Express 5:25 review by Mesa Boogie

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.1 (43 votes)
Mesa Boogie: Express 5:25

Price paid: $ 1249

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Sound — 10
I have single coil guitars, MIJ Telecaseter & USA Stratocaster. I can get Buck Owens twang up to Motley Crue high gain. I've spent a lot of time attempting to make the Clean 25W mode sound like my 69 Fender Princeton,(gain 9, treb 3, mid 11, bass 12, rev 12, Contour 2 O'Clock) I have it dialed in pretty close IMO it's better sounding than my holy grail Princeton. I love both amps clean, the tone at the bottom end of my Princeton is slightly more articulate but that could be due to the 10" 10P150P Weber speaker vs the Mesa's 12" Celestion v30. The Burn mode is what I use for high gain. To my ears the the lower I dial down the gain the better the gain sounds. I keep the gain between 9:00-1:00 and get good SRV / Texas blues @ 9:00 and AC/DC @ 1:00. The express is two amps in one, you get a Princeton Reverb on the Clean setting and Mesa Boogie on the Burn setting. There is also the Crunch and Blues settings so plenty of great sounds and styles are available. This amp is loud even on the 5 Watt setting it gets plenty loud.

Overall Impression — 10
I play mostly classic rock, blues and AC/DC style of music this amp covers that territory and has a little extra tone if needed. My comparison of the Express 5:25 is aginst 69 Fender Princeton, 75 Fender Vibro Champ and 82 Princeton Reverb II (Rivera), all are great amps each with it's distinctive sound. What I don't like is the EQ system, it is too active this amp has Bass, Mid, Treb & Contour, moving any dial slighty will create a big change in the overall sound. If you are a tone guru you will love the tone capabilities of this amp. I am simple and prefer only Bass & Treble. What I love about this amp is the SOUND, I like Fender clean so I dial in Fender clean and when I tap on the footswitch boom, Hi-Gain without a pedal. I also like the 5/25 Watt options the 5W setting is quieter and a bit brighter. My wish list for this amp is Tremolo and better tubes. I've been told replacing the stock tubes will improve the sound, this seems to be true with most amps. If stolen I would replace with another Boogie, the model would depend on my available cash. IMO this is Mesa's version of a Princeton Reverb without the tremolo but with a hi-gain mode way better than a Rivera Fender gain. I would give this a 9.5 I will round up because it's a really cool amp.

Reliability & Durability — 10
I haven't had any problems in 15 months. The amp feels and looks solid. I get some buzzing at hi gain but I have single coils. It's built in USA. Solid wood housing, the switches and pots feel high quality. The footswith is bulit solid and comes with a long heavy duty cable.

Features — 9
Purchased new in 2008 with a 12" Celesion v30 speaker. The features have been covered by previous reviewers. It has a very active EQ system, nice reverb and of course Clean or Hi-Gain. There are 4 modes to choose from clean /crunch and blues/burn, I would give this a 10 if it had tremolo.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Steve BP
    I swapped out the stock tubes on the power amp and replaced them with EHX tubes, and I like the sound of the gain better: less jagged, smoother gain. It sounds awesome!
    I use the reviews here a lot, but I've never it's about time. I have the 5:25 Plus, which is the more recent model. It adds the 5-band slider EQ from the Mark V, the solo volume boost, the independent channel controls, and a couple other things, I think. Overall, what a super amp. Cost too much at about $1300, but I think I'm set for quite a while. Have been looking for a reasonably light, versatile amp for playing out in a hard rock cover band, and this is it. We played last weekend for about 200 people in a large bar. No stage, so ran the amp with a 2x12 cab and boosted the whole rig about 18 inches to project across the crowd. Worked really, really well. Volume-wise, absolutely no problem. Ran on the 25w setting at maybe 1/3 volume, and it was ripping. Had to drive sound through a wall of people, and it did. Any louder, and I'll have to stand somewhere else...or mic it to the PA. Nothing in front of the amp, but ran a phaser and delay in the effects loop - MUCH better than without a loop. Preamp was completely driven by the amp settings/pedal - using the crunch and burn channels. Because the 5-band EQ is so versatile (and footswitched), you can get at least two different sounds from each channel, so it was like playing a 4-channel/switchable amp. Big deal when you're covering Tom Petty to Van Halen to Sabbath. Solo channel was great - for when you need to step up a bit on a solo or when there's just a lot of other change in tone...just volume. It should be good for what it costs, and it is. Not sure what I'm going to do with all my old distortion pedals now...seem a bit unnecessary now. Nice problem to have. Thanks to all who share their experience in these forums...