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 Post subject: Express 5:50+ vs 5:50
PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2015 8:34 am 
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Mark I

Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2009 8:41 am
Posts: 39
Hey all,

I have been using a 5:50 now for a couple years and have been very satisfied with the amp. I put a Mercury Mag output transformer in it after I bought it, and it has a wonderful sound and touch sensitivity with no other mods. This is NOT a criticism of the original transformer and was certainly not a scientific test - I think Mesa has great equipment off the shelf and I really can't say if the Merc trafo made much of a difference. I still have the original ;o )

The 5:50 is a great little amp - especially the triode (5w) mode which is awesome - too bad it isn't 10w or 15w; i guess you have to buy a Mark or a Lonestar to get that.

I recently picked up a used (about 1 hour!) Express 5:50+ practically untouched by human hands for €1300 (about $1400) and am extremely happy about that, since the euro just tanked and all mesa prices went through the roof after that. A new 5:50+ now costs almost €2000 which would be about $2200 US. Lonestars and Marks are skyhigh. there is a guy selling a "mint" mark IIc+ here for about $3000 on eBay.

My experience:

1. All my mesas (Studio .22, E-dyne, and the two Express) have always sounded kind of "dark." One of the reasons I wanted the 5:50+ was because of the built-in equalizer. I play a traditional e-guitar sound - pretty clean and I use primarily 4x10 cabs. These cabs have a healthy mix of ceramic/alnico and hemp cone speakers and are very neutral and transparent - my mesas sound DARK in that they are bass-heavy. (Scratch that: I have now learned how to use the tone controls :o )
2. the crunch mode of the 1st channel is considerably brighter than the clean mode and that helps. it is also louder which helps again since the 5:50+ is not super powerful, just a good allround gigging amp. Mesa said they "cleaned up" the clean channel with the 5:50 plus, but it sounds to me as though they moved the background noise from the clean channel on my 5:50 to the crunch mode on the 5:50+ ! Actually i am okay with this because in the crunch mode I am making more noise anyway - the background hiss is not really a factor, whereas in "clean" mode i want a clean sound without noyz! So, all is well.

3. for me, the onboard equalization is good for lightening up the overall sound of the amp in rhythm mode (rock and roll) - for leads I can then switch back to the fatter, darker sound to give the single-line playing more oomph. In practice this means cutting the first two (low end) bands down considerably, without boosting the higher end. The intent is just to filter out some of the worst bass, giving me a more rounded tone with good mids.

4. the "contour" feature is the classic V-shape that you would otherwise see on the mesa's 5-band equalizer; although I can't for the life of me imagine why one would want to boost the bass on a mesa, unless maybe if playing only ceramic speakers that might possibly deliver a bit less bass, or playing a very low volumes in which case the rig would put out less bass overall. (I don't know, I get away with playing at pretty respectable levels even in my apartment - the neighbors like it. They say it's "crazy.")

5. Result: rather than go shopping for different mesas to get the built-in 5-band equalizers, I will now just pick up a couple more 5 or 10-band equalizers on eBay and use them with my older 5:50 and my Studio .22... I got rid of the Electradyne because I just couldn't seem to get the highs I like out of it with El-34s.. it probably would have been fine with 6L6 but I already have two amps with 6L6 as well as one with 6V6. That Fender DRRI is also very bassy and could probably benefit greatly from a 5 or 10-band equalizer.

The express series are great amps and I would really like to have an express 5:25 as well. That triode mode is a thing of beauty.

I play mostly gibsons - rosewood and mahogany, thinline and Les Pauls, which is no doubt also an important factor in the overall "dark" sound... my strat sounds completely different and of course I have to completely reset the amp when i switch guitars.

Fender players will probably love the mesas because the tone should balance out nicely with the fender bite.

Y'all take care.


Last edited by himmelhund on Sat Aug 20, 2016 7:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2015 6:02 pm 
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Mark IV
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Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2009 9:47 pm
Posts: 811
Location: Australia
Yes, in general Mesa amps sound a little dark to me too. I have a 5:25, ED and an RA100.

I've always struggled to get the highs from the 5:25 unless it's loud. The ED can always get bright, but taming the resonant boomy bass was my issue. The bass control always ends up around 9:00 or less.

Speaker choice does make a big difference. Closed back cabs help to control bass. My 2x12 with one V30 and one Creamback has much tighter bass than my 1x12 and 4x10 open back cabs. I'm quite sensitive to flubby bass...

The RA 100 however is not typical of Mesa and is somewhat brighter. It's been my main amp for over three years now and has never needed an EQ.

For what you play, sounds like you would love the RA and TA amps.

