Mesa Boogie Subway Rocket 1x12 Combo

Mesa Boogie Subway Rocket 1x12 Combo

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Subway Rocket 1x12 Combo, Tube Combo Guitar Amp from Mesa Boogie in the Subway series.

5 user reviews

Mesa Boogie Subway Rocket 1x12 Combo tech. sheet

  • Manufacturer: Mesa Boogie
  • Model: Subway Rocket 1x12 Combo
  • Series: Subway
  • Category: Tube Combo Guitar Amps
  • Added in our database on: 04/02/2004

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Mesa Boogie Subway Rocket 1x12 Combo user reviews

Average Score:4.3( 4.3/5 based on 5 reviews )
 3 reviews60 %
 1 user review20 %
 1 user review20 %
Value For Money :
Serial riffer06/21/2006

Serial riffer's review

Mesa Boogie Subway Rocket 1x12 Combo
- Amplification technology (tube, solid state, ...)?
Tubes! Two EL84 power tubes and four 12Ax7 preamp tubes

- Output power?
18w, class AB feeding a Black shadow speaker (50W into 8 Ohms).

- Connections?
Instrument input & 3-way footswitch, power/Stand-by, effects loop with headphone output & silent recording, in addition to a speaker-mute switch to silence the speaker without disconnecting it physically and preserving the amp from any impedance problems in case of silent use. One 8-ohm or two 4-ohm outputs for eventual external cabinets.

- What about controls, effects etc.?
Independent volume & gain for both channels and shared bass/mid/treble/presence equalizer. Also note that there is an effect amount control for the effects loop.


- Is it easy to dial in?
Yes and no, insomuch as the EQ is very interactive, but if you take as a starting point the advice in the very clear and instructive manual, you can easily find a good basis to then fine-tune your sound.
The fact that you have independent volume controls requires some adaptation time in the beginning, to reach a balance between both channels, but after a certain period it all comes naturally and it becomes the easiest amp in the world!

- Is it easy to get the right sound?
Most sounds are very good. It is fairly easy and quick to find the sound you want!

- Is the user's manual clear and comprehensive?
No issues at all, like with most boogie manuals. It's a serious brand!


- Does it fit your music style?
It's an amp aimed at Big rock mainly, but it is nevertheless possible to play other music genres with it, like jazz, blues...classic rock, '90s rock. You can even venture into metal, to a certain extent and under certain conditions, for example, adding a cabinet like the VHT 2x12 fat bottom, to transform it into a merciless beast!
- Which guitar, bass or effects do you use?
Gibson les paul with EMG or seymour duncan, but also strat and telecaster, and I haven't had a problem with any of them. It's worth pointing out that the amp responds very well to the guitar's own tone. It's actually the only amp I like with the telecaster, which I don't like with a marshall, for example.
- What kind of sounds do you get and with what dialings?
Resolutely fat but with a unique precision and character that I can't compare to other amps because it's very peculiar. The clean sounds aren't its main strength, even if it performs very well, but the distortion is very aggressive and musical.

- Which sounds do you prefer / hate?
I'd say the contour mode, without hesitation, a preset EQing of the lead channel that is amazing, rich in harmonics with enhanced, highs and lows, a truly extraordinary channel that I use with great pleasure.
It doesn't have any sounds that I hate, so to speak. None of its settings produce unpleasant frequencies to the ear, even when pushed to the extremes. The EQ must be set to the minimum, if you set all four controls to 0, there is no sound at all. Also note the middle control, that responds in completely different ways, depending on the range used.


- How long have you been using it?
I've had it 8 years, more or less. I've used it mainly for studio sessions. I recently dug it out again because I had strayed away from my 800 sound towards a stoner sound, and I must confess that it's a great pleasure to use it again.
- Which features do you like the most / the least?
+ A sharpness and boldness that can usually be found only in posh gear
+ Its stunning power, in regard to its size, which has left more than one sound engineer dumb-founded
+ Its compact format and lightness, which make it easy to transport
+ Its versatility and manufacturing quality from an era when mesa still hadn't sold its soul to big business
+ Its respect for the instrument you use
+ A very nice responsiveness to tube changes

- Unfortunately out of production… :o(
- Did you try any other models before buying it?
No, it's the first one I stumbled upon by chance and I bought it on a gut feeling!
- How would you rate its value for money?

- Based on your experience, would you buy this product again?

