have not tried these amps, but I have several Mesa's and I follow lots tof threads.
    50 watts is just 3dB louder than 25, so therefore, 25 i s just 3db quieter than 50, and you will not hit the ceiling on either amp so don't even take it into consideration.
    It really depends on if whether you have a big preference for 6L6 or EL84 tubes. TBH, you can eq either to sound like what you want. The 6L6 will definitel give you big clean headroom for jazz or other clean tone stuff.
    Classic rock is easy with either too, it's just a matter of keeping the gain down and tweaking the tone controls.
    The 5:50 is just a bigger amp with a 212 as I recall, the other guy will be lighter and easier to carry around. Plenty of guys find their F30 combos big enough to reherse and gig with.
     
  3. joeprs

    joeprs Member

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    I currently have a Mesa Maverick, Fender Hot Rod Deluxe and Blues Junior. I'm not sure if I want to add the 5:25/or 50 to the arsenal or replace 1, 2 or all 3 amps. I'm thinking it could replace all three.

    I like the Maverick the best out of the 3, but it is too loud for bedroom playing. I'm thinking that I could get some nice tones out of an Express on the 5 watt setting w/o being too loud. Although it can get plenty loud at 5 watts.

    I remember reading a post somewhere explaining that in order to double the volume of a 10 watt amp, you would have to go to a 100 watt amp. Violetlove's comment about only a 3db difference between 25 and 50 watts makes perfect sense to me.

    I also tried a Blackstar Artisan 15 once before. It is switchable between 15 and 5 watts, also class A power. It sounds incredible, very articulate. It didn't have reverb and I don't think you can channel switch either which I prefer. I may try one again and see about using an a/b switch to plug into both channels and 'make' my own channel switching amp out of it.

    I'm not sure which way to go just yet, but that is part of the fun at the moment. There are so many choices out there that can do the job. It can be overwhelming at times.

    I may try the little Fender 5 watt Vibro Champ and Champion 600, both 5 watt, class A. But, for the price, I don't think either would compare to the 5 watt settings on the Express or Blackstar. Bang for the buck, the Fenders might be nice for a bedroom/practice amp.

    Maybe, I'll just buy them all!;):crazyguy
     
  4. HoboMan

    HoboMan Silver Supporting Member

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    I haven't tried the Express series but I have an F-30 which is the predecessor to the 5:25.

    From what I've read the 5:25 is supposed to be more "british" sounding, while the 5:50 is supposed to be more of a "Fender" sound.

    My F-30 definately has a British flavor and gets plenty loud with just two EL84 power tubes. I haven't gigged with it but it definately gets loud enough.

    I saw a 5:25 at a store and was surprised at how small it was. Definately great for portability.
     
  5. Iceman8.6

    Iceman8.6 Member

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    Have you tried the Blackheart amp yet? Very nice 5/3 watter for the money!
     
  6. Eric Pykala

    Eric Pykala Member

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    Sorry, I can't speak as to the 50-watter, but I picked-up a dead mint 5:25 a couple of weeks ago and gigged it New Years. Even my drummer of seven years came up and told me I had great Tone that night (everyone did). My amps have been on a downsizing trend in recent years, and for the last two have been playing through a Traynor YCV-15 Blue 15-watter (sleeper of the decade). I was looking for a grab 'n' go with enough guts to push my THD 2X12 cab when necessary (which it will to painful levels), something quiet enough to play in a bedroom and still have a semblance of tone, and with a bunch of useable footswitchable sounds (I'm a lead vocalist; got lots to do). In this amp I have found what I was looking for.