_________________
Triple Crown 50 combo
Electra Dyne and Royal Atlantic heads
Express 5:25 1x12 combo
JCM800 2203
Deluxe reverb reissue
Traditional 2x12, 4x10 and 23" 1x12 cabs.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2016 7:22 am 
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Mark I

Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2009 8:41 am
Posts: 39
I got the "dark" thing under control now.. and I realized why ceramic speakers can be a good thing even at low volumes.

I am now using mixed ceramic and alnico in all my cabs and low-watt speakers all around - i get a balanced, juicy sound out of all my cabinets with excellent sustain qualities.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2016 9:37 pm 
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Mark IV

Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2007 6:53 am
Posts: 924
Location: Newcastle NSW Australia
himmelhund wrote:
Hey all,

I have been using a 5:50 now for a couple years and have been very satisfied with the amp. I put a Mercury Mag output transformer in it after I bought it, and it has a wonderful sound and touch sensitivity with no other mods. This is NOT a criticism of the original transformer and was certainly not a scientific test - I think Mesa has great equipment off the shelf and I really can't say if the Merc trafo made much of a difference. I still have the original ;o )

The 5:50 is a great little amp - especially the triode (5w) mode which is awesome - too bad it isn't 10w or 15w; i guess you have to buy a Mark or a Lonestar to get that.

I recently picked up a used (about 1 hour!) Express 5:50+ practically untouched by human hands for €1300 (about $1400) and am extremely happy about that, since the euro just tanked and all mesa prices went through the roof after that. A new 5:50+ now costs almost €2000 which would be about $2200 US. Lonestars and Marks are skyhigh. there is a guy selling a "mint" mark IIc+ here for about $3000 on eBay.

My experience:

1. All my mesas (Studio .22, E-dyne, and the two Express) have always sounded kind of "dark." One of the reasons I wanted the 5:50+ was because of the built-in equalizer. I play a traditional e-guitar sound - pretty clean and I use primarily 4x10 cabs. These cabs have a healthy mix of ceramic/alnico and hemp cone speakers and are very neutral and transparent - my mesas sound DARK in that they are bass-heavy. (Scratch that: I have now learned how to use the tone controls :o )
2. the crunch mode of the 1st channel is considerably brighter than the clean mode and that helps. it is also louder which helps again since the 5:50+ is not super powerful, just a good allround gigging amp. Mesa said they "cleaned up" the clean channel with the 5:50 plus, but it sounds to me as though they moved the background noise from the clean channel on my 5:50 to the crunch mode on the 5:50+ ! Actually i am okay with this because in the crunch mode I am making more noise anyway - the background hiss is not really a factor, whereas in "clean" mode i want a clean sound without noyz! So, all is well.

3. for me, the onboard equalization is good for lightening up the overall sound of the amp in rhythm mode (rock and roll) - for leads I can then switch back to the fatter, darker sound to give the single-line playing more oomph. In practice this means cutting the first two (low end) bands down considerably, without boosting the higher end. The intent is just to filter out some of the worst bass, giving me a more rounded tone with good mids.

4. the "contour" feature is the classic V-shape that you would otherwise see on the mesa's 5-band equalizer; although I can't for the life of me imagine why one would want to boost the bass on a mesa, unless maybe if playing only ceramic speakers that might possibly deliver a bit less bass, or playing a very low volumes in which case the rig would put out less bass overall. (I don't know, I get away with playing at pretty respectable levels even in my apartment - the neighbors like it. They say it's "crazy.")

5. Result: rather than go shopping for different mesas to get the built-in 5-band equalizers, I will now just pick up a couple more 5 or 10-band equalizers on eBay and use them with my older 5:50 and my Studio .22... I got rid of the Electradyne because I just couldn't seem to get the highs I like out of it with El-34s.. it probably would have been fine with 6L6 but I already have two amps with 6L6 as well as one with 6V6. That Fender DRRI is also very bassy and could probably benefit greatly from a 5 or 10-band equalizer.

The express series are great amps and I would really like to have an express 5:25 as well. That triode mode is a thing of beauty.

I play mostly gibsons - rosewood and mahogany, thinline and Les Pauls, which is no doubt also an important factor in the overall "dark" sound... my strat sounds completely different and of course I have to completely reset the amp when i switch guitars.

Fender players will probably love the mesas because the tone should balance out nicely with the fender bite.

Y'all take care.


I play Gibsons, Fenders and Gretsch :)
I never thought my 5:50 original was dark but I've been using an MXR 6 Band EQ pedal in the loop for 4 yrs now.
It works better than the onboard Mesa EQ in the Plus imo.

_________________
Gretsch Jet Firebird, Gretsch G5422, Gibson SG Deluxe, Strat Plus - Mesa 5:50, Mesa Mark V 25, analog pedal boards
Check my Mesa Soundclick recordings on http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default ... dID=792315


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