Roadster Head Review

manufacturer: Mesa Boogie date: 06/23/2011 category: Guitar Amplifiers
Mesa Boogie: Roadster Head
The Roaster is a 100 watt all tube amp head with 4 footswitchable channels (each with 3 selectable modes), tube reverb for each channel, an effects loop that can be active or inactive on each channel, a selectable power amp for each channel (50 or 100 watts), and of course the classic Mesa signature rectifier.
 Sound: 9.5
 Overall Impression: 10
 Reliability & Durability: 9.5
 Features: 9.8
 Overall rating:
 9.4 
 Reviewer rating:
 9.7 
 Users rating:
 9 
 Votes:
 27 
reviews (4) pictures (1) 22 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 9.8
Roadster Head Reviewed by: Taint McGooch, on september 11, 2009
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 1999

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Features: I have a 2009 Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier Roadster Head, and this thing is chock full of features. 4 channels, 3 modes per channel. FX Loop, Master Volume for all 4 channels and 1 for entire head. All Tube Reverb, Tuner Mute function. Solo Volume control for adding a little volume boost if necessary. Bias selector. 50W/100W selectable output. 2 4ohm, 1 8 ohm, and 1 16 ohm speaker output.FX loop is bypassable. all channels, reverb, tuner mute, solo volume boost and fx loop are all footswitchable. 100W of pure unadulterated tube power. Only dissatisfaction lies in that Master Output volume, tuner mute, and Solo controls do not function if fx loop is bypassed. // 9

Sound: Channel 1: Clean. Modes: Clean, Fat, and Tweed. Clean is obviously a standard clean tone, Fat adds a smidgen of overdrive and a little more beef in the bottom end, and Tweed adds a little extra mid-punch. Channel 2: Clean. Modes: Clean, Fat, and Brit. Brit adds a little bit of fuzz to the mix. Nice, Thick overdrive with pristine highs and thick well rounded mids. Channel 3 and 4: Dirty. Modes: Raw, Vintage, and Modern. Channel 3 is not really made for the modern sound (something with the circuitry involved), so i would suggest saving that for Channel 4. Raw is, quite obviously, the lowest gain setting for the distorted channel, pretty low on the bass production with sound focusing more on mids and highs for good string to string articulation, great for older style rock (AC/DC, so on...). Vintage offers a slightly beefier bottom end while taking away some of the high and mid-range tone. Better for old school Black Sabbath, Maiden styles. Modern offers the most gain, the most bottom end, least mid range flexibility, and most treble flexibility. Perfect for any music associated with the word metal. With the exception of Channel 3 Modern, enough coaxing will make any channel/mode sound gorgeous. the only thing this amp lacks is the mid range punch some old school Marshalls had. I run this head through a Marshall 1960A JCM series Front Loaded slant cab loaded with G12-T75's and a Diezel Front Loaded with Celestion V30's. I play 3 guitars, a new Schecter C-1 Hellraiser w/Seymour Duncan Blackout pups, a Yamaha Drop 6, and a 1989 Gibson Explorer with a DiMarzio Super Distortion in the bridge. No matter the volume, no matter the style, no matter the venue, this amp WILL give you the sound you need, just remember, MESA's are notorious for being tweaker amps. You HAVE to spend the time shaping your tone, but when you do, and you find it, you will never want to stop listening to this bad boy. // 10

Reliability & Durability: Ok, so here's a story, I walk into Guitar Center to buy a Mesa Boogie Dual Rec SOLO (yes, solo) head, a Schecter C-1 Hellraiser, a Shure wireless setup, some SD Blackouts, a Boss DD-3 delay pedal, 2 monster cables, and a Diezel cab...Needless to say....they were happy to assist me. I take the Mesa home and go to plug the DD-3 into the effects loop...nothing...bad effects loop....return to Guitar Center! I had to upgrade to the Roadster so i had a head for an upcoming gig, which as a result of Mesa's discount policy, i had to shell out an extra 200 for (i am, however glad i did this, the roadster is sooooo much better). So i take my new Roadster home, and lo and behold a week and a half later (in the middle of recording a demo i may add) one of the pre amp tubes die (i did not know this was the case at the time), no gain, no nothin, got sound, but its horrible... trade for a NEW Mesa Dual Rec Roadster, which does not have any problems with it (we checked it out). Take the NEW head home, play for 1 week...1 week...1...week...and turn it on swapped some power tubes...did some troubleshooting...not the power tubes...imagine that...its a pre amp tube...again... the guy at guitar center did inform me that this was a natural process of shipping and inevitable for the most part, so i am not angry. Funny story, but not too upset, Mesa customer service is extremely personalized and the representatives are extremely educated and informative...i know once Mesa sends me the pre-amp tube, i will totally trust my rig without a backup Live, and i am still rating 10 because except for the effects loop on the original solo head (which was probably a tube anyway), i know just based on their reputation and friends and family Who have owned theirs, that they are extremely reliable amps // 10

