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PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 10:31 am 
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Dual Recto

Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:31 am
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Location: North Carolina
First impression of the RA100 Combo, try out at Guitar Center: First off, the RA100 manual will make sense now since it was primarily written for the combo and not the head version. It was still intimidating since I am too familiar with the RA100 head, where as the combo the chassis is inverted and backwards to me. I did have GC put the amp on hold for me and they did just that. Thank you to the personnel who reserved the amp for me. They set me up and I was ready to rumble. If I were a person looking for this type of amp but never had experience with it with a full understanding of its potential I would have walked away empty handed. At first I was baffled why the amp sounded so dull and boomy, it was actually awful and it did not take long to realize why 8) as the original owner loaded the amp with Mesa 6L6GC tubes. The Mesa branded Ruby tubes do not possess the same frequency response as will a Tung Sol 7581 or SED 6L6GC or even a different type that has commonplace tone to the RCA or Sylvania tubes of yesterday. Despite the poor choice in power tubes for this amp I bought it. This amp was in mint condition. No visible flaws anywhere. However, I was uncertain if the speakers were stock as the room I was in was a bit dark and the label on the speaker appeared different to me for a V30. When I got home with it, I struggled to get the behemoth into the home up a few steps, and then used a load cart to move it into the family room (amp did not have its castors with it). :| I removed the back panel for inspection and to replace the power tubes. Yep they are V30's. All the preamp tubes were stock, installed SED EL34's closed it back up and got blown away how incredible the combo amp really is. I think I like it more than the head version (perhaps the ported panel makes a difference). The Hi/Lo gain channel was not as bright as the head version. I can actually boost the treble without being too shrill. This amp is EL34 perfection! I do not care if it sounds like a Mesa or Marshall, to me it sounds like an RA100 but better (if that makes any sense) :mrgreen: Recommendation to any new seekers of this amp without experience, try one out if you find one, if it lacks the mids and sounds a bit boomy (look at the back and see if the EL34 light is on, do not change the switch unless you are certain it has EL34!) the chances are the original owner wanted something different and installed 6L6GC tubes and sold it due to lack of interest.

Image

Where it started and why I now have two RA100 amps:
At the beginning of last week I received a used Stiletto Deuce Stage 1 that I ordered online from Guitar Center. I did not bother to power it up with the supplied tubes with the exception of the power tubes and rectifiers. Upon first inspection of the amp, all of the preamp tubes were in need of replacement. All were Mesa Russian #2's and the one's in the cathode follower circuits had black getters, which is a sign they were running beyond their intended capacity. Also there was a circuit mod that sucked the low end completely and rendered the amp practically unusable as it served ice pick tones regardless of how the tone controls were set up. After researching the net (I was thankful to find images of a Stiletto Deuce Stage 1 of the preamp PCB to realize what was different) so I marked the locations where the mod was added (along with photos) just in case I had to re-install the mod. That really changed the character of the amp to a more reasonable tone. All of CH1 was acceptable, CH2 Fluid drive was amazing and the other two voices of CH3 were sub par but you could dial in a decent tone although they sounded muffled or blanketed. Since I never played though one it was a gamble non-the less if I was going to like it or not. I did not like it. Not that it was bad as the amp had some great character to it , however I am one who likes to take advantage of the different voicings the amp can offer. The down side, in order to appreciate the amp I would have to consider another 412 cab, not that I was against such but lacked to room to accommodate all the amps, drums, bass rig, and too many guitars in the studio. Had to consider if the Stiletto would be a love/hate relationship (as I have with the Mark V at times due to its brightness) or would it be something I could bond with an enjoy for many years to come. I definitely perceived a love/hate relationship as the amp would not get much use since I have a half stack Roadster and RA100. Before I ordered the amp on-line, I did visit the two stores in Raleigh NC (Sam Ash = reason I went since they had a Stiletto listed on their used list and Guitar Center). Sam Ash sold the amp a few days prior to my visit. I was bummed so I went across the street to GC and saw the RA100 combo tucked away waiting for a new owner. I did not consider it at the time, but I did inquire on Thursday this week if it was still available and it was. :P

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Current amps:
TC-50, JP-2C, MK V, Roadster, RA100
Old friends I sometimes miss:
Mk III (blue stripe), Mark IVb-WB


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2015 2:43 am 
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Dual Recto

Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:31 am
Posts: 2505
Location: North Carolina
I forgot to mention, the combo does not have any noise other than the typical low level white noise when the gain is set high. I will eventually move it into the studio next to its big brother and compare apple to apple in terms of general noise (may be reverb related in the head due to position of tank).

