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NAD: Mesa Transatlantic TA-15

porticoguitar1

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
585
Blue LEDs make everything sound better. But seriously, I'm a long time Lonestar Special owner and I really dig Mesa products, so I figured I'd offer a small review and ask a few questions.
Pro's
- 3D tones. Even without effects going.
- Nice take on the tweed channel. I heard a lot of folks were meh on it. I like it. It feels very similar to my LSS clean channel.
- Excellent gain structure and better-than-expected guitar vol knob cleanup on Hi1 and Hi2 than I thought it would be. Don't know why I thought that, but I did.

Cons and question:
- no effects loop. Is this a bad thing? Should I get an Unleash or all you guys (and gals) playing non-loop amps, chime in here. I know a lot of the old school camp just go straight through the olde pedalboard into the input. I haven't ever done that and I sorta like what I hear, but I do notice that I'm going to need to adjust a lot of levels to get it right without the loop.

Not a sexy review. Just thought I'd throw in my $.02
 

ifailedshapes

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,518
Man, the one I demoed must have been a lemon. This amp just gets too much love. Really though, my friend and I are total tone snobs, and neither of us liked it. I think I really need to get my hands on another one...
 

richpjr

Member
Messages
2,409
I REALLY liked the TA-15 when I had it, but I really wanted something with an effects loop. Mine had an issue on channel 2 (it was a floor model at GC so I am not surprised) so I returned it and on impulse swapped it for a Mini Rect which is also a great amp, though with a different voicing. I've thought about picking up a TA-15 to go alongside my Mini.

Enjoy!
 

RJT

Member
Messages
604
I liked the TA-15 I tried. It will take pedals but it almost ruins it. I know if I were buying one, it would be for that amps dirt.
 

Flogger59

Member
Messages
11,630
I use my TA15 as a clean pedal platform, TB on one side, Tweed on the other. I use the Tweed channel as my solo boost, which allows me rhythm clean/dirty and solo clean/dirty. Sounds amazing.
 

doublescale1

Suhr S-Classic, V60LP's, Soft V neck
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,319
I run my pedal board into the front of my TA15 - have a chorus & trem pedal on the board, (& Rockett Blue Note, Timmy, Fulltone Clyd Wah) and sitting on top of the mesa 1X12 open back cab is a Holy Grail or Hall Of Fame Reverb that the board goes into then into the amp. Sounds very good at gig volume. Generally run the tweed channel. Classic R&B/Blues Rock 10 piece band w/horns, we mic everyone in band.
 

ScottySevins

Member
Messages
888
I love this amp and would love to buy one but that no loop is just such deal breaker for me. i hate that! mesa is the king of loops and have no idea why they wouldnt put one on this amp.
 

kiki_90291

Member
Messages
4,283
As I understand it, it has something to do with how the master volume comes after the phase splitter. Not sure why, but apparently, that makes it very difficult to add an effects loop?
 

ifailedshapes

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,518
Mesa has answered this question before. I don't remember the details, but an effects loop is not possible on the TA-15. I'm guessing that's one reason why they made the TA-30.
 

porticoguitar1

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
585
Thanks for the responses.
After fiddling with settings, I'm not sure as to why people so enthusiastically blast the lack of a loop. Name a vintage amp with a loop? I find that if I back the mix down on verb and delay the amp shines a little more, but that 3D character is slightly enhanced by the echo-yness. Anyway. I've contemplated grabbing the Badcat Unleash even more, but am not confident it'll do that much for me compared to simply tweaking my pedals for a straight-in configuration.
QUESTION; anyone using the BadCat Unleash on a non-loop amp? How's it going? How would you route a stereo setup with and without an Unleash with the TA-15 (sans loop) and Lonestar Special (series efx loop with send, return levels )?
Keep the advice coming.
 

kiki_90291

Member
Messages
4,283
I run everything straight into my TA-15 and never really feel like I need a loop. I definitely back off on the time based effects when running it dirty, but I think it sounds great and I don't really need a lot on top of the dirt.

Have you tried the Red channel with all the knobs straight up? Seems odd, but it sounds absolutely amazing with those settings on any of the sub-channels (Tweed, Hi1, Hi2).

And if you haven't seen this, some more good ideas for fiddling with teh knobs: http://mesaboogie.com/news/2010/05/tones-and-tips-with-the-ta-15-in-the-studio/

What speaker are you running it into?
 

porticoguitar1

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
585
I run everything straight into my TA-15 and never really feel like I need a loop. I definitely back off on the time based effects when running it dirty, but I think it sounds great and I don't really need a lot on top of the dirt.

Have you tried the Red channel with all the knobs straight up? Seems odd, but it sounds absolutely amazing with those settings on any of the sub-channels (Tweed, Hi1, Hi2).

And if you haven't seen this, some more good ideas for fiddling with teh knobs: http://mesaboogie.com/news/2010/05/tones-and-tips-with-the-ta-15-in-the-studio/

What speaker are you running it into?
Excellent article. Thanks for sharing. I haven't done much recording, but I'm excited to now. I tried the red side knobs all at noon. It's excellent, and loud!
I haven't picked up a cab yet, so I plugged it into my 12" Gold that's in my Lonestar Special. Freaking sweet. Any speaker ideas for when I pick up a cab?
 

djw

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,778
Ah, very good. I very recently joined this club myself. I just took my new TA15 to a jam the other night, and it surpassed all expectations. Killer with pedals, great cleans, very dynamic and sweet as can be when opened up just a little.

