Mesa TC50 vs Fillmore 50

kselbee

Silver Supporting Member
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2,575
I know it’s 2 channels vs 3 and 6L6 vs EL34 but how do they compare sound and feel wise? Would love to hear from those that have played them both.
 
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I haven't played either but have heard quite a bit of both. I can't tell you about feel, but the Triple Crown is a clean/mid-gain/high-gain amp that kind of straddles "American" and "British" gain sounds, depending on how you dial it in, and like most Mesa "clean" channels, you can dial that clean all the way up to a pretty crunchy bark, use channel 2 for a high gain rhythm sound, and channel 3 for a boosted screaming lead ... or do exactly the opposite, and run 1 clean, 2 just a little crunchy, and 3 in more Dumbly/modded Fender territory.

The Fillmore is very, very different. It's kind of an alternate-history amp that reimagines the very first 1970 Boogie if it had been based on a tweed Fender, rather than a blackface, so you're talking mid-gain territory here ("high-gain" for 1970, certainly), and the general tone of it is going to be thicker, more midrangy, and have that extremely direct smack of the tweed Fenders, rather than the spongier scooped feel of a Deluxe Reverb, say. And the channels aren't preassigned: it's got 2, but each can be set to 3 different levels of gain (I think they're called Lo, Drive, and Hi), so it can be as "clean" or as mid-gain singing as you want. From what I've heard, the Drive mode in particular has, as the guys from That Pedal Show would say, a lot of SHWANG, that open metallic clangy thing you get running a Tele into most vintage Fenders.

Short version:

Triple Crown can do a ton but is designed for very high-gain use and tonally sits somewhere between a Recto and a Mark; certainly enough gain for metal, and quite a bit of top-end sizzle, but not really voiced for chugga-chug. If you want an amp that can give you a sparkly clean, a huge rhythm crunch, and a laser-beam sustaining lead tone, definitely the TC over the Fillmore.

Fillmore is also very versatile but in a much more vintage way, has enough gain to get your leads singing but nothing like modern "high gain," will tend to work very well in roots-rock/classic rock/bluesy-jazzy-R&Bish territory, and it has that tweed midrange, which some people find "congested" or "honky" and others consider rich and thick. If you want that big, springy, juicy, super-clean Twin Reverb sort of thing, this is not the amp.
 

Jabby92

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3,739
I've played both, owned the TC-50. The TC-50 is a mix up of vintage/modern tones while I feel the Fillmore is more of a pure vintage amp to about the late 70s/early 80s level of gain. The Fillmore covers a lot of Fender Bassman & Blackface like clean sounds.. kind of a Marshall JTM crunch and roundness and then all the way to a Mark 1 Boogie style lead tone all depending how you dial it in. Its much more simple compared to the other Mesa amps overall and has a lot of features stripped down. I plan to eventually buy a Fillmore.. hopefully in the next while.

The TC-50 is sort of an evolution of the Mesa Stiletto/Royal Atlantic and other previous 'British' style amps. Its brighter and more tight in the bass than most Mesa amps and is fairly simple to dial in as well. Channel 2 has a lot of classic crunch and breakup, kind of getting into Marshall territory but overall its smoother and more refined to me and not as 'raw'. It sounds more like a modified Marshall at best and as you dial the gain up it becomes more of classic singing Boogie sound. Channel 3 takes it a step further and it becomes more compressed and softer and goes right into a more modern distorted sound with a lot of sustain. It reminds me of the vintage mode on a Dual Rectifier but with less bass.

Both amps have amazing clean tones, the TC-50 I find to be more 'hi-fi' and crisp where I feel the Fillmore is more round and glassy all though both amps cleans change a lot as you tweak the gain and other knobs so this is really just a general description. For me personally I prefer the Fillmore cleans as I like the more scooped Fender clean sound, especially with single coils.. but they are both really good clean channels.

Summary: If you want a mix of British style gain sounds and classic Mesa sound and more modern gain structure.. buy the TC-50. If you want a mix of vintage Fender/Mesa sounds.. buy the Fillmore.
 

