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 Post subject: TC50 Tube discussion
PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 7:44 am 
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Mark III
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Hello fellow Boogians, I have a question about the TC50 and tubes. I'm still "breaking in" my TC50 head as this seems to be recommended for this beast, but I got curious about how 6L6 tubes would sound in it. Disclaimer: I know tone is subjective so let's get that out of the way. I tend to favor 6L6 amps, but have been using a Stiletto Deuce II head for a while now and have really bonded with it. To my ears the TC50 sounds great with EL34's and every time I play it, it sounds better and better, but I wanted to know what 6L6's would do given that I'm a fan of them. I'm slowly tweaking it to my guitars and style. So now I throw 6L6's in it and have only jammed on it once, so I thought I get some impressions from those who have the amp and have tried 6L6's. I've seen one video on YouTube with a guy jamming on the TC50 with 6L6's, but didn't share any settings. It sounded good, really good. I did notice a difference of course in my amp, but have yet to put my finger on it (only playing it once in this configuration). I know I'll have to alter the settings a bit to adjust for the sonic differences, but what are your experiences like with them? In what ways do you like them, don't like them in this amp? Another thing I must consider here is that the amp is still "breaking in" of course, so that'll change the tone/feel slightly over time as well. Currently, I'm using stock Mesa tubes and while I'd be curious to get into the brand differences, I'm just referring to tube types right now. Thanks for any input or info.

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Mesa TC50 Head
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 Post subject: Re: TC50 Tube discussion
PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 11:06 am 
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Mark III
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I gave 6L6s a shot for about a week. I wasn't as impressed with those nearly as much as 6V6s. The stock EL34s are definitely what this amp was designed around, and I just didn't find that much "magic" with 6L6s, but everyone has their own preferences. The 6V6s, however, delivered a really nice, bouncy clean tone and on the gain channels, I am able to get to the power section's sweet spot at a much more tolerable volume.

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Mostly Fenders with Duncans
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 Post subject: Re: TC50 Tube discussion
PostPosted: Sat Jul 29, 2017 1:31 pm 
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Dual Recto

Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:31 am
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Location: North Carolina
I would have to revisit this again running the TC-50 with the 6L6 STR440 tube. I tried it for about an hour and did not care much for the dull sound. I do have some in a different color code (reds, yellow, green, gray, and blue) that I can try out to see if there is much of a difference.

The Mesa EL34 may come off as harsh on the first use but will sound much better with some use. So far they sound the best in the TC-50 and I actually like them. The cab may make a difference too, I am running the TC-50 with the Vertical 212. I will have to try the OS Recto 412 to compare as that cab sounds much brighter (especially with the RA100 I am using it with).

Mesa 6V6, Holy crap they sound great if you do not mind the reduction in power output to 25W. Thinking about them now I want to put them back in but I really do like the EL34. They are similar to a 6L6 tone wise but sound great in the TC-50 (one of the primary reasons I bought the amp).

One tube I am thinking about trying are the Mesa STR425 5881/6L6 tube. A few individuals that have tried them in the Rectifier amps find them to be a better option than the 6L6 STR440. Rectifiers run on the cold side from what many have said. Perhaps I will get a quad to use in the Roadster. Ether way I will get two pairs so if they work in the TC-50 and not in the Roadster it is a win.

Other brands of 6L6 tubes: what works well in the RA100 are the =c= 6L6 tubes. I may try them in the TC-50 just for fun. I would not waste any money on new ones as they are very expensive now. It is probably best to find out where the amp is running bias wise before getting other variants of tubes. It all depends on how much head room you want or do not want.

