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What is it about Mesa Boogie Amps?

Jagman327

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
341
Just a curious thought/observation/question about Mesa Boogie amps. Players who like them, love them and players that don't like them, think they are complete crap. The results seem always to be polarized, with no middle ground.

Why do these amps polarize players so much? Are they just too difficult for most players to set up for the right tone?
 

Pinelake

Member
Messages
670
Over the summer I went through the great amp selection drama. I already own a Marshall Silver Juby and was looking for a different tube flavor. The two amps that hit my list were Rivera and Mesa.

Mesa's just have their own distinctive sound and I think they can be touchy to dial in. I ended up with a Rivera due to a fantastic deal, but I loved the Mesas too. I still plan to get a Mesa down the road.

I think amp snobbery just comes in to play as ego and I just really don't get that. I love hearing different amps. There's no perfect amp except for the one that works for any given person on a given occasion. Our ears change along with our taste.

Now there are truly crappy amps on the market. I just don't think Mesa falls in that category by any means.
 

Occam

Member
Messages
4,300
I don't own a Mesa but I don't hate their amps. Mesa's are like pit bulls...they can be great when used properly but they also attract a lot of knuckleheads that misuse them. Basically, Michael Vick is to dogs as nü metal is to amps :)
 

Jagman327

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
341
I don't own a Mesa but I don't hate their amps. Mesa's are like pit bulls...they can be great when used properly but they also attract a lot of knuckleheads that misuse them. Basically, Michael Vick is to dogs as nü metal is to amps :)
NICE! I've been eyeing a used Lone Star Special. Seems like a good all round amp. Expensive to retube though.
 

LesMesa

Member
Messages
283
Certain if not most models can be hard to dial in so I completely understand why people don’t like them. Why bother when you can play an amp that sounds good anywhere on the EQ? I personally like Mesas but if you’re willing to spend the time with them they can be difficult to love.

Another thing about Mesas is that they’re biased very cold, like at 30% of plate dissipation or less. I’ve recently started experimenting with an adjustable bias kit on one of my Mesas and it has made a world of difference. When biased at 65% it sounds so much better. Once again I understand the counter argument that says you shouldn’t have to mess around with aftermarket mods on amps this expensive.
 

DannyG

Member
Messages
245
I've used Boogies for 30 years...still do. I switch between a '81 Boogie MkIIB and a Fuchs ODS. I've tried Marshalls and liked them but for me the warmth of 6L6's and the dynamic response suits my playing better.
I've tried most Boogies. Didn't like some, loved others. Some are touchy to dial in. Often it's not even what I'm hearing in the amp but what I'm feeling.
 

kludge

The droid you're looking for
Messages
7,104
What is it about Boogies? The way I see it, just about every knob on most Boogie amps has a "TOO MUCH!" range. They do NOT sound good if you just turn everything up to eleven! You need to put some effort into dialing them in. And on the classic Mark-style sounds, the knobs are VERY interactive. Tweak a gain knob, and you find yourself tweaking the treble, then another gain, then the mids, and so forth.

And honestly, a lot of guitarists are just gorillas. They don't WANT to sit down and dial it in. They don't WANT an amp that is capable of delivering muddy or shrill sounds if they don't do their homework. So they want something simple, something they can just turn up to eleven, and whine when they can't do that.

The too-muchness of Boogies is also why a properly dialed in Boogie is the loudest thing on Earth and sounds like it's on the verge of exploding. It really is!

It gets worse. Boogies are extremely dynamic and touch-sensitive, so they showcase your technique, for better or worse. If you're a sloppy player, a Boogie will tell you that in no uncertain terms. You won't get the warm fuzzy blanket of crunch that you get from a Marshall-style amp.
 

somedude

Member
Messages
8,034
Often it's not even what I'm hearing in the amp but what I'm feeling.
This is what does it for me.

With non-Boogies I'm typically stuck with the response designed into the amp and only have limited ability to adjust the bass/middle/treble of the final product.

With a Boogie I can alter the attack response, how hard or squishy the amp feels, as well as how tight or loose the amp tracks.

The trade off is the steep learning curve, which can be difficult to overcome if you 'grew up' on another style of amp. I feel a number of people are too impatient to learn how to play a Boogie. You see it all the time in threads where people will state "If an amp doesn't sound good within 10 seconds then it's junk". I've owned a Lonestar Special for 2 years now and I never got it to sound right until this past weekend.

