Page 1 of 2
#1
I've been looking for an amp for a bit over a year now. It was originally an 18th birthday present, but I never managed to decide. I looked around for a long time online and tried out various amps.

It seemed that a mesa would be most what I was after, given what I'd tried, and what advice I've been given online. I was looking at the mini recto, and from what I'd gathered from when I tried it it seemed quite nice. I'd always had half an eye on the used market on ebay, and a roadster came up complete with recto cab. I decided that should do nicely.

I'll set out my background, now. I've been playing for a good few years, and have a guitar leagues away from my previous amp. The amp I had was basically one of the starter amps you get in a set. A few years ago I decided I needed a higher quality guitar, so went for an S5470 prestige, which does me well. Basically I've been playing that guitar through a crappy solid state starter amp for a few years until now.

Fast forward to the present, and I now have the roadster. When we went to pick it up from the seller, I had a quick play, and it seemed quite nice, and I know mesas are a pain to dial in, so we went ahead and sealed the deal.

Now I have it in my room, and I can't quite get my head round it. I'm not sure whether it's because I've been playing a solid state amp all those years (albeit with heavy effects covering the cracks), or whether I'm just incompatible with this amp. It completely threw me. I know rectos are known to be a little loose and saggy, but I never expected it to be this much. It's the sort of thing you can't really hear, but you feel. It's almost as if the sound is slightly delayed. On top of that, it has this weird feeling when you dig in, like it's overcompensating for the sag temporarily, giving it this popping character in the bass even when you play high strings, it feels almost like a kick drum (although ovbiously it doesn't sound like one). It's kinda odd, it's like there's almost a "hole" in the sound where no frequencies are present, to the extent that it doesn't feel like normal mid scooping.

Given that I have very little to compare it to, only having had that little practice amp before, I don't know whether this is simply something which is inherant to mesas which I overlooked (in which case I feel free to tell me it's my own fault, since it would be true), or whether there's something a little odd with it. I reckon the amp is about five years old, although physically it's in very good condition. The same is true of the cab. It's possible the tubes are either cold, or simply dying, but again I have very little experience of anything else besides what friends gear I've played and what I've tried in the shops.

I'm planning on selling the cab (the head and cab came as a pair) for something smaller, since I don't have room for it long term. I don't really know how much of what I'm describing is due to the cab.

Current I only have the cab hooked up with an instrument cable (I know, it's a massive sin). While a proper speaker cable would clearly be better (I'm planning on making one soon, screw buying them when I can make a better one for less), I doubt it would make such a pronounced difference.

If it is a case of poor tubes, or wrong bias (which mesa have a history of), then that's something I can deal with. If putting a negative feedback loop in would clean it up then I'd be willing to do that, too (I know my way round electronics). If the feel I'm describing is down to a few componants, then I'd mod it in a heartbeat. My only worry is that what I'm describing is basically a combination of lots of different componants all through the gain stages which would be a nightmare to modify.

What I don't want to do, is to hack this amp to pieces, only to decide later that I'm still not happy with it, and have an amp which has significantly degraded in value.

If it is something that I just don't gel with on a fundamental level, rather than something which is easy to fix or simply me requiring a break in period, then I'd definitely want to move it on. Given how much it cost my parents, I wouldn't feel right if it was something I disliked - I'd rather have no amp at all than be in that situation, and just be rid of the whole dilemma. I don't really know what they'd say if I said it wasn't for me after all and that I wanted to sell it on for something else. Both situations are uncomfortable, but I see the latter as being the lesser of the two evils.

While I was looking for amps, the EVH 5150iii mini caught my eye, and it had been nagging at me in the back of my head that it might be more suitable, but unlike marshalls and other amps it's not something I've been able to try out. Do you think that would be a better match, given what I've described?

Regardless, I'll stick with the roadster for a little while just to make sure it's not simply me being weirded out at first and being incapable of dialing it in properly. However, if it is the case that I just don't get on with it, I feel it would be better to be rid of it and back to square one. If that is the case, then obviously it would be best to stay well clear of any modding.

I'm sorry if this post is a bit of a ramble, I'd probably have structured it better in person. The whole thing just completely shook me and I wanted to know what other peoples take on it would be. If there's anything I haven't said clearly that you would like to know, then just ask.
#2
hasnt it got like a billion settings, eq and power modes?