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 Post subject: Re: TC50 Tube discussion
PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 9:25 am 
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Mark III
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Yeah jnoel64, I hear everyone talking great things about the 6V6 in this amp. Did you play with the 6L6's very long? Are you an EL34 guy usually? Thanks for the input. bandit2013, mine are either yellow or gray, I don't remember which one and they are brand new, so they may need to burn in time also. Did you find yourself tweaking the eq drastically from the EL34'sto the 6L6's? I'm running it through a OS Recto 4x12 cab with factory speakers. I've had that cab for over 12 years now. I do have a horizontal 2x12 compact Recto cab, but I gig mostly with the 4x12, so that's what I want to dial it in for. I appreciate your feedback.

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...Bleed Boogie forever...

Mesa TC50 Head
Mesa Stiletto Deuce II Head
Mesa Subway Rocket 1x10 Combo
4x12 Recto Slant Cab
2x12 Recto Compact Cab


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 Post subject: Re: TC50 Tube discussion
PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 10:32 am 
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Mark III
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Location: Southwest Michigan
In all honesty, I am more of an EL34 guy. But, sometimes I use what sounds best - it depends on the amp. I am also a big fan of EH 6CA7 tubes, but not in every amp. I have been using my TC-50 mainly for the clean channel lately and thought 6L6s would add an additional sweetness to the clean tones. As Bandit also stated, the 6L6s had the opposite effect for me running into a single EVM12L. I kept them in for a week, hoping the tubes would blossom, but it didn't happen. I was definitely surprised. But the 6V6 tubes went beyond my expectations. They are often heralded as the "little brother" to the 6L6, and I found a bouncy, juicy tone with those tubes and use them almost exclusively now. Even when I switch to the dirty channels, those tubes add a whole new dimension to the overall tone of the amp. Fortunately for me, I don't require a full 50 watts of power, so if that is a necessity for you, I would suggest trying a different brand of 6L6s than Mesa tubes as I did, or perhaps a different color code (and I would be very interested in hearing about the results from other codes). Since I don't want to void my warranty, I am only using Mesa tubes in my TC-50 for now.

Even with tweaking the EQ, my experience with 6L6s left me longing for either the EL34s the amp was designed around, or the 6V6s which truly gave the amp an impressive, unique tone. Even at the reduce wattage from the 6V6s, I think you could still power a 4x12. I haven't tried that myself. My 4x12 collects dust these days.

Another hint I can give you is that if you use the Cab Clone, the Vintage setting is definitely the best sounding - or so has been my experience so far. My sound guy loves the Cab Clone. I even bought a stand alone model for my other amps that don't have one.

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 Post subject: Re: TC50 Tube discussion
PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 6:27 am 
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Dual Recto

Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:31 am
Posts: 2507
Location: North Carolina
I have placed an order for the Mesa 5881 tubes, had to get them thought he Mesa store as I could not find them else where. While I was ordering the 5881, I decided to get the Siemens STR 450 as well. It has been too long since I had a good set of tubes. I still remember the RCA 6CA7/EL34 large bottle tubes that came in my Mark III but it was also paired up well with Sylvania 6L6GC. However running at half power was all 6CA7 and those sounded awesome. I do recall my disappointment when they could not be found anymore and all you had were Sovtek EL34. One of these days I will try the EHX 6CA7. Something about the big bottle EL34 variant that just sounds so good.

I will have to check my email and see if the Siemens were available and hopefully they are... Still wanted to try the 5881 tubes just to hear the difference between them and the 6L6GC as the glass bottle is a bit smaller and more compact than the 6L6 STR 440, Besides, you cannot always go by the description as each amp will have its own characteristic and how the amp is biased will make a difference.

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Old friends I sometimes miss:
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 Post subject: Re: TC50 Tube discussion
PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 8:05 am 
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Mark III
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Thanks for the responses and info guys, much appreciated. I am starting to notice the unique quality in sound that this amp has and how it is slightly dampened with using 6L6's. It's not a BAD sound, just not AS unique and different. Next up is 6V6's.

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...Bleed Boogie forever...

