So as some of you know (due to the several threads I posted before hand) about half a year ago I got a Mesa DC-5 50 watt 6L6 head along with a Mesa Recto 2x12 cab. I had gotten it because I had played a DC-3 head through an old 80s JCM800 cab and was immensely impressed, and the DC-5 seemed to be a greater value. I got it, and immediately loved it. At the time I was big into lots of metal, especially the detuned growly growly kind. And the distortion channel was perfect for it; gobs of gain, tight low end when I needed it, and biting treble response. The clean channel also had that more metal clean sound to it, which I enjoyed....at the time. In august, I got a Schecter C-1 Hellraiser, which I love the hell out of since it's the best guitar I own, and the EMGs were great for that compressed, saturated sound, but sucked major ass for anything remotely full of life and clean.


Now I've owned the head for several months, and have actually changed my style/orientation music-wise. I've come to love clean sounds (one of the groups I jam with uses cleans a ton, and over the past few months I've come to really appreciate a damn good clean sound) and distortion that's thick (not high gain, keep in mind), but also insanely clear.

Sadly, my Mesa is REALLY high gain: I keep the gain around three on the lead channel without cranking the master volume a lot, and can do modern metal with it. When I tune to E with my Hellraiser, the lowest gain sound I can possibly muster while still keeping the lead channel audible is something like underoath or glassjaw. and while I still play that kind of music, it's not the biggest focus of my sound right now. Also, the amp can get pretty muddy unless I have the prescence knob below 8, which extremely limits my range of sounds; I basically have decent, or barely audible.

Settings are Gain 3, Treble Middle and Bass at 6, Prescence at 8, Master at 5, GEQ in a slightly boosted V with the mids not touched, and output volume [actual master] at 1.5.

Additionally, my Hellraiser is insanely compressed and a helluva lot quieter than my other guitars; even my ****ty Ibanez RG sounds louder and higher gain with ****ty god-knows-what ibanez pickups. I've changed batteries, but still no difference. I plan on throwing some SD hot rodded pickups in there since I've enjoyed them in other guitars, but I still fear my sound will be too uber gain.

So here's the main question (especially for those that have a habit of saying tl;dr when someone types a long post): How can I make my Mesa more suited to lower gain music? I got the amp used, and I know jack **** about tubes, so I have no idea if the guy who had it before me had high gain tubes in it or if this is just the stock sound.

The music I'm playing nowadays is influenced by groups as follows: Pink Floyd, Tool, Circa Survive, Fall of Troy, The Mars Volta, Led Zepplin, Black Sabbath, U2, Deftones, Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains, Minus the Bear, Explosions in the Sky, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Brand New, At the Drive-In, Thrice, Queens of the Stone Age, Radiohead, and Jeff Buckley.

I'm really after a bright and chimey, yet vibrant (and warm) clean channel that brings out the nuances of every guitar (like a mix between a fender twin/vibrolux and a vox ac30 if that helps), and a lead channel that can go from really clean-ish yet dirty U2 or Minus the Bear kind of gain to more modern stuff I listed.

So would new tubes helps? new cab? different pickups? I noticed most of the bands I listen to use british amps, so since my Mesa has a switchable bias thing that allows me to switch between 6L6s and EL34s, should I pop some EL34s in there? Also, would lower gain preamp tubes help? I know jack **** on tubes, so I'm just throwing out some guesses as to what to do. Also, in case anyone's wondering, I'm not in a position to sell the head (my grandparents help fund it and basically said I've got to make it last for the next 3 or 4 years since we're not exactly rolling in money...or even close), so anything that's not immensely expensive that will help is greatly appreciated.

Sorry for the exceptionally long post, but I'd really like this issue figured out.

Thanks for all that bothered to read it!

Are you kidding me?


That isnt nearly enough gain on my DC to do anything but a pushed blues.

Are you sure you have the same amp?!
Ibanez Jem 777BK, Carvin DC727, Fender MIM Strat
Mesa Boogie DC5
Xotic BB Preamp, Ts9, BBE GS, Boss DD-6
Weber Mass
Morley Bad Horsie 2
Ask me any questions about my gear!
Try a 12AT7 in V1(preamp tube furthest from the power tubes) and in the phase inverter (that's the one closest to the powertubes)

Definitely go for EL34s

Other than that, I know your pain, my F30 had obscene amounts of gain and was one of the main reasons I sold it.
I don't give a shit if you listen to me or not
alright, i'll try the preamp tube first and see if that does anything. what are good companies for tubes?

and teh gir; really? are you using the lead channel? my amp has gobs of gain in its lead channel.
ummm...buy a tubescreamer and use it over your clean channel for bluesy slightly od'd tones
that would only get me light od on my clean channel, but wouldn't solve much else with my problems. thanks though. btw, would trying one 12AT7 in the first preamp tube slot help? I don't want to get too too drastic with the gain reduction at first, but I don't want there to be as much as there is now. Also, how do I solve the prescence issue? Would the preamp tube help with that too, or do I need to do something else? I've seen a few vids of DC5s in action, and other users have really clear sounds but don't seem to have their prescence knobs up all the way.
use an mxr ten band eq pedal in the fx loop...tweak the frequencies you want..cut gain if you wish.