Mesa F-30 vs. F-50 Compare & Contrast-

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Srvwannab, Feb 11, 2006.


  1. Srvwannab

    Srvwannab Silver Supporting Member

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    Hey- I traded my F-50 to Lestercollector for a beautiful Nash Strat that I had to have (I also sent him a matching widebody cab & some goodies) and I miss it. I know the F-30 has the El-84's so it has to sound different... anybody played them both?
    Thanks!
     
  2. TheAmpNerd

    TheAmpNerd Member

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    Yeah,

    I had them both. You can dial in the same type tones. I'm pretty
    sure they use the same pre amp with the only change being the output
    tube/tranny. The F-50 can be louder. The F-30 will break up a bit sooner due to power tube difference, if dialed in that way. F30 slightly smaller package with V30.

    If that is what you are looking for, then you'll be fine with the F30.

    Tone? Both are kind of commercial hi gain sounding (kind of like a
    commercial heffeweissen). Reverb kinda whimpy, weak, echoy.

    But then you have to understand, the Fenders I restify for the pros receive consistant praise as "f-ing amazing" Not my words, theirs.
    That would be like a ten
    year old Chimay ale (hand made by
    trappist monks). There is just something that new amps don't capture, compared to a 30 - 40 year old amp sounding their best.





     
  3. amper

    amper Member

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    I wouldn't characterize the F-Series as "commercial high gain sounding". The F-Series is capable of a very wide range of tones, from spanking clean to as filthy as anyone could ever possibly really need, but it's not limited in any way to the sort of preamp-only saturation that is so common with "modern" amps, which is really only an artifact of attempting to have a channel switching amp that has as loud a clean sound as it has a dirty sound. If you dial any of the more modern amps the same way, you end up with what is essentially an amp with only one useful channel, anyway...unless of course you really do want that completely over the top lead sound, as well.

    As with older amps, once you start pushing the output section into distortion, by definition, you're not going to get a clean sound that has anywhere near the same impact, even if you *did* have channel switching. Besides which, Mesa's preamp design sounds really good even used as the only source of distortion in the amp. It's not ever going to replace power tube distortion, but it has a character that works very well for many styles of music.

    That said, the EL84 Dyna-Watt power section in the F-30 and other Mesa amps is quite a bit different sounding than many other EL84 output sections. It retains a dynamic quality thanks to Randall Smith's patented circuit design that is generally limited to output sections that use much larger tubes. Think of it as having a bit extra power reserve to push the dynamic peaks of your signal a little harder.

    I would say that the F-50, with its 6L6 tubes is still a bit more round and open sounding than the F-30, but the F-30's EL84's give it that mid-high sparkle and immediacy that really push it forward in a mix, as opposed to the character of the F-50's 6L6's (actually I use KT66's), which I would describe as being more of a "full-bodied" sound.

    I think the two output section types of the F-Series are very complimentary. Try one out, I think if you like the F-50, you may also like the F-30. I do! To carry forth the beer analogies, I'd describe the F-30 as a Magic Hat #9 (my current favorite), and the F-50 as a Dogfish Head Raison d'Etre. :BEER
     
  4. fancynapkin

    fancynapkin Member

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    You also might want to look at the hughes and kettner 20th anniversary amp (the 20 watt one). Cheaper than the boogie and doesn't have the tone stack before the gain channel, so its easier to dial it in.
     
  5. TheAmpNerd

    TheAmpNerd Member

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    The big problem with it is very poor sounding reverb. So you get an
    alright clean out of it, mainly to set up the hi gain. On it's own,
    I found the clean to sterile and disapointing, so have a few of
    the folks who tested them out.
    I would characterize both these amps
    as modern hi gain. Perhaps one channel with cleaner gain the other
    is over the top and you can't get it "clean".
    Yes, a capacitor in series with a resistance of 1000s of
    ohms connected to the screens of the pentode which may be
    any of the 6BQ5, EL84, 6L6, or equivalent. The exact summation
    of its operating characteristic is here:
    This effect is particularly noticeable when the string attack exceeds the amplifier's clean power capability because the screen current increases very rapidly after the onset of plate saturation. So the corresponding drop in screen voltage (through the several thousand ohms resistor) causes a significant drop in amplifier power sensitivity, but only after the initial attack has occured. Excessive or repeated attempts to saturate the plate result in the fluid "soft-clip" described earlier as "forgiving" because the screen and driver voltages--and hence the power sensitivity--remain low. Soft clipping ensues because the output tubes are unable to conduct the full resources of the power supply after the initial discharge of the screen current resevoir.
    I will agree if you like the F-50, you will probably like
    the F-30.
    Whet the heck, I'll drink to that. Prost! :BEER



    Now if you can tell me what the magic values are cap/resistor, the next dogfish is on me.
     