Mesa TC50 Head
Mesa Stiletto Deuce II Head
Mesa Subway Rocket 1x10 Combo
4x12 Recto Slant Cab
2x12 Recto Compact Cab


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 Post subject: Re: TC50 Tube discussion
PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 6:30 am 
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Dual Recto

Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:31 am
Posts: 2507
Location: North Carolina
Daxman73 wrote:
Thanks for the responses and info guys, much appreciated. I am starting to notice the unique quality in sound that this amp has and how it is slightly dampened with using 6L6's. It's not a BAD sound, just not AS unique and different. Next up is 6V6's.


I noticed in your sig you have a Stiletto Deuce Stage II. If you still have it, how does it compare to the TC-50 other than wattage rating?

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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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 Post subject: Re: TC50 Tube discussion
PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 9:12 am 
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Mark III
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Yeah, I still have it. Right now it's my main gigging amp until I get the TC50 dialed in and accustomed to. You know, it's weird. I've always considered myself a 6L6 guy, owning and gigging a Mesa Roadster for years, along with many Recto's. I loved my Roadster. And somehow a few years ago I end up with this Stiletto Deuce. I've always wanted one for some reason and they look incredible (they were the epitome of custom to me without being custom lol). A fellow musician in the area was looking for a Strat and I happened to have one that I wanted to part with, so him and I made an even up trade. Fast forward to now and I'm enamored with it. It took a little bit to get a handle on it, the brightness and how to dial it in to my style of playing, but when I did oh my. It is so much more of an amp that I ever thought an EL34 amp could be. You have to understand, I always related EL34 amps to Marshall and for the most part I don't like Marshall. There are exceptions, but for the most part I just don't like their tone. So, I always stay away from them (yeah, I was an idiot).

As far as comparing it to the TC50 I'd say the Stiletto is like the young college kid who's brash, a punk and finding his way, starting to come into his own and the TC50 is like the mature, adult version of that, that still has that punk in him, but is smarter. That's a weird description I know. Obviously, the TC50 is more versatile due to it's plethora of options (3 channels, Cab Clone, etc...). The TC50 is smoother, more refined, but their core EL34 sound is still there though. The TC50 does have more clarity to it also. The Stiletto can still be smooth to an extent. The TC50 does have a uniqueness to it's tone that the Stiletto does not, but this is not to diminish/degrade the tone of the Stiletto though in any way. The TC50 does have more gain, but not by much IMO (I was always confused by those who said the Stiletto didn't have enough gain). I kind of view channels 2 & 3 on the TC50 like the Tite & Fluid modes on the Stiletto, but channel 3 on the TC50 is more controllable in the higher gain settings than the Fluid mode is on the Stiletto. The TC50 is quieter than the Stiletto in high gain situations, but to be fair the TC50 is brand new and my Stiletto has been on the road for years without any new tubes, mods or maintenance (she's been that reliable). Given it's age (2011) and use, I think it might benefit from a trip to Petaluma for a small tune-up. The Stiletto clean channel is the channel that disproved the myth to me that an EL34 amp can't have nice cleans. It sounds great, fantastic actually, but that "uniqueness" from the TC50 one ups it. To me, it's like the TC50 is a marriage of everything great from the Electra Dyne, Royal Atlantic and the Stiletto all into one amp. It's everything I've ever wanted from an EL34 amp except the Tuner out function (obviously that feature didn't come with any of those amps). I loved that feature and miss it, but it's a very minor thing.

Anyways, sorry about the ramblings there. Hope this helps you. I can't say enough about the Stiletto, I really can't. Just such a great sounding, reliable amp. It will definitely stay as my "B" Rig.

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...Bleed Boogie forever...

Mesa TC50 Head
Mesa Stiletto Deuce II Head
Mesa Subway Rocket 1x10 Combo
4x12 Recto Slant Cab
2x12 Recto Compact Cab


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 Post subject: Re: TC50 Tube discussion
PostPosted: Fri Aug 04, 2017 11:09 pm 
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Mark IV

Joined: Fri Dec 06, 2013 1:08 pm
Posts: 503
Location: Ohio
Not rambling at all. Giving a good comparison! I almost bought a Stilleto a couple times and couldn't find a head version of the Ace. Seems there are way more combos out there, or I'd have had one. Then a nice heck came up right after the Mark V25 was introduced and I had the cash then but was set on a V25. Who knows, maybe someday I'll get to try one. If I ever seen one in a store, I'll certainly give it a test drive.

