Mesa Express 5:25 vs 5:25+, has anyone owned both?

Discussion in 'The Squawk Box' started by jimmer_5, Nov 7, 2017.

  1. jimmer_5

    jimmer_5 Senior Member

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    Hey all,

    Has anyone owned both the Express 5:25 and the 5:25 plus? How different do they sound? I played an older Express 5:25 yesterday and really liked all the settings. I played a 5:25+ about a year ago and was less impressed with Burn channel, but I think I may have been in the wrong headspace at the time. Allow me to explain:

    So I went to Guitar Center yesterday on my lunch with the purpose of trying out some Fender amps. My typical amps are BFG / Friedman / Marshall / Mesa kind of master volume high-gain stuff, so I am doing my best to learn about Fender. I have been at it for a few months, trying Blues Jr's, Deluxe Reverbs, etc. So why am I talking about Fender in a Mesa thread?

    Well, I really like Fender cleans, and I love the different crunchy, spongy, mid/higher gain sounds you can get wit ha Fender. I brought a '68 Custom Deluxe Reverb into the quiet room so I could turn it up and hear the overdrive sounds (I got a talking to last time I did that on the main floor). The cleans sounded great, but this time I didn't feel like I was dialing in a good dirty tone. I was having to turn the amp up to 8, and it was not really doing it for me - I have never had much luck getting good tones from power tube distortion. There was also a used '59 reissue Bassman in the room - it sounded good clean as well, but I wasn't in the mood to crank a 40 watt amp in a small enclosed space.

    Just as I was leaving, I noticed a used Mesa Express 5:25 1x10 combo - the old one, not the plus model. I tried the 5:25 plus a while back, and decided it didn't have a good enough high gain sound for me, but I loved the "Fendery" cleans. I fired it up, and the cleans were very good, but all the other sounds were good too. The "Blues" setting was great with low gain for edge-of-breakup stuff, and with the gain rolled up it gave up a wonderful crunch. The burn setting sounded amazing with a SSS Strat - just good, crunchy, distortion for days. Not metal, but just tasty.

    I know I will piss off the Fender guys for saying this, but for ME, it did all the things I want a Fender amp to do. And for me, it did them better and more intuitively, at a more reasonable range of volumes. I will grant that a lot of this is probably due to my inexperience with Fender amps, but we all like what we like, and I liked the Express. I just had to be in that "Fender" mindset to really appreciate it. It's strange how something as simple as perspective can change how much you like something.
     
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  2. gball

    gball Senior Member

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    I have not owned both but I have had a bunch of Mesa's. My current amps are a Mark 5:25 and a Mini Rectifier, and I use them both with a variety of cabinets.

    I've owned a bunch of Fender amps over the years too, from a Silverface Twin to a HR Deluxe and a few in between.

    My experience is like yours - the Fenders are just too limiting. For my purposes they are one-trick boxes; great cleans but you need pedals to get any decent dirt tones, and even then those sounds are not nearly as good as a properly designed high-gain amp.

    So I think your experience is something a lot of players go through. I also think Mesa's do cleans as well or better than the Fenders - my Mark 5 definitely has cleans that equal any Fender I have owned - plus you get the benefit of channel switching and a monster high gain channel.

    So, although I can't comment on the difference between the Express models, I can attest to the fact that Mesa will give you the best of both worlds, plus they are built as good as anything at any price.
     
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  3. jw3571

    jw3571 Senior Member

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    I've been looking at one these as well, are the 5:25 + good for bedroom volumes?
     
  4. tzd

    tzd Senior Member

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    I have the Express Plus 5:25. I love the clean channel and reverb, I’ll take that over Fender.

    If you like what you hear with the 5:25 (non plus), and don’t think you need to shape the sound with an equalizer, get it. I don’t think you’ll miss the 15W option as I never use it at 15 - always either 5 or 25.