    Volume. This amp changes a lot of pre-conceived notions. It's the loudest "25-watter" I've ever played. MESA calls it their Dynawatt technology, and I'd put this guy up against a lot of 30-50 watt amps. Even on the five-watt setting it is practically off in my bedroom. Sounds great with my HB, P90, and singlecoil guitars. If you dial the gains and trebles to MESA's recommended sweet spots the shared EQs work just fine. The footswitchable contour controls add some really excellent other sounds (don't overuse these). You could take this amp to a jam with just the footswitch and a tuner and be ready to kick butt. The loop is really hot. I don't know what the actual level is, but it drives my delay really hard. (Looking into a Suhr Minimix to convert it to parallel operation; my Diamond Memory Lane has a delay-only output). Since the reverb is footswitchable and my delay is on almost 100% of the time, I set it to a huge surf sound and just use it as an effect. The only thing it's really missing for me is no slave or speaker-compensated output; guess they want to sell Lone Stars. Last thing that really deserves mention is how big the amp sounds even just with the internal 10" speaker. The lunchbox that roared...
    Unless you're playing really heavy music and need the power, or are playing super-loud and dead clean, I can't see ever needing the 50 watts. Sure, the 6L6s will give you a different tone, and I'll find one to try someday just to hear the difference, but for right now this is one of the most impressive new amps to come along.

    P.S.: Unlike a lot of MESA stuff, this is an amp that is really easy to get good sounds out of with absolute minimal tweaking. Use the sample settings in the manual and sound great right away.-Eric

    New replies while I wrote this: Yes, I have a Blackheart 3/5 watter head. The Express kills it in 5-watt mode. The BH is still cool for what it is, but I suspect mine will be for sale shortly.
     
  7. Rydock

    Rydock Member

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    I played a 5:25 a while back. Can't remember exactly how it sounded but I remembered I had a good experience with it. I wasn't too crazy about small amps at the time, but now I'm looking at 5 and 15 watters and such. The Blackheart seemed to interest me the most, mainly because the tone you get from such a small amp (from the clips I've been hearing). I'm going to find time to go out and play a bunch of micro tube amps.
     
  8. joeprs

    joeprs Member

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    I've heard of Blackheart, never seen one. MF has them, does GC have them? I wouldn't mind trying one.
     
  9. joeprs

    joeprs Member

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    Eric, you gave me an idea. I will download the manual so I can go to GC with the proper settings, dial in the sweet spots, then try the amp. I liked what I heard when I did try it and think I will like it even more when properly dialed in. Whoever played it before me had the contour and gain controls cranked all the way and the 3 eq's were dial to high IMHO. I remembered my Maverick manual saying not to crank the gain too high, it would kill the tubes. I usually set the bass, treble, then dial in the mid. PRS gave a clinic one time demonstrating his tone settings. He called the mid the 'everything' control and said don't put the treble too high. Everything being the same, he played something at his settings, then cranked the treble like some people might do (my old band mate did this), and at the same volume, etc. it hurt our ears and sounded shrill, absolutely horrible. I understand tone is subjective, what one person hates another person loves, but Paul Reed Smith did make his point.

    When I play my stereo, I leave everything in the middle. I dial the volume to where it sounds good at those settings. If I need to lower the volume, I may boost the treble and bass, If I need it to be louder, I may back off on the treble and bass. I believe, mostly because of how our hearing works, that tone settings are related to volume settings and feel the same about my guitar amps too.
     
  10. reo73

    reo73 Member

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    I tested out both back to back at GC and thought the 5:50 was the better amp. The clean channel on both sounded about the same but the OD on the 5:25 sounded weak to me where as the 5:50 was sweeter and had more chunk to it. If you plan on seeking any hard rock tones I would go with the 5:50. I also own and gig a F-30 which is the 5:25s predessesor and I don't care for its lead channel also but a good pedal thru the clean channel is very nice.
     
  11. wilerty

    wilerty Member

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    I replaced my Twin with an Express 5:50 2X12 and it was an easy decision. The built in modes for clean, crunch, blues, and burn make changing the sound very easy. The contour also works very well. If you prefer a tight bass, operate the bass control at about 9 o'clock. The 5 watt mode works great at home. I still prefer the 50 watt mode for clean playing though.
     
  12. ReddRanger

    ReddRanger Member

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    Great post have already bee written here. So basically:

    I've tried both, a friend owns the 5:25 and I picked up the 5:50 (1x12) for myself. I went with the 5:50 because it fit my personal style better.