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Current amps:
TC-50, JP-2C, MK V, Roadster, RA100
Old friends I sometimes miss:
Mk III (blue stripe), Mark IVb-WB


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2015 8:09 pm 
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Sweet!

I really wanted the combo, but I was sure I wouldn't be able to move it. The head plus RA 2x12 cab is not bad.

The combo looks badass.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2015 9:05 pm 
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Dual Recto

Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:31 am
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Location: North Carolina
It is, but I am waiting for the casters to come from Mesa. I already strained my back on it :cry: and have tried to find other casters at hardware stores, unfortunately those that match the footprint do not fit due to the change in base plate (bearing race is now stamped into the plate vs using a steel cup like the Mesa casters). Today after playing the amp most of the day, I decided to find out what the extra jack on the back was for, also wanted to look for mods just in case, also noticed a few empty screw holes on the inside of the cab. I was also curious as to the purpose of the screw sticking out of the chassis. This amp does have a mod, basically simple and person who performed it did a nice job. Just an extra input jack mounted to the back of the amp. The screw was the same thing as the Lone Star Chassis Bolt which places tension of the center of the chassis by screwing against the top wood of the amp. So far I am pleased with the Combo but need something a bit less in the mids without sacrificing the Brit sound.

I have the head as well along with the OS Recto 412 with matching grill cloth. Could never be happier with that. I have been spending some time with the RA100 combo, the ported back tends to enhance the mids a bit more (I have read the phrase "more forward"). I figured I would try out the Celestion G12H-75 Creambacks in the combo. I will keep the V30's for later use (may buy an empty 2x12 cab or a used one). I may end up mixing the two speakers. Not sure yet. I can almost dial in the ACDC tone on the clean channel, and the Lo seems a bit too much. I may end up buying Wampler Plexi Drive Deluxe to get the ACDC tone. I will wait until after I get the Creambacks in. If I can get there with a tube roll then great. If not, I do not mind having a distortion or OD pedal (I do not currently have one but I do have two multi effects units that I have experimented with). I did try the Mesa 5 ban EQ in the loop, with the mid slider all the way down, the output dramatically drops. I did not have this issue with the Head but then again the character of a sealed 412 is quite different than the ported 2x12 combo. I figured I would build up a pedal board (nothing fancy). The Boss Terra Echo is sweet through the RA100. I actually love that effect ever since I discovered it in the GT-100 (with the right configuration, it can model most of the Mesa amps I have, also it is really good for recording). Go figure, I am on a tone quest :x again. I know the RA has the potential and I really like the combo (not as loud as the half stack).

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Current amps:
TC-50, JP-2C, MK V, Roadster, RA100
Old friends I sometimes miss:
Mk III (blue stripe), Mark IVb-WB


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 27, 2015 12:51 pm 
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It took me some time to get used to the RA 2x12 (pretty much the same as the combo design). I like that it is a good compromise between open back with some low-end and dynamics that the recto 2x12 misses, but has some of the punch of the closed recto cab that the open back cabs miss.

If you are struggling with the mids, turn bass to 3:00 and treble to 10:30 and then play with the mid control. It's a little tricky to dial the presence without a presence control.

I get where you are coming from with ACDC tone. They really had very little overdrive, it was just big volume. You can turn the LO gain way down and get that, but then you wind up with not much HI gain, plus I find that if you turn gain below 1:00 or so you really lose low-end.

I wound up putting a Creamback 75 in my recto 2x12 with the V30 and it's a really nice combination, but I haven't done that with the RA cab yet. I really like that the Creamback adds mid harmonics, but I also like the tightness of the V30.

Enjoy!