    I do like having the equalizer of the Plus model to help shape my tone. The equalizer is also the key to being able to use the amp at low volume in my bedroom - just set all the EQs below 0 and it acts as an attenuator, plus you can shape the attenuated tone.

    What I really love about the amp is that it can get LOUD at full power, enough to keep up with the band, and yet it is so damn light and portable! I can actually carry it around effortlessly, unlike my DSL40C.
     
  5. jw3571

    jw3571 Senior Member

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    Does it have enough gain to do Metallica type stuff?
     
  6. jimmer_5

    jimmer_5 Senior Member

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    Yeah, Mesa does a great clean, and in my opinion, they have two kinds of cleans. The "clean" setting on the Mark V 25 is a beautiful all tube "metal/jazz" clean - it's very clean and shimmering, . The Express 5:25 / 5:25 plus clean is more tweed-ish - just a little dirty sounding, and spongier. More vintage sounding.

    My other concern is that I really want to get a full sized Mark V 90 watt head eventually, and I am wondering if the Express 5:25 will overlap too much and not get used. The Mark V 25 doesn't do the same kind of cleans as the Express, but the big Mark V has some other settings (tweed/Edge) that are closer.
     
  7. jimmer_5

    jimmer_5 Senior Member

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    Others could answer this better, but in my opinion, no. It's got quite a bit of gain, but it doesn't really have that "metal" sort of sound. I think you would be better served with a Mark V 25 for that sound.
     
  8. jimmer_5

    jimmer_5 Senior Member

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    Oddly enough, I never really used the graphic EQ when I had my Mark IV. Of course, I was young and ignorant at the time. I have heard that the clean on the Express 5:25 Plus was derived from the Lonestar, and I thought I heard it was considered an "improvement" on the original Express 5:25. I could be wrong, my memory is spotty. I just wish I could A/B the two amps next to each other. It's probably been a year since I played through the "plus" model. I just remember loving the clean, and I am very hard to please as clean tones are concerned.
     
  9. BluesRock

    BluesRock Senior Member

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    I bought a 5:25+ shortly after they came out and did some research on the difference between the original and +. From what I remember there were 3 major differences:
    1. The clean channel circuit was changed to be similar to the Lone Star Special clean which many viewed as an improvement.
    2. Added the 15 watt option
    3. Added the graphic EQ which adds a LOT of options. I've used it as a preset eq change for when I switch from my Les Paul to my Strat (alt tuning) at gigs so I don't have to go turning knobs between songs.
     
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  10. rjwilson37

    rjwilson37 Senior Member

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    I have the Mark V 35w Combo and it is by far the best amp I have ever had, very versatile. The clean channel on the clean setting sounds very nice kind of like a Fender Twin Reverb, and then you switch the clean channel to fat and it is like a Deluxe Reverb where you get that deeper/fuller tone. I have always been a fan of the Deluxe Reverb with that nice clean full deep tone. Then while still on the clean channel, you switch it to Crunch and you're in a whole new area from just a little breakup to some nice hard rock crunch. The 2nd channel has settings for the Mark IIC+, the Mark IV and Extreme. With 3 settings for each channel, the tone controls and EQ, you have an almost limitless number of tones. Some people like a simple one channel amp that has tone and volume, but there are some people like me that love the variety of tones you can get from just one amp. I just don't have the room for a bunch of amps, so when I saw and played the Mark V 35w, it was heaven.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2017
  11. EndGame00

    EndGame00 Senior Member

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    I have no experience with the newer Mark Series though I used to have a Mark IV...the V is a little too intimidating for me, having too many control knobs.. shoot , I'm getting old.
     
  12. jimmer_5

    jimmer_5 Senior Member

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    Honestly, if you had a Mark IV, you can handle a Mark V 90. They are (in my opinion) a huge upgrade from the Mark IV - there are SOOOOO many usable sounds in this box. Fendery cleans, tweed cleans, edge of breakup, classic distortion, metal distortions, fat singing leads..... I will own one. For versatility, they are unbeatable.

