Mesa Triple Crown!!! New Amp Month and Mini Review

ErictheRed

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I bought one of these a month ago, and wow!! I'm pretty blown away. I keep discovering new, great sounds out of it. I didn't post a NAD back then because I buy and flip a lot of gear, but this one is going to be a keeper for a long time I think. I really, really love it; in fact, I haven't loved any new gear acquisition in a long time, but so far I love this one. It's the first multi-channel amp that I've ever owned, but I've owned some great single channel amps over the years.

I've been running it through a closed Reeves 2x12 cabinet with Fane F70s (my favorite speaker now), but just bought a matching open-backed Mesa Lonestar 23 cab with a Celestion G12H-75 in it which is far more portable. I prefer the Reeves cabinet, but the Lonestar cabinet is nice as well, and I might try it with a Fane F70 or Fane A60 (alnico) in it.

I snapped two quick cell phone pics:


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After having a chance to play it at rehearsal a few times, here's my quick review in random order:

1. Reverb
I might as well put this first. At first, I didn't like the reverb very much, because it's nothing like the typical reverb from a Fender combo or similar (I've owned many Traynor YGM-3s, YRM-1s, and currently have a '66 Fender Vibrolux that I'm comparing the reverb to). Although this is also tube-driven spring reverb, it isn't very wet or drippy, or bouncy or surf-like. It's more of an ambient sound, kind of like a hall reverb or room reverb. After getting past the fact that it's not what I'm used to, I like the reverb a lot.

The best thing about it is that you can set individual reverb levels on all three channels, so you don't have to go from a reverb-laden clean to channel to zero-reverb distorted channel if you don't want. The reverb is very usable reverb with gain, too, which I think is why they went with something different than the typical Fender reverb sound. It's a very modern reverb in that sense, but in a 50 Watt head you don't usually get reverb anyways, so I'm glad to have it. If I want a different sort of sound, I'll use a pedal in the effects loop.

2. Controls
All of the three channels have identical controls that control only that channel: Gain, Master, Bass, Middle, Treble, and Presence. Each channel also has a toggle switch that does the same thing, though the effect sounds different depending on the channel. In the "Normal" position, the channel sounds normal to me (duh), but in the "Tight" (or called "Drive" on the clean channel), it sounds a lot like someone stepped on a Tubescreamer with the gain and level set at unity. It cuts bass and adds mids, and maybe adds a little presence or treble as well (more than on a normal Tubescreamer). So you really get three channels with two different modes each, for a huge range of sounds.

One of the greatest features on this amp, to me, is that there is an additional global Master Volume that controls all three channels, and a Solo volume. The Solo volume is one of my favorite features ever! It's not a boost that slams the front end of your amp harder, it's truly just a separate Master Volume setting that you switch over to. And since this amp has tons of power and headroom (for my purposes), no matter what my sound is, when I engage the "Solo" footswitch I get the exact same tone, only louder. I don't think that I've EVER had that (though close with a boost into my Hiwatt), and I love it.

The footswitch is large and easy to use, also. The effects loop is footswitchable, and the amp is fully MIDI capable (which I haven't even started to mess with). The footswitch is a little large, but I've removed 3-4 drive pedals from my board when I play with this amp, so overall my pedalboard is cleaner and easier to use.


Grabbing lunch, more later...
 
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ErictheRed

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3. Clean Channel
The first channel that really drew me in was this one: the cleans are fantastic! In some ways I don't think that it sounds as good as my Hiwatt or Vibrolux or like my Traynor YBA-1 used to sound, but that's to be expected. I'm extremely picky with clean tone, and this sounds great! The bass is very full and the controls are extremely versatile. I'm not sure what to compare the cleans to; obviously a lot of Mesas are basically Fender clean circuits, but this is different. It's also different from my Hiwatt or "British" cleans to some extent, so it has it's own thing going.

Putting the toggle switch into "Drive," you get a LOT of chime with the highs turned up. You can get quite a lot of gain this way, actually, like AC/DC levels of gain or Friedman Smallbox plexi channel levels of gain, but I don't use it that way. I set it up to get Vox-like, Tom Petty style chime at the flick of a switch, and while I don't have a Rickenbacker, I can get very close to that sound with my Les Paul here. Basically, the toggle switch is so versatile on the clean channel that I think of the amp as a four-channel amp. My only complaint is that the toggle switch is not footswitchable, and I have to physically walk over and flick this tiny toggle switch between songs.