Just keep messing around with and for the love of god get a proper cable.

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#3
Mesas take a while to dial in even for people used to tube amps. Give it a fair chance for a week or two first - they take some getting used to.

If there's too much sag for you, make sure you're on diode mode for the rectifier.

And yeah, minus ten points for running it with a speaker cable.
#4
Honestly stop using the amp until you get a speaker cable. When the speaker cable goes (and it will because it is not designed to handle power loads only line levels) you will **** the OT which will set you back about $400.
Probably has a lot to do with your tone.

Rectos have a tone of bass on tap, try lowering it. Have you selected the silicone mode on the back of the amp? That has a big effect on your tone.

what are your settings?

Roadsters can take months to dial in
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#5
Quote by Robbgnarly
Honestly stop using the amp until you get a speaker cable. When the speaker cable goes (and it will because it is not designed to handle power loads only line levels) you will **** the OT which will set you back about $400.
Probably has a lot to do with your tone.

Rectos have a tone of bass on tap, try lowering it. Have you selected the silicone mode on the back of the amp? That has a big effect on your tone.

what are your settings?

Roadsters can take months to dial in
I've been over most of the "basic" settings, although obviously there are many more which I haven't covered. I haven't really had it long enough to have "settings" in the normal sense, because I'm still trying to find a general tone rather than refine what I have.

I general I tend to have the master fairly high compared to the pre since it seems to give better cleans, and the distortion doesn't really suffer if you boost it. I've set up ch2 to be my clean channel, with a slightly scooped mids and bass eq. Ch1 is slightly wooly on the tweed setting, with boosted mids. Ch3 is the classic recto crackle scooped mid setting. Ch4 is similarly gainy but with more mids and less bass.

The first two channels are on 100W. The other two are at 50W so I don't have to push it as hard to get the same tone. All channels are bold, with diode rectification.

Regarding the cable, I don't think it'll be an issue besides being a minor tone suck. I have the master fairly high (compared to what you'd usually use in a bedroom), but the individual volume knobs are fairly low per channel except for Ch2 which is higher because I backed of the gain significantly. The wire in the cable is pretty heavy gauge too, so it's not something I'm worried about.
#6
Quote by funk_monk
giving it this popping character in the bass even when you play high strings, it feels almost like a kick drum


You'll get used to it. I had the same feeling when I switched from SS to tube.
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#7
Quote by Tom 1.0
hasnt it got like a billion settings, eq and power modes?

Just keep messing around with and for the love of god get a proper cable.


I love your sig. Cathbard-isms...

I will post back later with stuff for TS
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#8
Quote by R45VT
I love your sig. Cathbard-isms...

I will post back later with stuff for TS




lol

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#9
When you mess your amp up you will cry like a baby and it will be expensive. Is it really that hard to get a speaker cable?
you can use a 50ft pa speaker cable if it has 1 1/4" ends and it is better for your amp than using the instrument cable
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#10
I've had a Dual Recto and now have a Lone Star and certainly for drive sounds, I think you have to turn up the amps really loud. They sound not nearly as good on low volume levels as they do on high volume levels.

That said, I spent about a week dialing in the Dual Recto per channel until I was quite happy with it. There's so much stuff going on that you can't dial in some settings you're used to and call it a day, in my opinion.

Spend time with it and start with everything at about half. Or even better, have someone else adjust the amp while you play and make sure you don't see what they're exactly doing.
#11
Could be that it is dodgy and needs a valve replacement, specifically preamp valves. When I bought my 5150 it had some characteristics that sound similar to what you're describing that was leaving me feeling disapointed, after some advice I got it revalved and it completely fixed the issue.
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#12
Quote by Bigbazz
Could be that it is dodgy and needs a valve replacement, specifically preamp valves. When I bought my 5150 it had some characteristics that sound similar to what you're describing that was leaving me feeling disapointed, after some advice I got it revalved and it completely fixed the issue.
The amp has had two previous owners, and I don't know if it's been revalved since it was bought. How long do preamp valves usually last before they degrade?
#13
Quote by funk_monk
The amp has had two previous owners, and I don't know if it's been revalved since it was bought. How long do preamp valves usually last before they degrade?

