Mesa/Boogie 5:25 Express Short Head

Head/Combo: 
Head
Price Paid: 
AUD$1300
Condition: 
Used
Country of origin: 
USA
Tube Type: 
EL84
Features: 

Dual channel amp with two modes per channel, footswitchable contour and reverb controls. Can operate as either 25w or as 5w Class A single ended. Channels have independant gain, master, contour, reverb and tone controls.

Pros: 

Tonal quality on all channels and in all modes is superb. Amp is outstandingly responsive and a real interactive joy to play. Contour control (basically a "dial in as much as you want" version of Mesa's 5 band EQ set to a smile curve) is very welcome and adds to the versatility of tones on tap. The 5w/25w feature is very useful, it's almost like having two different amps as switching between them alters the character as well as the power. And believe me - this amp is damned loud and aggressive through a couple of 2x12 cabs!

Cons: 

Cannot footswitch between modes. Overall the channel switching is actually quite clumpy and slow. Speaker outs are 2x4 ohms and a single 8 ohm - it would have been nice to have seen a 16 ohm or at least 2x8ohms, as most 4x12 cabs require these connections. Having said that, the manual states that impedance mismatches will not damage tha amp unless you go downwards (that is to say, don't go plugging a 2 ohm speaker cab into the 4 ohm output). In fact, the manual actually encourages experimentation with impedance mismatches!  

Sound Quality: 
5 (excellent)
Reliability: 

This is the only true shortcoming of this particular amp, and it's not meant to be taken as indicitive of the overall quality of the range. My amp was purchased at a discount because it had been a shop floor model. When it came, it had no fuse nor a fuse holder, and they had not packed the footswitch! I gave them a call and they sent everything out to me following day. Intermittently it has been having problems with the output cutting out. Sometimes it is just a momentary sag (but not like good tube rectified sag), sometimes you have to switch the amp off and on again before the sound comes back. It's still under warantee so it's actually in for repairs now. Like I said, that is just a problem with my amp, not meant to be indicitive of all Mesa/Boogie Express amps.  

Customer Support: 

Pretty good I must say. I'm not dealing direct with Mesa, just their Australian representatives, and they have always been friendly and helpful.

Summary: 

Overall, I love playing through this amp. Every mode on every channel has great tones to offer. Clean/crunch or blues/burn. What I also like is that there is some overlap between the blues/crunch/gain modes, so that you can get a fairly similar tone on each channel, and have one set up with a slight volume boost for leads.

The responsiveness of this amp is just amazing. You really do feel as if you are connected to it when you play. There's lots of gain on tap, particularly on the "burn" mode of channel 2. Use the contour control and you can get some very authoritative "chunk". Or, switch to the 5w Class A configuration and it's like you've got a whole new pallet of tones to explore.

I'll have to give it an overall rating of 4 because as good as it is, there are some shortcomings like the clumpy channel switching and inability to footswitch between modes, and the limited speaker outputs. But it just sounds so sweet . . .       

Overall Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)