Mesa LSS or BFDR for house party funk

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by djw, Mar 8, 2015.

  1. djw

    djw Member

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    Hi folks, a bit of an academic question for the community here.

    I play old school R&B and funk in a 9 piece band (horns, percussion, keys, 2 guitars). I mainly play an ash & maple Tele, and occasionally a 335 to shake things up. Pedal board is pretty retro-oriented: wah, vibe, tremolo; plus (in order) an EP Booster, Gain Changer and Compact Direct Drive (which is sort of a backup drive, rarely used). I use the wah, vibe and trem pretty frequently, and I use amp reverb a bit too.

    My main amp for gigs that matter to me, and where I can turn up, is my trusty, heavily modded Mesa Lone Star Classic (1st version, 50/100 watts). However, in my endless quest to reduce the weight and volume requirements of my rig, I spend an over-large amount of mental energy trying to figure out an alternative amp to bring when I don’t feel like I need or have the room for the LSC muscle.

    Though I am not fortunate enough to gig very regularly, and therefore rehearse with the band maybe 6 times a year, I am fortunate enough to have a handful of amps that I quite like to choose from (see my sig). Right now we’re getting ready to play a house party and I’m trying to decide which amp to use for the gig. The two candidates are my Lone Star Special and my ‘65 Deluxe Reverb.

    I think I know what I am going to do, but I keep changing my mind and since I won't have much chance to try both amps in rehearsal, I thought I’d just throw this out there for fun. Here’s what I see are pros and cons of each:

    LSS pros: Very flexible and controllable, with excellent MV and 5/15/30 watt power settings. Has reverb and a good OD channel (also modded). Glorious clean channel, which can be dialed in to clip at civilized levels. Wheels! Mine has a Celestion Gold onboard. It also fairly bright and can cut pretty well in the mix. Mine has been really reliable and solid. Takes my pedals pretty well too.

    LSS cons: Though the clean channel is glorious and I am one of this amp’s players that has made peace with the drive channel, overall the LSS is a bit twangier than I prefer for this band. The thing I love about the Classic is the fatness and girth of both channels… warm, beefy and creamy, even at moderate levels. The LSS breakup is more crunchy and jangly (slightly more British flavored overall) than the LSC.

    BFDR pros: Also a phenomenal clean tone, tough to beat and will (probably) stay clean at the level we’ll be playing. Has lovely depth and fullness. Mine is a real ‘65, but has an ET65 to tame some of the brightness and it just sounds great. It actually seems to take my drive pedals slightly better than the LSS. Of the two, the Fender seems to be fatter, and playing it at home it seems like the winner.

    BFDR cons: Not quite as controllable as the LSS, and obviously just a clean channel to work with. And though I look for opportunities to take the amp out for a few paces now and then, it’s 50 years old and probably not quite as reliable as my other amps (mystery noise sometimes -- probably a loose tube socket -- though lately it has behaved). The Normal channel also suddenly gave up the ghost recently, and though I don’t use that, it makes me wonder if the Vibrato channel is next.

    So… if you were me and you were loading up for the house party gig, without a chance to check the amps in rehearsal, which amp would you grab?
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2015
  2. djw

    djw Member

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    Bump for your thoughts, and a blurry pic of the amps in question.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. gearscrubs

    gearscrubs Supporting Member

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    Although I love the sound of the LSS, I'd choose the BFDR - easier to carry.
     
  4. Heady Jam Fan

    Heady Jam Fan Member

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    I'd personally pick the DR except if your going to run out of headroom.
     
  5. tmac

    tmac Goldmember Gold Supporting Member

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    get your DR serviced. I have both of those...well, my DR is a '74 but I serviced it and now it's pretty much to BF spec (sold my 66 DR a while back because I like this one better). when I need versatility and feel like lugging it I use LSS, it is very tweakable but you are right, it doesn't sound like big bottle 6L6's but neither does the DR with the 6V's. For what you're describing I'd go with the DR unless with the horns u feel u need a bit more headroom and cut then the LSS. I love to just crank my DR up to about 8 and get some great overdrive all by itself. Would be especially sweet with a 335.
    BTW, if this is a house party on a deck or platform make sure it's structurally sound. Too many deck collapses this time of year.
     
  6. logdrum

    logdrum Member

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    Mesa LSS. You can take the twang out by using better EL-84. JJs are darker than modern Mesas. NOS if you can afford it (I got EL84 by getting them from organs that were being thrown). For pedals I would use a GE 5781, a Re-Issue Mullard or Mesa's very own SPAX7 or NOS 12AX7. Depends on your pedal setup though. For me if the pedal output is too hot I use the 5781 or the SPAX7. For ambient and modulation heavy signal the re-issue Mullard or a true Mullard or any American NOS seems to really help.
     
  7. djw

    djw Member

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    Thanks for the tips! I think it's an indoor deal, I believe these folks have this party regularly and the infrastructure is pretty sound.

    As for the DR... this is what I am leaning towards at the moment, but the reliability thing has me a little worried. I did get it serviced a while back, very reputable tech in the Bay Area, and he wasn't able to get to the root of the intermittent problem. We both scratched our heads and figured, loose tube socket... sounds likely, it seemed volume/vibration related. But it's been fine lately.