Overall Impression: Hands down this amp is perfect for the price range...the only thing that would beat this out for certain tones i believe is Engl, and Engl's are not as versatile as MESA. I have been playing for 8 years and have never heard anything as good and versatile as this amp (except the Mark IIC+). I love everything and hate nothing about this amp, i would recommend this amp to anyone Who doesnt have one. If it were stolen i would replace it whether i had to write a bad check to do it or not (the first one kind of drained me). If you are reading this review in search of a new amp, put the mouse down, slide the keyboard under your desktop, grab your car keys, go to local dealer, and buy one...no questions...just do it...you'll thank me later. // 10

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overall: 9.3
Roadster Head Reviewed by: shredder_666, on december 23, 2008
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 1999.99

Purchased from: Morganroth

Features: There has not yet been a review submitted for the Roadster combo and I am surprised. The Roaster is a 100 watt all tube amp head with 4 footswitchable channels (each with 3 selectable modes), tube reverb for each channel, an effects loop that can be active or inactive on each channel, a selectable power amp for each channel (50 or 100 watts), and of course the classic Mesa signature rectifier, which allows you to choose between Silicon diodes or 5u4GB rectifier tubes. This is also featured for each channel. I use this head atop a Marshall 4x14 1960 cab and it sounds amazing. When connected properly, this amp is loud enough to pierce the eardrum of anyone a mile away. The amp is very versatile, I myself play classic and modern heavy metal. I bought this amp so I can use it on the road and in the studio. This is a great amp for all sorts of music. The selectable modes and the versatile eq balance make this the breeding ground of the perfect sound, as long as you take the time to properly set it up. There are so many features in this amp I don't even use half of them, but it is still nice to have them around. This amp head comes with an eight way footswitch, allowing you to select channels one through four, to mute your guitar, to give a solo boost, to activate or deactivate the FX loop, and to activate or deactivate the reverb. The only thing this footswitch doesnt't have is a button that allows you to Switch the modes. // 10

Sound: I have many guitars and im not going to get into how each one of them sounds. You have to take time and balance the eq perfectly, not the most interesting, but anyone Who is a real musician should take the time to FEEL ther sound. This amp is capable of the highest and heaviest gain imaginable. I was always a devoted Marshall fan, and the reason that i decided to get a mesa, was because they sounded great atop Marshall cabs. I never did like Mesa cabs all that much as they seemed to add to the compression that is a frequent complaint about Mesa amps. However, when i threw this head atop my Marshall cab, it sounded amazing. This is common sense, but when you increase your volume you will get more natural gain. Maxing out the gain is not necessary at high volume. Especially with Mesa Heads, it is good to take the time to balance the volume with the gain to have the perfect sound. If you do this i guaruntee you will find the perfect sound. The clean channels will distort at high volume (and obviously if you maximize the gain) but it can give you a feel of what a Vintage amp does. I am not at all implying that this amp will replicate the sound and feel of say a Plexi or anything from the Mark series, but it has its own unique way of building natural gain vs artificial gain. Like ive said before, find the balance. One thing to take in mind is each mode is going to affect the way your gain builds. One of my favorite modes (that i hardly ever use) is found on the second channel called "Brit". It is supposed to give a general feeling of the older Vox and Marshall sounds, while it does not sound like them, it does sound great at low or high gain. I could write a novel, try it yourself. // 9

Reliability & Durability: I had only one negative experience with this amp. I had it fitted with EL 34s (it normally comes with 6L6) and the bias circuit had a weak solder connection causing the fuse to blow and the tubes to fry at one point. yes, i did frown on Mesa a little bit but it was a small technichal issue (that was 100% paid for and honestly fixed). Once i got past that and retested it. I still have no regrets. It is a great head, i use in the studio and on the road. Ive had it for almost a year, and i love it. // 8

Overall Impression: Like I said before, I am metal all the way, but also a guitar player Who experiments with different sounds, making this the perfect amp for me. I have played for ten years, and I think I've finally gotten what I deserve as a guitar player. We can all go get an amp that is simple and produces one sound that is easy to get. But, it all depends on opinion. I like versatility, I like to jam out blues and jazz for the fun of it, even though it is not my primary music choice, but because I like to do that, this amp provides it. Many people do not like Mesa because thier amps are not simple, but truse me people, if you take the time to learn you will love it. This was worth every cent and I would most definetely buy this again. I still love Marshall, but Mesa impressed me with this amp. We don't all like the same stuff, but Mesa impressed me. Try it out for yourself if you don't take my word for it. // 10

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overall: 10
Roadster Head Reviewed by: civicbud, on march 04, 2009
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 2098

