Mesa amps opinions

Discussion in 'Gear & Equipment' started by maliciousteve, May 7, 2019.

  1. maliciousteve

    maliciousteve Contributor

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    I've just sold my Helix LT and I'm considering looking for a Mesa combo.

    The Mark IV is top on my list because I've always wanted one. I know they sound amazing.

    However I've also been looking at the Rectoverb 50 and the Stiletto Ace combo.

    How does the Rectoverb compare to the Dual Rec and, is it something that will need an overdrive pedal to give it a little push in the low end to tighten things up?

    As for the Stiletto, how saturated is the distortion? I've heard they're some what like a Mesa version JMP/JCM800 so will that also need a boost?

    And overall how are these amps regarded?
     
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  2. sakeido

    sakeido Contributor

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    imo I don't enjoy Mesa combos basically as a rule. they tend to make them all openback, when the voicing of the amps is much more suited to closeback cabs. the amps sound weirdly unfocused and flubby in their combo form - run the exact same head out to an external cab instead, and they sound much better

    the Stiletto was not well appreciated in its day and it died an ignominious death not long after being introduced. The "II" version of the amp is the one to get.. all Aces are "II" versions. this was a mod that Mesa introduced in response to criticisms of the original version of the Stiletto. they totally revoiced the "fluid drive" setting on channel 2 to make it more like something you'd expect from a Mesa. Very saturated, still pretty bright, still obviously Marshall inspired, but with a clear Mesa twist on the sound. A boost pedal mostly helps with EQ but the amps have plenty of gain on their own. It's a non-issue because you want the Ace Combo and there is no "I" version but they were supposedly very bright, harsh and thin. I've never heard a Stiletto combo but there's a chance it is more suited for an open back design. Ace Combo is close back too so it should be great.

    I had a Stiletto Deuce stage II back in the day. I liked it then and only moved it to chase trends and get an Engl Invader... been trying to find another Deuce II head for quite a while but they are rare. They are due for a re-appraisal imo
     
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  3. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    So, all three are VERY different amps.

    All three amps have awesome cleans - the Mark and the Rectoverb are fairly similar with the Mark maybe getting a slight edge, but the Stilleto is its own beast, very vintage Marshall. It was actually hands down my favorite channel in the amp, and just begged for Jimi-type stuff on a Strat.

    The Mark IV lead sound is one of my favorite distortion voicings ever, and with a V scoop it can do heavy, as well. The Rectoverb starts out bright and edgy (more so than typical for a Recto, but to be fair it reminded me more of Dual #R00005 I got to play than any more recent model I've played) and the gain darkens up as the master comes up... but, for that to happen, it has to get REALLY loud. This isn't even remotely close to a bedroom friendly amp. The Stilleto had (IMO) plenty of gain in the series II amps (Ace included), but it was definitely in the modded Marshall school, lots of hair and grit to the high end, not particularly deep bass. It's a tone I don't personally get on well with, but to be fair it was a very good representation of that tone.

    If you want a Mark-IV, IMO you're not likely to be happy with either of those two. If you want to explore other options I'd expand your search to the Dual Caliber series, the Nomad 45 or 100 (the 55 is supposed to be brighter, never played one), or a Mark-V or V:35 combo, they're all in the very liquid, smooth saturation school of Mesa that bears its lineage to the Marks.
     
  4. cGoEcYk

    cGoEcYk SS.org Regular

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    I have owned the Rectoverb and Tremoverb at the same time. Rectoverb is a nice amp, IMO has its limits on clean headroom. It does the Recto thing, maybe on the brighter side. I thought it was fizzy at low volumes and used Eminence V12's with it to reduce the fizz (has to get pretty loud, drummer level to fill in). I liked boosting the Vintage Gain chan. The Tremoverb (dual rec) is in another category though. Way more solidity on the low end, no headroom issues (downside: needs a boost to get modern, gain chan needs master to be opened up a bit almost stage level before it fully fleshes in).

    I ran into a Stiletto live once and it was a killer sounding metal rig (not sure what Mesa cab was used with it, prob V30 recto cab). For being somewhere in the Marshall inspired zone, it was better sounding than any Marshall I have ever heard. It was on the tighter side less boomy than a Recto but ripped through the mix well.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2019
  5. cardinal

    cardinal F# Dive Bomber

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    Keep in mind Mesa dose not make low-volume friendly amps. They always have approached the low-powered amps from the direction of how to make low wattage sound really loud. They don't really have a mindset of making something bedroom friendly by working with a low-powered power section.

    So my experiences with Mesa have been that the high-powered amps sound better at any volume (low or high) because they just sound beefier. I didn't like the Mini Recto I played; I much preferred the bigger Rectos even for low volume jamming.

    I've not played a Stiletto. I would like to; I love Marshalls and have an open mind for the Stiletto to be pretty awesome. But given the lack-luster reviews, I couldn't recommend anyone buying one without have a good chance to sit down with it and play it for a while.

    From what you have listed, I would definitely go for the Mark IV. The Mark IV may have a learning curve as you figure out all of its bells and whistles, but that is a really nice amp that nearly any guitarist should be able to get some great tones from.
     
