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PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2015 11:28 pm 
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Dual Recto

Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:31 am
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Location: North Carolina
The amp finally arrived a few hours ago. Amp needed some cleaning and while I was at it decided to pull the chassis out and inspect for what may or may not be mods. I did see something a bit odd. About in the center of the preamp, there is a J175 FET piggy-backing a resistor (soldered from Drain to Source) along with that, There is a Mesa labeled polyester capacitor connected between two relays and the one end of the piggy-back resistor is soldered to other components as well as the other side of the cap. The gate is connected via a grey wire which also runs to the board onto another component. Is this a stock fix for the Stage 1 or is it a mod? See picture below for reference. Amp was loaded with original preamp tubes and possibly Rectifier and power tubes. I can tell the amp has had some use, bottom of the back of the amp has a bit of damage (nothing severe). I did not bother to use the supplied tubes that came out of the amp (power and rectifier tubes were packed in a separate box). Loaded the preamp with current Mesa (JJ) tubes, new Rectifiers and a full set of Mesa EL34 to start off with. My first impression was not satisfying. After plugging away first the sample settings printed from the manual, I decided to tune by ear, swapped guitars, etc. CH1 cleans and tight cleans are great. Crunch is a bit much on the treble (when dialed or out seems to also change the gain structure too much). CH2 crunch does not mirror channel 1 crunch. What comes close with identical settings is the Fluid Drive. CH2 crunch sounds terrible, thin and lifeless, Tight gain was not all that bad. The amp got worse in character (thin and brighter than the Mark V very much like the edge of CH2) with the Rectifiers selected. This amp is almost as heavy as the RA100. The Roadster feels much lighter than the Stiletto. I have a few days to try it out and I can return it to GC if I do not like it.

Image of preamp board : is this a stock fix for Stage 1 or a mod?

Image

Can you tell which tube was in V3?

Image

Overall the amp is not in bad shape
Image

Image

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 1:31 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2005 4:57 pm
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Stilettos are bright.

From what I remember, the general opinion at the time the Stiletto was released was that it sucked. People expected a Marshall voiced Dual Rectifier, they got a Stiletto. Tight gain was considered usable and fluid wasn't what people expected.

The Stage 2 improved Tight and Fluid modes at the expense of Crunch. Some people who really like Crnch mode prefer the Stage 1, while most others prefer the Stage 2.

IMO, if you want a Stletto to sound good you have to treat it like a Marshall, crank the volume and drive the piss out of it. Spongy and tube modes help here, some guys like the results because it's Van Halen-esque.

I had a Stage 2 Ace for awhile. I used Crunch modes on both channels, cranked the piss out of and got some great punk tones... but that's about all I ever got out of mine.

Here's some suggested settings from someone who's in the know;

Image

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|| D800 | Dual Rectifier | Electra Dyne | Rectoverb:25 | Strategy Eight:88 ||
|| Powerhouse 410 | Recto 1x12, 2x12, 4x12 | Subway 112, 115 ||


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 7:14 am 
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Dual Recto

Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:31 am
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Location: North Carolina
Thanks for the reply Screamingdaisy!

Wide open, will have to use a blanket. It did sound better when I plugged in the EV extension cab along with the Recto 412 wth V30. I may pull out the Egnator cab that has a different tone and will work even though it is 16 ohms. I was also considering loading V1 and V2 with 12AT7 just to hear the difference. I have used 12AT7 in the Mark V with some interesting results, not sure what to expect though.

The amp seems to have far more gain than I expected. I was also wondering what would happen if I removed the tacked on circuit if that would make a difference. If it is a mod, I will remove it but if not, may change my mind to keep it there. I thought the Mark V had its bright moments, the Stiletto is definitely an ice pick and sounded better with the presence and treble dialed out. I am still going to experiment with the amp for a while before my time limit is up to return it. I may even put the original tubes in it just for kicks even though the one tube has a black getter.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 1:24 pm 
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The gain on the Stiletto is insane. I found Fluid Drive nearly unusable, although a shredder would probably love it. Tight Gain was good, but I'd have it dialled pretty far back. Mostly I just used Crunch... I think I had channel 1 around 10:00 and channel 2 was dimed... or some variation on that theme.

I've always felt that the Recto cab/V30 wasn't the best fit for the Stiletto and that it would have benefited from a more traditionally Marshall-esque speaker... something that crunches more... G12T-75, G12H-30, G12M-25, etc.