Two years... all because I don't like bright tones and thus I never turned the treble knob up high enough.

And it's not like I'm a Mesa noob. The LSS is the third Mark amp I've owned (I've had 4) in addition to two Rectifiers.
 

Jonster

Member
Messages
153
I posted this as a response to another thread, but it applies just as well here:
(apologize for anyone who may have read it already) :)

I never liked Boogies,.....that is until I got my Lonestar Special. I did the Reeder mods, (pots and mid mod), added an old greenback and am in LOVE. :D

It was great before the mods too, but it did get a tad sweeter.

I have to say, as a long time Boogie NON-fan,.....these amps are definitely for people who truly get the "in-the-mix" notion of tone. I have had practically every amp you can think of in my 37 years of playing thus far (this is #79), and I love a two-knob affair as much as anyone, but the fact is, what we are all chasing is a tone that speaks to us, and more important, speaks to the crowd at the same time. I can say that the Boogies I've owned/tried do indeed require tweaking, but I've come to realize: that's a good thing. The end-result, is a carefully shaped tone response that has a fair-good chance of hitting home on both criteria. The Lonestar not only sounds good by itself, and at very low volumes at home, but it sounds crazy good in a band mix. That's where I think Boogies truly excel. They are very fat/full sounding amps, and some complain of the overly corpulent tones they can create,....but in the mix they are juicy, chewy, and fat as all get out. I can get anything I need from this amp from AC30-ish cleans, to nasty, nasty twangy grind. It LOVES my CS Tele, and boosted it goes into some tweed-esque tones that sound like Funk 49 on steroids. ( like a big, big, BIG Tweed Champ) Hats off to MB.
 
Messages
6,932
Mesa = great amps for a good price.

They became too popular.

They were misused by too many noobs and metalheads.

Thus, they have a douchey stigma.

I still LOVE my Blue Angel. I seriously miss my Triaxis and Quad preamps too :(
 

Wizard of Ozz

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,421
Because many people don't take the time to learn how to properly dial in the settings. Mesas are pretty different from Fenders and Marshalls and that's where a lot of the bad press comes from. I've used them for years w/o any complaints.
 

Melodyman

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,340
I don't like jerking around tweaking knobs or flippin toggle switches all the time, or be limited to a very specific range on the dials and the slightest incremental change and then suddenly the sound changes for the worse.

I realize they offer simpler amps now but I'm not talking about those (like the ED).

I just want to plug in and play, with an EQ stack that is pleasing throughout the entire range of the knobs.

If I have to take photo's of the amp settings or write them down in a notebook in case the settings get changed to get back to a tone I liked it's not an amp for me.

And yes I've owned 6 of their amps at one time or another since the late 90's so I've been there done that already.

Just finding time to play is hard enough these days I need to minimize the tweaking around, just my situation imo. :)

I did enjoy playing them at the time but my priorities have changed.
 

MJ Slaughter

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,071
Boogie player for the past 10 years having owned a number of different models trying to find the one for me. Once you start to seriously look at and play different models, current and out of production , you discover that they can cover a lot of different ground. Especially the ones over the past several years. Some people bash them, my son use to, because they are really only familiar with the Rectifier sound in a death metal bands. I like them for their reliability, versatility, always plenty of volume.:D Also I find their customer service to be one of the best out there. What I don't like is their combos can be too heavy so I just use heads and cabs with the exception of my DC-3 combo which is only about 40-50lbs.

Many new users seem to get frustrated over the tone controls because they don't understand how they interact with everything else. Got to read the manual on these things. They can be touchy but also provide a lot of versatility. The treble and mid controls can act as gain stages and can affect the bass control. Some people think you should drastically scoop the mids and crank the gain and many models of Mesa will let you do that but it can sounds like crap and doesn't work in the mix well. Some people given too much versatility just shoot themselves in for foot with all the options. Especially if they don't really know what they want in the first place.

As with any piece of gear there are always those idiots who trash an amp because it doesn't give them what they are looking for. Nothing wrong with admitting an amp isn't for you but saying it's crap because it doesn't do country twang or death metal is pretty damn stupid. Means you probably don't have the right model. Same goes for those who hold something is such high regard and proclaim it to be the best "fill in the blank" ever made and want everyone to agree with them. I think there might be a Mesa for just about everyone but so are a lot of other company's amps. I've read reviews from some who tried the Mesa Lonestar or Fender DR and bashed it because it couldn't do nu metal well.:bonk
 

Jagman327

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
341
This is what does it for me.