  6. HeHasTheJazzHands

    HeHasTheJazzHands greg rulz ok

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    The Rectos definitely have a sweet spot when it comes to volume. IMO they don't like being cranked too low, but at the same time they don't like being cranked too high.

    Mark-series amps are a bit more lenient. I was still able to get usable tones at lower volumes, compared to the Recto which needed to be around 9:00 on the MV to hit it's stride.
     
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  7. Chiba666

    Chiba666 SS.org Regular

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    Recently picked up an F-50 and I am impressed, nice gain very thick and fantastic cleans. Might be worth looking at
     
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  8. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive CNC hack

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    Mark Vs sound great at low volumes. Idk about earlier marks but I've always heard they are fine. That 5 band EQ does a lot. I'd assume any Mesa with one of those will be pretty good at low volumes. Just need to dial it in.

    Caliber, DC, nomad.... Etc
     
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  9. MASS DEFECT

    MASS DEFECT SS.ORG Infiltrator

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    Skip all that and go straight for the JP2C! Mark tones at any volume and it gets really aggressive or polite depending on your mood. Has a built in boost and gets down to 60W but at 100W sounds huuuuge.
     
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  10. maliciousteve

    maliciousteve Contributor

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    Mark 5 or JP2C would be perfect but they're way out of my budget unless I sell one of my beloved Jacksons. Just not sure I'd want to do that.

    I had looked at a DC5 so I may look further into it
     
  11. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    I'll second this, as well - I ran my Rectoverb and then my Roadster with a Hot Plate, because the Rectoverb especially and to an extent the Roadster really did sound noticably better when they were a little inappropriately loud for home use. Mark-V? I fired it up with the Hot Plate initially, but within the first day had unhooked it because it simply didn't need it. With the Rectos there was a tradeoff for using it but on the measure the amp sounded better with it, running louder, than without, running quieter. The Mark just simply sounded better at all volumes without it, even in 90w mode.

    The JP2C is great for high gain metal, and pristine cleans, but doesn't really have much in the way of voicings for anything in the middle. If you want gritty clean tones and bluesy mid-gain sounds then it's going to fall short, whereas the V covers all that in between territory extremely well (Edge with a Strat was a surprise favorite mode of mine), but at the cost of only one high gain channel and one EQ.
     
  12. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive CNC hack

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    The DCs are supposed to be lovely and are definitely somewhere on my amps-to-buy list. Their voicing is supposed to be somewhere between a recto and a mark (the tone stack is in the middle of the distortion instead of before like a mark or after like a recto iirc). Deffo get one with a 5 band GEQ if you can tho.
     
  13. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire Drink Sunny D, pet kitties.

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    I'll second the F series. I own both an f30 combo and an f100 head, and they can cover the tonal gamut from excellent cleans (think almost fender twin esque) to good mid gain/classic rock tones (Vox AC30/Brian May esque sounds from the F30 because of the el84s, F100 is much more modern sounding). The high gain tones are basically the midrange snarl of the mark amps combined with the crushing low end of the recto series. They can go anywhere from super modern djenty tones to thrash to full on Electric Wizard/Kyuss/Crowbar doom/sludge tones. The contour channel on the F100 is horrible though. It's just a grainy nasty buzzsaw sound. The f30 by comparison has a great contour channel, where the extra saturation and mids make the amp sound a lot meaner than a 30w has any right to.
    Both are pretty loud, but I managed to use my f30 in a crowded dorm for years without issues, even though the volume knob is very sensitive. If volume is an issue you could always grab an attenuator, or run it direct with a torpedo captor or some other loadbox.
     
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  14. maliciousteve

    maliciousteve Contributor

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    Thanks for everything guys. I'll look into the other suggestions. I'm also considering a Marshall JVM combo (I loved the 410h I owned) and an EVH 5150iii 2x12.
     
  15. viifox

    viifox SS.org Regular

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    The dual rec was my favorite amp for a while, but it really needs to be cranked in order to remove the inherent fizz. Built like an eff'n tank though!

    The Archon gives me that recto flavor, but at all volumes, and zero fizz. The clean channel is also in a different league. It's like an upgraded recto, imho.
     
  16. maliciousteve

    maliciousteve Contributor

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    Just to update.

    I've bought an early Mark IV Combo. Decent price and I'll be collecting in Sunday. I wasn't going to but I couldn't shake the thought of finally owning one after 15+ years of wanting one. I wasn't going to be perfectly happy if I settled for something else.
     
  17. BananaDemocracy

    BananaDemocracy 8 String Impaler

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    I say Rectoverb , only because the dual rec is my favorite tone. Treble 10 Mid 1.5 Bass 9.5, Scooped like Metallica flavored Ice cream!
     
  18. MASS DEFECT

    MASS DEFECT SS.ORG Infiltrator

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    Enjoy the Mark IV! It's a dream to tweak it and you get that aggressive tone!
     
  19. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire Drink Sunny D, pet kitties.

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    Have fun, marks are great amps once you dial them in. Lot of good tones on tap (and even more shit ones). Just be patient/use your ears when messing with the b/m/t and eq settings.
     
  20. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive CNC hack

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    Treat your BMT as a boost pedal and your GEQ as your eq and you'll be good.
     
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