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I've never been a big fan of Mesa amps but this little beast caught my ears a couple years ago while at The Guitar Shop in Mississauga. Not that I dislike the tones but the number of switches always discouraged me to buy one.

The guys at the shop gig and record with this amp and I first heard it while Rob C was playing and showed me some of the amps features (on a side note, the amp is featured in his recent CD, "Ostrich").

This weekend I popped into the shop and got pulled to try out the amp. Ryan C. showed me the ropes and I was surprised at how versatile and easy the amp is to dial in. Great clean, crunch and lead tones.

After bringing the amp and cab home, I spent some time with the manual and the switches are a lot less scary than they appear. The left hand switches dial in an amp model or clean / OD platform. The EQ faders can be turned off or selected by footswitch. All very intuitive. What is counterintuitive to me (and was shown to me by the reps at the shop) is how the amp shines with only two knobs: the treble, presence and bass knobs are kept at zero and only the gain and mids knob are used for the 2nd channel. It really works and dialing in is super easy. Kick in the EQ and a bit more clarity and Boost is added.

I really like the 1st channel with the Fat setting which results a pushed clean tone - sounds awesome with the gain at 3 o'clock. The crunch setting on the 1st channel is also killer.

The 2nd channel has a lot of gain on tap but it can do a great Dumble sound on the Mark IV setting and gain pulled back.

The cab is the Conpact Series, lightweight and loaded with Vintage 30's. Good match with the V and small footprint when placed vertically.

Still experimenting but so far; great all around tones, grab and go package (the head weighs 16lbs), incredibly versatile.

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I played a V35 a while ago and really like it. Not enough to buy another amp, but if I was looking ...........

I hear a few people talk about 'too many knobs', which I don't get. They are usually labeled clearly and well laid out. And they don't use nebulous terms like Raw or Tilt. I don't mind reverb controls on the back because they are 'set and forget' for me anyways. I guess I lost my fear of knobs when I sat behind one of these for 6 years back in the 80s.




One thing I will admit to, when I'm playing somewhere and providing backline for someone else, I don't take my LSS. If the other guitar players don't know how to dial it in, it can be a frustrating amp. As you said, there are some shortcuts regarding how the controls work but I find it much easier to provide a DRRI or YBA1. It's hard not to get a reasonably useful sound out of either of those. The Mesa can do a lot more, but it requires time and understanding to get there.
 
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