All-tube mesa hand-made in the States, 50 watts on steroids, 2 completely independent channels, comprehensive connection options (effects loop, headphone out, recording output, etc.).
This model hasn't been manufactured for several years, you can only find it secondhand. It's a great opportunity to make yourself with an amp that remains affordable without compromising on quality, power, sound, and reliability.
You need to spend some time with it to dial it in, you ought to start with the controls at the center and take it from there to get the sound you want.
The knob that's hardest to dial in is...the volume control on the distortion channel
You need to find the right balance so you can make the best of the Mesa sound and dynamic response without quarreling with your band mates.
I'm still experimenting with it.
The manual is very clear and instructive, it has examples but also general information on the tubes, impedance, bias, etc.
I used to play a Fender Performer 1000, which provided good and loyal services for almost 20 years, the f50 gives me more power and, especially, cleanliness, precision and dynamic response.
The clean channel of my F50 has nothing to envy a clean Fender sound.
It's warm, precise and expressive.
It has two modes: One is precise and sharp, almost impossible to distort, ideal for funk; the second mode goes from crunch to distortion as you increase the gain.
There's plenty to do with these two modes on the clean channel.
The gain channel is extremely powerful..
At low volumes (between 7 and 9 o'clock) it's straightforward and precise, but it lacks some suppleness.
Beyond that, its smoothness and felinity start to appear...as well as the decibels
I use it with an attenuator and I get the sound I want for rock, hard rock, very close to a fusion sound.
The Boost mode accessible with the footswitch allows you to gain dBs on the gain channel, while shaping the sound. It's perfect for solos, but also to give the riffs more energy.
This amp is very good and is self-sufficient, you can do without any pedals and multi-effects to get a precise and classic sound that will cut through a mix easily.
I use it with a US Strat and the music leads on!
Depending on my mood, I sometimes use it with a TC-Electonic nova system in the loop (parallel), setting the loop to 100%.
The sound turns much more modern, more FM rock, less classic, but it remains precise.
I've had this amp for almost a year, but I have the impression of having owned it forever, it has become a part of me. In comparison, all other amps seem dull or artificial.
I have tested quite a lot of amps...But I prefer mine, its sound seems more "organic," more versatile, without compromises.
What I like most: The sound's precision and dynamic response, but also the two fully independent channels, which offer a remarkable versatility without compromising the sound in the slightest.
What I like least: Way too much power for rehearsals, which forces me to use an attenuator.
You can find it secondhand for about $1000. It's a safe bet from a mythical brand worth its reputation in terms of manufacturing quality and reliability.
Excellent value for money secondhand, its price almost doesn't go down, it's a great investment!
Sometimes I even regret not having bought this amp before...
Mesa boogie is really known for their extremely well built and roadworthy amplifiers. They built some of the best sounding and easily most recognized amplifiers in the world. You get a nice thick natural saturation and compression that makes Mesa boogie's sound only like themselves. They have such an organic and surreal tone that is been used in multiple gigging and recording sessions of my own.
The tone of this lamp is a nice warm thick saturated tone. It's a cool little amp if you need something that's very small compact and easy to move around. You basically have two independent channels that features to 6L6 power tubes. You have 50 W of power and most importantly this is a nice little practice amplifier. You have a record or headphone output which allows someone to play silently with headphones on. With that little feature it pretty much tells you all you need to know about this amplifier. It's simply a Mesa boogie amplifier built for someone who needs a small practice amp.
These amplifiers have been discontinued first some time now but you can find them on the use classified sections fairly easily. They're pretty popular amplifier and they have a great sound and a great tone and you probably won't have to worry about them breaking down too often.
50 watt tube combo amplifier
2 6L6 power tubes, 4 12AX7 preamp tubes
Bright switch on the clean channel (push-pull pot)
Direct recording output
Footswitch controls channel selection, contour control, reverb
This little amp screams! It is plenty loud enough to use in most clubs, and it gets great sounds. The controls are laid out in an easy to use, logical fashion. The F-50 has a very nice, sturdy footswitch to control the reverb on/off, channel selection, and the contour control on/off. Durability has never been a real issue with Mesa amps as a whole, and I've never experienced any reliability issues with this amp.
The amp definitely has a tone of its own, but it allows the natural tone of whatever guitar is running through it to shine through. Les Pauls sound Les Pauls, Strats like Strats, etc. This is a good thing - I'm not a fan of amps in which any guitar run through it sounds the same. Since the amp is so responsive, it allows all techniques with the strings to come through clearly. What I mean is, the amp may have a great tone, but it does not flatter the player - it shines a spotlight on any and all mistakes, forcing the player to play well or go home!
The clean is very Fender-like, and the saturation channel sings, like a real Boogie should! The reverb is ultra-luscious, and the contour control can impart a nice "scooped" sound for metal.
Overall, this is a fantastic amplifier from Mesa. It is compact enough to take to gigs in a small car, and loud enough to stand up to a drumset. The durability is great, and the tone of this little beast is top notch. I wish they still made this same design, but the Express series they have now is pretty nice as well. 9 out of 10.
50-watt tube amp
2 6L6, 4 12AX7
+ Contour mode for solo players
Spring and tube reverb
Bright control for the clean channel, to get a Fender-like sound
Speaker bypass switch
Direct recording output
Footswitch for the clean and gain channels, contour and reverb
Easy to dial in
Very versatile, from jazz to fat metal
Clean sound worthy of a Fender class A
The distortion is MESA BOOGIE, there's no sound like it!
It's great for anything
It truly respects the guitar and the dynamics of the guitar player
I tried out the Dual caliber, a mark IV (much more expensive), an express (a real disappointment)
I've had an all-tube marshall jcm900 (clean sound without punch, it stinks, although it was okay for ac/dc with my sg, but the clean sound was really bad!)
marshall valvestate fender hot rod deluxe (nice clean sound)
vox ac 30 (very British but without a fat distortion and the clean sound was shitty, especially to play ballads and switch to distortion, not practical at all)
What I love about this amp is that it's very powerful, the clean channel is fabulous and well separated from the quite violent gain channel: Two master controls, two gains, two EQs, the Contour mode to cut better through a mix during solos, the natural-sounding reverb. There's no need for a single pedal, a plug is more than enough. It practically makes no noise at all, compared to the power it delivers if you equip it with good tubes.
I paid for it new what an Express costs today and I don't regret it at all.
You can get it secondhand for about $1000, and you can't do any better for such a versatile and recent amp.
If I ever sell it, it would be to move on to the category above, but after having had other legendary amps, what I like about this one is that it can do anything (it's a bit annoying to have a Fender hot rod and a Marshall jcm to change channels, it's not very practical...)