    The 5:25 is a very good amp IMO. I think it's actually 30 watts, not 25. Either way, plenty powerful, great tone, and cool packaging.

    These are both winners.
     
  13. joeprs

    joeprs Member

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    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=320207459537&ssPageName=STRK:MEWA:IT&ih=011

    I decided that I would buy a 5:25 used and as luck would have it found this 5:25 listed late tonight. I decided to "buy it now." I feel it's a fair price and the shipping isn't bad either. The seller's feedback looks good.

    Thank you to everybody that expressed their opinions, no pun intended.

    Once I have the amp and can compare with the others I have, I will decide what if any will be sold. I'm sure something will go, just don't know what yet.
     
  14. HoboMan

    HoboMan Silver Supporting Member

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    I have the F-30 and I like the lead channel. I play classic rock and I never turn the gain past 9:00. That gives me a good classic rock crunch.
    Anything past 9:00 and it starts to get too distorted for me.
     
  15. rastaman

    rastaman Member

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    Agreed. I've found that just about everything I've played that says Mesa on it, for my preference, can't be run with the preamp gain up past 12:00. Too undefined sounding. I set mine for less than classic rock gain and use OD pedals to have various levels of dirty options.
     
  16. Eric Pykala

    Eric Pykala Member

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    Hey joeprs (I'm a PRS guy myself), good idea on the manual download. The gains and the trebles on this amp are EVERYTHING. All else falls into place behind them. I spent an age trying to tweak my old Mark IV, even with all kinds of suggestions. I find the Express to be a lot more user-friendly.
    Slight derail: I put a set of Jim Wagner's (WCR) Goodwood pickups in my new PRS Singlecut Trem with the solid Indian rosewood neck this weekend. Thick and rich, but with incredible detail, even when I intentionally maxed the gain on the lead channel. Every note in complex chords...wow! The burn channel responds really well to the volume control, and leaves me wondering if I really need my Xotic boxes with this setup. Really diggin' my new rig for 2008.-Eric
     
  17. joeprs

    joeprs Member

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    Eric, I find I don't wander too far off from the recommended settings in the manual for my Meas Maverick and I'm sure it will be pretty much the same with the Express 5:25. I cannot wait to get it!

    It was interesting to see how much opinions vary in this thread. One guy does not like the gain on his F-30 and another is pleased with it. I guess it depends on the music you play and many other variables.

    Years ago, at home, I tweaked and tweaked and could not find a sound I liked. Then, when I was in my friends basement jamming, I loved how my guitar sounded and cut through the mix, etc., all with the same settings from my house. Go figure? Sometimes, I think my mood is the problem, not my settings or surroundings.
     
  18. reo73

    reo73 Member

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    With the gain lower I am sure the lead channel works better but compared to my OCD thru the clean channel it just seems too muddy for me. I tend to like more focused and tighter gain though.
     
  19. Mullenski

    Mullenski Gold Supporting Member

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    Have had a 5:25 for about a month and still very much learning the amp -- it can do so much. To my ears, anyway, there is a notable difference between the tone in 5 vs. 25 watt mode. The obvious; much more clean headroom, but also seems to be less compressed and "rough up" the drive/distortion on the higher power setting. Only thing I would nitpick right now is that it would be great if clean/crunch and blues/burn were also footswitchable.

    As a previous poster noted -- no need to crank the gains and contours all the way up. Settings in the manual do work well and are a helpful starting point.

    Gigged it last weekend, miced, in 5 watt mode and barely touched the od's on my pedalboard. This is a cool amp.
     
  20. Jazzgear

    Jazzgear Supporting Member

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    ....I owned both amps at the same time and these were my impressions:

    5:50 - Best clean tone out of the two (very LSC like). It really isn't close IMHO.

    5:25 - Nice cleans, but not as good as the 5:50. had the better lead channel in that it was easier to dial in at reasonable volumes.

    If I was the OP and I am replacing the amps metioned with one of the above, then my choice would be the 5:50; it is overall the better sounding amp....however, if adding to the stable, it would be the 5:25.
     

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