Express 5:25 Review

manufacturer: Mesa Boogie date: 12/21/2010 category: Guitar Amplifiers
Mesa Boogie: Express 5:25
It features four inspiring modes from two oppositie personalities spread across two fully independent channels. If Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde had to share one platform, this would be it.
 Sound: 9.7
 Overall Impression: 9.7
 Reliability & Durability: 9.7
 Features: 9.3
 Overall rating:
 8.9 
 Reviewer rating:
 9.6 
 Users rating:
 8.2 
 Votes:
 42 
reviews (3) 29 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 10
Express 5:25 Reviewed by: VLVTRVOLVR13, on august 11, 2007
4 of 4 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 1

Purchased from: West Chester Music

Features: This combo amp has a lot of great features that makes it an extremely versatile partner to any recording, gigging, or bedroom musician. To start, the Express is a "Duo-Class Power Amp (Patent Pending) allows you to select either: 1 power tube in pure Class A (single-ended) producing 5 Watts or switching to 2 power tubes in Class A/B to produce 25 Watts via a 5/25 power switch." Basically, this allows you to significantlly cut the volume of the amp, making it great for bedroom practice, or Live performance at a club. The amp, which comes as a combo or head, features two combo channels. One channel allows you to toggle between Clean & Crunch. The second Channel allows you to toggel between Blues & Burn. This makes for four different possible channels. There are independent Gain, Treble, Mid, Bass, Reverb, Master and Contour Controls for each channel. The foot Switch comes with three switches, (Channels 1/2, Reverb, and Contour). There is an all tube FX loop. The amp comes packed with EL84s, an E-50 1x10 speaker and an open back. One of the best features, apart from the incredible Mesa Boogie sound, versatility and control, is the power this amp packs. Not only can you take it anywhere, but it can serve almost any purpose. // 10

Sound: With its four independent style channels, any guitar and pickup combination could be used with this amp. I tried out several Les Paul and SG guitars, some Strats and Teles, a P-90 hollow body PRS, and I gotta say, this amp exceeded any expectations I may have had on any of the four style channels. One of the few drawbacks is the foot Switch only changes back and forth between two of those four channels. If you want to change from Clean to Crunch you have to do so manually on the front of the amp. The EQ is extremely responsive on this amp. For example, by really tweaking the settings I was able to get both warm and round cleans as well as snappy bright cleans. The Burn is the hottest channel on the amp and is reminescent of the tone Mesa Boogie has become famous for. Sitting right in front of the amp will produce some feedback, but we were in a cramped store with about two feet of room to sit away from the amp. Overall, I can't think of an amp I have played that was so much fun to try out every single channel. Each one had it's own very very distinct personality and tonal characteristics that make them distinct and distinguishable from the others. // 10

Reliability & Durability: I'm a bedroom and recording musician, so I can't testify to the reliability of the amp on the road, though I would assume it is extremely durable. I wouldn't say it's heavy, but the amp just feels like it is really well built and sturdy. If anything ever happened to this amp I would probably cry because I love it so much! // 10

Overall Impression: The review guide lines say, "What style of music do you play? Is this a good match?" Who cares what I play!?! Name a style and I garuantee this amp will do the job. Ok, aren't satisfied with my word, try and find another all tube amp this size for this amount of money and I would be willing to bet that the Express 5:25 sweeps all the rest in any style competition. This amp is the greatest amp I have ever played on. there's nothing to hate about it. I compared it to a Orange Tiny Terror head and cab set up, and the The Express won on versatility and tone. The only thing I wish it had was the ability to Switch between all four style channels. Otherwise, this amp is a perfect 10! // 10