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 Post subject: Re: TC50 Tube discussion
PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2017 9:33 am 
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Dual Recto

Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:31 am
Posts: 2507
Location: North Carolina
Thanks for the comparison of the TC-50 to the Deuce Stage II. I had a Stage I for a week but returned it to GC (bought it online) and traded up for the RA100 combo. I did compare the Deuce to the RA100 head (before and after removal of the mod I found inside the Deuce). The RA100 I found to be more satisfying. The Stage I was not bad (performed much better with the circuit mod removed as it had no gain at all with the mod in place and was quite brittle in tone). It was almost a keeper after I removed the added components. I liked the RA100 better so having two was no problem for me. The Deuce was a bit similar to the Roadster in some respects and probably would have sounded killer with the EV speakers in the 412 cab but I swapped them out for something else prior to getting the Deuce. I would have preferred an Stiletto ACE probably more than the Deuce Stage 1.

TC-50 and RA100, tough decision. The RA100 loaded with non-stock tube is killer, a beast for sure. With all stock tubes in the RA100, the TC-50 has it beat. At the moment I would rather leave the TC-50 with Mesa tubes in the preamp and power section. I guess the reason for paying $179 for a pair of Mesa Siemens NOS EL34 (I hope it is a pair as the website indicated a match pair but the invoice almost appeared like it was a single tube :shock: ) I will find out soon enough this coming week. If it is a pair and I do not like them in the TC-50 I can swap them in the RA100 combo and hear the difference. If all is good I will order another pair of Siemens to keep the beast alive. My bet is that the 5881 will sound better than the standard 6L6 STR 440. They were hard to find though most channels except thought he Mesa store....

The best feature of the TC-50 that I love the most is the clean channel in drive mode. That is so much like the RA100 clean with boosted gain. That is difficult to dial in with my other amps even if I loaded them with EL34s. Also since the TC-50 can jump venues into some heavy stuff makes it quite versatile. Perhaps when my warranty runs out on the TC-50 I will explore other opportunities (non-Mesa tubes).

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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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 Post subject: Re: TC50 Tube discussion
PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2017 12:55 pm 
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Dual Recto

Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:31 am
Posts: 2507
Location: North Carolina
Just for S&G I swapped in a pair of 6L6GC STR 440 (greens) and ran though the channels, a few guitars, etc... at first I thought the added warmth of the tube was a bit too much but dialed in all the channels to compensate. Trick: Boost the bass on the CH2 and CH3 and adjust presence and midrange and a Markish tone will appear (reference tone is a Mark V90W at 45w power setting, all stock tubes, CH3 set to Mark IIC+ and triode switched on). Set the mini toggle to tight and the tone shifts to a Roadster CH3 vintage or raw but not as spongy. I believe these are the same tubes I have tried before just after I got the amp and prior to getting the 6V6. I would say definite alternative to the EL34 or 6V6 once you figure out what to dial in on your settings.

I still prefer the tone and character of the EL34 on the clean channel (normal or drive). The 6L6GC STR440 was not all that bad either (with the bass dialed down). More of a warmer bluesy tone on normal and nice chop on the drive setting almost Fender like (thinking Blues Deluxe sort of...it has been a while since I played though one).

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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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 Post subject: Re: TC50 Tube discussion
PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2017 7:57 pm 
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Dual Recto

Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:31 am
Posts: 2507
Location: North Carolina
I put the EL34 back into the TC and in comparison it is a bit more acidic or grainy both in a good way. Nice and Crunchy. If and when Mesa decides to add another amp in the line up, it would be cool if you could run an integrated quad in Class A/B (not simul-class) and select 100W (blend of 6L6 and EL34) or 50W el34 or 50W 6L6. Would also be cool if it had two bias switches so you could run all 6L6 or all EL34. And possibly a quad of 6V6.... Back to reality.

