Something wrong with my new Stiletto Duce?

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Mark III
Posts: 215
Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2007 9:14 am

Something wrong with my new Stiletto Duce?

Post by Koreth » Thu Jul 31, 2014 12:31 am

So I've been jonesing for a Stileto for a while, and after spotting one on the local craigslist, I managed to snatch up a stage 1 Stiletto Duce. However, I'm thinking something's wrong with it. Everywhere on the Internet I read about the Stiletto, the consensus is that it's a very bright amp, and the advice is to run the treble and presence knobs low. This sounds consistent with what I recall from playing a Stiletto Duce years back. The one I have is dark, with a preponderance of bass instead of treble, as if a blanket were thrown over the amp, or I'd rolled my guitar's tone knob most of the way down. The fat clean mode on Ch1 is useless and tite clean isn't much better. Even if in tite clean I thin the amp out by diming the treble and presence, and turn the bass all the way down, the amp still sounds like it's lacking treble, just thinner now.

For comparison, I have two other amps, a Tremoverb and a Nomad 100. Playing all three amps through the same Mesa wide body 3/4 back 1x12 C90 cabinet, both the Nomad, and the
Tremoverb have less overwhelming bass and can get brighter, more jangly cleans with their tone knobs set a to middling values than the suppposedly super-bright Stiletto does with extreme settings described above. I'm pretty sure the opposite is supposed to be true.

I took a closer look at the amp and opened up the chassis, and did not spot any evidence of modifications. The preamp tubes are loaded with JJs, and while I don't like JJs for a their dark tone, my Tremoverb and Nomad came loaded with JJs as well, and they were never this bad.The power tubes are stock Mesa STR 477 EL34s. The previous owner claimed the amp had been run at bedroom volumes all its life, so the power tubes should have plenty of life left in them. Furthermore, the listing and talking with the previous owner in person made it clear that the amp was being sold due to spousal decree. No tonal problems were implied.

I suspect a trip to the friendly local amp tech or a call to Mesa are in my future, but before I do so, are there any other things I should check first?

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Mark IV
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Re: Something wrong with my new Stiletto Duce?

Post by Jak0lantern01 » Thu Jul 31, 2014 9:30 am

I would start out by swapping tubes, you don't know how heavily used the current tubes are. I'd save myself the time and expense of taking the amp to a tech and start swapping - it's not a bad idea to put fresh tubes into a used amp purchased privately. If the tubes don't resolve the perceived problem, then bring it to a tech. Does it sound this way in all modes or specific modes? Keep in mind, you have a phase 1 Stiletto and there were a number of complaints about this amp, especially in reference to a flubby fluid drive. I might also add that one person's recommended settings on an amp may not reflect the sound that you are looking for. Swap those tubes and do some dialing. One last question: how is the volume on this amp? I might also recommend that you go to Mesa's site and download the user manual, there are some troubleshooting tips in relation to tubes.

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