Mesa/Boogie Express 5:50

PageSide84

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Does anyone have any experience with the Mesa/Boogie Express 5:50 (or the 5:25, I guess)? I've been debating whether to pick one up or not. I only need it for rehearsal, studio and small gigs. I play mostly blues rock and classic rock type stuff. I had initially wanted a Fender 68 Deluxe Reverb Reissue, but I think I'm leaning towards the Express.

Does anyone know anything about the quality of the amps and their tone? Thanks in advance!
 

Rob MacKillop

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I've tried them alongside Fender amps in the same price range. They are very different, but good quality. However, they are very noisy, white noise, when played at bedroom levels, so to speak. That said, they recently brought out a new version, which I haven't tried, with claims to address this issue. For your purposes though, either might be perfect. I love the clean sound, but there is a lot of quality distortion there, if that's your thing.
 

Justin_Case

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I've run a 5:50 2x12 for several years now. It is my go to amp, especially when I'm not sure what's coming at a gig. 2 channels, 4 voicings and power switching modes brings a lot to the table. The biggest short coming is that in the 2x12 Combo, it's a heavy SOB.
It's been dropped from the line.

The 5:25s are El-84 Based and the 5:50s are 6lL6. There is a 5:25 1x10 that I've played a few times, really a nice tight Brit flavor.
 

in2madness

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I regularly play through a friends 5:50. It's a good amp. It's versatile. It had to go back to Boogie once who fixed it without quibble. It covers a lot of ground with its 2 channels each with various ways to set them up. Overall it's not my sort of amp and I prefer a good single channel amp and pedals but the Boogie does what it does well.
 

Gridlock

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I owned a 5:50 Express (1x12 non-plus) for a short while. A great amp and I would have kept it if I was still gigging (a very portable and versatile amp) and if I did not already own similar sized Fender and Marshall amps.

I liked the Clean and Blues channels the best, loved the 6L6's, the stock speaker, and true spring reverb. To me the amp sounded best set to 50 watts, even at bedroom volumes. I may look for another 5:50 someday.

As for the 5:25 Express, I never played one, but I usually don't care for EL84 amps, and I am not a fan of the V30 speaker in the 5:25, so the 5:50 would be the choice of the two for me.
 

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Sitedrifter

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I have the 5:25 express plus (with eq) and it is one of the best amps in that price range.
Tons of different tones out of it and the clean is sparkling!
 

Birdy

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5:50s are a great amp. Loved mine until I plugged into an Electradyne.
 

David Garner

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They're fantastic amps. I have 2 Expresses, a 5:50 1x12 and a 5:25 1x10. I'm selling the 5:50 because the 5:25 makes more sense as a grab and go amp and I'm using a Marshall 18 Watt as my main amp now, so the Express has to go to help pay for the Marshall.

I have gigged the 5:50 for a couple of years now, I previously gigged a Deluxe Reverb (handwired clone), and I now gig the aforementioned Marshall. The Express is way more versatile, with all the good and bad that goes with that. You can set up 2 really distinct tones and cover a ton of ground. However, I had better luck using channel 1 set to "clean" and channel 2 set to "blues." They are similar, both somewhat Fender-ish, though "blues" gets into 70's Marshall territory if you set it up right. The key for me was the similarity helped getting a consistent tone, and once I figured that out, I decided to go even simpler with the Marshall and control dirt with the guitar volume and a couple of simple boost/OD pedals rather than trying to go from dead clean to 80s metal with 2 channels and dirt pedals, etc.

Great things about the Express: They're bulletproof. I never had so much as a hiccup out of either of mine. They are incredibly touch sensitive and vintage toned for such a "modern" amp. You can go from dead clean to AC/DC levels of crunch just using your pick attach. They sound phenomenal, especially the clean channel. I think I actually prefer the Mesa's clean channel to my Deluxe Reverb. It sounds huge, full, complex, and the reverb is top notch. The effects loop is very good and delays in particular sound incredible through it. If you need to cover a lot of different tones, you can really go from dead clean country or jazz to nu metal with just this amp and a couple of pedals. They aren't a "me too" amp, meaning you won't sound like everyone else. The 5 watt setting is phenomenal for late night practice, studio work or miked gigs where you want a spongier, more dynamic sound. It's plenty for a miked gig, but it struggles at 5 watts to keep up with a band in rehearsal.