Some Stiletto guys had good success with the MC90 (I never tried it myself), which IMO has a strong bottom, bit of a low mid emphasis and a brilliant (but not harsh) high end. Classic 80s lead sound.

All that said, if I were in your position I'd try borrowing/renting a Marshall 4x12 to test with.

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Ignore the hype and trust your ears. Play more, buy less = better tone.

|| D800 | Dual Rectifier | Electra Dyne | Rectoverb:25 | Strategy Eight:88 ||
|| Powerhouse 410 | Recto 1x12, 2x12, 4x12 | Subway 112, 115 ||


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 7:26 pm 
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Dual Recto

Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:31 am
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Location: North Carolina
I resolved the issue. I found some pictures this morning of a Stiletto Deuce Stage 1 (searched google and found a images on this forum) showing a stock preamp board. The components I circled in the first picture was not on the image of the other members Stiletto Deuce Stage 1. Why not remove it and hear the difference? Removing the components that installed as an after thought was the ticket to Nirvana. CH2 crunch and tight lead sounded way better as well as Fluid drive. Easy to get into Roadster territory and Mark V. This amp really sounds great now after removing the questionable components. One thing for sure it could use a noise gait to some extent. The amp in its current condition is now a keeper. Had I not removed the mod I would have returned it ASAP. (I did mark the solder connections on the PCB along with pictures showing where the parts were soldered just in case.) One good thing, the tone controls now seek to work much better.

I may experiment with some other tubes (I will have to pull the SPAX7 out of the Mark V to see if the input noise is curable without a noise gait). All that is missing from the amp is a reverb, but that can be remedied.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2015 7:31 am 
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Dual Recto

Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:31 am
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Location: North Carolina
I must have spent about 3 hours tube rolling this amp. WOW! I just could not stop playing though it. What worked for me in the preamp is the following:
V1: Current MESA 12AX7A (JJ tube). Enhanced low end for tight clean, crunch on both channels and tight gain.
V2: Mullard CV4004, reduced the bass dominance and enhanced the mids.
V3 + V4: Current MESA 12AX7A (cathode follower circuits, one per each circuit)
V5: Current MESA 12AX7A. For some reason I prefer this tube as a PI driver.

Tube I have rolled though this amp: Jan GE 5751, Preferred Series 12AX7A (Chinese), Northern Electric 12AX7A, Mullard RI 12AX7A, Gold Lion 12AX7A/B759 (got noisy - popcorn, would have settled on this if it was not for the noise), Tung Sol 12AX7, EH12AX7, MESA (old stock Chinese with square getter). I have a few other tubes that I did not roll in.
The Northern electric sounded great in V1 as it seemed to have a lower gain that cut back some of the top end. This worked really well with the Gold Lion 12AX7A/B579 in V2. This is an interesting amp to figure out as the input for the FAT Clean and Fluid drive use V2 and the rest use V1 as input. So the primary gain stage can be tailored to some extent depending on what is in V1 and what is in V2. I first started with all Current Mesa tubes and it was a bit on the muddy side. My goal was to brighten up FAT clean and Fluid Drive without making the other channels super bright. During my tube roll, there were a few tubes that did not survive the V1 position. Preferred Series and Jan GE 5751. I had the chassis out of the shell during the tube roll and the tube shileds/holders were off of the tubes for easy swapping. The Preferred Series began a rumble and odd sounds when I changed channels. The JAN/GE 5751 changed color (getter went from silver to black). I am beginning to wonder which tube has the Cathode Follower circuit in it. The original tubes I removed from the amp definitely had a black tube in V3, it may have originated in V1. Would love to get my hands on the preamp schematic for this amp just to understand what is inside. I will have to experiment with V3 at a later time.

Power tubes: Mullard EL34 (this tubes are hot in terms of output, way too much for the RA100 but sounded really good in the Stiletto.) The Mesa EL34 also sounded good too. Tubes I may try at a later time: Gold Lion KT77, Tung Sol EL34B, SED EL34 (last two are favorite in the RA100).