Sharingan's review

Mesa Boogie Subway Rocket 1x12 Combo
Nice little 22w tube combo (on paper, at least). It has two EL84 power tubes and four 12ax7 for the preamp.
One 10" black shadow speaker into 8 ohms (you can also add to it more speakers thanks to two 4-ohm outputs), one footswitch to toggle between rhythm, lead and contour. As for the rest, go to

It's pretty easy to dial it in: 2 gain knobs, one per channel, 2 masters (one per channel as well), and a treble, mid, bass, EQ with presence control. A pretty straightforward and original setup (regarding the gain and master), but very effective, too. That said, it would've been nice to have an equalizer per channel.


Dialing in the amp is easy, once you understand how it works... The manual is short, very clear and really useful.
You only need to connect your guitar to get a good sound, like the manual states, but you need to know how to play with the settings to get the best sounds out of this amp.


This amp is ideal for the music I play: metal, blues, rock.
I took the risk of buying it on ebay but I had luck and it works perfectly, even if it's an amp from the '80s (the golden age of mesa boogie) and it isn't manufactured anymore.
For the time being, I have only played it with my ibanez RG7 620 (a nice ax), and even if I have a good pedalboard, I still haven't plugged it to the amp: The sound of the amp is more than enough (besides, the pedalboard alters things quite a bit so I think it will denature the amp a bit) (go on and plug a metal zone into a dual would be a shame ;)).

The amp respects the guitar pretty well, you can tell the Ibanez sound with a nice boogie touch, it's awesome!

The clean sound with all mesa boogie: Satisfying and correct, it can become crystalline or twangy if you fiddle with the gain and presence knobs. But that's not the amp's main strength, even if it's very good at it

The lead sound: very nice, indeed. Gloomy and with a super character, but not violent. You could even say it's more like an overdrive than a distortion. It's simple, when I plug my ibanez I get the exact same sound as that of Sonata Arctica on the Reckoning Night album. The distortion can remain discreet and it has a not-too-heavy nature. It is ideal for smooth and discreet rhythm guitars and for solos in neck position.

The contour mode: To be honest, it's like a third channel, considering that it's so different from the others. This distortion is HUGE! Outright Mesa distortion: Gloomy, aggressive and heavy, it's awesome to play big, fat metal! Rhythm guitars have a killer punch, just like the solos (especially with the bridge pickup)

It's worth pointing out that all channels have a good precision, even in contour mode. The stand-by switch is very practical to silence completely the light background noise the amp produces (which is pretty common for a high-gain amp ) during
breaks on stage, for example.

I really love all its sounds. They are useful to play different styles.

The only defect I've found up to now, isn't one actually: The speaker is 10" big, which means it is destined to sound sharp, so the highs are more emphasized than the lows (you can tell right away when you EQ it and play). That said, you can put a remedy to that by a connecting 2*12" or even a 4*12" cab to the amp.


I've used it for 4 days and I think I still have a lot of tricks to discover.
I love the fact that such a small-looking amp is so powerful (seriously, when I turn the master to 2 on the lead or contour channels, all the neighbors in my building know it).
I tested other amps before, like the mesa studio 22, which is also very good, but more inclined towards rock/hard rock (and the rest: blues, jazz), a mesa dual rectifier, which was awesome (especially the distortion), but it's huge and terribly expensive, and some other amp brands that didn't quite fit with what I was looking for.

I think its value for money is excellent (especially secondhand, which is the only way you can find it nowadays).

Based on my experience, I would surely buy this product again! (unless I had more money, in which case I'd buy a triaxis preamp, a 2*50 or 2*90 mesa power amp, and a 4*12 rectifier cab... A nice dream!)

daveman007's review

Mesa Boogie Subway Rocket 1x12 Combo
18w all-tube mesa. The rest has been already described elsewhere in the forums.
My rocket is a rocket reverb, so not one of the first models.
I give it an 8 because a separate EQ would've been nice, but it is nevertheless all right to find pretty good sounds.
It's a 2-channel amp on paper, but I'd say it has 3 channels (see explanation below).


Setting it up couldn't be easier. It's a mesa, so you need to fiddle with the pots (because they all interact with each other, like on all mesa). But it's pretty easy to find your sound or sounds.
The manual is instructive, but not necessarily useful.
The controls are much less sensitive than on my ex-subway blues.


I play mainly rock, but I also like to venture into reggae, funk and bossa.
This amp is relatively versatile, even if it obviously has a clear tendency towards rock. So it's ideal for what I play!