SRT2011

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,482
I haven't played either but have heard quite a bit of both. I can't tell you about feel, but the Triple Crown is a clean/mid-gain/high-gain amp that kind of straddles "American" and "British" gain sounds, depending on how you dial it in, and like most Mesa "clean" channels, you can dial that clean all the way up to a pretty crunchy bark, use channel 2 for a high gain rhythm sound, and channel 3 for a boosted screaming lead ... or do exactly the opposite, and run 1 clean, 2 just a little crunchy, and 3 in more Dumbly/modded Fender territory.

The Fillmore is very, very different. It's kind of an alternate-history amp that reimagines the very first 1970 Boogie if it had been based on a tweed Fender, rather than a blackface, so you're talking mid-gain territory here ("high-gain" for 1970, certainly), and the general tone of it is going to be thicker, more midrangy, and have that extremely direct smack of the tweed Fenders, rather than the spongier scooped feel of a Deluxe Reverb, say. And the channels aren't preassigned: it's got 2, but each can be set to 3 different levels of gain (I think they're called Lo, Drive, and Hi), so it can be as "clean" or as mid-gain singing as you want. From what I've heard, the Drive mode in particular has, as the guys from That Pedal Show would say, a lot of SHWANG, that open metallic clangy thing you get running a Tele into most vintage Fenders.

Short version:

Triple Crown can do a ton but is designed for very high-gain use and tonally sits somewhere between a Recto and a Mark; certainly enough gain for metal, and quite a bit of top-end sizzle, but not really voiced for chugga-chug. If you want an amp that can give you a sparkly clean, a huge rhythm crunch, and a laser-beam sustaining lead tone, definitely the TC over the Fillmore.

Fillmore is also very versatile but in a much more vintage way, has enough gain to get your leads singing but nothing like modern "high gain," will tend to work very well in roots-rock/classic rock/bluesy-jazzy-R&Bish territory, and it has that tweed midrange, which some people find "congested" or "honky" and others consider rich and thick. If you want that big, springy, juicy, super-clean Twin Reverb sort of thing, this is not the amp.
I own a Fillmore 50 and agree with your assessment completely!

I recently played the TC-50 combo and mostly agree with your assessment. It clearly offers beautiful cleans, crunch and high gain solo sounds in the three channels. Ch3 definitely offers modern high gain sounds, but surprisingly Ch3 can also be dialed in for an excellent alternate clean sound! This was shocking to me.

This might be Mesa's most versatile amp.....and was so easy to dial in sounds in all 3 channels that I really liked.

I am not a metal player at all, and I want a TC50! Lol
 

SRT2011

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,482
Both amps have amazing clean tones, the TC-50 I find to be more 'hi-fi' and crisp where I feel the Fillmore is more round and glassy all though both amps cleans change a lot as you tweak the gain and other knobs so this is really just a general description. For me personally I prefer the Fillmore cleans as I like the more scooped Fender clean sound, especially with single coils.. but they are both really good clean channels.
Yes, they do both offer excellent clean tones! I actually preferred the cleans in the TC50 and loved the variety of great sounds between the "Normal and Drive Modes" in Channel 1. When I played it recently, I spent most of my time in Ch1 because it sounded so good! Lol
 

PaisleyWookie

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8,455
As everyone's said, super different amps, but both are very, very good IMHO. As I've sold my Mesa 25w amps, I've settled on the FIllmore 50 combo for one, and then was going between the TC and the new Recto BL for "gainier" tones. Settled on the BL for the latter, but can't wait for my Fillmore 50 as well.

That's not to say that the Fillmore can't do gainier tones, but it's definitely what I'd consider more smooth and "civilized" of a gain tone.
 

ufguy73

Silver Supporting Member
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4,728
Not to derail but how does the Mark V fit in to the type of tones we are discussing here?

I know it has some aspects that functionally make it completely different - but how does the nature and quality of similarly dialed in tones compare to the Fillmore and TC?
 

SRT2011

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,482
Not to derail but how does the Mark V fit in to the type of tones we are discussing here?