  6. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    I thought they were quite a lot different, and more so the louder you push them. They have different power sections, speakers and cabinets (including speaker loading), all of which have more effect when they're cranked.

    The F-50 is MUCH louder, and also has a deeper, clearer, more solid tone, but can be a bit too glassy and possibly slightly sterile. It's also a lot heavier.

    The F-30 has a tendency to get a bit harsh and directional (normal with a front-loaded V30 in a small cab) at high volume as well as more midrangy, but it does have a nice compression.

    The power difference is more than claimed - the F-30 is not a 30W amp, it's a 22-watt with Dyna-Watt. This does make it sound very loud for soloing and classic-rock/blues-type crunch, but it falls down when you try to use very full, broad-spectrum tones... like truly clean chording or super-heavy fuzzed-out lead. I found the F-30 mushed out and became too beamy on those sorts of sounds, at band volume (and we're not a loud band). For sounds like that, there is no substitute for true RMS power, and the F-50 is a 50W RMS amp.

    So it depends what type of sound you want...

    And I agree with TheAmpNerd, the reverb is at best second-rate, even compared to the Dual Calibers and the Nomads, let alone a Fender.
     
  7. Tone

    Tone Member

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    Do you guys feel they're worth the price?
     
  8. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    I do - even though they're disgracefully overpriced in the UK compared to the US. The F-30 retails for something like £1,195 here, which is about $2,000 :eek:, but even at that I think they're reasonable value for money compared to the likes of Marshall, Fender and Peavey. They're just so much better built, perform far better in a band situation in relation to their size and rated power, and IMO sound better, that they justify the higher price. I wouldn't play them otherwise - although I'm not sure I'd buy a new one at full UK retail either, it's really painful when you find out what they cost in the US.

    I've been gigging for many years with a DC-5 (the forerunner to the F-50, and IMO a better amp), and recently a Blue Angel, and they've never failed to impress either me or anyone else, both for tone and presence in the mix. It's certainly true the the DC can sound a bit dry and almost harsh on its own, at low volumes (especially the lead channel), but it's outstanding with a band. I played a friend's F-50 for a shared gig once so we didn't have to take both amps, and it sounded very nearly as good - maybe a bit brighter on the clean channel and flatter on the lead, but close. I've never gigged with an F-30, but I did try one at a band practice and found it just not quite powerful enough, and too focused in the mids when pushed hard. They sound very similar at lower volume though, as TheAmpNerd said I think the preamps are identical.
     
  9. amper

    amper Member

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    I know I've mentioned this in other topics before, but I'm using the narrow chassis F-50, which is the same size as the F-30 combo, plus I've changed out the Black Shadow 90 for a Mesa/Celestion Vintage 30, the same speaker that is in the F-30 combo, so I have a pretty good picture of the differences between the F-30 and F-50 sounds. I also really like Dyna-Watt amps. I wish I still had my 20/20...selling that was a bad idea.

    The only other variable is whether or not Mesa "revoiced" the F-30 an they did the F-50. It's possible that they did, as early F-30's had a problem with the power supply, so maybe the preamp was changed, too. I don't know why Mesa still insists the F-30 is a 30 W amp, when we all know it's really 22 W.
     
  10. amper

    amper Member

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    I wouldn't say the F-30 "falls down", I'd just say that the character is different than the F-50. One or the other may work better for any particular application.

    Second-rate reverb? Yes, if you're comparing it to the best reverbs out there, but "second rate" makes it sound as if the reverb is horrible. It's not. Maybe there are better reverbs out there, but that doesn't mean the F-30 or F-50 don't have a good sounding reverb. It works fine for me, but then I'm not looking for that totally swampy surf guitar sound, or trying to emulate a Cocteau Twins ambiance with my F-50.
     
