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.