I sort of like both 6L6 STR 440 and the EL34 STR 447 as well as the 6V6. Now it would be all on mood or desire which do I want to use. I like having the option to choose vs being stuck with only one type of tube. Always something new to discover with this amp.

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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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 Post subject: Re: TC50 Tube discussion
PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2017 7:08 pm 
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Dual Recto

Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:31 am
Posts: 2507
Location: North Carolina
I think I ran the grid slammer though the amp, I am sure I did and it has the same effect as the tight mode. However, I did not try it with the 6L6 tubes in it.....will have to revisit that for sure. It I had a complaint it is requiring a screw driver to remove the back panel to get to the tubes. Actually it is much easier than the RA100 as it has two panels vs one. The RA100 combo on the other hand has a one huge panel that needs to be removed to get tube access. No big deal as it makes the amp shell look more complete.

I should have the other two sets of tubes by mid week. I am really eager to try the Siemens EL34. Please no broken glass when I open up the box.

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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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 Post subject: Re: TC50 Tube discussion
PostPosted: Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:01 am 
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Mark III
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Location: Bellwood, PA
bandit2013, great stuff here. I'm really interested in your findings with the Siemens from Mesa. The Mesa 6L6's I tried were Yellows and I did think they sounded fine. I'm not sure I gave them enough time though, I may revisit them. It's weird how your RA100 reacts to non-Mesa tubes to you ears vs. stock Mesa tubes. I wonder why some amps are prone to that and some are not. I've never had any trouble with Mesa tubes and firmly believe they're just as good as other brands (sure NOS tubes are probably better, but we pay for that), but I'm not the worlds biggest tube swapper. You mention the Grid Slammer and it's interesting about your findings. I've tried several OD's/Boosts with the TC50 and every time I come to the same conclusion: you don't need them with this amp. Now, I say "you don't need them" in the sense of compensating for a missing element in the tone. See, most of my experience comes from me using those types of pedals for either tighten up the bottom end when needed (room acoustics, venue, etc...) or a pseudo 3rd channel (for me 3 channels is essential). Other than that, I always believed less is better and used very few pedals. As I stated earlier, I've used some form of the Recto's mostly and the Roadster was what I used for the vast majority of my time playing. To me, it obviously didn't need any more gain, but from time to time it did benefit from a OD/Boost in front of it (for my Roadster my go-to pedal was a Keeley Modded TS9: gain: 0, tone: noon, volume: 2 o'clock). Same goes for my Stiletto, except I used an EH Soul Food with it (same basic settings). There has been a recent thread on here about whether to boost or not and all this and more was discussed. To me it was always a matter of functionality and utility. With that said though, I do understand the flexibility of OD's/Boosts and what they offer. Growing up as a player, I always wanted my gain to come from my amp, not pedals (funny side note, Joe Satriani is my favorite all time guitar player and he gets most of his overdrive from pedals lol). Back to my point, it's cool to hear that the Grid Slammer does the same thing as the tight switch. And that's part of my point when I said you don't need it with this amp. I don't need a pseudo 3rd channel, it has an actual 3rd channel. And it's voiced so incredibly well that an OD/Boost is rendered moot, dare I say useless.

I never really bonded with the RA100 for some reason, but I absolutely loved the Electra Dyne. I didn't give it enough time though. To be fair, I was heading into my Mark phase then, so I really wasn't fair about it lol. Do you notice a big difference in the different colors on the Mesa tubes? Yeah, sign me up for that 6L6/EL34 quad.

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...Bleed Boogie forever...

Mesa TC50 Head
Mesa Stiletto Deuce II Head
Mesa Subway Rocket 1x10 Combo
4x12 Recto Slant Cab
2x12 Recto Compact Cab


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