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2x Recto 2x12 Horizontal
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 27, 2015 3:48 pm 
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Dual Recto

Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:31 am
Posts: 2505
Location: North Carolina
I can change the mix of speakers, but at the moment I just loaded the RA Combo with the Creamback G12H-75. The pair practically duplicate the sound of the V30 loaded Recto 412 cab. I posted recordings in a different thread. They do not do any justice for the actual but dang they sound great, just what I was hoping for. If I need something to change later, I can install one of the V30's in change the spread a bit. This has been one speaker swap that I do not regret at all. 8)

For the ACDC, I am going to try the Wampler Plexi-Drive Deluxe that is now sitting in the dinning room waiting for it to be plugged in. I ordered that the following day. Also have some other goodies to play with, I have not been so keen on pedals and such, now I have a Boss Phasor and Terra Echo to experiment with. So far this has been an interesting Vacation for me. Struggled with the Mark V, changed speaker over and over again only to find issues with tubes crapping out. Raised the bias voltage to -52.4V in hopes to reduce red plating issues which has worked out so far. Now I am back at square one with that amp. The Jensen Black Bird is so close to the EV I took out, seemed pointless, So the EV is now back in. Since I changed the bias on the V, both speakers sound identical in the clean channel and very much the same on all the rest but the EV can really push some air. The Jensen will get used elsewhere.

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Current amps:
TC-50, JP-2C, MK V, Roadster, RA100
Old friends I sometimes miss:
Mk III (blue stripe), Mark IVb-WB


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2015 7:35 am 
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Dual Recto

Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:31 am
Posts: 2505
Location: North Carolina
Now that I have both RA100 head and combo, I am okay with the out of production status. It is disappointing that the Atlantic series has been discontinued as I believe that Mesa may have made a mistake to drop the line, but in their best interest to focus on what models sell and what do not, they can continue to remain active in design and manufacture of awesome gear now and in the future. I am tempted to buy another one as this is one of my favorite amps that Mesa has produced. If and when (if in scheduled in the design phase) the rumor of a Version 2 were to emerge I may be interested. Sure the RA100 can do the vintage tones that most of us grew up on. To me it has always been a Mesa and is Mesa enough for me to enjoy it. As long as there are Tubes available for use, I will enjoy my RA100 for years to come. I am amazed on what this amp can do even with its limited channel choices. And what it does best when compared to the other amps is simple, it lets the guitarist be the guitarist. I spend more time playing this amp than I do trying to fine a suitable tone as it is there immediately. The Roadster is similar but does take some getting used too, Mark V, I find it difficult to find satisfaction but have managed. Back to the RA, plug in, turn it on and before I realize it, I have spend several hours playing.

I got mine, do you got yours?

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Current amps:
TC-50, JP-2C, MK V, Roadster, RA100
Old friends I sometimes miss:
Mk III (blue stripe), Mark IVb-WB


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2015 4:28 pm 
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I dig the RA, but holy smokes is it heavy.

I'd recommend a 50W version that's lighter, but I actually use the 100W mode for cleans and soak the vintage channel 4dB. So 100W is what I seem to need. Just wish it were the size and weight of the Mini Rec :lol: :lol:

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2x Recto 2x12 Horizontal
2x Recto 2x12 Vertical


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2015 7:44 pm 
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Dual Recto

Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:31 am
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Location: North Carolina
They do or did have the TA series. You could always opt for the TA-15 or TA-30 (head or combo) if you want a light paper weight or lunch box amp. I had considered getting one, and considered it, and then bought a Carvin V3MC. Probably would have been happier with the TA-30. I heard one at Guitar center before knowing what it was. Sounded really good (combo version).

Since you have both Electra Dyne and RA100, which do you like better and for what style of music. I was tempted to get the ED but opted for the RA100 instead.

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Current amps:
TC-50, JP-2C, MK V, Roadster, RA100
Old friends I sometimes miss:
Mk III (blue stripe), Mark IVb-WB


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 08, 2015 1:44 am 
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I hated the TA series. Not at all like the RA IMO.

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Mini Rectifier blue LED
2x Recto 2x12 Horizontal
2x Recto 2x12 Vertical


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 08, 2015 7:38 am 
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Dual Recto

Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:31 am
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Location: North Carolina
an EL84 can only do what an EL84 can do. Not exactly an EL34 by any means. If I were to buy a lunchbox it would have to have a full sized power tube. However, I would consider a 6V6 but not many flavors of that either. Having an amp that uses EL34 or 6L6 has more value as there are plenty of compatible tubes with different characteristics that can be used which provided more flexibility in shaping your tone. The preamp can be altered a bit with other 12AX7 tubes but that will only go so far. As for EL84, I prefer the Mullard (what I am using in the small and heavy Carvin V3MC) over the EH EL84 as it is less harsh in character. Too bad the RA100 got the boot along with its smaller TA series. Perhaps it was with marketing as the RA100 has easily won me over as it does far more than its simplicity implies.

