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

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

  1. Hanover Fist

    Hanover Fist Senior Member

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    I tried the non-plus version in the store, and I thought it sounded very good. It even had metal-type tones. I bought the + version, and I was disappointed. It just didn't have the "grind" the non-plus version had.

    I've had several Mesas, and eventually sold them all. It just took too long to dial them in to get a good sound.
     
  2. jimmer_5

    jimmer_5 Senior Member

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    Well, I hate it when these threads don't get any resolution, so here you go: I ended up finding a good deal on a Plus model 5:25 head and pulled the trigger :)

    I went to the ONE local store that stocks Mesa, and the guys there were great (5 Star Guitars in Beaverton, OR). They set me up in the quiet room with a Mark V, a Triple Crown, and an Express 5:25 Plus. I spent a lot of time A-B testing the Mark V and the Express. I really tried, but I couldn't perfectly replicate the tone of the Express clean channel on the Mark V. Pretty much every setting on the Mark V has more treble, more of a sparkly tone. In truth, I eventually want both. The Mark V is such an amazing piece of equipment, but the Express is quite different form all my other amps. This will fill the "Fender" slot in my lineup while still being able to do higher gain things.

    For space purposes, I really wanted a head and I found a really nice custom tolex one, and made an offer. Here it is - hopefully it will be here in a week.


    [​IMG]Mesa Express 01 by jimmacnair, on Flickr


    Oddly enough, this journey to understand Fender amps has led me away from Fender amps.

    Or so I thought.

    While I was in the store, I walked out of the quiet room, and there was a guy playing a PRS Mira Semi-Hollow through a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe III. It sounded AMAZING. Great mid-gainy, bouncy Fender style crunch, and the guy was an awesome player. It didn't exactly help, but I am happy with my decision. And then again, maybe someday I need to check out one of the new Fender Hot Rod amps. I really don't hear much praise for them these days, but this one sounded fantastic.

    Go figure - I guess I was wrong to think a Fender can't make a nice crunch at a reasonable volume.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017
  3. jimmer_5

    jimmer_5 Senior Member

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    I will probably run back to Guitar center and try out the non-plus model again, just for fun (why do I torture myself like this? ;) ). If memory serves, I do think that the Blues and Burn channels were more aggressive on the old non-plus amp. However, I felt that the Graphic EQ on the Plus model gives me the ability to beef up the Burn channel and make it more aggressive and tight.

    I ended up deciding that my goal was to get a nice clean amp with the other channels being my second priority, so I took a chance on the Plus model. If it doesn't work out, I think I bought it for the right money, and I shouldn't take too bad of a hit if I move it along. I don't think that will be the case though.
     
  4. Big John

    Big John drinks are on the house V.I.P. Member

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    I've had both non-plus 5:25 combos, the 10" and the 12", but I've never tried the 3rd version with the graphic EQ. Curious to read what you think about it, Jim.
     
  5. jimmer_5

    jimmer_5 Senior Member

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    Thanks John. I look forward to hearing it through my own cab. The Express Plus that I tried in the store was a 1x12 combo with a Vintage 30 (Mesa spec), so I don't think my Orange PPC212 will sound too much different. Maybe a bit more bottom end.

    The older Non-Plus Express that I played last week was a 1x10. I am not sure what speaker was in it. I will probably run by Guitar Center and play it again tomorrow, just for fun and experience. I do believe that the gain channels sound a bit tighter or more aggressive on the older models, but I want to hear it again to be sure. I'll run it with an American Pro HSS Strat (which is what i tried the Plus model with) and see what I think.

    The Plus models seem to hold their value well enough if you buy used, and the Non-Plus models are realatively cheap and plentiful. I think if I found a Non-Plus 5:25 for $600, I would be tempted to buy it.
     
  6. BluesRock

    BluesRock Senior Member

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    Congrats!! I like the white tolex.
    I have the head too running through a 1x12 with a Mesa Black Shadow speaker.
     
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  7. jimmer_5

    jimmer_5 Senior Member

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    John, I am curious, which of the Non-Plus models did you prefer, the 10" or the 12"?