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Features: 2008 Roadster Head. This amp is incredible. 4 channels, 3 modes per channel, fixed bias, selectable 50/100 watts per channel, tube reverb per channel (footswitchable), fx loop on/off each channel (and footswitchable) fx loop bypass over entire amp, slave out, fx level controls, Bold/Spongy (brown sound) option, and diode/recto rectification options per channel. Whew, that was a mouth-full! This amp is highly versatile for all types of music. From Metal to Blues, it can cover anything except Jazz. It could probably cover Jazz with the aid of an EQ pedal though. // 10

Sound: Clean sounds are amazing. Will distort at high volumes, but those volumes are deafening and not usable, so no worries there. Distortion is very versatile, from low-gain Marshall/Vox sounds to the classic Mesa "chug" tones. This amp is very, very versatile. My suggestion to all interested though is to ask for the Mesa manual for this amp. Each individual EQ is very sensitive, so using Mesa's presets will get you to the best sounds this amp can offer, from there you can tweak it to your liking, but it is important to read the manual to understand how each knob affects another. This isn't your grandfather's Marshall! I play out of an American Deluxe Fender Stratocaster HSS, and the tones out of this amp are INCREDIBLE! Even my fiance was impressed, impressed enough to admit that compared to other amps, there is good reason this one is priced where it is! It will make your ears smile! // 10

Reliability & Durability: Mesa's are known for their quality, and I totally agree. Built like a tank! Hand-made, and high craftsmanship. You will not be disappointed! Great amp! // 10

Overall Impression: What else can I say. Get this amp. It will truly be the last amp you'll ever need as a serious musician. Save the "one-trick pony" amps for the studio pros. This amp is versatile, powerful, and reliable! One amazing amp. Get out there and get a Mesa, and while you're at it, love a PUG! // 10

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overall: 9.8
Roadster Head Reviewed by: krehzeekid, on june 23, 2011
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: C$ 2175

Purchased from: Mothers Music

Features: The Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier Roadster is Mesa Boogie's 4 channel powerhouse, only being out-gunned by the Roadking II. My particular amp was made in the U.S.A. In 2011. The amp is a true 4 channel amp, with each channel featuring 3 modes. Channels 1 and 2 both feature the same "clean" and "fat" settings, with "clean" being a true clean and "fat" having a little bit more grit and lower-mid emphasis. Channel 1 also features a "tweed" mode, which adds more gain and produces a, surprise, Fender-like tone. Channel 2 features a "Brit" mode, which produces a mid-heavy crunch, as is typical of British-style amps like Marshall's and Hiwatt's. Channels 3 and 4 both feature the same 3 modes each: "raw", "vintage" and modern, with each having more gain, presence and saturation than the last. Channel 4, however, is voiced differently than channel 3 and has different sweeps to its tone and presence controls. Each channel features an intimidating feature set: master volume, gain control, treble, mid, bass, presence, 3-way mode select, reverb level, 50/100 watt, tube or silicone diode rectification and effects loop on/off. This is a rather intimidating control set, but it is highly intuitive once you've read the manual and taken the time to understand how the controls interact. Additionally, the amp features a bold/spongy switch, which acts as an internal variac, dropping the internal voltage of the amp to create more sag, an overall output control and a footswitchable solo function. All this makes the amp highly versatile and easy to dial in for nearly any task. The guts of the amp are fairly standard Mesa Boogie territory. There are 4 6L6 power tubes, 6 12AX7 pre-amp tubes and 2 5U4 rectifier tubes. Along with this, there is a bias select Switch allowing you to instantly re-bias the amp to operate with EL-34's in the power-amp section (the amp otherwise has fixed bias). The amp features a long tank spring reverb, a hard-bypass for the FX loop, 4 speaker outputs, a send level control, a tuner out and external switching jacks which allow the head to be controlled by a separate unit. I think that about covers it all. // 10

