F-100 Head Review

manufacturer: Mesa Boogie date: 12/02/2009 category: Guitar Amplifiers
Mesa Boogie: F-100 Head
Following the highly successful Studio and Dual Caliber series amps of the Eighties and Nineties, the new F-100 head delivers exceedingly rich tone and easy control, at a price that can?t be beat.
 Sound: 8
 Overall Impression: 8.7
 Reliability & Durability: 9.7
 Features: 7.3
 Overall rating:
 8.5 
 Reviewer rating:
 8.4 
 Users rating:
 8.5 
 Votes:
 8 
reviews (3) pictures (1) 15 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 8.5
F-100 Head Reviewed by: vitchb, on may 16, 2008
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 915

Purchased from: Ebay

Features: This is a USA hand built amp, as are all mesa's I believe, which has all the essentials, 2 main channels, clean and Drive (Drive has a countour Switch). Each main channel has 3 band EQ, gain level, master vol, and reverb. Plus, 100/60 watt Switch, FX loop (with level) recording output, 3 speaker outs, and a line out. All in all, probably one of the simplest Mesa units to date, making it easier to dial in your tone and generally use. However, some may desire a 3rd channel, or other features, but does me fine. // 7

Sound: I use a Washburn X50PRO with EMG 81, and Ibanez RG350, and run the head through a Marshall 1960A cab. I play metal mostly for band practice and gigging (not home use) and a bit of clean every now and again. For both these tone areas I think it's great for me, the clean has been comparible to the old fenders which is great. The reverb is pretty nice, nothing special, but generally warm and full with plenty of head room, but crank the gain and you get that little bit of break up which is nice for all you blues players. The gain has a pull Switch for a brighter sound, and there is a nice 3 band EQ with it too, overall, I was suprised at how nice the cleans on this was. The Drive channel is very versitile, and most of that comes from it's gain control. I've found it great for anything from mid gain rock, to a more punchy punk tone, up to the iconic mesa american metal tones that I bought it for. I found it's high gain tone great for a Metallica type of sound. it's full, powerfull and very responsive due to it's shorter and simpler signal path. I think the only area where I think this can quite top it is for a very brutal, super high gain sound, as when the gain is near maxed, it becomes slightly too fuzzy and undefined, so a tube screamer may be in order for that. But still, a very tight versitile crunch sound (I tighten it up a bit more with a DS-1 with the dist off) Oh plus there is a contour Switch (footswitchable) which boosts the mids and highs, which I use for solos, really cuts through well. // 9

Reliability & Durability: I could depend on this, more because I have to actully. But I feel safe with it, I know mesa make their products with great care and quality parts, and this is no exception. It definitly feels solid, mainly due to it's weight (in a flightcase it's about 40kg). However, due to it's long life (and toured with it's previous owner) the leather on the handle has come apart on one side, but the metal is still solidly attatched so I would call is 'broken') // 9

Overall Impression: I've been playing about 7 years I think, and use this amp for my metal band and for me, is perfect, can't seeing me really needing another amp. I used to own a cheap Laney LX halfstack, obviously this blows it away, but that is no contest really. Anyway, if it were stolen, I'd love to try and get another one, but sinse I could only afford it because it was a real bargain, and the fact that these are pretty rare, I don't think I'd be able to get one. So I'd prehaps experiment with something else (id like to try another mesa). But over all, I love it's solid build, and great versitile sound, but I might like another channel, and prehaps just a bit more gain if I ever needed it. Anyway, I'm glad I invested in this, and if you want a unique, well bult, great sounding amp, that is now cheaper than most of the mesa range, go for it, can't see why you would regret it. // 9

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overall: 8
F-100 Head Reviewed by: CkY freak, on december 02, 2009
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 580