I don't care about the lack of a loop. I have amps with loops, and I don't use the loops on any of them... if I needed a loop, I would use those amps. I don't use a lot of time-based effects anyway, so there's that. If I ever find myself NEEDING to have delay or reverb after a lot of dirt, I'll use a pedal for the dirt and put it before the effect. It's just not a big deal to me.

I have a bunch of Mesas now too (LSC, LSS, MiniRec and now TA15, plus a few cabs). Sounds like we're in a similar place! My #1 is still my LSC, but I love having the others to play around with. The TA is the most unique among them, I think.

My story with the Transatlantics is a winding, convoluted affair... I never really had any experience with the whole Vox thing and I wanted to get my foot in the door. I was really intrigued with the TA15 when it first came out, and I tried the floor model at my local GC, and LOVED it -- so I bought one used from a forum member at the Boogie Board. VERY disappointed with the one I received, it sounded cold and stiff and nothing like the one I tried at the store. So I sold it. Got the bug again later when the TA30 came out -- tried the combo at the same GC, and it sounded great! Bought a demo head from Sweetwater... couldn't bond with it, probably just couldn't get it into the sweet spot at home... felt like, eh, spent too much on an experiment, sent it back. But I stayed kind of obsessed with the quest. Finally got a great deal on a closeout at GC, new in the box, and va-va-voom -- it sounds just like I'd hoped it would. So I am happy as a clam.

But I have really gone back and forth with the amp, and I do think there's something about it that makes it sort of finicky... maybe it's just one of the preamp tubes that needs to be just right, I don't know. The difference between the first one I bought and the one I have now is striking. I'm just glad I got ahold of one that sounds this good.
 

kiki_90291

Member
Messages
4,283
Excellent article. Thanks for sharing. I haven't done much recording, but I'm excited to now. I tried the red side knobs all at noon. It's excellent, and loud!
I haven't picked up a cab yet, so I plugged it into my 12" Gold that's in my Lonestar Special. Freaking sweet. Any speaker ideas for when I pick up a cab?
Pretty hard to beat a Gold. I have a 2x10 Avatar cab with Celestion Golds. It sounds amazing with clean tones. It is kind of a bulky cab, so I wound up picking up a Mesa Mini Rec cab (the slanted version) just to have something a little more portable. It's got a V30 in it and is closed back, so a very different sound. I think it actually does the chimey, clean thing very well (not quite as good as the 2x10), but it really sounds good with crunchier/heavier tones (better than the 2x10). If I was really dedicated, I would get a Cabbone and have it switch between the open back for cleans and the closed back for crunch.
 

Tracer Tong

Member
Messages
174
I have a TA15 but not an unleash. I think the unleash could be just the thing for the TA15 because you gotta get the power tubes going to get all the magic out of it(in my experience). And that's usually too loud for my ears, and my neighbors(apartment).

I really want an Unleash for the effects loop (need lots of delay and verb for a project I'm doing) and for the volume reduction, and the ability to record with it.

Hope that helps in some way.
 

Matt L

Member
Messages
11,535
Yeah, I agree with the need to crank it up. It felt really stiff to me, if you didn't. I think it's a sweet-looking thing and pretty darn versatile.
 

porticoguitar1

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
585
Very helpful info on cab selection and need for/not need for loop. I often use a lot of time-based effects for the P&W style ambient stuff I do since we don't have a synth player to lay down the pads. But, with that said, I did find myself using a lot fewer verbs and delay sounds last night with the TA15 hooked up.

The experience with not bonding with the amp makes sense, and could be why I've found my LSS a little sterile lately in comparison to the new TA that just got here straight from Mesa. It might be time for a preamp tube replacement to liven things up on the LSS front.
QUESTION: how much life are you guys getting out of your 12ax7's? I've replaced my EL84's twice since I got my LSS in late 2009, with the recent quad of JJ's going on 1 year of weekly use. I have yet to swap out the pre's. Hummm. If only I had lots of extra cash floating around to do so...
 

PatrickE_FenderADV

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
28,110
I used a TA15 for two months about a year ago. I thought it was a great amp, probably the best cover band amp out there. I also ran the tweed setting on one channel and the TB setting on the other. Great pedal platform. I didn't care about the lack of a loop at all, I ran my board in front of the amp since it was mostly clean. I really did a great job... I'm not 100% sure why I sold it???
 

porticoguitar1

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
585
Yeah, I agree with the need to crank it up. It felt really stiff to me, if you didn't. I think it's a sweet-looking thing and pretty darn versatile.
To be fair, I would have to agree. But I think opening up the amp to let it shine is a classic tube amp dilemma, and frankly, very particular to my experience with Mesa amps in general. However, with the yellow side of my KoT v4 always ON, I can pretty much sit at any volume level and be pretty happy. Does that tend to indicate the need to have some new preamp tubes or is that simply a volume issue?
 






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