Things I wish were better about the Express: to my ears, the best 2 settings are clean and crunch, and they exist on the same channel, and you really need to re-EQ everything going from one to the other. I wish they'd make an Express with just the clean channel for 1 and just the crunch channel for 2. Or, sort of like an Analogman KOT, just make a "Double Express" with both channels having the same clean/crunch option. My 5:50 is heavy as all get out -- nearly 60 pounds. I actually prefer shlepping the Marshall cabinet up stairs with the help of my bass player than trying to risk nerve damage in my hand carrying the 5:50 around. It can be challenging to dial in, though this gets much easier once you read the manual and learn how the tone stack works. Basically, you need to dial it in left to right. I set the master roughly where I want it volume-wise, everything else to about 9:00, and then dial in gain, then treble, then mids, then bass, then contour. Reverb to taste. But the Deluxe Reverb is easy -- I dial in 2 knobs real quick and it's good to go. The Marshall is easier, since it just has a 5-way tone switch, dialing it in consists of turning it on and turning the volume knob where I want it. The Mesa takes a bit more work.

Personally, I prefer the tone of the 5:50 to the 5:25, even the 1x12 5:25. I'm odd that way, most people prefer the 5:25 because it's a bit chimier. I prefer the drier tone of the 5:50 on the "clean with hair on it" tones. But having said that, the 5:50 is WAY too loud, and for a rehearsal/studio/occasional gig amp, it's also way too heavy and bulky. It has a great master volume, but I rarely get mine above 9:00 or 10:00 on the master, whereas I can let the 5:25 breathe a bit more. If I were you, I'd get the Express, but I'd get the 5:25 in either 1x12 form, or a head/cab, or the Blues Jr. sized 1x10 using an extension cabinet where practical. I have a spare Eminence Private Jack laying around and I'm going to build a 1x12 cabinet for my 5:25 so I'll have pretty much the tone of the 5:50 in a package that's still feasible as a grab and go amp if I want to leave the separate cab behind. If you don't want to worry about separate cabs, the 1x12 5:25 sounds much better to my ears, and is about 9 pounds lighter than the 5:50, and significantly smaller. For reference, the 1x10 is 38 pounds, the 1x12 is 45, and the 5:50 1x12 is 54 pounds. Here is a photo of my 5:50 1x12 on the left and my 5:25 1x10 on the right:



As you can see, the 5:25 is much smaller. For your use, I'd think the 5:25 1x10 combo, 1x12 combo or head/cab would be the best bet. Having gigged both a Deluxe Reverb and a Mesa Express myself, I think you'll be happier with the Mesa.
 

Gridlock

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David,
A good review. If I was still gigging I would own another 5:50 Express. Maybe the new Plus version this time which is supposed to have even better cleans.
 

Thunder Dump

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Love my 5:25 1X10. I replaced the stock speaker with an Alnico Gold and that really opened it up. Like others have said, these things are *rock solid* when it comes to build quality. I've never had any issues with mine and it's traveled thousands of miles to several dozen gigs. Also, with the four voices available and two power settings you should be able to dial in whatever two sounds you need for primary work with relative ease.

And the best thing about the 1X10 is the portability. You will not find this much quality, tone, and punch in any amp that is smaller or lighter.
 

David Garner

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Love my 5:25 1X10. I replaced the stock speaker with an Alnico Gold and that really opened it up.

Celestion Gold? I've heard good things about that speaker in this amp, but I haven't tried it in mine. I might if it really helps a lot. The biggest complaint I've got about the 1x10 is the speaker. It is a different beast through my 2061cx cab or my 5:50's cab (especially when it had the Private Jack in it). If I could get a speaker that makes it sound phenomenal in combo form, it would be a nearly perfect amp.

And the best thing about the 1X10 is the portability. You will not find this much quality, tone, and punch in any amp that is smaller or lighter.

Absolutely. It will do it all and it is easy to carry around.
 

PageSide84

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Thanks for all the input, guys. David Garner, that was especially helpful. The only other question I have is can the 5:25 keep up with a band without being miced? That's my biggest concern, and the reason I was looking at the 5:50. The other guitarist in my current band seems to think he needs a JCM 900 (gross . . and btw, I learned that telling someone their tone sucks is akin to telling someone they can't drive or have no sense of humor . . . it's a bad idea). I just want to make sure the amp doesn't get drowned out too easily.

Anyway, thanks again for all the feedback. I didn't think I'd get this depth of information from one thread. Of course, I'm going to try the 68 DRRI and Express again, but you've really put me heavy for the Express.
 

David Garner

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Thanks for all the input, guys. David Garner, that was especially helpful. The only other question I have is can the 5:25 keep up with a band without being miced? That's my biggest concern, and the reason I was looking at the 5:50. The other guitarist in my current band seems to think he needs a JCM 900 (gross . . and btw, I learned that telling someone their tone sucks is akin to telling someone they can't drive or have no sense of humor . . . it's a bad idea). I just want to make sure the amp doesn't get drowned out too easily.

Anyway, thanks again for all the feedback. I didn't think I'd get this depth of information from one thread. Of course, I'm going to try the 68 DRRI and Express again, but you've really put me heavy for the Express.