It can be days or decades
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#14
Quote by Robbgnarly
It can be days or decades
I think the amp has seen fairly consistant use since it was originally bought. The original owner was in a band (which meant I got a nice flight case, incidentally), and the second owner was a home studio guy.

Besides obvious catastophic failures like a filament burnout, how would the characteristics change?
#15
Quote by funk_monk
The amp has had two previous owners, and I don't know if it's been revalved since it was bought. How long do preamp valves usually last before they degrade?


I bought mine at the end of 2004 (it's a 2001 model) from a big guitar stores website, they said it had been recently serviced but were clearly lying out of their asses, anyway the amp came and something wasn't right with the sound of it, or more specifically the response of it, it was almost unplayable in a very similar way to what is explained in the OP.

The valves in my amp had not been replaced, they were Electro Harmonix (the ones that came with the 5150 as stock), I replaced them with a set of JJ's by recommendation of the Guitarist magazine forum (now called Music Radar) and the amp was absolutely amazing after that, it felt incredible, so crisp and responsive, touch sensative like with a clarity throughout all the frequencies, it became much easier to play through.

Safe to say the preamp valves were dead or very close to it, and the new preamp valves brought the amp back to life.
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Last edited by Bigbazz at Apr 15, 2013,
#16
The sound will degrade and become muddy/fizzy/lack of gain. There are lots of variations on what happens to your tone depending on which tubes are failing. If it is a used amp, a set of tubes is deff in order for you.
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#17
I'm with the rest of these guys. Some of the things you've mentioned are inherent in Rectos, and some may just be not gelling with the amp. I think it is a versatile enough amp that you owe it to yourself to spend more time with it.

I personally would get:

Speaker cable
JJ 12AX7
JAN Phillips 5751


The 5153 is an awesome amp but also quite different. If I had to choose between the two I'd take the 5153. There are amp out there too, like Splawn.
#18
You bought it used. Tube it up. All of the tubes. And replace that cable with a proper speaker cable. They're cheap. Unlike the transformer...

As for the bias, I thought Mesas were fixed bias. I'm not quite sure how it could be wrong. Maybe someone can fill me in...

My 5150 212 was quite bad until I threw out all the old tubes. The sound was far from what I had hoped for. Replaced all of the tubes and now it's a monster.

If you still can't get on with the Roadster after a month, sell it to me.
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#19
Quote by lemurflames
You bought it used. Tube it up. All of the tubes. And replace that cable with a proper speaker cable. They're cheap. Unlike the transformer...

As for the bias, I thought Mesas were fixed bias. I'm not quite sure how it could be wrong. Maybe someone can fill me in...

My 5150 212 was quite bad until I threw out all the old tubes. The sound was far from what I had hoped for. Replaced all of the tubes and now it's a monster.

If you still can't get on with the Roadster after a month, sell it to me.
Mesas generally have their tubes pretty cold as a stock config. It's fixed bias, but it's fixed being pretty cold.

If I had a proper mic I'd do a recording. The best I can offer is a direct input recording which will be poor at best since I don't have a proper sound card. Would it be worth the bother given it'd be completely cutting out the poweramp?
#20
Do you have the manual for it? If not I highly recommend downloading it. I spent about a month with a Triple Rectifier playing and tweaking it, I decided to download the manual and I learned more about the amp in 10 minutes than I did in that entire time. If it's controls are anything like a regular Recto the treble knob is by far the most powerful tonal control on it.


Do you have a recording setup? I'm not sure what you mean by a "hole in the sound". Perhaps the Mesa tone isn't for you? What sorts of tones/styles/bands are you shooting for?
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#21
Have you checked the sample settings in the manual? Mesa really take a long time to dial in.
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#22
Quote by Flux'D
Do you have the manual for it? If not I highly recommend downloading it. I spent about a month with a Triple Rectifier playing and tweaking it, I decided to download the manual and I learned more about the amp in 10 minutes than I did in that entire time. If it's controls are anything like a regular Recto the treble knob is by far the most powerful tonal control on it.


Do you have a recording setup? I'm not sure what you mean by a "hole in the sound". Perhaps the Mesa tone isn't for you? What sorts of tones/styles/bands are you shooting for?