4. Lo Gain Channel
I didn't like this channel at all at the store, and almost wrote off the amp because of it. After watching a lot of video demos I decided to give the amp another try, and I'm glad I did. At first the bass was very lacking, but I've figured out how to get great bass out of it. I run the bass around 3:00 now, and turn all of the mids, treble, and presence down between 9:00 - 11:00 and I get great, full-range crunch and distortion now. If I turn the Treble especially up past noon or so the bass starts to get less and less, but I've found an excellent balance now for my tastes and am loving this channel.

It reminds me a little of my Suhr Badger; I used to think that it was lacking highs, then I used my ear to dial Bass at 11:00, Mids at 1:30, and Treble essentially maxed out, and I liked the sound. It was OK that treble was maxed, because I didn't really need more. In the same way, it's okay that I'm running the bass so high here and the other controls lower, because the end result sounds wonderful.

It's called the low gain channel, but there is actually a lot of gain on tap here, plenty for most any classic rock application or up through the 80s. I'm not going to lie here and say something like "this is the sound in my head that I've always been chasing," but it's pretty damn close. Honestly, I've always been a single channel amp + pedals guy, and never 100% happy with mid-gain crunch sounds. I finally am.

5. High Gain Channel
This thing has more gain that I've ever used, wow! Normally to get this level of gain, I'm using a Big Muff, but of course that's a pretty unique sound. I started a thread a couple of years ago on trying to get a tight, progressive metal high-gain sound, and eventually bought a Megalith Delta distortion pedal. Anyway, I've so far sold three distortion pedals, including the Megalith, and more might be going.

I haven't actually used this channel a lot, but when I first plugged into it I immediately thought of "Killing in the Name Of," and it sounds great for Rage Against the Machine as well as tighter metal and prog-metal. I don't currently play a lot of that stuff, but I'm really happy to be able to plug in and get those sounds easily, without any fuss. I'd love to use this channel more outside of messing around at home, but it will take getting the other band members on board. It does work well for solos, too.

The best thing about all of these channels is that they actually blend together very well. I've never tried another multi-channel amp that I could actually switch between channels mid-song without a volume jump or drop, or the tone being too different or whatever. Mesa has hit the channel-switching aspect of this out of the park, IMO.

Final Thoughts

I absolutely LOVE this thing! I'm really blown away. I've always been a vintage amp guy and was never all that taken with modern amps, outside of Power Scaling and amps that were based on classic circuits. But there are so many small things that make this a great amp, such as the Solo being a separate Master Volume and being able to set the reverb level for each channel individually. And the tone is just fantastic!

I'm basically using it as a four-channel amp (with the Drive mode in channel 1), and I've removed 3-4 drive pedals from my board. It's so much easier to get consistent tones and volume levels now, instead of having to fiddle with knobs on distortion pedals, sometimes changing the levels around based on which pedals I'm going to stack and which ones I run on their own. And then there's that other song where I stack this pedal with that one that I don't normally stack, and ahh!!! Too loud or whatever. For a guy playing in a band that needs to get a wide range of sounds but isn't ready to give up on tube amps (like me), this seems like a perfect solution. Caveat that I haven't used some features at all like the Cab Clone direct out.

Lastly, it's only about 35 pounds and the head is a little smaller than many 50 Watt heads, at least older ones. It's not as small as a Suhr Badger 35, but the Mesa Triple Crown seems to pack an incredible amount of features into a fairly portable package.

I guess the very, very last thing I'll say is that this is my first Mesa product ever. I've played a lot of others in the store over the years, but never liked them very much. The Triple Crown seems to sound different than all of the other Mesas I've played, but also doesn't sound like a Marshall or Vox or Fender clone, either. It's got its own sound, and I'm really loving it, despite never being a Mesa fan in the past.
 
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Jimmy3711

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Congratulations on an incredible amp!

I too just bought a TC-50 head a little while ago with the vertical 2x12 Recto cab. Within a couple of weeks, I also picked up the TC-50 combo for a grab and go rig. So many excellent tones to be had. I no longer have a cluttered pedalboard. Just the Mesa foot controller, tuner, Wah and a couple of modulation pedals. I used to play through Marshall Jubilees, but this has me smitten. Kept the Jub, but now it sits.
 

cherrysunburst00

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Congrats. I always enjoy reading a person's pleasure with new gear.