I use a tele US equipped with Fender lace sensor and the results I get are very, very good.
- Channel 1 (clean): It sounds somewhat Fender-like, dry and crystalline but, fiddling with the gain and middle knobs, you can get a broad palette of sounds from a classic twin reverb to a warmer sound for blues or jazz. The controls are pretty effective.
- Channel 2: The sound goes from a light crunch to a vintage overdrive. This channel is ideal for '70s and '80s rock/hardrock, think led zep, deep purple, aerosmith...and even Santana (who has the same tone)...
- CONTOUR mode (channel 3): I call it channel 3 because it doesn't have anything to do with channel 2. You just have to press a button on the footswitch to activate this channel and make the earth tremble. The sound goes from vintage (channel 2) to a true distortion full of lows and treble that allows you to easily play some big fat rock and even prog rock with a good hum.

This channel has a lot of character and it can certainly make the Rocket qualify as a 3-channel amp.

Negative point: the reverb, when engaged it is responsible for a crackling noise when you switch from channel 2 to channel 1. To avoid that you only need to deactivate the reverb and then everything's fine. I don't use it much, anyway.


I've had this amp for two weeks and I must say that it suits me perfectly.
The 18w are really BIG watts! During rehearsals I rarely go beyond 3/10.
What I like best:
- It's a 40-lbs multichannel bombshell with an extraordinary power and punch. It's easy to transport, rock solid and 100% reliable, like all boogies from that period ('90s).
- The 10" black shadow speaker that rocks you off your feet!!! I have rarely seen a 10" speaker with such power!
- The sounds produced by this amp are really "pro," both clean and lead/contour with great precision in the definition of notes and a stunning responsiveness to the attack, they are rich in harmonics and with truly extraordinary dynamics for "such a small" amp. The effects loop is configurable and the speaker can be muted.
- A headphone output that allows you to play at home without making the neighbors go crazy (which is pretty rare in tube amps)
- A pretty good sound at low volumes (100% compatible with an apartment, even if I live in a house ;)

What I like least:
- The reverb: Good quality but without enough depth, for my taste, even when set to 10. And also the crackling it produces when switching from channel 2 to 1.
- An independent EQ...but you can't have everything!

In short, it easily deserves 9 out of 10 points. This amp is simply phenomena! I've had a roland bolt (30w, tubes), a classic 30, a classic 50, and then a subway blues, which is also a bombshell.
With the Subway series, Mesa offers true ultra compact combos with a quality worthy of their bigger products.
The retail price of this amp was about $1300 back then. I don't think there's anything in this market segment that can rival it at that price point. Secondhand for $800 is an excellent buy. I would definitely buy it again.
An amp for keeps, mine is not for sale!

iamqman's review"Nice Rocket"

Mesa Boogie Subway Rocket 1x12 Combo
A solid little amp from the genius of Mesa Boogie. these amps were designed for the small space jamming sessions and the person who needed a compact amp for home use and light gigging. These amps have a familiar Mesa Boogie tone that is easily recognizable. You get a few different models and all of the had their place in the series line of amps.

20 Watts, Dyna-Watt Power: 2xEL84, 4x12AX7

2 Channels, 3 Footswitching Sounds (Rhythm, Lead & Contour)

Contur Switch

Independent Gain & Master Controls per Channel

Bass, Mid, Treble & Reverb Control (universal)

Spring Reverb

Parallel FX Loop w/Mix Control

Record/Headphone Out

Silent Record Mute Switch

3 Button Footswitch (Channel, Reverb & Contour)



* 2 Channels: Rhythm and Lead+Switchable Contour
* 3 Band Shared EQ
* 22 Watts: 4x12AX7 Preamp Tubes & 2xEL84 Power Tubes
* Parallel Effects Loop with Mix Control
* 8-4-4 OHM Outputs
* Eminence 10″ 50 Watt 8 OHM Speaker (Labeled as Vintage Black Shadow)


These amps have reverb and some of them varied in different wattage. The had single channel ones and they had two channels amps. Each of them had that natural Mesa Boogie tone and rhythm to the distortion. They also have a fantastic clean tone within the amp.

To me the distortion of these amps were amazing. It has a tone of the Mesa Boogie Mark lll amps. I immediately recognized a similar voicing to these amps. This isn't a Dual Rectifier tone with the over saturated preamp gain. It has a good interaction between the power section and the preamp section. That is what reminded me of the Mark 111 much more.


These amps were amazing when they were in production. Mesa Boogie still has fantastic amps that have a similar character to these amps. You ca find these on the used market pretty cheaply. Not sure the going rate for these amps as thy vary from model to model. If you get a chance to play one you may come out of the store with a new amp day. They are great little practice amps and nice tone machines.

Mesa Boogie Subway Rocket 1x12 Combo images

  • Mesa Boogie Subway Rocket 1x12 Combo
  • Mesa Boogie Subway Rocket 1x12 Combo
  • Mesa Boogie Subway Rocket 1x12 Combo
  • Mesa Boogie Subway Rocket 1x12 Combo

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