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NAD (Yesterday) A Review and A REquest

Discussion in 'Amp Input - Normal or Bright' started by Silvercrow, Feb 9, 2019.

  1. Silvercrow

    Silvercrow Senior Stratmaster

    Nov 6, 2014
    Bucks County, Pa.
    SO yesterday at 6AM I hopped (well, kinda slinked) into my vehicle, armed with Garman, a Yeti full of coffee, my vape stuff and headed to Gettysburg Pa. Amp for sale "local pickup only". Haven't had a road trip in a while. 2.5 hour drive. (Yep, I'm crazy). WELL worth it IMO.

    Seller is a super nice guy- had it all set up for me to try out. Mesa Express 5:50 NON- plus, unknown year. Excellent condition. Everything worked, looked great and it came home with me.

    2 6L6 power tubes, 5 (!) 12AX7's. 3 of them used for gain stages on the amp. No rectifier tube- solid state rectifier I guess. 50 watts AB push/pull switchable to 5 watts true class A. The amp has NO marks or scuffs- no aesthetic issues. We all hear of Mesa's top notch build quality and this amp displays just that. Peeking into the back through the vent holes, the circuit boards are THICK ,neat and surprisingly clean / dust free.

    I've been reading where transformers are getting smaller in some modern amps- this output tranny seems a decent size, although not sure if size matters, as much as it did in the 80's :D.

    Basically, it's a two channel amp each having two levels of gain. Gain 'levels are named Channel 1: "Clean" "Crunch" Channel 2: "Blues" and "Burn".

    Footswitch for channel selection, Reverb (on-off), and Contour (on off). Unfortunately, no footswitching between 'levels' within the channels. Switchable by toggle on the amp's face- but not foot switchable with the included footswitch.

    The footswitch was a little wonky, but a quick clean and SLIGHT reset of the pins (9 pin jacks) and working perfectly.

    I'm lovin' this amp so far.

    CHANNEL 1 CLEAN setting: The cleans are nice and chimey; clear, bell like, rich. Reminding me of good Fender clean tones but not exactly like Fender. Was able to dial in a good tone using the Treb, Mid and Bass knobs.

    But each channel has a "Contour" setting too. Mesa says it adds a "V" eq or mid scoop to the EQ. Now, I normally set it that way anyway, but clicking on the contour adds a richness and depth, for lack of a better description, more character. Seems to be usable through it's sweepable range.

    CRUNCH: adding some overdriven tones here. Convincing, real, not 'hi-fi' sounding or transistorized. VERY close to how I set my Archer in front of a Deluxe Reverb or even the JTM45 setting on my Positive Grid at lower gain settings. NICE

    CHANNEL 2 "BLUES" Hmmmm. Nice, just a hair more overdrive than the crunch. At higher gain settings, it DOES bark and snarl. Higher gain with the contour knob set about 2:00 and thats a sweet spot I could use for leads or some sustaining in-yo-face power chording. All RIGHT!

    "BURN": Now I'm not a heavy distortion guy, and this is one setting I'll have to experiment with some. Bass has to come down at higher gain settings (not unusual); at lower gain settings and the contour between 2-3:00 theres a liquidy sustain reminiscent of earlier Santana stuff. Beyond that I'll have to do some tweaking as I am not accustomed to this type voicing. It can get into Metal territory quick and it DOES sound powerful and realistic. EASY to coax Van-Halen-esque pinch harmonics- not something I usually do. Usable settings for me on this level remain to be seen.


    I had read where the bass can get 'flubby' or is 'too loose'. I'm not finding that with my Les Pauls. Have not tried the Strat yet, but that's next. I have not had to set the bass above 11:00 / 11:30 and usually don't on ANY amp I'm using.

    The sustain on this amp is tops, as is the harmonic content on Crunch, Blues and Burn settings. At higher gain and Contour in the 'sweet spot' harmonics present and goes into harmonic feedback effortlessly with a twist of the guitar volume control.

    VERY touch responsive.

    I had read that the amp is 'one dimensional' without using the Contour switch / knob. I'm not finding that at all. The Contour does significantly add depth, character and dimension to the tone, but I could find a very toneful and sweet setting without it. But- it's there, so why not use it?