I know it has some aspects that functionally make it completely different - but how does the nature and quality of similarly dialed in tones compare to the Fillmore and TC?
I used to own the 90w Mark V and it is absolutely the most versatile of all Mesa amps IMO because it is really like having 9 different amps (3 Channels each with 3 Modes); 3 different power choices per channel (90w, 45w, 10w), and the 5 band GEQ! Now with this many options.....one can spend a lifetime to explore all possibilities of this amp! Some say it is hard to dial in? I didn't think so, but it did take me some time to decide on my preferred modes for each channel for playing with my band.

I will only give my comparison of the Big Mark V to the TC50 because they are both 3 channel amplifiers:
The TC50 offers two different voicings of each channel (Normal and Drive or Tight), but these modes are really just an adjustment on that channel. Now, they change it enough to want to experiment with the preamp settings, but it isn't like going from Edge Mode to Mark I mode in Channel 2 of the 90w Mark V. Those two modes are polar opposites and require completely different settings in Channel 2 and even the 5 band GEQ! Oh, and speaking of the GEQ, it is a very powerful tone shaping tool and can either enhance your tone or destroy it!! Lol At least that was my experience.

Don't get me wrong, I gigged with my 90w Mark V and it's a great amp, but it truly is like owning 9 different amps in one package.....
 
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JeffK

Gold Supporting Member
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2,993
I will only give my comparison of the Big Mark V to the TC50 because they are both 3 channel amplifiers:
The TC50 offers two different voicings of each channel (Normal and Drive or Tight), but these modes are really just an adjustment on that channel.
^To add to this, it's been said that the mode switches on the TC-50 channels are like engaging a built-in Grid Slammer pedal (which is said to be a modified Tube Screamer).
 

ufguy73

Silver Supporting Member
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4,728
I used to own the 90w Mark V and it is absolutely the most versatile of all Mesa amps IMO because it is really like having 9 different amps (3 Channels each with 3 Modes); 3 different power choices per channel (90w, 45w, 10w), and the 5 band GEQ! Now with this many options.....one can spend a lifetime to explore all possibilities of this amp! Some say it is hard to dial in? I didn't think so, but it did take me some time to decide on my preferred modes for each channel for playing with my band.

I will only give my comparison of the Big Mark V to the TC50 because they are both 3 channel amplifiers:
The TC50 offers two different voicings of each channel (Normal and Drive or Tight), but these modes are really just an adjustment on that channel. Now, they change it enough to want to experiment with the preamp settings, but it isn't like going from Edge Mode to Mark I mode in Channel 2 of the 90w Mark V. Those two modes are polar opposites and require completely different settings in Channel 2 and even the 5 band GEQ! Oh, and speaking of the GEQ, it is a very powerful tone shaping tool and can either enhance your tone or destroy it!! Lol At least that was my experience.

Don't get me wrong, I gigged with my 90w Mark V and it's a great amp, but it truly is like owning 9 different amps in one package.....
thanks for this - i have heard come complaints of having essentially 9 different amps vs being able to effectively channel switch (which you can only do across the 3 channels in one fixed mode for each channel vs being able to footswitch modes within a channel, correct?)?

regardless of modes, would you say it is possible to dial in some combination of a great clean, mid gain, high gain across 3 footswitchable channels at the same time - it doesnt have to be fender, marshall, mesa across the 3 per se....but a compelling mesa version of clean, mid gain, high gain footswitchable at the same time.
 

ufguy73

Silver Supporting Member
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4,728
^To add to this, it's been said that the mode switches on the TC-50 channels are like engaging a built-in Grid Slammer pedal (which is said to be a modified Tube Screamer).
meaning that is what is said to be the difference between Normal and Tight?
 

SRT2011

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,482
^To add to this, it's been said that the mode switches on the TC-50 channels are like engaging a built-in Grid Slammer pedal (which is said to be a modified Tube Screamer).
I hadn't heard this, but it makes sense. When I engaged Tight on Ch2 and Ch3, I noticed an increase in mids and a bit more gain (much like a Tube Screamer in front of amp), and it also tightens the bass response for more focus.
 