    This is why I'm a bit indecisive about this. :)
     
  8. picnic

    picnic Supporting Member

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    I have both and have used them both on gigs. The LSS does sound better, richer, fuller, fatter. Clean channel at 30 watts for max clean volume and dirt from my board. I bought a DRRI in December off the local CL here in SoFla, so I've been gigging it with the band I'm in while I'm here. Very happy with the sounds and how it works with my pedal board.
     
  9. bigtone23

    bigtone23 Member

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    The pragmatic nature of my decision says Mesa. It's not needing any service. It's built like a tank. More easily and cheaply replaced if anything happens. Has two channels with independent control of clean and dirty tones.
     
  10. ledzep618

    ledzep618 Supporting Member

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    Mesa all day. But I'm probably one of the rare few around here that would take a well built, fully functioning amp with modern features, a great clean and dirt channel over a vintage fender any day of the week.
     
  11. logdrum

    logdrum Member

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    I also discovered some Mesa's need a buffered pedal. End of the chain if upfront. Any Boss pedal that you hate will do. On the effects loop I use just after the send. Bypassed of course unless you are using them

    This usually solves any issues I have with Mesa and pedals.

    Also if you have to have gainier or crunch at lower volume maybe put your overdrive boost or distortion on the dirty channel and cut the bass. I think when you dial a clean sound that is sweet you mess that up when driving it which doesn't seem to be an issue with Fenders, specially the DR where the bass will sag and crumble nicely instead of the flubbiness or motorboating of Mesa clean channels hit with pedals.
     
  12. djw

    djw Member

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    That puts us in rare company I guess. I'm pretty much a Mesa fanboy (see sig). :aok

    As to the buffered pedal idea... very interesting. I actually have a little buffer in my chain, hiding under my pedalboard (it's the t1im Mini Buffer) so that may already be taken care of for me... I haven't had much trouble with pedals and my Mesas for the most part, but -- to split some hairs, which I guess is what this thread is all about anyway :p -- my LSS and TA15 are a little teeny bit fizzier than my LSC and Mini Rec (and my old MkIII). Both of the latter are voiced a little bit darker, generally, so it makes some sense given the pedals I use.
     
  13. porticoguitar1

    porticoguitar1 Member

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    Mesa.
    LSS with a Gold
    TA15 with 2x12 with creamback + greenback.
    So good!
    I actually think we've talked about this amazingness before!
     
  14. Lucidology

    Lucidology Member

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    Hey ... if your playing SF funk ... you've got to keep your clean tone clean ...
    That's an SF sound ... don't let it break up early ...
    you'll loose so much of the funk nuances that only come with a super clean tone...
    That's my opinion ... I use a Mesa Mark V at 90 watts. MLS (Lonestar Classic) ...
    also as a platform for cleans. Deluxe reverb breaks up too early for me as does most anything less then 50 watts ...
    You WANT that clean tone to PUSH air ... kinda like a bass player does when he has a lot of headroom.
    Give it that percussive feel that so many other cats who play funk don't have ...

    Have many youtubes of my playing in funky central coast bands ... maybe I'll sure
     
  15. plan-x

    plan-x Supporting Member

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    The fender does the funk chime thing, and that is about it. Everyone has said a lot of good points.
     
  16. guitarvc

    guitarvc Member

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    LSS for sure. I gig with mine and it is versatile and every sound is very good. The OD is great in a band setting
     
  17. The Funk

    The Funk Member

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    The Lone Star Special does the blackface fender thing, and probably can be near identical to the Deluxe in a band setting. Just turn the mids down on the clean, and turn the overall master up (and gain and channel masters down) to maximize headroom. Using the 8ohm out, you should be able to get quite a bit of volume before breakup with 35 watts.

    And then you get the overdrive channel and effects loop too. The only downside is the weight, but it does have casters.
     
  18. DeaconBlues

    DeaconBlues Member

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    Get the DR serviced by someone that's willing to take the time fix your intermittent problem. If I thought it was a tube socket I'd start there. Sounds like V1:tube socket, tube, solder joints, etc.
    Personally, I dislike Mesa's (except the Blue Angel), so I'd pick the DR.
     
  19. djw

    djw Member

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    All good points, folks. I was thinking that this would be a good excuse to take the DR for a spin, but the reliability is making me think twice about it, and I won't have time to get it fixed before the gig. Plus I spent some time last night giving both amps some breathing room and I gotta say, the LSS really smokes. It's coming with me to the party.

    Lucidology, I know you and I have slightly different opinions about the clean tone requirements for funk -- I do like just a little squish on mine, which is why I really like my LSC because I can dial it in just right at basically any volume. The LSS squishes a little differently... it's not quite as smooth, it's a bit more crackly and has more high midrange emphasis, basically what you'd expect in an EL84 design. That's why I like my LSC when it counts. :)
     
  20. picnic

    picnic Supporting Member

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    have a spare rec tube. they had a tendency to blow. once for me at practice. no big deal there. A good rec tube is in my gig bag
     

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