    I hadn't planned on buying an Express, but I think the 5:25 will be my "Fender" type amp. The Mark V can do everything else.
     
  13. notabot

    notabot Junior Member

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    Yes. The Mesa Express 5:25 1x12 combo replaced my Fender Blues Jr. I thought I needed the onboard graphic EQ of the 5:25+ so I got one of those and sold the non-plus model. I liked the non-plus express quite a bit, it had some good crunch and tight OD. The cleans were pretty nice. The plus wasn't the same but it still had many cool Mesa tones. It also had more sliders and switches for me to fiddle with, an option I really like.

    After the non-plus was gone and I only had the plus, I actually missed the tones I got from the "beginner" amp. FWIW, I did have a Mesa Theile cabinet under both combos and that stack really created a ton of sweet sounds.

    I've flipped a lot of amps this year looking for the clean and overdriven sounds my ears wanted to hear. Over the last 11 months I've learned the Mesa tones are very appealing and you can get some amazing sounds from any of them. With that said, NONE of the chasing or modding created the sound my ears wanted to hear. It turns out my ears were looking for Marshall and Orange OD sounds.

    So, in short, no matter what I did with the 4 Mesa amps I've owned this year, nothing got me any closer to a Marshall crunch or to the smooth, creamy overdrive of an Orange amp. I finally got some sense and bought a Marshall to get Marshall sounds and an Orange to get Orange sounds.

    Figure out what your ears want to hear and buy that. If you don't, IMHO, you will drive yourself nuts trying to pound a square peg into a round hole. I still own a Mesa amp that I like a lot but now I just let a Mesa be a Mesa.
     
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  14. DB Chuckster

    DB Chuckster Member

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    Would love to have a Mesa but the Orange Jim Root suits me fine at the moment.
     
  15. jimmer_5

    jimmer_5 Senior Member

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    I appreciate your response. I am something of a collector, so I will always have my Marshall, Orange, and BFG amps. I am searching for an amp that does other things - beautiful cleans, edge of breakup, and bouncy crunch, while still feeling easy to play. I thought I needed a Fender amp to achieve this, but it turns out that the Express makes the sounds I was hearing in my head. I don't expect a Mesa to be a Fender, I just feel like the Express does what I assumed I needed a Fender to do. Am I making any sense?

    I am going to play an Express Plus soon, hopefully tomorrow if my wife agrees and my kids cooperate. I need to play both the Express Plus and the older Express close enough together to hear how much the new model changed. I'll report back once I get my bearings.
     
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  16. jimmer_5

    jimmer_5 Senior Member

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    If you like the Jim Root, you'll love the Rockerverb MKIII. I still miss my little Jim Root, but I can't keep 'em all. GREAT little amp, one of the few small ones that sounds like it's got big bottles in it.
     
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  17. notabot

    notabot Junior Member

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    Yeah, you're making total sense. I like your comments on what you're trying to find and an early Mesa Express may be just the ticket. It's also good to see you are more educated than I was on what's what in today's amp world. FWIW, I'm back playing after taking 25 years off and all that time away can make learning somewhat frustrating and expensive.
     
  18. EndGame00

    EndGame00 Senior Member

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    While the Mark V is very flexible as far as tonal possibility, however, for me, I did find it too daunting, spending too much time tweaking and finding the right tone for each channels... Like I said, I owned a Mark IV before, the Mark V was a little too much... the Triple Crown is more at home for me..
     
  19. needlespauls

    needlespauls V.I.P. Member

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    I miss that amp too!! Haha...
    I've thought about adding an express too...there's a 50+ 1x12 haunting me on Craigs ughhhh...
     
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  20. jimmer_5

    jimmer_5 Senior Member

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    I visited the Mesa Boogie store in Hollywood a few months back, and I got to try the Triple Crown. It is an awesome amp, and if I could have them all, there would be one at my house right now. Great choice, and you're right, much more straightforward to dial in.
     

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