Beautiful Lester too. I love the BBQ flame; my flamed tops are mostly BBQ as well
 

The Ballzz

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@ErictheRed
I realize you said this amp "doesn't sound like a Marshall or Vox or Fender clone" but my biggest question is:" CAN it sound like a Marshall when you want it too?" Certainly a whole bunch of well thought out and very useful features, IF the sounds are there. I've owned a few Boogie models and played many others and found that the classic "Marshall" thing simply could not be achieved, no how, no way!
Thanks,
Gene
 

Freddy G

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@ErictheRed
I realize you said this amp "doesn't sound like a Marshall or Vox or Fender clone" but my biggest question is:" CAN it sound like a Marshall when you want it too?" Certainly a whole bunch of well thought out and very useful features, IF the sounds are there. I've owned a few Boogie models and played many others and found that the classic "Marshall" thing simply could not be achieved, no how, no way!
Thanks,
Gene
I'm interested in that question too. I remember doing a studio session once....rock guitar. The producer told me I didn't need to bring my amp (which was a Marshall)....they had a Boogie in studio. I screwed around with dials and settings and like Gene said.....no way, no how could I get a Marshall sound. It was most unpleasant. I never made that mistake again.

Just dialin' ;)
 
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screamingdaisy

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@ErictheRed
I realize you said this amp "doesn't sound like a Marshall or Vox or Fender clone" but my biggest question is:" CAN it sound like a Marshall when you want it too?" Certainly a whole bunch of well thought out and very useful features, IF the sounds are there. I've owned a few Boogie models and played many others and found that the classic "Marshall" thing simply could not be achieved, no how, no way!
Thanks,
Gene
A TC-50 does a really good job of sounding like a TC-50.

It’s not a Marshall, and if that’s what you’re looking for then there’s a lot of other amps that already do that sound.
 

The Ballzz

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A TC-50 does a really good job of sounding like a TC-50.

It’s not a Marshall, and if that’s what you’re looking for then there’s a lot of other amps that already do that sound.
Yeah, that's kinda what I figured. Boogies just seem so touchy, with getting real close to what you want and the slight movement of one knob can change everything. It's a shame, as Boogie's build quality and reliability seem fairly stellar!

And yeah, I have a small pile of Marshalls and Fenders. What would seem "IDEAL" to me would be if this amp could do authentic Marshall, Vox & Fender tones that could be foot switched between! :cool: I guess that's asking too much? Many of their amps are already pretty good at the Vox and Fender stuff, but just never seem to quite capture "that Marshall THANG!" Close, but no ceegar!

Just My $.02,
Gene
 

ErictheRed

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The whole "can it sound like a Marshall?" question is a loaded one, in my opinion. Many people say that any great clean sound sounds like a Fender, and that any great distorted sound sounds like a Marshall, no matter what the tone. I respect a lot of the people here, so I don't mean that everyone here does that, but "sounds like a Marshall" can mean a lot of different things to different people. A lot of sounds that people call "Marshall tone" is really something else, like Kossof, Townsend, and Page playing Hiwatts or Orange amps. Or even a tweed Fender in a recording studio or whatever.

I've owned and played a lot of Traynor YBA-1s, many that I modded to Marshall specs. I played a Bassman 4x10 for a long time, many Traynor YGM-3s, a Reeves Custom 18 for a while, a Suhr Badger, and I had a Reeves Custom Lead for a long time, which is almost an exact clone of a Super Lead. I've played many JCM 800s and owned a Studio Classic for a short time (before buying this instead). That's about it for "Marshalls." I also have the Hiwatt that I reference for British tone.

I've played lots of other Marshalls that I didn't own, a handwired 1974x, JTM45, DSL, TSL...I've played other clones as well, and perhaps the Suhr SL67 was my favorite of the modern clones. Friedman's that I've played sound too "polished" to sound like a real Marshall to me, personally.

So what is Marshall tone? I don't really know what people mean, honestly. To me, good Marshall tone has no mids scoop, and can have a lot of high end and presence. The highs can make some people think that vintage Marshalls sound thin at times, and you have to know how to work with it. However, Marshall tone isn't as "toppy" as a Hiwatt, it's not as smooth and pretty of a high end. Good Marshall tone also has a deep, bassy growl when you want it (the JCM 800 especially has this to me).

So anyway...other people have already chimed in saying that the Triple Crown won't sound like a Marshall. It depends on what flavor Marshall you want, but to me, my favorite overdriven/crunch tones are pretty much cranked plexi (my Reeves Custom Lead) or cranked Hiwatt (which I can't get except at very high volumes). I'd say that that Triple Crown gets a lot closer to what I think of as that perfect Marshall crunch than it does to the Hiwatt sound.