Purchased from: eBay

Features: I got this amp off ebay a year ago almost to the date. It was in pristine condition, save for the fact that one of the power tubes was bad. I had a B-52 that went bad. B-52 has been called the "poor man's mesa" before. Well after that crapped out I decided to get the real deal. Its a 2004 model I'm pretty sure. This is a really standard amp. 2 channels (with contour mode on channel 2), 3 band eq for each channel. Respective gain and reverb knobs as well. If you're into simplicity, try to get one of these, but the B-52 I had was a 3 channel amp, with a few extra controls. So I took a features cut in hope for a better amp. I play a heavy rock/metal sometimes. My favorite feature is the 60/100 watt select switch. I always run it at 60 watts. This amp is LOUD. No joke when the difference between "turn it up" and "Im calling the police" is 1mm. Its a really sensitive knob. Could be good and bad. Since tube amps really need to be driven to sound good, by the time this amp gets going, its almost too loud for a bedroom setting. Its good for what it does, but a couple more features could have been nice, like an adjustable contour, and a 3rd channel w/ independent master volume. But for the price I paid, I cant complain. // 7

Sound: The main guitar I'm using is an Ibanez RG1570. It has a tone zone & air norton combo with a stock single. As stated above I play a melodic hardrock/metal for the band I'm in. First of all, I must say, that the distortion of this amp was NOTHING like I thought it would be. When I think mesa I think Metallica, Dream Theater, etc. etc. HEAVY music. However unless you got an overdrive pedal (I picked up a Maxon OD9) then I cant really see this amp doing anything past hardrock. It's not really a saturated distortion like some amps. Theres no crunch to it. So in that aspect I was disappointed. But nothing an overdrive pedal can't help. The clean channel though is amazing. Though I don't use it, it would be a great studio amp and Live amp for music that demands a good clean sound. For my clean sounds, I roll off the volume and Switch off my OD pedal and add a chorus pedal. It seems like a lot to do when I could just switch channels, but I prefer it. The EQ is really different from anything I've used before. On the clean channel, the EQ is responsive, but on the gain channel, the treble knob almost seems to do nothing, especially on the contour channel. Really bums me out. Also it seems you really have watch the bass knob on mesa amps. My past amp I had it on 7 or 8, but now anything past about 5 or 6 the sound becomes too bassy and fuzzy. But it still sounds great with it backed down, almost as if theres already a natural amount of bass in the amp. However, I have managed to get a really great sound out of this amp. The contour mode is almost unusable to me. With the contour mode, you get a gain increase, but the amp becomes WAY WAY too bright for my taste, and to my ears, the mids get too scooped to get a usable sound of it. Also the reverb is great on the clean channel, but the gain channel reverb is not too great. If you have it set too low, you can't hear it, and once you get it loud enough it sounds like crap. Honestly, probably the worst reverb I've ever heard. So I have the gain on about 5 on the regular gain channel, and I use my EH power booster in front of it to get a really high gain "brutal" metal sound. And then I use my Maxon OD9 for a grittier, mid range crunch solo tone. So it does need some extra goodies to make it sound good to me, but I love my sound. // 7

Reliability & Durability: I've not had one problem with this amp. Sometimes when I Switch the standby mode off, I get a really quick high pitched squeak, but I've tried to read up on it, but never found out why it does it. If It were stolen, broke down, etc. I'd probably look into a different model with a few more tonal options. // 10

Overall Impression: My overall impression is that its good for what limitations it has on it. Just 2 channels, 3 band eq, and volume. You really cant get much more basic than that unless if you're using a 1 channel amp. The only other model I've played was the f50 for a short time, but I think it sounds pretty similar. Same features, just 50 watts instead of 100. I just wish it had better reverb and a contour knob to adjust. I've been playing for about 7 years and play in a band pretty seriously. I use a B-52 cab with it, which is like working at mcdonalds in a tuxedo, but the B-52 was a cheap alternative that can really handle the bass, which is why I use it. I use a few pedals with. Carbon Copy, Maxon OD9, EH Power Booster, Boss Chorus, Noise Suppressor and a Korg pitchblack. To repeat myself for a third time, its good for what you can do with it. Theres not a WIDE range of sounds you can get from it, but enough to where I can find a sound that I like to use. // 8