+1 mesa amps are a little different than most, and i didn't know about a ton of them until i downloaded the manual (this was all for a MKIV though not a recto). some knobs have more than one effect on tone, it makes it a lot easier if you know for sure what everything is doing. i had a little bit of buyers remorse on my MKIV, but avter getting it EQ'd in properly i absolutely love it.
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#23
Actually the manual was the only thing that the guy didn't have anymore. I had a quick look at it previously and dialled in some of the suggested settings, but it was by no means in depth. I'll give it a good look over.

By the "hole", I mean it sounds like a certain frequency range is actually missing, or at least greatly reduced. My best guess as to the reason is that it sounds like the upper frequencies distort more and are more noticeable, and cover over the mid frequencies, giving what I perceive as a hole. Then again, the same thing seems true of the clean channels.

It would be interesting to do a few recordings if only to look at the frequency response on a computer as a graph. It's a shame I don't have a tone generator, because then I'd be able to hook it up to my oscilloscope and actually get some meaningful information out of it. Doing some technical probing around the amp would be pretty fun, although unfortunately the schematics aren't available online (there's the road king II schematic though, which is mostly the same).

As far as tones go, I'm pretty all over the place. I really just want a versatile amp which can get pretty ballsy when needed. It's a bit of a tossup really. I like the sound of some high gain marshall-esque stuff (ala steel panther 80's hair metal), but I don't really like actually playing marshalls. Besides metal, most of the distortion tones I like are probably marshall based, but I still have the problem of not liking the actual feel of marshalls, hence the decision to go with the roadster, given the good impression I got when I played the mini (I found it to be one of the nicest I'd tried).

If I had to have just one tone, it would probably be a cross between the early Nuno Bettencourt stuff (pornograffitti) and Satchel from steel panther and with a hint of the screech you get in some of the megadeth stuff (think symphony of destruction solo). That's what I did my best to approximate with my old setup, and it was pretty fun to play. In reality I doubt I'll come close, because I know Nuno triple tracked most of his tracks, and the steel panther stuff sounds fairly heavily processed. I guess I'm odd in that I sound like I should be a marshall guy, but I don't really like marshalls. The thing which always struck me with marshalls is that whenever I played them they always seemed to have really poor definition in the lower notes, which is never apparent on recordings.

Finally, no I don't have a recording setup. I'm a bedroom player through and through. I'm not averse to the idea of being in a band as such, but it's not something I'm actively seeking. If I ever formed a band it would just be a "something we could do together" sort of thing. Plus I'm terrible at writing songs. I can play most things, but composition is not something which I'm any good at. Frankly it annoys me how people automatically expect guitarists to write their own stuff, but I digress.
Last edited by funk_monk at Apr 16, 2013,
#24
What are your COMPLETE EQ settings for the channel?
Quote by DeathByDestroyr
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#25
Quote by R45VT
What are your COMPLETE EQ settings for the channel?
As it's sitting right now (I haven't played since the evening, and I was fiddling so it'll probably sound like ass), I'll list everything. I'm leaving out reverb because I haven't really played with it much and it doesn't shape the overall tone much.

I'm using the recto over-size 4x12 with V30's that came with the head if I didn't already mention it.

Globals:

Solo = 0 (I don't use it, so it stops me deafening myself by accident)
Power = Bold
Output = roughly 3
FX loop active

CH1:

Master = 0.5 (Every channel besides CH2 is very low, otherwise it gets too loud and shakes the floor)
Presence = 6
Bass = 4
Mid = 6
Treble = 7
Gain = 6
Tweed setting
100W with diode rectification

CH2:

Master = 3
Presence = 6
Bass = 4
Mid = 4
Treble = 6
Gain = 2/3
Clean setting
!00W with diode rectification

CH3:

Master = 0.5
Presence = 3/4
Bass = 4
Mid = 3/4
Treble = 8
Gain = 7
Modern setting
50W diode rectification

CH4:

Master = 0.5
Presence = 5
Bass = 2
Mid = 7
Treble = 7
Gain = 7
Vintage setting
50W diode rectification
Last edited by funk_monk at Apr 16, 2013,
#26
Man, you know how to solder. Cut up an old power cable and solder a couple of phono plugs onto the ends. Don't make me come over there and belt you upside da head now. It's a 10 minute job, max. Hell, I've made them at gigs. Grab a jug chord, cut it up, solder on some plugs and plug it in.
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Last edited by Cathbard at Apr 16, 2013,
#27
Quote by Cathbard
Man, you know how to solder. Cut up an old power cable and solder a couple of phono plugs onto the ends. Don't make me come over there and belt you upside da head now. It's a 10 minute job, max.
Correct, I can solder. I'm planning on getting some right angle jacks in the next day or so, along with some sleeving and heat shrink.

