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Mesa Boogie Express 5:50 1x12 Combo

Mesa Boogie Boogie Express 5:50 1x12 Combo

4.65 4.65 out of 5, based on 2 Reviews

Fantastic American tone with lots of great sounds.


29th March 2012

Mesa Boogie Boogie Express 5:50 1x12 Combo by floaty83

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.75

I have had my Express 5:50 for about 4 years now. I will never need another guitar amp.

The Express series could be considered an entry into Mesa's product line, but they still sound amazing.

The two channels have completely different characters and tones. Each channel has two modes with different flavors.

Channel 1's first mode is "Clean" which is just like it sounds, CLEAN. Channel 1, both modes included, has to be my favorite channel on this amp. The clean tones are some of the sweetest on any amplifier I've ever heard. Very full and rich with a detailed top end, but never too bright. The 2nd mode on the channel is "Crunch". This mode has got some amazing overdrive tones. Great for rhythm chunking and even lower gain leads.

Channel 2's first mode is "Blues". I actually like to use Blues as an alternative clean sound with the gain turned down and the master turned up. You can get some great jangly tones in this mode, sounds great with single coils. The 2nd mode, "Burn" is where all the high gain sounds reside. When used properly along with the contour knob, you can get close to Recto amounts of gain. A great sounding mode.

The biggest advantage of this amp is the two different wattage modes. The amp has a 5 watt Class A single-ended mode, and a 50 watt Class A/B push-pull mode.

The 5 watt mode is perfect for bedroom playing and for recording. The class A single-single ended circuit gets great harmonics and is easy to saturate the power section without the amp being overwhelmingly loud. It's probably too quiet for playing with a band unless the amp was miced. If you need some real volume, the 50 watt mode is where it's at. This thing gets LOUD in 50 watt mode. Holy crap...

Overall, a fantastic amp. I have a '95 Fender Japanese Strat with a Dimarzio humbucker in the bridge, and a '05 Gibson Explorer. Both guitars sound phenomenal through this amp. Thanks Mesa!!!

23rd August 2013

Mesa Boogie Boogie Express 5:50 1x12 Combo by Jmoon79

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5

This is an explanation of the features of the Mesa 5:50 express plus. I can save you a bunch of jibber jabber by saying I tried A LOT of amps over the course of a two week quest, and ended up with this one. But tone is subjective, and what I like you may not, and vice-versa.

I play Clean, Crunch, Blues, and Rock. Lead guitar. I use a Gibson Les Paul, 2002, stock Pickups. (490r/498t) And various strats and teles, all American, Texas specials in the strats, and Kinman AVN broadcasters in the tele.

The 5:50 uses 6L6 tubes. (I believe the 5:25 uses EL84's?) It has switchable operating modes on each channel, from 5 watts, 25 watts, and 50 watts. In the 5 watt mode, you're running class A. In 25 and 50 watts, you're running class AB in a push-pull. Those two modes sound DIFFERENT. So that's number 1 in what the over-arching point of this review is aimed at, and ultimately why I ended up with it, along with build quality and reliability, Versatility.

Channel one has clean, which is clean to concert volumes, but can be driven slightly as well. It sounds great to ME. (someone else said "think of Fender cleans, but with a little more balls" I agree.) Then a crunch setting, that gives up the goods early. The sound is dependent on the wattage you're using. It is noted in the manual, and it's a good practice in general, but you may not think about it while trying out in a store. As the gain is increased, you need to decrease the bass. Otherwise things get mushy, but this is true with any amp. I found the crunch channel to be quite useful in many applications, as is. Then I clicked on the EQ section.

The graphic EQ and tone shaping controls work together in a seemingly endless kind of way. It's a tweaker's delight. There's a preset, which is the classic V that everyone uses on Mesas, plus whatever you set the sliders to. So you can flip the switch and get the V, or click the footswitch and get your custom setting. I can't say enough about the addition of this EQ to the amp. It truly opens the versatility up.

Channel 2: Blues. Again, different depending on wattage. 5 watt blues settings are old-school cool. Old Gibson amp type stuff. Very, very cool. 25 watts starts saturating early in the gain stage. All-in-All very useful. Again, in conjunction with the EQ, VAST possibilities.

Burn: Here's where the gain gets stupid. So at this point, you can go from a crystalline clear, to a classic crunch, to a good drive, to pure harmonically rich, face melting soaring lead, or flat out chugging metal.

The reverb is all-tube. Sounds great, rich and lush. I rarely get it above 7:00 or 8:00.

Additional features: 4 button footswitch with LONG DIN connector cable, built like a tank. Buttons are Channel, Reverb, EQ, and SOLO, solo is a feature that gives you a volume boost on the channel you're currently using to cut through, the amount of which is controlled by a knob on the amp. It's quite useful. They are all LED lit in Green/Red for channel, Amber for eq and reverb, and blue for solo.

There are also outputs for each feature which can be routed to a switcher via 1/4" plugs, in a tip shorting operation. (I think. I just use the footswitch, so read up on that)

There's a contour knob that determines how much eq is sent into the "wet" signal.

Effects loop

Speaker extensions in two 4 ohms and one 8 ohm outputs

Regular questions:

Is it loud enough to gig with? Uh...yeah. 5/25 watts for bedroom/small rehearsal space, 25 watts for small bars, etc, 50 watts will get you through anything that doesn't require you to mic it. It is LOUD.

How is the build quality? It's hand made in California, USA. It is built solid. Nothing shakes or rattles. I have no reservations, whatsoever in trusting it on road/stage. Do take spare tubes/fuses, tubes will die. Not Mesa's fault. Mesa does computer check all tubes prior to installation and has a low tolerance for BS. If a tube doesn't meet their criteria, it get's chunked.

How's customer support? Don't know, haven't needed them, but I hear they are stellar. Google "Mesa Boogie customer support problem..." let me know if you find anything substantial, I couldn't.

Overall:

Versatility: 9.5/10
I would like to be able to switch between the clean/crunch and blues/burn without going to the amp, but it's designed to use in a Channel 1 clean, channel 2 blues, or channel 1 crunch, channel 2 burn configuration. Not a huge gripe.

Sound: 9/10
Love it.

Build Quality, reliability: 10/10
Hand built, quality product

Tonal Shaping: 10/10
Seriously, this will get whatever sound you want, in the voicing it has. Some people may find this intimidating. If you don't like to twist knobs, this could be frustrating. But if you're going to drop $1,000 plus on an amp, chances are you know what's what. The manual is well written, and provides great starting points for many different sounds.

I would add one final thing that I think we can forget. When you test this at the store, and I urge you to do so, get a long cable and step back. No one listens to your amp 12" away from it. Don't test it that way.

I do not use dirt pedals with this (don't need them!), but did try a tube screamer for fun. Takes pedals well.

I rated bang for buck at 4/5 because I paid $1300 for it. But look, you can't get an amp that sounds great, is built by hand with quality components, is versatile, and pay $500 or less, ain't gonna happen.

 
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