    Before I bought the amp, I was concerned of two things. 1- TOO MANY switches, too many settings. Will I be able to dial in tonal signatures I want without driving myself crazy (crazier than I already am?). YES- seems I will!

    2- The overdrive / gain settings will sound contrived, transistorized, buzzy. NO WORRIES. Sounds like it should- an increasingly overdriven tube amp, rich harmonic content and touch sensitive.

    To me I've got a winner here!

    Confident enough playing though it for the afternoon after getting it home, that I took it to band rehearsal last night. This is huge for me- as I'm a careful sort; anything not tested and tweaked stays home until it is. At rehearsal; 3 Hours of playing at medium to loud volumes and the amp proved more than admirable. Without exception, all my band mates were impressed with the amp. As was I.

    For our last song of the night we did "Rockin' in the Free World". For fun , I kicked on the "Burn" and let it rip on the solo. A LITTLE over the top! I think my keyboardist's hearing will return in a day or so. April (her name) is the master of understatement. She looked at me after the song ended and stoically quipped "That's even louder than you USUALLY play!" I apologized but I don't think she heard me...:sneaky:

    I have not used it on the 5 watt setting. Don't know if I will, except to try it out. That may change- it may come in very handy at home when the neighbors are around or my wife wants to keep her sanity, and hearing in tact!

    The amp is LOUD. 50 tube watts. BOTH channels have Master volumes and are absolutely controllable though.

    The amp is HEAVY. 64 pounds on my bathroom scale. Probably slightly less in actual weight, but not much, I can tell ya. I'll be making a wheeled platform or adding wheels to the amp itself sooner than later. Using my modeling amps / head and cab combo has me more than a little spoiled in the weight department.

    So anyway- lots of words and hopefully helpful or at least informative to anyone wondering about these amps. Any questions or comments= please feel free.

    1 more "detraction"- the amp and cover REEK of stale cigarette smoke.

    IF ANYONE has suggestions as to how to quell the smell, please speak up! (LOUDLY- my ears are still ringing...LOL). Seriously, I put the cover outside today and wiped the amp down with Febreze. It helped, a little. Any suggestions or 'tricks' in this area are appreciated!

    Thanks for looking!

  2. Stratoskater

    Stratoskater Most Honored Senior Member

    Feb 8, 2011
    Running with Scissors
    Very nice amp. I’ve had several used amps from smokers and hate to say it but I was not able to get the smell to completely go away. One I owned for a year and used Febreez and other cleaners dozens of times and it would diminish for a day or so but every time I went near it in a day or two it wreaked again. Especially bad when the tubes heated it up after playing for a while. I grew up with two parents who smoked and have never smoked once in my life. I absolutely hate the stale smell of smoke and for this reason will not buy anything used from a smoker. I even bought a used pedal a year or two ago and it smelled to high heaven do I sold it three days later. I’ve heard that fresh air and sunlight can help breakdown and get rid of the smell. I tried this a few times but I’ve read it takes many hours and I can’t really leave my amp sitting outside long enough to have this work.
    Stratbats and Silvercrow like this.
  3. Silvercrow

    Silvercrow Senior Stratmaster

    Nov 6, 2014
    Bucks County, Pa.
    Thanks- I kinda fear it won't go completely away either. AND I understand too that sunlight and fresh air can do wonders; but it's one thing leaving a cover outside, quite another leaving the amp out!

    I just got a text from a friend that suggested "Odor Out'- he heard about it on the web. Have to check it out...

    I love the amp and the price was great- gonna do all I can to hold on to it. So far- it's not permeating the small music room...

    Stratoskater likes this.
  4. Silvercrow

    Silvercrow Senior Stratmaster

    Nov 6, 2014
    Bucks County, Pa.
    OH! One more Mesa thoughtful nicety:

    The power cord is LONG. Haven't measured it yet, but I'm betting at least 20'!

    Likewise the cable for the switching pedal. At LEAST 20'- will report back when I can measure them. I've always felt that many amp makers skimp a little in this area. Yeah, for a power cord I always carry a heavy duty 25' extension in my 'gig backpack' but it's really nice having the extra length on the switching pedal.

    VERY impressed with Mesa's attention to detail and this amp!