    I went back to Guitar Center today and spent some more time with the Non-Plus Express 5:25 (10" combo) that they have.

    Damn! That was a mistake.... That amp sounds fantastic! All the modes sound really good to my ear. The clean sounded really good - that's one of my big questions - does the Plus clean sound a lot better or not. I think the Non-Plus clean is still damn good. Crunch sounded great as well. I really like the Blues and Burn modes, and my only odd observation was that they sound more similar than I remembered. The Blues mode has nearly as much gain as Burn, and it sounds just a bit more raw in my opinion. All modes sounded great with an HSS American Pro Strat, really rich and chewy. I tried a PRS S2 Custom 24 as well, and the hotter humbuckers pushed it into higher gain territory. The "Contour" control made it sound a lot more modern (like a Graphic EQ would if this amp had one) and I was pleasantly surprised how well it worked. I will reserve my judgement for when my Express Plus shows up, but the Non-Plus model may very well represent the best bang-for-your-buck.

    I am really curious to get my Plus model now - hopefully I like it this much.
     
  8. Big John

    Big John drinks are on the house V.I.P. Member

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    I got a better high gain tone recorded with the 12". For cleans and clipping/crunch tones, the tones I got recorded with the 10" were smoother. I never used the 12" live on a stage. The 10" sounded great in a 2-guitar band, and even better when I would stack the matching 1x10 extension cab under the combo. I liked both combos. If I had to choose one over the other, I'd probably go with the 10". I'd also hunt down the matching extension cab, because it really helps on a stage.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2017
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  9. jimmer_5

    jimmer_5 Senior Member

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    Awesome. Thanks John. Do you remember what the stock 10” speaker was? The one I played had a Jensen in it, and I am not sure if that was stock. I can post pics if that helps.

    EDITED TO ADD: This is the speaker that was in the Non-Plus 10” combo that I played - anyone know if these were ever stock on the Express?

    https://www.jensentone.com/vintage_ceramic/c10q
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2017
  10. Big John

    Big John drinks are on the house V.I.P. Member

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    Mesa/Eminence Black Shadow 10" was the stock speaker.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2017
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  11. Axiomatik

    Axiomatik Member

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    Sorry to revive a kind of old thread, but how does the 5:25 handle low volume, compared to something fender like a Blue's Junior or HRD?
     
  12. jimmer_5

    jimmer_5 Senior Member

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    It sounds very good at lower volumes since it can be switched down to 5 watts. Like any tube amp, it can get loud if you want it to, and playing louder is rewarding. That being said, good tones are obtainable at lower volume settings.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
  13. Axiomatik

    Axiomatik Member

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    I pulled the trigger on a used 5:25 10" Express from Reverb. NAD incoming ;)
     
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  14. jimmer_5

    jimmer_5 Senior Member

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    Awesome - I was really impressed with the 10" Non-Plus. So much, in fact, that I have a Non-Plus 5:25 head on the way to me as well. I really look forward to spending some solid time A-B'ing them. I think they may be different enough to keep both, but we'll see.
     
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  15. Thunder Dump

    Thunder Dump Silver Supporter

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    You'll love it. Unbelievably powerful and versatile amp in such a compact package. It's great out of the box, but downright tasty with an Alnico Gold 10" in there. Not a cheap upgrade, but if you decide it needs that little extra warmth, that's the ticket.
     
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  16. jimmer_5

    jimmer_5 Senior Member

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    The one I played at Guitar Center had a Jensen C10Q, and it sounded great as well. I was really surprised it was a $50 speaker I was hearing.

    https://www.jensentone.com/vintage_ceramic/c10q
     
  17. Axiomatik

    Axiomatik Member

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    I fully expect to change the speaker at some point. Not exactly sure which one, I have also heard great things about the Tubby 40/40
     
  18. jimmer_5

    jimmer_5 Senior Member

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    Has your Express shown up yet? My Non-Plus is supposed to arrive today, but it's my son's first birthday, so I won't have much time to try it out - just a quick function test.
     
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  19. Axiomatik

    Axiomatik Member

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    UPS is telling me it will arrive on Friday. *fingers crossed* I'll post pics and may be even a thread when it arrives.
     
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