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2015 10:29 am 
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Mark III

Joined: Sat Jul 01, 2006 1:23 pm
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bandit2013 wrote:
I resolved the issue. I found some pictures this morning of a Stiletto Deuce Stage 1 (searched google and found a images on this forum) showing a stock preamp board. The components I circled in the first picture was not on the image of the other members Stiletto Deuce Stage 1. Why not remove it and hear the difference? Removing the components that installed as an after thought was the ticket to Nirvana. CH2 crunch and tight lead sounded way better as well as Fluid drive. Easy to get into Roadster territory and Mark V. This amp really sounds great now after removing the questionable components. One thing for sure it could use a noise gait to some extent. The amp in its current condition is now a keeper. Had I not removed the mod I would have returned it ASAP. (I did mark the solder connections on the PCB along with pictures showing where the parts were soldered just in case.) One good thing, the tone controls now seek to work much better.

I may experiment with some other tubes (I will have to pull the SPAX7 out of the Mark V to see if the input noise is curable without a noise gait). All that is missing from the amp is a reverb, but that can be remedied.



Ok, as a recent Stiletto Stage II owner, I'm now curious and have a few questions.

1. Is what you Removed the 'Hollywood Mod'?
2. Have you read about the Bias Mod from Charles Reeder on these amps? Might be something to consider
3. For the hissy high gain noise, (*of which I'm looking into as well), is this just with the Amp or do you have effects running through the loops contributing some of this?

I'm definitely going to buy another Stiletto, I'm just going back and forth whether it will be another Stage II or if I want a Stage I for the Vintage Marshall tones it is supposed to be good at. (*the Stage II does High gain Marshall-y tones really well, especially if you put an OD pedal in front it with the channel gains lower).

On the noise Front, I'm looking at Voodoo Labs Pedal Power options. The 2Plus, the ISO5 and the Mondo all sound like they will remove the Loop noise.

I'm also looking at the Logsdon Audio conditioner for the power input of both my board and the amp.
This is the one I'm looking at: http://www.amazon.com/Power-Line-Filter ... onditioner

Your thoughts?


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2015 12:48 pm 
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Dual Recto

Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:31 am
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Location: North Carolina
The noise or hiss, what ever you tag it, is definitely due to the high sensitivity of what ever tube is in V1 (affects tight clean, both crunch , tight gain). I can easily remove it with the volume control of the guitar (does not matter which guitar I uses out of 11 electric guitars at my disposal). Standard Mesa 12AX7A seems to reduce it quite well. Having a different tube (EH, Mullard CV4004, and even a TS) in V2 also helps dissolve some of the low end for the Fat Clean and Fluid Drive. I have come to the conclusion that this amp is too much for what I intended to use it. Fluid Drive is sweet and packs the punch for any heavy metal or hard rock. I guess I am too much of an RA100 fan as well as a Roadster fan to enjoy the Stiletto.

As for the bridged components, unknown what the mod is or was since I removed it. The amp was essentially unusable with it in since it killed the entire low end of the amp (barely any bass) and pushed the top end beyond that of the Mark V. After it was removed, the amp sounded really good! Still the tone of the tight gain and Crunch of CH2 was thin and lacking any character (however the overall tone improved considerably - no more death ice pick). After correcting what ever issue was done with the additional components, and re-tubing the preamp circuit, I am going to return the amp to where it came. I will be replacing it with a RA100 Combo as this would be easier to move around the house than the half stack version. Had to think what amp would I love to have two of, the RA100 would be my first choice, one Roadster is enough but would consider the combo as well, but for that amp it is best served with a 412 or two.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 10:43 am 
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Dual Recto

Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:31 am
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Location: North Carolina
My relationship with the Mesa Stiletto Deuce Stage 1 has ended. I returned it to Guitar Center for use as credit towards a Mesa RA100 Combo. I could not be happier with the end result. 8)

Perhaps this amp is too close to a Marshall for my liking. I had a Marshall a few decades ago which was not much of a lasting impression. That is when I became a Mesa Boogie Fan for life when I sold the amp and its matching cabinet and bought my first boogie (Mark III Combo, blue stripe). I do not see anything wrong with having to tailor the amp tone with pedals, and such, but since I do not desire to have solid stage gain added to my amps harmonically pleasing tube character, I prefer the raw amp as is with the exception of delay, echo, chorus or other tone shifting devices. Actually the only pedals I have fall in the delay category. I do have a Boss GT-100 which is great for direct recording, I did not care much for it as an effects loop unit (since there is so much configuring to do with it, pedals just drop in with ease without the headache of having to adjust so many parameters.)