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overall: 9
Express 5:25 Reviewed by: Steve BP, on august 31, 2007
3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Features: The Express series of amps were released in 2007, replacing the "F" series. They have a large array of features in an extremely small, portable format. This review will focus on the 1x10 combo. I bought this amp over a month ago. The "honeymoon" is over, and I have spent a lot of time experimenting with different guitars and settings. The features include: EL84 power tubes, 5 Watts in Class A, running off of one power tube, 30 Watts (ish) in Class A/B. My understanding is that 2 EL84 tubes usually generate 15-20 Watts of power. The Express has "dyna-watt" circuitry that provides a burst of clean headroom on the attack, making it much louder than other amps of its class. My ear doesn't notice anything odd about this circuitry, except for the increased volume. The manual calls it a 25 Watt amp, but the Switch on the back says 5 Watts or 30 Watts. I use this amp for home practice and friendly jams. It has sufficient volume to be heard over (most) drummers. If extra volume was required, it would be easy to hook up to an extension cab. I believe the Express on it's own would be more than enough for small gigs, or as a stage monitor if you are hooked up to a PA. It is very portable and easy to move around, making it a great grab 'n go amplifier. // 9

Sound: This amplifier is voiced for cleans, classic rock and classic (80's-era) metal. If you are looking for "dual recto" tones for numetal or thrash, this amp will not do it on it's own (you would likely need an overdrive pedal). The cleans on the 5 Watt Class A setting have a wonderful Voxy chime to them, providing great Brit invasion rock sounds. The reverb is wonderful. The tone breaks up nicely as the volume goes up, and cleans up nicely when the guitar volume is turned down. With single coils, the clean will begin to break up pretty early on the 5W setting with some power amp distortion (1030 - 11 o'clock-ish). But this will be loud, even at 5W. The 5W setting is still loud enough to annoy neighbours, but this amp still sounds rich at apartment-friendly volumes. Like most tube amps, it does sound better at higher volumes. The crunch setting provides a variety of rock rhythm sounds. It can also be used for clean tones at low gain settings. AC/DC-ish and other '70s Marshall rock sounds are found here. The blues setting is fat and warm. At low gain settings it can be used as an alternate clean, and high gain settings can yield hard blues-rock tones. The burn channel is where the higher-gain lead sounds are found (think Santana). It can also be used for NWOBHM rhythm sounds (Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, etc). Again, those Who want numetal tones will not be satisfied with what this amp can do on it's own. But for those of us Who don't play numetal, it is sweet! The 5 Watt Class A setting works best for classic rock and Brit invasion tones, whereas the 25 Watt Class A/B setting works best for 80s metal and hard rock tones, due to it's tighter bass. The amp does hum at higher gain settings, but you will not hear it when you play through it. The hum isn't enough to annoy me when I'm pausing between songs. The eq and contour controls are very powerful and interactive on this amp. The manual is extremely detailed and provides enough information and pre-sets for people to get instant gratification, as well as ideas for tweaking later. Sparing use of the contour control on the clean channel will yield a lovely sparkle, and noon to 2 o'clock on the burn or crunch settings will yield a wonderful hard-rockin' crunch. Above 2 o'clock works best on the burn setting, this is where the most "brutal" sounds are found. Personally, I can get Iron Maiden-ish tones with the gain & contour controls at ~2 o'clock. Like most Mesa amps, the bass needs to be dialed down as the gain gets turned up to keep the bass tight. I don't scoop the mids on the eq, as the contour control provides an opportunity to do this later in the signal chain (to my ear it sounds better this way). The 10" speaker pumps out a lot of volume for its smaller size. // 9

Reliability & Durability: So far so good. Over one month in, often at loud volumes, with no problems at all. Mesa is known for its excellent customer service, so I am not concerned about it. It comes with a warranty on both the tubes and the rest of the equipment. I'm sure a professional musician would still consider bringing a backup to a gig. // 9