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Current amps:
TC-50, JP-2C, MK V, Roadster, RA100
Old friends I sometimes miss:
Mk III (blue stripe), Mark IVb-WB


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 08, 2015 1:00 pm 
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elvis wrote:
I hated the TA series. Not at all like the RA IMO.


Comparing TA and RA is apples and oranges - they are totally different amps in every way: preamp circuitry, power section...everything!

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 08, 2015 3:09 pm 
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bandit2013 wrote:
Since you have both Electra Dyne and RA100, which do you like better and for what style of music. I was tempted to get the ED but opted for the RA100 instead.


I like both. The Dyne has the more pristine tone, but it is really tough to use as a 3-channel amp and it doesn't have nearly the gain of the RA. But for low-gain bluesy stuff where you can keep the clean channel clean and LO is just a bit of gain, it's incredible. Unfortunately you have to run it LOUD, so I have to use a power attenuator with it even for live. The built-in attenuators make the RA way easier. I raraely play the Dyne these days. Though I am rearranging my music room to make it easier to jump between amps, so I should get more time in on it soon I hope.

I really like having both a 6L6 amp and an EL34 amp.

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Mini Rectifier blue LED
2x Recto 2x12 Horizontal
2x Recto 2x12 Vertical


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 08, 2015 6:09 pm 
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Dual Recto

Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:31 am
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Location: North Carolina
Authorized Boogie wrote:
elvis wrote:
I hated the TA series. Not at all like the RA IMO.


Comparing TA and RA is apples and oranges - they are totally different amps in every way: preamp circuitry, power section...everything!


I actually thought they sounded good for an EL84 amp. The obvious in difference would be the power section. I would still consider another EL84 based amp, thought about the Mark V:25 and now a Mark V:35, as well as the other smaller amps. I had looked for a TA-30 on my adventures but none have been available to at least give them a try. I had considered selling my small Carvin amp (not quite what I would prefer but sounds great through a 412 cab) and opt for another Mesa amp, but in the lunch box category or at least a TA-30. To each his/her own, just as a guitar (if brand is important), speaker, tubes, and so on.

I bought my first RA100 for a specific purpose, blues, jazz, and especially classic rock. I am amazed how different each of my guitars sound thought the RA and probably one of the only amps that I have used/owned that really makes the tone wood of each instrument its own character. I can tell the difference with the other amps but it is more definitive with the RA. I am thankful that I got my hands on two Mesa treasures that I think about most of the time (I do have to focus on my job during the day as well). The tonal difference between the RA100 Combo and the Head with a 412 is more than pleasing as the combo offers a different feel than the half stack (even though the amps are identical but inverted. I actually like both equally but may often get confused which is the bass and treble control for each channel as I am more familiar with the head vs the combo.

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Current amps:
TC-50, JP-2C, MK V, Roadster, RA100
Old friends I sometimes miss:
Mk III (blue stripe), Mark IVb-WB


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 08, 2015 6:39 pm 
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Mark IV
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bandit2013 wrote:
Authorized Boogie wrote:
elvis wrote:
I hated the TA series. Not at all like the RA IMO.


Comparing TA and RA is apples and oranges - they are totally different amps in every way: preamp circuitry, power section...everything!


I actually thought they sounded good for an EL84 amp. The obvious in difference would be the power section. I would still consider another EL84 based amp, thought about the Mark V:25 and now a Mark V:35, as well as the other smaller amps. I had looked for a TA-30 on my adventures but none have been available to at least give them a try. I had considered selling my small Carvin amp (not quite what I would prefer but sounds great through a 412 cab) and opt for another Mesa amp, but in the lunch box category or at least a TA-30. To each his/her own, just as a guitar (if brand is important), speaker, tubes, and so on.

I bought my first RA100 for a specific purpose, blues, jazz, and especially classic rock. I am amazed how different each of my guitars sound thought the RA and probably one of the only amps that I have used/owned that really makes the tone wood of each instrument its own character. I can tell the difference with the other amps but it is more definitive with the RA. I am thankful that I got my hands on two Mesa treasures that I think about most of the time (I do have to focus on my job during the day as well). The tonal difference between the RA100 Combo and the Head with a 412 is more than pleasing as the combo offers a different feel than the half stack (even though the amps are identical but inverted. I actually like both equally but may often get confused which is the bass and treble control for each channel as I am more familiar with the head vs the combo.


Oh, they both sound great...but the RA is not simply the bigger brother of the TA! They have wildly different preamp sections AND power sections. Thanks!

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