Price paid: $ 915
Purchased from: Ebay
Sound — 9
I use a Washburn X50PRO with EMG 81, and Ibanez RG350, and run the head through a Marshall 1960A cab. I play metal mostly for band practice and gigging (not home use) and a bit of clean every now and again. For both these tone areas I think it's great for me, the clean has been comparible to the old fenders which is great. The reverb is pretty nice, nothing special, but generally warm and full with plenty of head room, but crank the gain and you get that little bit of break up which is nice for all you blues players. The gain has a pull Switch for a brighter sound, and there is a nice 3 band EQ with it too, overall, I was suprised at how nice the cleans on this was. The Drive channel is very versitile, and most of that comes from it's gain control. I've found it great for anything from mid gain rock, to a more punchy punk tone, up to the iconic mesa american metal tones that I bought it for. I found it's high gain tone great for a Metallica type of sound. it's full, powerfull and very responsive due to it's shorter and simpler signal path. I think the only area where I think this can quite top it is for a very brutal, super high gain sound, as when the gain is near maxed, it becomes slightly too fuzzy and undefined, so a tube screamer may be in order for that. But still, a very tight versitile crunch sound (I tighten it up a bit more with a DS-1 with the dist off) Oh plus there is a contour Switch (footswitchable) which boosts the mids and highs, which I use for solos, really cuts through well.
Overall Impression — 9
I've been playing about 7 years I think, and use this amp for my metal band and for me, is perfect, can't seeing me really needing another amp. I used to own a cheap Laney LX halfstack, obviously this blows it away, but that is no contest really. Anyway, if it were stolen, I'd love to try and get another one, but sinse I could only afford it because it was a real bargain, and the fact that these are pretty rare, I don't think I'd be able to get one. So I'd prehaps experiment with something else (id like to try another mesa). But over all, I love it's solid build, and great versitile sound, but I might like another channel, and prehaps just a bit more gain if I ever needed it. Anyway, I'm glad I invested in this, and if you want a unique, well bult, great sounding amp, that is now cheaper than most of the mesa range, go for it, can't see why you would regret it.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I could depend on this, more because I have to actully. But I feel safe with it, I know mesa make their products with great care and quality parts, and this is no exception. It definitly feels solid, mainly due to it's weight (in a flightcase it's about 40kg). However, due to it's long life (and toured with it's previous owner) the leather on the handle has come apart on one side, but the metal is still solidly attatched so I would call is 'broken')
Features — 7
This is a USA hand built amp, as are all mesa's I believe, which has all the essentials, 2 main channels, clean and Drive (Drive has a countour Switch). Each main channel has 3 band EQ, gain level, master vol, and reverb. Plus, 100/60 watt Switch, FX loop (with level) recording output, 3 speaker outs, and a line out. All in all, probably one of the simplest Mesa units to date, making it easier to dial in your tone and generally use. However, some may desire a 3rd channel, or other features, but does me fine.