  11. amper

    amper Member

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    I would counter with the plethora of reviews that disagree with you, but to each his own. If you consider the typical Fender clean sound to be the epitome, I'd think you may be a bit disappointed with any Mesa amp, not just the F-Series...but I'm not particularly fond of Fender amps, myself. Not that I'd kick a '57 Twin Amp out of bed...

    Yes, I've read the patent application. Very interesting, and effective. I wonder why RS hasn't applied the technique to other tube types?


    Gsuffa!

    Now *that* I would like to know, from a purely technical standpoint. Hasn't the Dyna-Watt patent expired yet?
     
  12. Fxrs

    Fxrs Member

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    I think I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one, John. I too have a DC-5(combo), and I have finally(after @ 9-10yrs.) admitted to myself that when using the lead channel, the EQ MUST be on for it to be usable. The F-50 on the other hand has a nice fat singing tone when not using Contour. I don't like the boxy tone my combo gets(I also have a Rectifier 2x12, use the combo speaker as a monitor for the rest of the band) and I thought the F combos sounded nice on their own. I still like my amp, just think maybe given the choice I would go for the F-50. Just my opinion...
     
  13. Srvwannab

    Srvwannab Silver Supporting Member

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    John, I also have a Blue Angel- quick follow up question. I have the 4X10 and it has a short in the speaker cable which has forced me to run the blue angel w/ either a Celestion V30 loaded 4X12 or with a 1X12 Mesa Widebody ext. cab. -Observation #1, the Blue Angel through a closed back 4X12 was a religious experience and I also prefered the 1X12 tone to the built in 4X10-

    Question 1- How challenging is it to re-wire the 4X10? Also, which of the power amp modes do you prefer in the progressive linkage? Do you have the head? combo? ~lastly, with as many amps as you have played, how do you feel the Blue Angel stacks up?

    In advance, and as always- Thanks!
     
  14. bikerdude2

    bikerdude2 Member

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    It'll be interesting to see where it sits in the mix.
     
  15. Dann'sTheMan

    Dann'sTheMan Member

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    To my ears, the F-30 is definitely from the same tonal family as its bigger 6L6 brothers, but there are noticeable differences. I found the mid range was "stiffer" and more prominent, and so there is less Fender like spank on the cleans, but it can sound more British overall. Indeed, I can understand why it has gathered its fair share of fans due to its American-meets-British voicing. I also found it very loud, and certainly more than loud enough to get the stage volumes I use (I usually mike the amp for the shows I play). I highly recommend checking out the F-30 tones captured by my F-series brother, andershoeg in this thread.

    The F-30 is a very sweet amp, that has that breadth of tonal flexibility common to all of the F-series. Nevertheless, I personally fell in love with the all-American voicing of the 6L6 powered F-50 and F-100 - immediate love at first note! FWIW, I started seriously looking at Mesa amps when the DC series was launched (although my very first encounter was a Studio .22+). I auditioned pretty much all of the amps that Mesa has put out since that time, and the F-50 was the first one to nail the sounds I had in my head both clean and dirty. I HAD to bring one home, and I've been ravin' about my consistently inspiring widebody F-50 combo for years. :AOK

    Big smiles,

    Andy.

    P.S. If you're interested I have some clips, both audio and video, of my F-50 in this thread.

    P.P.S. John Phillips, would you share what tubes you are running in your DC-5. I may well try to check them out come next tube change. :)
     
  16. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    GE 12AX7As in V1-V4, GE 12AT7s in V5&6, and JAN/Philips 7581As.

    I've also tried RCA preamp tubes and Sylvania, GE and RCA power tubes, which were all good but not quite as clear/deep/full/powerful. I didn't need to rebias for any of the power tubes BTW, although I did check them.
     
  17. Dann'sTheMan

    Dann'sTheMan Member

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    Thx John. :)
     
  18. TheAmpNerd

    TheAmpNerd Member

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    The nice thing about Mesa is, they really listen to their customers.

    We've been working to make thie reverb in the F-Series of amps
    a lot better then from the factory.

    I'd rather not mention specifics,
    but if there is any interest in this inprovement
    to your amp please don't hesitate to send me a pm.

    BTW, if we have any bass cats out there
    we were the first in the country to perform
    the "Pre" post position master volume mod
    to the Mesa M-Pulse 600 series of amps.
    It makes it work my like an SWR amp;
    that is, changes to the Master volume
    doesn't affect your stage volume
    (which is dialed in separately).


     

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