Price paid: $ 1
Purchased from: West Chester Music
Sound — 10
With its four independent style channels, any guitar and pickup combination could be used with this amp. I tried out several Les Paul and SG guitars, some Strats and Teles, a P-90 hollow body PRS, and I gotta say, this amp exceeded any expectations I may have had on any of the four style channels. One of the few drawbacks is the foot Switch only changes back and forth between two of those four channels. If you want to change from Clean to Crunch you have to do so manually on the front of the amp. The EQ is extremely responsive on this amp. For example, by really tweaking the settings I was able to get both warm and round cleans as well as snappy bright cleans. The Burn is the hottest channel on the amp and is reminescent of the tone Mesa Boogie has become famous for. Sitting right in front of the amp will produce some feedback, but we were in a cramped store with about two feet of room to sit away from the amp. Overall, I can't think of an amp I have played that was so much fun to try out every single channel. Each one had it's own very very distinct personality and tonal characteristics that make them distinct and distinguishable from the others.
Overall Impression — 10
The review guide lines say, "What style of music do you play? Is this a good match?" Who cares what I play!?! Name a style and I garuantee this amp will do the job. Ok, aren't satisfied with my word, try and find another all tube amp this size for this amount of money and I would be willing to bet that the Express 5:25 sweeps all the rest in any style competition. This amp is the greatest amp I have ever played on. there's nothing to hate about it. I compared it to a Orange Tiny Terror head and cab set up, and the The Express won on versatility and tone. The only thing I wish it had was the ability to Switch between all four style channels. Otherwise, this amp is a perfect 10!
Reliability & Durability — 10
I'm a bedroom and recording musician, so I can't testify to the reliability of the amp on the road, though I would assume it is extremely durable. I wouldn't say it's heavy, but the amp just feels like it is really well built and sturdy. If anything ever happened to this amp I would probably cry because I love it so much!
Features — 10
This combo amp has a lot of great features that makes it an extremely versatile partner to any recording, gigging, or bedroom musician. To start, the Express is a "Duo-Class Power Amp (Patent Pending) allows you to select either: 1 power tube in pure Class A (single-ended) producing 5 Watts or switching to 2 power tubes in Class A/B to produce 25 Watts via a 5/25 power switch." Basically, this allows you to significantlly cut the volume of the amp, making it great for bedroom practice, or Live performance at a club. The amp, which comes as a combo or head, features two combo channels. One channel allows you to toggle between Clean & Crunch. The second Channel allows you to toggel between Blues & Burn. This makes for four different possible channels. There are independent Gain, Treble, Mid, Bass, Reverb, Master and Contour Controls for each channel. The foot Switch comes with three switches, (Channels 1/2, Reverb, and Contour). There is an all tube FX loop. The amp comes packed with EL84s, an E-50 1x10 speaker and an open back. One of the best features, apart from the incredible Mesa Boogie sound, versatility and control, is the power this amp packs. Not only can you take it anywhere, but it can serve almost any purpose.