I'll just use basic lamp cord or some wire I have lying around. The crap that goes around about oxygen free copper and *insert audiophile nonsense here* doesn't convince me. Provided it's heavy enough gauge then it'll do me well.

I'll probably go for about one meter of at least 24 SWG. That way I have a little overkill, and I know I can run to 4x12's with a little slack while still being suitable for 4 ohm 2x12's.
#28
Quote by Cathbard
Man, you know how to solder. Cut up an old power cable and solder a couple of phono plugs onto the ends. Don't make me come over there and belt you upside da head now. It's a 10 minute job, max. Hell, I've made them at gigs. Grab a jug chord, cut it up, solder on some plugs and plug it in.

This is sensible...^^^

Then there will be a change in tone. Maybe perceptible. Then we can start to effectively assist in "improving" your tone.
It's an opinion. It's subjective. And I'm right, anyway.
#29
I've used power chords for years, even on PA's. There's always some mains power cable laying around and somebody is always selling cheap extension chords if you need long ones. You just grab one with decent gauge wire and chop it up. Cheapest source of good quality, twisted pair cabling. You chop one of the wires off of course, leaving you twisted pair - just the thing you need for speaker cabling.
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#30
Quote by funk_monk
Actually the manual was the only thing that the guy didn't have anymore. I had a quick look at it previously and dialled in some of the suggested settings, but it was by no means in depth. I'll give it a good look over.


http://www.mesaboogie.com/manuals/Roadster.pdf

36 pages all in english i would consider in depth.
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#31
Made a speaker cable. Tadaaaaaaa.





Now to try it out...
Last edited by funk_monk at Apr 16, 2013,
#32
Didn't have a second sheath? I've had to do that at a pinch.
A thing to check is how well the tip is attached. If it's loose don't trust it. Especially with generic Chinese plugs. I've had tips fall off inside equipment. It's an indicator of how well they are put together. Even if the tip doesn't actually fall off, something's rotten in the state of denmark.
It's worth investing in good phono plugs. Ebay is your friend.
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Marshall 1960A
Boss GT-100


Cathbard Amplification
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#33
Quote by Cathbard
Didn't have a second sheath? I've had to do that at a pinch.
A thing to check is how well the tip is attached. If it's loose don't trust it. Especially with generic Chinese plugs. I've had tips fall off inside equipment. It's an indicator of how well they are put together. Even if the tip doesn't actually fall off, something's rotten in the state of denmark.
It's worth investing in good phono plugs. Ebay is your friend.
This is just a temporary fix to get people off my back about the instrument cable. The wire was just some multi strand stuff I had lying around, and the whole spool only came to a little over an ohm end to end, so it should be good. I reckon it's about 20 SWG.

I'm actually more worried about the full sheathed tip to be honest. I canbalised the jacks from an old cable, and the wire didn't come off cleanly, meaning I had to hold the soldering iron to it longer than I would have liked. The plastic got pretty hot and gave off what felt like ammonia.

I tested it with a multimeter though and it seems good. I'll make a more substantial and attractive cable when I get the chance.
#34
Quote by Cathbard
Didn't have a second sheath? I've had to do that at a pinch.
A thing to check is how well the tip is attached. If it's loose don't trust it. Especially with generic Chinese plugs. I've had tips fall off inside equipment. It's an indicator of how well they are put together. Even if the tip doesn't actually fall off, something's rotten in the state of denmark.
It's worth investing in good phono plugs. Ebay is your friend.

oh my, those plugs can be quite terrible and cause ton's of issues!

