Express 5:50 review by Mesa Boogie

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.8 (4 votes)
Mesa Boogie: Express 5:50

Price paid: £ 1249

Purchased from: Guitar Village

Sound — 9
I've used the amp with a Strat, a PRS Custom 24 and a PRS with Narrowfield pups, an SG and a Les Paul with a P90. The great thing is that across the four channels there is a place for all of them. I use the amp mainly for blues and rock and it is amazing. The overdrive you get on the cleaner channels is sweet and warm and the distortion on the heaviest channel (burn) is just rock heaven. It clean up really well, with the tone on the clean channel dominated by the tube types - so it has more middle than a Fender tube amp on this setting, but that's where the contour control comes in so you can scoops out that mid range. It is the most versatile Amp I've ever played.

Overall Impression — 9
If you are looking for one good quality tube amp, but you're worried about covering the full range of tone and style - this amp is definitely worth a go. If there are any drawbacks it's that only two of the four sounds are available via the footswitch - but with a couple of pedals that's all I really need. Also the treble control comes first in the circuit so it's more powerful than the other tone controls - so I set it at the mid level and use my guitar for treble control. That said Mesa Boogie have a great reputation and using this amp O agree. Even though they pitch this as their "entry level" it's all the awesome I could want.

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Reliability & Durability — 9
Solid as rock - great construction, heavy duty case and the case cover is deluxe. Hard wearing, pretty portable - only about 20Kg - and it delivers big sounds for that. The cabinet is solid, and the back plate more robust than similar priced Fender amps, although the tubes have slightly less protection. On top there are a couple of metal strips that aide cab stacking and the feet are heavy duty non slip rubber. The front grill is stiff and rugged without getting in the way of the sound. Built for gigging.

Features — 10
The big brother of the Express 5:25, tube amp, hand made in the USA in 2012, with two independent channels, each with two modes. Reverb and contour controls both on a foot switch. Massively versatile. The four modes and the ability to switch between one of the two "cleaner" channels to one of the higher gain channels is fantastic. And the ability to move from 5 to 50 watts allows you practice or gig with ease, moving from a class A to a class A/B with no real impact on tone. There are effects loops, and input / output jacks on the back - but I just use the box.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I have this amp, and I love it. I use it in my home studio, so I keep it on the 5-watt setting. I've used it with a PRS McCarty, a Yamaha SG1500, a Yamaha SA2100, a bunch of different high end Yamaha fat-strat type guitars, an Ibanez acoustic-electric, a Morris brand vintage Japanese replica of a Gibson ES135, and various other vintage Japanese / Matsumoku guitars. (I'm kind of into older Yamahas and other Japanese-made guitars.) It is very easy to get fat, warm tones, clean sounds great, and it dirties up nicely. I play some blues, jazz, classic rock and alt rock, and I can do anything from BB King to Chili Peppers to Social Distortion.These have two speaker options, 1x12 or 2x12, with the 2x12 being a bit pricier. The 1x12's seem a lot more common, you see more of those around, can be harder to find a 2x12 5:50 express. Mine also came with a tweed grill, not black, which makes it look really sharp. But I would have settled for the black grill, that was never a big issue for me. (They have custom colors with tweed grills for a few hundred more than regular ones, but I would not pay extra for cosmetics like that.) I used it without the wheels for a long time, but recently put them on when I rearranged my studio, and they are a great design, work very well. I keep it covered with the (vinyl?) cover that came with it. Comes with foot pedal for switching between channels, but I have not used that myself. The pedal goes into a (vinyl?) pouch inside the speaker, accessed from the back, so it's out of the way but available. Just really great, well-thought out design all the way around.
    Great amp. I gig with my Express 5/50 almost every weekend. It covers classic rock, southern rock, blues and country with no problems at all. I play my Fender 58 American vintage series Tele, American deluxe strat, and Gibson les paul thru this amp.