Sound: For the sake of this review, I stuck to an ESP Eclipse II w/EMG pickups and a G&L ASAT Classic, running the head through a Celestion Vintage 30 loaded Mesa Boogie Stiletto 4x12 slant cabinet. On initial start-up, the amp is quite quiet, certainly better than you would expect out of a 100watt, all-tube fire-breather. Starting with the "clean" mode (found in channels 1 and 2), it is possible to dial in anything from a truly sterile, completely clean tone, all the way to mild breakup. However, I found this mode was best with just a hint of breakup, resulting in a full and lively clean sound with just a touch of musical overdrive. This sound is not necessarily warm, but very full and still very nice for chords. Moving to the "fat" mode, there is immediately more bass, mids and gain. This sound can be wound up to the point of moderate breakup, with a little bit of saturation. This mode is a little bit thick for strummed chords, but jazz comping and single note lines ring out with near flawless clarity and harmonic complexity. I have purchased amps to make these 2 sounds alone (for which I now feel slightly stupid). Moving to the "tweed" setting, there is immediately more gain again. Even with the gain control just before noon, there is more gain on tap than most cranked Fender tweed amps. Adding more gain results in a more saturated solo tone. The best way to describe this mode is to say that it is a modernization of the classic cranked Fender sound. It is decidedly Fender-ish, but more controlled and ballsier. The "Brit" mode, though my least favorite (I don't like Marshall-like amps), is quite good at all things British-crunch inspired, though mostly Marshall-like. There is a lot of gain on tap here, easily more than most classic brit-voiced amps had in the day, but the channel is capable of everything from Vintage crunch to a full out roar. The channel is quite nice, having lots of presence and, I think, having one of the better steroid-enhanced Marshall sounds around. I just don't use it much because it isn't my cup of tea. Moving to channels 3 and 4, the "raw" setting is a vintage-tinged, highly saturated gain tone. This mode can be dialed in as anything from an alternate clean through to a Vintage high-gain sound. It is quite warm and sustains for days. It is pleasant and quite useful, though not heart-stoppingly good. The "vintage" mode, meanwhile is wonderful. This is classic Mesa Boogie high-gain; it is thick, saturated, powerful and menacing. Rhythm lines are tight and articulate while lead lines have a vocal singing quality that sustains incredibly well. It is possible, as with all Mesa Boogies, to dial in too much gain or bass on this channel, but it is easily apparent when you have done so and easy to correct. Finally, the "modern" mode adds more gain and more presence, resulting in a highly articulate and absolutely vicious high-gain tone. Though absolutely punishing while playing rhythm, this setting still manages to produce lovely singing lead tones, though not nearly as warm as those on the "vintage" mode. It is very important to note that channels 3 and 4 are not copies of one and other, though they do contain the same controls and modes. The tone controls in channel 4, especially the presence control, are designed to control a much broader range of their respective parameters, thus it is possible to dial in much more aggressive tones in channel 4 than channel 3. Moving on to other tone features, it is possible to select either tube rectification or solid-state. This makes a perceivable difference to the sound, with tube rectification being bouncier and more lively sounding. However, the true power of this choice is in the ability to tailor the feel of the amp. Selecting solid-state rectification results in immediate and highly aggressive response, while tube rectification is slower and blooms more. This will impact how you play, so it is a good tool to use. It is also possible to halve the power on each channel. Though this doesn't have an immediate effect on the sound, or a significant volume drop for that matter, it does affect the headroom available on the amp. Dropping down to 50 watts causes the amp to clip much earlier, which is useful for obtaining over-driven sounds. The bold/spongy feature simply adds to this by changing the over-all feel of the amp by altering the responsiveness of the power-amp. Beyond ALL that, the reverb is quite nice and adds a lovely degree of depth to the sound. Otherwise, the amp performs absolutely as expected, creating a great variety of highly usable sounds. However, one has to be careful because with so much tone-shaping control, it is quite easy to dial in a bad tone if you aren't careful. // 9

Reliability & Durability: I have only owned this amp for 2 months so far, so it is difficult to properly assess long term durability, however, Mesa Boogie's reputation speaks for itself; this thing should last plenty long. That being said, the amp appears to be very well constructed: everything is neat, everything fits well and safety covers are present where required. I have gigged the amp several times with no backup and it has been Stellar thus far. Even after 7 hours of solid run-time, the amp was running smoothly with absolutely no signs of any fatigue what'soever. It is an all-tube amp, so there are some longevity issues that are bound to come up at some point in time, but this is an amp that I'm not terribly concerned about. // 10

Overall Impression: I bought this amp so that I could shrink my rig down to one amp, as I had grown tired of lugging 2/3 amps to every single gig with my functions band. Being in a functions band, I'm required to play a variety of styles through a variety of instruments, and this amp is perfectly suited for such a task. I was initially wary of the amp, partially because of the alarming price tag, and also because of the stigma's associated with Dual Rectifiers (metal amps). This amp, however, has completely dispelled every myth and prejudice towards Mesa Boogie for me. Yes, the high-gain sounds are absolutely crushing and incredible, but this amp does cleans as well. The cleans are gorgeous, easily on par with other top flight amplifiers. And, the amp does the in-between tones, where we spend most of our time anyways, extremely well too. I believe that this amp is ideal for truly versatile guitarists who need not only a great variety of tones, but also excellent quality tones. The price simply rules the amp out for beginners and hobbyists, while the emphasis on non-high-gain tones pretty much rules it out for metal guys. And that's what's great. This amp allows high level players who dabble in a bit of everything to have top quality, all analog tones in one unit. I wish that I had bought this amp years ago. Even with the high price on the amp, I would have been money ahead simply getting this, the right too for almost any job, from the get-go. // 10

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