Can it "sound like a Marshall?" I don't know. You can read the other thread I wrote looking for a multi-channel amp, and I truly wanted Marshall crunch plus great cleans. I think that I got that with the Triple Crown, frankly, even if it's not 100% Marshall. It's closer to Marshall than any other Mesa I've played, but so far, I don't feel like it's missed the target at all--it's just a little different than a Marshall. Not worse, and in some ways (the way that it sits in the mix), a lot more practical (and dare I say better) than the Marshalls I've played.

There aren't any videos out there truly A/Bing the Triple Crown and a Marshall, but there is this:

Neither amp is set quite how I would set them, but they sound pretty close to me. I prefer the Mesa (though I'm not a 2555x fan, so no surprise there).
 
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screamingdaisy

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The whole "can it sound like a Marshall?" question is a loaded one, in my opinion. Many people say that any great clean sound sounds like a Fender, and that any great distorted sound sounds like a Marshall, no matter what the tone. I respect a lot of the people here, so I don't mean that everyone here does that, but "sounds like a Marshall" can mean a lot of different things to different people. A lot of sounds that people call "Marshall tone" is really something else, like Kossof, Townsend, and Page playing Hiwatts or Orange amps. Or even a tweed Fender in a recording studio or whatever.

I've owned and played a lot of Traynor YBA-1s, many that I modded to Marshall specs. I played a Bassman 4x10 for a long time, many Traynor YGM-3s, a Reeves Custom 18 for a while, a Suhr Badger, and I had a Reeves Custom Lead for a long time, which is almost an exact clone of a Super Lead. I've played many JCM 800s and owned a Studio Classic for a short time (before buying this instead). That's about it for "Marshalls." I also have the Hiwatt that I reference for British tone.

I've played lots of other Marshalls that I didn't own, a handwired 1974x, JTM45, DSL, TSL...I've played other clones as well, and perhaps the Suhr SL67 was my favorite of the modern clones. Friedman's that I've played sound too "polished" to sound like a real Marshall to me, personally.

So what is Marshall tone? I don't really know what people mean, honestly. To me, good Marshall tone has no mids scoop, and can have a lot of high end and presence. The highs can make some people think that vintage Marshalls sound thin at times, and you have to know how to work with it. However, Marshall tone isn't as "toppy" as a Hiwatt, it's not as smooth and pretty of a high end. Good Marshall tone also has a deep, bassy growl when you want it (the JCM 800 especially has this to me).

So anyway...other people have already chimed in saying that the Triple Crown won't sound like a Marshall. It depends on what flavor Marshall you want, but to me, my favorite overdriven/crunch tones are pretty much cranked plexi (my Reeves Custom Lead) or cranked Hiwatt (which I can't get except at very high volumes). I'd say that that Triple Crown gets a lot closer to what I think of as that perfect Marshall crunch than it does to the Hiwatt sound.

Can it "sound like a Marshall?" I don't know. You can read the other thread I wrote looking for a multi-channel amp, and I truly wanted Marshall crunch plus great cleans. I think that I got that with the Triple Crown, frankly, even if it's not 100% Marshall. It's closer to Marshall than any other Mesa I've played, but so far, I don't feel like it's missed the target at all--it's just a little different than a Marshall. Not worse, and in some ways (the way that it sits in the mix), a lot more practical (and dare I say better) than the Marshalls I've played.

There aren't any videos out there truly A/Bing the Triple Crown and a Marshall, but there is this:

Neither amp is set quite how I would set them, but they sound pretty close to me. I prefer the Mesa (though I'm not a 2555x fan, so no surprise there).
Agreed. “Marshall” means different things to different people, and the speakers/cabs are as much a part of that sound as the amplifier.

Will a TC-50 plugged into a Recto cab sound like a Marshall? I don’t know... will a Plexi plugged into a Recto cab sound like a Marshall?
 

ErictheRed

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Congratulations on an incredible amp!

I too just bought a TC-50 head a little while ago with the vertical 2x12 Recto cab. Within a couple of weeks, I also picked up the TC-50 combo for a grab and go rig. So many excellent tones to be had. I no longer have a cluttered pedalboard. Just the Mesa foot controller, tuner, Wah and a couple of modulation pedals. I used to play through Marshall Jubilees, but this has me smitten. Kept the Jub, but now it sits.
Wow, you have two Triple Crowns? That's love!
 

ErictheRed

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Just a short update that I, still surprisingly to me, really love this amp. It's been seven months, and I just LOVE it. My other two amps are a 1976 Hiwatt DR504 and 1966 Fender Vibrolux Reverb, and this amp gets the most play by far. It doesn't have as pretty cleans as either of those, or as nice of reverb as the Fender, but it's just so incredibly usable and versatile.