SRT2011

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,482
thanks for this - i have heard come complaints of having essentially 9 different amps vs being able to effectively channel switch (which you can only do across the 3 channels in one fixed mode for each channel vs being able to footswitch modes within a channel, correct?)?
It's really 3 different amp groupings (modes) for each of the 3 channels; and yes the footswitch can't switch between the 3 modes in a given channel. It wouldn't even be effective if you could footswitch between the modes of each channel because each one requires it's own settings IMO. But yes, you select your preferred mode in each channel and the footswitch engages those specific mode selected from Ch1, Ch2 & Ch3.

regardless of modes, would you say it is possible to dial in some combination of a great clean, mid gain, high gain across 3 footswitchable channels at the same time - it doesnt have to be fender, marshall, mesa across the 3 per se....but a compelling mesa version of clean, mid gain, high gain footswitchable at the same time.
ABSOLUTELY!! The 90w Mark V is an excellent gigging amp once you decide on which specific mode you wish to dial in on each channel! I usually used Clean or Tweed mode in Ch1, Crunch Mode in Ch2 and IIC+ Mode in Channel 3 for awesome footswichable Clean, Crunch and Overdrive Solo Lead sounds.

And yes, most of the modes on the 90w Mark V are based on Mark amp voicings or Lonestar for cleans of the past. The only exceptions I can think of would be possibly Tweed Mode in Ch1 (one of my favs) and Edge Mode in Ch2 (never bonded with it). Mark I Mode in Channel 2 is liked by some people, but for me Ch2 was set to Crunch Mode and it sounded great!

Anyway, I apologize to OP for going off on a tangent. Let's get back to the topic of TC50 vs Fillmore 50 comparison!
 
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1,049
Not to derail but how does the Mark V fit in to the type of tones we are discussing here?

I know it has some aspects that functionally make it completely different - but how does the nature and quality of similarly dialed in tones compare to the Fillmore and TC?
Whole, whole different beast, as others have said, and really runs the gamut of Mesa's Fender-based sounds, from 1970 all the way up through the late ’90s. I own the V:25 version, which is 2 channels and doesn't have the Edge, Tweed, or Mark I modes, but I honestly don't think I'd miss them, because there's so much to do among the 6 modes in 2 channels. You're correct that you can't footswitch between modes, but you should have no problem dialing in the right kind of palette between 2 or 3 channels.

AND, it should be said, channel 1 has a special Boost control on its Mid knob (bottom to noon is Mid, noon to top is Boost) that completely changes and revoices the character of the mode. With that control, plus Gain and some EQ fiddling, you can take Fat from a glorious blackface Fender clean to a tweed Bassman/tweed Twin-style crunch and lead sound; Crunch starts out in early Marshall Bluesbreaker territory but will end up in something like a superpowered mutant version of a brownface Fender Deluxe. Half Marshall, half Fender, loads more gain than either, very capable of early ZZ Top or Steely Dan tones. Different from, but comparable to, a Suhr Hombre or Cutthroat Down Brownie.

Plus, of course, the lead tones. They're all within the general Mark parameters (high-gain, smooth, tight, responsive), but IIC+ is precise and snappy, IV is thick, thick, thicc, and Extreme is balls-out crazy – if you've ever had the chance to hear a José Arredondo-modded Plexi, well, Extreme is like a José'd Mark IV.
 

J Factor

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,367
^To add to this, it's been said that the mode switches on the TC-50 channels are like engaging a built-in Grid Slammer pedal (which is said to be a modified Tube Screamer).
meaning that is what is said to be the difference between Normal and Tight?
I hadn't heard this, but it makes sense. When I engaged Tight on Ch2 and Ch3, I noticed an increase in mids and a bit more gain (much like a Tube Screamer in front of amp), and it also tightens the bass response for more focus.
Yes, flipping the switch to Drive/Tight is very much like engaging a TS-type pedal in front of the amp. I don't know if that's exactly the circuitry inside, or even if it's the same or different per channel, but I can pretty well replicate the drive/tight switch effect by using a TS (red dirt mini in my case). I rarely bother of course, because it's built in, but every now and again if I want footswitch control of that feature I can use the TS. It sounds close enough to my ears.
 




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