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overall: 8.8
F-100 Head Reviewed by: MESAexplorer, on may 23, 2006
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Features: I'm not sure exactly what year this amp was made in, I bought it used and have owned it for a little over a month. It didn't come with an instruction manual, and because of that I found the bright switch just a few days ago. My initial reaction when I opened the box was that it is much larger than normal heads, very deep and quite long, not as much on the tall side though. That being said, your gonna want to measure the top of your cabinet to make sure the head will fit perfectly. It has a very basic, simple and foolproof layout. The F-100 features a 100/60 watt switch (louder than 200 watt flextone II, 150 II's, and Marshall TSL by far), 3 channel footswitch, FX loop, 1/4 output, 4 ohm and 8 ohm speaker outputs, and 2 sets of knobs (clean and distorted). The distorted channel has a "contour" channel which adds much more scoop and balls and takes it from the blackface Fender to a rectifier sound. The biggest complaint with this amp I have is that the volume knob is extremely sensitive, I'm not joking when I say 1mm is the differece between I can't hear you and turn that damn thing down. This amp is fixed bias and only uses 6L6 power tubes which disappointed me because I prefer the warmth and a little more distortion EL-34's provide, and it's a feature I would definatley like to have; along with a bold/spongy sound option. // 8

Sound: I use a squire strat, Gibson Explorer and a few 7 strings one with an invador in the bridge. I use very heavy strings(10-70 6 string 12-90 7 string) which might cause a little muddiness with distortion but a much smoother clean sound. I run the F-100 through both a Carvin Bass 810 and B-52 412. This amp was really hard to adjust to at first from using solid state. You can feel your playing, everything you do is picked up and heard through the amp very defined and clear (even with the gain at max). It has some hum, quite a bit as the volume gets high and it will put you in a feedback hell if your guitar isn't grounded properly. I would recommend a noise supressor, not necessarly for this amp but it's something everyone should have unless you play an amp with a noise gate. This amp is very straightfoward and isn't extremely versatile; extra bright clean, clean, distored channel (sounds like an older Marshall or a hotrodded overdriven Fender), or contour which sounds very intense but ranges from a bright AC/DC style distortion to an older Metallica (Ride the lightning ESP.). I was expecting to get a Dream Theater and more mondern tone but I haven't really found it yet. By adjusting the EQ and gain you get some variation in the distortion but it gets fairly muddy with high bass. At a practice volume the notes get blended together but don't really sustain much but when you raise the master volume the distorted channels become clearer and will give you a better "feel for the sound." The clean channel is by far what stands out. You could put it against a Roland Jazz Chorus and I would place my money on the F-100. It can get extremely loud without getting distorted. The gain knob on clean acts a little more like a volume knob which is really handy in situations where the extremely sensitive volume knob can be a hassel. // 8

Reliability & Durability: Its a Mesa Boogie. I would definately trust it on a gig, and I've never had any problems with it so far. It has fallen off of a 412 and had no problems other than I about had a heart attack. // 10

Overall Impression: I play prog, thrash, death, and speed metal and this amp is an ok match. If someone stole it I'd replace it with the Carvin V3 or Mesa Nomad because of this amps lack of different tones and their ablilty to use EL-34's. My first impression was this thing gets loud. The volume knob sits on a fine line between too loud and too quiet. This amp is what I can think of as a Fender with more balls would sound like. It has a great clean and the distortion is great too if you like a sound simialar to Metallica's ride the ligtning. I usually run the MXR Dime Distortion with the gain at 1 and output at max and it improves the tone a lot because there is a lack in sustain. This is probably the most affordable new Mesa out there. It has a professional tone, its just not quite the tone I want all the time. // 9

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