I've dialed the clean channel in to sound very close to how I like the Hiwatt to sound. It's obviously not identical but it's close, and the differences are more "feel" than sound.

I'm starting to like the Lo Gain channel more, and I've gotten it very close to what most people would call a "Marshall sound," I think. I dial the Gain to about 1:30, and then the Bass way up (2:30 or 3:00), and the Mids, Presence, and Treble all down between 9:00 - 10:00. I like a bright sound, and this amp is brighter than any other Mesa I've played. As the Gain goes up the brightness does, too, and you need to tame it to keep it from sounding thin. With these settings, I'm loving the crunch and distortion more than either of my other amps with pedals.

The Hiwatt still wins for fuzz sounds and a pedal platform in general, and the Vibrolux wins for cranked, full clean sounds (if you can get it loud). But wow, I'm surprised this amp isn't more popular. I highly recommend it.

When my band gets some good recordings I'll get some of them up.

I'm starting to gas for another Mesa amp now, maybe the Fillmore or the California Tweed?

 
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The Ballzz

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@ErictheRed

I'd love to hear your detailed take on it, if you happen to get that "California Tweed" as you give clear and concise descriptions that I can well understand! I'm currently considering either a Marshall Studio Vintage or Studio Classic.

With that said, my favorite amp tones come from my 5E3 Tweed Deluxe, but I miss the "modern, operational, bells & whistles" of an effects loop and/or reverb! Sure, I could complicate my life by using the 5E3 in a wet/dry rig, but that's just too much of a PITA at my advanced years! I have been currently using a DSL20, mostly on the Classic Channel, cranked with a great attenuator and it's been "OK" but not quite up tp par with the Tweed Deluxe. And FWIW, that "Marshall Sound" that I look for is that territory shared with a gret 5E3!Anyone who has owned a 1959, 1987 and/or JCM800, along with a great Tweed, gets what I'm talking about! From the write up, that "California Tweed" may be just the ticket!

Thanks,
Gene
 

ErictheRed

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@The Ballzz:

Hey Gene, thanks for the feedback. I mentioned that I had a Studio Classic before this for a short time, and flipped it for a loss. It sounded good, but I really thought that it was a one-trick pony. It had one really great sound, and the rest (cleans, etc) were not as good as other amps to me. I like the TC-50's clean channel a lot better than any clean sound that I got out of the Studio Classic, for instance. I don't really recommend the Studio Classic, unless you just need that one Marshall crunch sound and nothing else. The TC-50 also has the excellent Hi Gain channel that the Studio Classic can't do.

I'm leaning towards a Mesa Fillmore, because the 25 is only 35 pounds, and the Fillmore 50 is only 45 pounds. The Fillmore 25 seems a lot like a Deluxe Reverb feature and size wise, but with an effects loop, a second channel, higher gain modes, etc. Seems like a perfect, smaller grab-n-go type amp to me, with more options than a Deluxe Reverb. One of these days I'll play one and a California Tweed and decide if I need to add one to the stable!
 

screamingdaisy

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Well, I love my Triple Crown so much that this happened:

View attachment 542791

Sorry for the crappy pic. I have zero need for a 100 Watt amp, but I had to see what the differences are...

I'm hopeless.
Nice. Up until a few days ago I had two TC-50s. After some experimenting I ran the bottom with EL34s into a 2x12 and the top one with 6V6 into a 4x12.

Only sold one (and the 4x12) because I’m moving to a smaller place. One of my sadder moments…



 

ErictheRed

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Yeah, I'm actually having a hard time parting with one; maybe I'll just keep both? Pretty ridiculous to have both, but...the TC-50 is almost grab-and-go it's so portable. You wouldn't think it, but about 11-12 pounds more in the same form factor makes the TC-100 much less portable. I guess I'm getting old! Plus it just punches a little bit harder, and I do think that the cleans sound a tad better. It could just be my imagination, though.

I was kind of thinking of selling the TC-50 head and getting a combo version, best of both worlds perhaps?
 

redking

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Yeah, I'm actually having a hard time parting with one; maybe I'll just keep both? Pretty ridiculous to have both, but...the TC-50 is almost grab-and-go it's so portable. You wouldn't think it, but about 11-12 pounds more in the same form factor makes the TC-100 much less portable. I guess I'm getting old! Plus it just punches a little bit harder, and I do think that the cleans sound a tad better. It could just be my imagination, though.

I was kind of thinking of selling the TC-50 head and getting a combo version, best of both worlds perhaps?
The extra headroom on the 100 would make the cleans sound better for sure.
 


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