With non-Boogies I'm typically stuck with the response designed into the amp and only have limited ability to adjust the bass/middle/treble of the final product.

With a Boogie I can alter the attack response, how hard or squishy the amp feels, as well as how tight or loose the amp tracks.

The trade off is the steep learning curve, which can be difficult to overcome if you 'grew up' on another style of amp. I feel a number of people are too impatient to learn how to play a Boogie. You see it all the time in threads where people will state "If an amp doesn't sound good within 10 seconds then it's junk". I've owned a Lonestar Special for 2 years now and I never got it to sound right until this past weekend.

Two years... all because I don't like bright tones and thus I never turned the treble knob up high enough.

And it's not like I'm a Mesa noob. The LSS is the third Mark amp I've owned (I've had 4) in addition to two Rectifiers.

Two years is a looooooong time to keep an amp that wasn't quite there for you. From what I'm reading in all these posts, I'm not sure I'm cut out for anything with more knobs than an Electrodyne.
 

Flyin' Brian

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
30,303
I owned a .22 Caliber and a Maverick. There was nothing wrong with either of them, but after hours and hours of tweaking, they didn't sound anywhere near what I wanted at the time.

Built like tanks though.
 

germs

Member
Messages
6,022
i tried very hard to like them, but i just can't.

i've test-driven, bought, loaned, borrowed, you name it several Recto and Mark models (even a few Heartbreaker and Blue Angels) and just can't like them on the long term.

when/if i drop that sort of coin on a rig, i firmly believe that i should have a SMILE on my face EACH AND EVERY TIME i fire it up. there shouldn't be a day when i go, "oh, it's not sounding right today...what's up with that?"

all in all, i've just found MY sound on other amps - different strokes.

thank God for variety.
 

Hendog

Member
Messages
1,155
Just a curious thought/observation/question about Mesa Boogie amps. Players who like them, love them and players that don't like them, think they are complete crap. The results seem always to be polarized, with no middle ground.

Why do these amps polarize players so much? Are they just too difficult for most players to set up for the right tone?

I can answer this question.

Most (not all) Mesa amps are difficult to dial in. Lots of knobs and settings. "Everything at noon" doesn't work with many Mesas.

Take the Mark V. If you dont understand what all the knobs do and how they work and what effect they have on each other, that amp can be downright impossible to dial in.
 

Jonster

Member
Messages
153
Just an idea, but let me know what you all think:

Have you ever had an amp, any amp......lotsa dials, took some time to dial,.....you DID indeed dial a good tone, others concurred, and despite that: you MF'd yourself into re-dialing it and scrapping it altogether?

I know I have, many times.

I think many guitar players do just that. We like to convince ourselves that it should not be that hard, and if it is, it's just wrong. We chase some phantom mojo, and recorded tones that little do we know, used a plethora of techniques to be achieved, in some cases, NO AMPS AT ALL....LOL.

I forever have been a huge fan/user of less is more amps. I could write a damned book! But, truth is, I finally do realize much of my tone, good and bad, is indeed my choice of guitar (Telecaster), and precisely HOW I play that guitar. Hence, the Boogie I have, lots of dials and all, just allow me to further tweak my tele. Now, if I can live with the cool tones I've dialed (and on the Lonestar, it was easy), I'm good. The "gremlin" still lives on my shoulder, no doubt. I do go to my 5E3, 1974x, AC15....and such just to remind me how good the Lonestar really sounds. ....lol
 

crosse79

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,938
The OP's statement can be said for almost any amp out there. Especially if they are expensive amps.
 

somedude

Member
Messages
8,034
Two years is a looooooong time to keep an amp that wasn't quite there for you. From what I'm reading in all these posts, I'm not sure I'm cut out for anything with more knobs than an Electrodyne.
It is, and I wouldn't recommend it. The LSS was never my main amp... it was just supposed to be a small combo for jamming on but I could never get the dirty channel to sit right so I kept kicking it to the back burner. I almost sold it figuring it wasn't for me but in the current market there was little interest at the price I was willing to part with it over so I kept it.

Figuring it out was a total fluke. I turned the wrong knob and it suddenly kicked out the right sound. It reminded me that the LSS was actually a Mark and not a tweed Fender, and after that I had it dialled in correctly within a few minutes.

And to the dude who mentioned the LSS into Greenbacks, I fully agree.
 




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