I think a gradual taper of the master volume is a good thing and if the Fillmore 50 is not as loud as other 50w amps, than that is a good thing in my book as well. Been a long time since I have been told to turn up when playing live.I don't think so. My experience with my Fillmore 50 combo is the Master Volume knob sweep is very gradual until about 1 0'clock and comes on faster as it is increased from there. Personally, I like this gradual increase up to about 1 0'clock. It might seem "not as loud" as other 50w amps for this reason? Keep in mind that xrcdan was playing an outdoor gig. Either way, I think it is plenty loud as a gigging amp for most players/situations.
I do think the amp that starbelly played probably has a bad preamp tube, but my amp is working just fine after playing it a lot over the past 2 weeks. Also, I don't notice much background noise out of it at all.....so know that my tubes are just fine.
I also find it very typical that people are complaining about the stock speaker, that is something I see with about every combo amp. Mesa only has a few speakers they use and the mc90 is a nice neutral speaker, doesn’t mean that others won’t find a speaker they like better.