Overall Impression: This amp is my first tube amp after much practice on a Vox DA15 modelling amp. I haven't tried effects with it yet, since I just upgraded from a modeller with built-in effects. I wasn't initially shopping for a Mesa (I was looking at Traynors, Voxes, Peaveys & Marshalls), but I plugged in my guitar to give it a listen. I resisted purchasing this amp, because I thought another amp would be more value for the money. But I just couldn't get the sweet tones of this amp out of my head, so I made the leap. I'm an amateur. I consider this amp to be a lower-end, portable substitute for the Lone Star Special & the Stiletto series of amps. But this little amp holds its own, and suits my home practice + friendly jam needs perfectly. One day I hope to try it in a small venue. I love this amplifier's versatility. Although many complain about the lack of thrash/numetal gain, there is more than enough here for Brit-voiced 80's metal. I play mostly Beatles tunes and 80s metal on it. What do I dislike about this amp? The price! It was ~40% more than other comparable amplifiers, but to be fair, it did have more features (spring reverb, 5/25 watt switching, contour control) and, to my ear, sound better. It would have been nice if the settings within each channel were also foot-switchable, but this isn't a deal-breaker. There are overlaps between the different settings, so there are often several ways to dial in similar tones. // 9

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overall: 9.8
Express 5:25 Reviewed by: unregistered, on december 21, 2010
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 1249

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Features: Purchased new in 2008 with a 12" Celesion v30 speaker. The features have been covered by previous reviewers. It has a very active EQ system, nice reverb and of course Clean or Hi-Gain. There are 4 modes to choose from clean /crunch and blues/burn, I would give this a 10 if it had tremolo. // 9

Sound: I have single coil guitars, MIJ Telecaseter & USA Stratocaster. I can get Buck Owens twang up to Motley Crue high gain. I've spent a lot of time attempting to make the Clean 25W mode sound like my 69 Fender Princeton,(gain 9, treb 3, mid 11, bass 12, rev 12, Contour 2 O'Clock) I have it dialed in pretty close IMO it's better sounding than my holy grail Princeton. I love both amps clean, the tone at the bottom end of my Princeton is slightly more articulate but that could be due to the 10" 10P150P Weber speaker vs the Mesa's 12" Celestion v30. The Burn mode is what I use for high gain. To my ears the the lower I dial down the gain the better the gain sounds. I keep the gain between 9:00-1:00 and get good SRV / Texas blues @ 9:00 and AC/DC @ 1:00. The express is two amps in one, you get a Princeton Reverb on the Clean setting and Mesa Boogie on the Burn setting. There is also the Crunch and Blues settings so plenty of great sounds and styles are available. This amp is loud even on the 5 Watt setting it gets plenty loud. // 10

Reliability & Durability: I haven't had any problems in 15 months. The amp feels and looks solid. I get some buzzing at hi gain but I have single coils. It's built in USA. Solid wood housing, the switches and pots feel high quality. The footswith is bulit solid and comes with a long heavy duty cable. // 10

Overall Impression: I play mostly classic rock, blues and AC/DC style of music this amp covers that territory and has a little extra tone if needed. My comparison of the Express 5:25 is aginst 69 Fender Princeton, 75 Fender Vibro Champ and 82 Princeton Reverb II (Rivera), all are great amps each with it's distinctive sound. What I don't like is the EQ system, it is too active this amp has Bass, Mid, Treb & Contour, moving any dial slighty will create a big change in the overall sound. If you are a tone guru you will love the tone capabilities of this amp. I am simple and prefer only Bass & Treble. What I love about this amp is the SOUND, I like Fender clean so I dial in Fender clean and when I tap on the footswitch boom, Hi-Gain without a pedal. I also like the 5/25 Watt options the 5W setting is quieter and a bit brighter. My wish list for this amp is Tremolo and better tubes. I've been told replacing the stock tubes will improve the sound, this seems to be true with most amps. If stolen I would replace with another Boogie, the model would depend on my available cash. IMO this is Mesa's version of a Princeton Reverb without the tremolo but with a hi-gain mode way better than a Rivera Fender gain. I would give this a 9.5 I will round up because it's a really cool amp. // 10

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