It's plenty for reasonable volumes. It will have a harder time being heard over the JCM900 than the drummer. It's plenty for rehearsal with everything but the vocals unmiked. I've used my 1x10 that way for years. If your other guitarist controls his volume to get a nice mix you'll be fine. If not, you'll likely get drowned out, but then, no one will hear anything but his guitar anyway, so…..
 

PageSide84

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It's plenty for reasonable volumes. It will have a harder time being heard over the JCM900 than the drummer. It's plenty for rehearsal with everything but the vocals unmiked. I've used my 1x10 that way for years. If your other guitarist controls his volume to get a nice mix you'll be fine. If not, you'll likely get drowned out, but then, no one will hear anything but his guitar anyway, so…..

Yeah. We've gotten the point across about his volume, as he was giving us a lot of problems when I played bass (we needed a bassist, and sacrificed one guitar for a while), as well. He has it dialed back quite a bit, I just wanted to be sure that the 5:25 would provide enough power to get over him and cut through. Weight isn't a problem for me, as I lift heavy things all the time, so that isn't a consideration with the 5:50.
 

David Garner

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Keep in mind it isn't just the weight. It's a huge pig of an amp for a combo. That's fine if you won't be moving it very much, but the 5:25 will fit in places the 5:50 won't. I can set it in the trunk of my car upright with no problem. The 5:50 won't fit. For gigs, I use my wife's van, but for rehearsals or grab and go stuff, I want something that will easily fit in my car.

I'm not trying to talk you out of the 5:50, don't get me wrong. I prefer the tone of it, and I actually have one for sale so if anything I have an interest in hawking mine to you :D I just think of what I use the 5:50 versus the 5:25 for, and the 5:50 is for home playing and gigs. The 5:25 is for everything else, literally. It gets the most use by far.
 

Gridlock

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The 5:50 would be the choice for me just because I like the smoother-warmer tone of the 6l6's VS EL84's. Also the stock speaker in the 5:50 sounds really nice VS the V30 in the 5:25. Just my thoughts.

I don't recall the 5:50 (1x12 version) being that big or heavy as compared some of my other amps.

Again, I've never owned or played a 5:25 so David as a lot more experience.
 

PageSide84

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I don't have a car, so it won't be moved that much. However, I didn't realize the thing above your 5:50 was a keyboard . . . . that is actually much larger than I thought. An old roommate of mine had a 5:25 back in 2009(?), so I know the size of that. This thread has been great. Any concerns I had have been erased.

I've got another month or so until I move back into the rehearsal space, so I can poke around and see what works, but I'm pretty sure I'll be going with the Mesa. Thanks, again.
 

BEACHBUM

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Whereas the Twin at 64 lbs. is a middle weight as 2X12 combo amps go the Mesa 550 at 54 lbs. is definitely a 1x12 heavyweight. It's no secret that Mesas in general are some of the heaviest amps out there. On the other hand it's no secret that they are some of the best sounding amps out there as well. For clean Country pickin the Twin is my favorite thing and I'm very happy with it through my pedal board. But I also wanted a more versatile Twin like (meaning 6L6 with lots of headroom) amp that was capable of doing excellent pure tube OD and found the 550 to be the best choice for the money I had to spend. Another thing that attracted me to the Mesa was the choice of 3 different wattage settings which to my mind basically gives me 3 amps in one. That's as much versatility as I'll ever need. The stock Celestion speaker is excellent but just not to my taste. Having had good luck with a set of Eminence Texas Heats in the Twin I went with a pair of C-Rex hemp cones in the amp and extension cab of the 550 and got just what I was looking for.

 

PageSide84

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New info, but I don't want to litter the board with new threads. I have a lead on a well-priced Mark IV combo. I know that it will weight approx. 2750 lbs., but that's not all that important to me. I have heard that it is difficult to dial in good tone out of these beasts. Is it really that hard, or does it just take time? Assuming someone doesn't swoop in and grab my find, I plan on getting the Mark IV, but I was just curious if anyone could give me any opinions about getting good tone out of the Mark IV.

Thanks again, everyone, for all the great info.
 

David Garner

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New info, but I don't want to litter the board with new threads. I have a lead on a well-priced Mark IV combo. I know that it will weight approx. 2750 lbs., but that's not all that important to me. I have heard that it is difficult to dial in good tone out of these beasts. Is it really that hard, or does it just take time? Assuming someone doesn't swoop in and grab my find, I plan on getting the Mark IV, but I was just curious if anyone could give me any opinions about getting good tone out of the Mark IV.

Thanks again, everyone, for all the great info.

Mesas in general are different (not really difficult) to dial in. Mostly, the key is to go left to right between the gain and the tone stack. You can't just set it and forget it like you do other amps. You have to dial it in properly, because small changes to the gain or treble will make HUGE changes to the tonality of the amp. It's just the way the controls work together.

If you get the Mark IV, read the manual carefully and follow it explicitly and you should be fine. I'd listen to some youtube videos, and if you like what you hear, pull the trigger.
 

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