Just get proper cable and jacks, it's not gonna hurt your wallet really.
#35
As long as your soldering is ok and you insulated each leg separately before binding it up it will get you by. I wouldn't try dragging it around to gigs but at home for now you'll be fine in the short term.
Check what I said though. Grab the tip with your fingers and try to wiggle it. If it moves duck down to Radio Shack and grab a new one while you're waiting for your Neutrix plugs to arrive from ebay to make the proper cable. Don't trust a loose tip. Things can go boom.
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Telecasters
Randall RM100 & RM20
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Marshall 18W clone
Fender 5F1 Champ clone
Atomic Amplifire
Marshall 1960A
Boss GT-100


Cathbard Amplification
My band
#36
Quote by Cathbard
As long as your soldering is ok and you insulated each leg separately before binding it up it will get you by. I wouldn't try dragging it around to gigs but at home for now you'll be fine in the short term.
Check what I said though. Grab the tip with your fingers and try to wiggle it. If it moves duck down to Radio Shack and grab a new one while you're waiting for your Neutrix plugs to arrive from ebay to make the proper cable. Don't trust a loose tip. Things can go boom.
Actually, it doens't have legs. I salvaged it from a moulded right angle connector. The outer connection is soldered directly to what would have been the sheath connection, and the centre connection is littlerally a little metal stub. I made sure to get as good a connection as possible, though. Given how long I had to hold the iron to get things where I wanted them, I'd be surprised if it was a cold joint.
Last edited by funk_monk at Apr 16, 2013,
#37
The danger there is melting the internal insulation. Your multimeter will show that up though and mechanically you can feel it when you wiggle the tip.
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Marshall JTM45 clone
Marshall JCM900 4102 (modded)
Marshall 18W clone
Fender 5F1 Champ clone
Atomic Amplifire
Marshall 1960A
Boss GT-100


Cathbard Amplification
My band
#38
Quote by funk_monk
As far as tones go, I'm pretty all over the place. I really just want a versatile amp which can get pretty ballsy when needed. It's a bit of a tossup really. I like the sound of some high gain marshall-esque stuff (ala steel panther 80's hair metal), but I don't really like actually playing marshalls. Besides metal, most of the distortion tones I like are probably marshall based, but I still have the problem of not liking the actual feel of marshalls, hence the decision to go with the roadster, given the good impression I got when I played the mini (I found it to be one of the nicest I'd tried).

If I had to have just one tone, it would probably be a cross between the early Nuno Bettencourt stuff (pornograffitti) and Satchel from steel panther and with a hint of the screech you get in some of the megadeth stuff (think symphony of destruction solo). That's what I did my best to approximate with my old setup, and it was pretty fun to play. In reality I doubt I'll come close, because I know Nuno triple tracked most of his tracks, and the steel panther stuff sounds fairly heavily processed. I guess I'm odd in that I sound like I should be a marshall guy, but I don't really like marshalls. The thing which always struck me with marshalls is that whenever I played them they always seemed to have really poor definition in the lower notes, which is never apparent on recordings.


I'm not saying a Roadster is not your amp but based on this post I would suggest looking at some different amps. To get a Marshall tone you don't HAVE to have a Marshall you know. There are probably hundreds of amps out there that are based on the Marshall tone stack and will give you the low end and metal tones you are looking for. I have very little experience with the Rectifiers, let alone the Roadster, so maybe my opinion is moot. All I am saying is that if you had come in here asking about amps for the tones you desire a Mesa Rectifier is probably not what I would recommend.

Electradyne? Maybe.
Royal Atlantic? Maybe.
Stiletto? Maybe.
Mark? Maybe.

As mentioned the EVH 5150 III and Splawn would be better along with some amps from Baron, Bogner, Blackstar S1, Cameron, CEC, Cornford, Egnater, Friedman modded, FJA modded, Framus, H&K, Marshall JVM/DSL, Peavey, Roccaforte, Rhodes, etc
#39
^ The Stiletto is an overlooked, wonderful amplifier, in my opinion. It's been a few months since I played one, but IIRC, it did metal without a boost without any problems.
#40
I like me some Stiletto but Splawn does angry marshall better.

the stiletto can be very ice picky.


TS check out the Kerry King JCM800.

Brutal thing.

1977 Burny FLG70
2004 EBMM JP6
2016 SE Holcolmb
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