Price paid: $ 1399
Purchased from: http://www.nstuffmusic.com
Sound — 9
For reference I play a Fender American Deluxe Jazz 1995, and a 1999 American Precision. I bought this to replace an SVT-450H head with a 410HLF Cab I owned for 5 years. I got the amp the same day I had a gig, so I didn't have time to dial in any settings. I used the suggested Rock setting in the manual, and went to the gig. I got there, setup, and I was amazed how great it sounded. It took about 30 minutes to adjust some EQ settings to my taste, which was easy with the parametric EQ. I play in a rock band with two guitar players, and a loud drummer, and I had no problems hearing myself. I played with the amp at volume all night, and it cut through the mix great. I play with a pick, and finger style, and this amp just sounds great. It is a night and day difference when comparing it to my Ampeg. My Ampeg no matter what I set it to always got lost in the mix. So I ended up turning it up way to loud just to hear myself, and it messed up the mix coming out of the PA. As for volume this thing really is loud for the size, and covers the 4 string range with no issues. I do not have a 5 string anymore, so I would make sure in the store that it handles the low b ok before buying it. After having some time with the amp it just sounds great, and has a full range of sounds for any type of music.
Overall Impression — 8
I have been playing in bands for about 8 years now and learned a few things. One is carrying heavy equipment 40-50 times a year sucks. Two is in the end all your amp becomes is a monitor, and a preamp for the console, the PA handles the rest. So I kept thinking to myself why am I moving around this 120lb cab for a monitor on stage. So I started looking into light combo amps, which would be loud enough for an onstage monitor, and practice. I wanted one with a tube preamp, and to be as light as possible. It came down to this amp, and the Markbass 151p which didn't have the tube preamp I wanted. The Markbass was smaller, lighter, and didn't sound bad. But it seems to be made more for funk and slap style bass, not for rock. The Markbass kind of had a fart tone, where the Mesa Boogie had more of a Geddy Lee growl tone.
Reliability & Durability — 10
It is hand built in the USA, and it has a 5 year transferable warranty. I don't expect any issues; it seems to be built nice with top components. The padded cover is real nice for loading and unloading. It is built solid with black tolex finish with black twisted jute grille.
Features — 7
Hand built in Petaluma, California, 300 Watts @ 4 Ohms (165 @ 8), Simul-State Power / 6 Tube Driven Power MOSFET's, 4 Stage Vacuum Tube Preamplifier featuring Gain 2x12AX7, Active Bass & Treble, Passive Mid and a 3-Band Semi Parametric EQ that provides 15db of cut or boost from 30Hz to 12K Hz, FX Loop w/True Hard Bypass Switch, Balanced Direct Line Output with Level Control & Ground Lift Switch, Selectable 3-point Crossover (3k/4k/5k), Premium Horn Attenuator & Instant Reset Horn Protection, 15" Neodymium Speaker, 10 " Passive Radiator, 4 Ohm, padded Slip Cover, and weights about 50lbs. Missing: No mute Switch, no tuner out.