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

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

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daveman007 10/01/2007

Mesa Boogie Subway Rocket 1x12 Combo : daveman007's user review

5

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Value For Money : Excellent
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).

UTILIZATION

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.

SOUNDS

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.

OVERALL OPINION

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!