Needless to say I will not be missing the Stiletto, it does have a good character if that is what you want, it just was not an amp for me.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 3:29 pm 
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Mark III

Joined: Sat Jul 01, 2006 1:23 pm
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I'm actually waiting to check out a Stiletto Stage II Trident that a local guy is bringing over. We are talking about an amp swap. He is a single channel guy, and I like switchers. We'll see how it works out. He doesn't have the footswitch/cable, but I have others that would work for this, if needed. I'm curious to see if the Trident sounds any different from my Deuced.

I did some recording of my Deuce Friday night and was surprised at the results. I used the line out on a Hot Plate to feed the board and it wasn't the best tone for that amp. It wasn't horrible, it just didn't sound the same as it was in the room. The attenuator takes enough of the volume off so that I can get the power tubes cooking and get a good low volume sound. The odd thing here is that in that room, the gain didn't seem very high but in the recording it should have been MUCH lower. We were doing auditions for a bass player so I wasn't EQ'ing as we went so I got what I got in the mix.

This morning I tried the Dual Rec trick of turning off the effects loop and just running the amp as a 2ch master valve amp. MUCH fatter 3D tone. Certainly much better for recording.

I was originally using the Crunch mode on the first channel as the Clean, with the gain down, but today I was using the Fat Clean, with Presence and Treble turned up appropriately. I think it was a MUCH better clean tone.

When do you get your RA100 combo? Did they have one, or are you waiting for one to come up used at any GC?


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 5:38 pm 
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Dual Recto

Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:31 am
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Location: North Carolina
They had a mint RA100 Combo. I just got lucky since the person who traded it in installed 6L6 tubes in it which did not sound as good as EL34's. I admit that I did not try the amp with the channel masters (I am aware that the FX loop and Master control will alter the sound a bit). The Deuce Stage 1 is a nice amp but was not what I was hoping for: more vintage character. The RA100 Half stack does the vintage trick quite well, and I was extremely amazed how the RA100 Combo sounded (After I got it home). I probably could have spent more time with it but I had a time limit for the return.


viewtopic.php?f=37&t=70814

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 3:10 am 
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Have you tried an Electradyne ? The ED has great vintage tones and it seems like you would like it. I choose an RA100 over the Stiletto and kept my ED. Vintage rock and blues are what I play...

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2015 12:03 pm 
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Dual Recto

Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:31 am
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Location: North Carolina
Yes, I played though an ED combo 1x12 in the Sam Ash store in Raleigh before I bought the first RA100 almost 2 years ago. I could not seem to make it agree with me, but when I heard others play it, it sounded really good. It was tempting me to buy it. There is something about the RA100 that has me glued to it. Not sure what it is but to me it sounds great. This is one of the amps that actually puts a smile on my face. The RA100 Combo has a similar phenomenon but sounds a bit different though the ported cab compared to the sealed 412. The Roadster also has that affliction on me as well. There is something about the Class A/B power that is more pleasing to me than the Simul Class circuit. I have never really been fond of the Class A operation of the Mark IVB or the Mark III as I always used full power. The Class A or extended Class A is still there supplemented by A/B on the other pair of tubes. The Mark V seems to bring out the Class A tone a bit more due to the hotter bias on the tubes. The RA100 being my first Class A/B amp and the Roadster my second, the overall tonal character is more pleasing. I was hoping the same would apply to the Deuce. There were some similarities between the RA100, Roadster and the Stiletto. Fluid drive was quite similar to the Roadster modern voice on CH3 or CH4. CH1 of the Stiletto had the best sound of that amp with the exception of the Fluid drive on CH2. I think I was disturbed that I could not mirror the Crunch modes on both channels as they did not sound the same. I guess the same could be said about the CH3 and CH3 of the Roadster but I could not find a voice on any channel of that amp that was annoying. Perhaps I expected more from the Stiletto. It is not a bad amp, but it is bad-ass gain monster for sure. Not sure if the Stage II would have been any different. The Stiletto Ace would have been a nice find to play through, but I am happy with the RA100 Combo. Now I have two RA100, not a bad thing since the combo has a different sound to it than the half stack. I am waiting for the casters to come in as I do not wish to risk further back injury and still need to rake the yard of leaves this week.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 26, 2015 1:23 pm 
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Mark III

Joined: Sat Jul 01, 2006 1:23 pm
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I wanted to share one more idea with you.

THD Yellowjackets.

These allow you to run EL84s in your 6L6/EL34 power tube slots, for a slightly different tone and power.

I have a pair of these that I want to try on my Stilettos, for a different response and sound.

More to follow.


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