The Mesa Boogie Stiletto Deuce Stage II is the 100w version of Mesa Boogie's Stiletto series of amps. The Stiletto was basically designed to have more of a Marshall-y character with an EL34 based power section. It is still laid out similarly to a Rectifier head, but the core tones are more akin to a Marshall overall. It is a two channel head. Each channel is set up with identical controls (gain, bass, middle, treble and master volume). Each channel is equipped with two mini switches, one to toggle between 100w and 50w and one to switch between three different modes that each channel has. The clean channel contains Fat Clean, Tite Clean and Crunch modes, and the distortion channel has modes called Crunch, Tite Gain and Fluid Drive. There is also a switch to toggle between bold and spongy power modes. Here's the full list of specs:
Multi-Watt™, Channel Assignable Power Amp (Patent 7,602,927) allows you to assign either 2 or all 4 EL-34 Power Tubes to each Channel for Power Ratings of 50 or 100 Watts of Class A/B Power via independent 50/100 Watt Power Switches / 4xEL-34, 5x12AX7, 2x5U4
Fixed Bias for Consistent, Maintenance Free Performance
2 Fully Independent Channels with 6 Modes (Channel 1 = Fat Clean, Tite Clean or Crunch (Cloning Channel 2), Channel 2 = Crunch, Tite Gain or Fluid Drive)
Channel Assignable Dual Rectification with Recto Tracking™ (Diode or Tube Tracking – Patents 5,168,438 & 7,193,458)
Independent Gain, Treble, Mid, Bass, Presence & Master Controls per Channel
Bold/Spongy “Variac” Switch (Patent 5,091,700)
Output Level Control (over all channels when activated)
Footswitchable Solo Level Control – Patent 6,724,897 (over all channels when activated)
Fully Buffered FX Loop with Send Level Control (over all channels when activated)
True “Hard” Bypass Switch that removes FX Loop, Output Level & Solo Level Controls from signal path
Slave Out with Level Control
External Switching Jacks for Channels 1, 2 & Solo
2 Button Footswitch (Channel 1/2 & Solo)
Setting up this amp is fairly simple. Each channel is laid out with just core controls and there's not too many different settings to deal with as per certain other Mesa amps. You basically pick your mode, set the EQ to taste and you're off to the races. Dialing in a sound that's pleasing will vary in difficulty depending on what sort of tone you are after. This amp was meant to sound very Marshall-y, but I find that it still has that certain Boogie characteristic that keeps it sounding like what it is - a Rectifier. However, the EL34 tubes and using spongy power can help to "brown" the amp out significantly.
I've tried this amp with various guitars and amps. In my experience it's a very picky amp in terms of what it sounds really good with. The absolute best rig I had set up using this amp was a PRS Mira Korina guitar (with PRS humbuckers) and a Mesa Boogie 4x12 cabinet with Celestion Vintage 30 speakers. This combination (and a whole lot of treble/presence roll-off on the amp's EQ) created a killer 90s rock tone that reminded me a lot of a slightly more vintage voiced Soldano SLO100 or perhaps a juiced up Marshall JCM800. I found that the clean channel sounded somewhat bland and weak for my tastes. I'm used to more of a Lone Star type clean sound... the cleans on this amp were more of a skinny, weaker British type clean sound, which isn't my thing. The drive tones were pretty cool, but it really depends on the guitar and cabinet that's going with it I found. I tried it with Les Pauls, Strats, Flying Vs, etc, and I just couldn't dig the amp. However the tone with the Mira was obscene.
All in all I think the Mesa Stiletto Deuce is a decent amp for someone looking for a somewhat British voiced rock head that still has a lot of the Mesa flavour attached. For my tastes I prefer the Electradyne or the new Royal Atlantic but this amp certainly holds its own when dialed in to perfection. The $1800 price new has me scratching my head, but you can pick them up much cheaper if you look around...
It's worth a shot, though probably not Mesa's best attempt at a British voiced amp by any means.
One of my best friends owns this amp and has served him quite well. Fortunately for me I have been able to spend some time with it as well. This is a Mesa Boogie that is voiced in the British realm. What that means is that it has a familiar characteristic to a Marshall or maybe an Orange amp or even a Hiwatt. There is something about those amps that carries a similar tune to one another.
What I like about this about also is that it takes pedals very well. Throwing a tube screamer of some like a clean boost and you will have this amp sizzling. This amps has many features that are prominent to Mesa such as the Recto or tube switching and the sponge/tight setting which changes the variac and loosens the amps or tightens the power section of the amp.
Mesa/Boogie Stiletto Deuce-Stage II 100-watt, 2-channel Tube Amplifier Head Features:
Handbuilt in Petaluma, California
Multi-Watt, Channel-assignable power amp allows you to assign either two or all four EL-34 power tubes to each channel for power ratings of 50 or 100 watts of Class A/B power via independent 50/100-watt power switches
Tube complement: 4xEL-34, 5x12AX7, 2x5U4
Fixed Bias for consistent, maintenance free performance
Two fully independent channels with six modes: Channel 1 = Fat Clean, Tite Clean or Crunch (Cloning Channel 2); Channel 2 = Crunch, Tite Gain or Fluid Drive
Channel-assignable dual rectification with Recto Tracking (Diode or Tube Tracking)
Independent gain, treble, mid, bass, presence, and master controls per channel
Bold/spongy "Variac" switch
Output Level Control (over all channels when activated)
Footswitchable Solo Level Control (over all channels when activated)
All-tube effects loop with Send Level Control (over all channels when activated)
"Hard" bypass switch that removes effects loop, Output Level and Solo Level Controls from signal path
Slave out with level control
External switching jacks for channels 1, 2, and Solo
2-button footswitch (Channel 1/2 and Solo)
Slip cover included
This is a rockers amp. You will blown the hinges off the doors when you crank this thing up. I have been on the wrong side of this amp a few times where it just lit me up and thump my chest. The best feeling I got with this amp is a Les Paul and clean boost like pedal in front of it. This amp gets that pounding feeling but a full bodied warm tone. I find this amp not to be much of a lead amp per se but rather a solid rhythm guitar player amp. It doesn't cut through as much as I would like if I was the only player in the band, but it does thicken the walls of the sound for the band quite well.
If I were a rhythm guitar player in a band I would look to this amp. It is rather inexpensive to be hand built. At new they come in at around $1900, but you can find them fairly inexpensive on the used market right now. I would recommend some to try this amp out against other Mesa's if that is the tone you are going for. This amp may not be for you if you are used to the Rectos or the Mark series. It has the similar characteristics to Mesa but it is its own beats.
The Stiletto Deuce came onto the market as Mesa’s first offering of EL-34 amplifiers and features
-100 watt all tube with 4 EL-34s and 5 12AX7s
-2 channels, each with independent EQ
-3 voicing switches per channel
-Tube/diode rectifier selection per channel
-50/100 watt switch per channel
-Tube driven series effects loop
-External switching jacks for channels and loop
-Bold/Spongy power variac
It is also important to note that the Stage II was released as a revision soon after the Stiletto’s original release. Simply put, the chain channel was tightened and restructured, as the original model suffered from a flubby response.
The Stiletto offers a very simple 2 channel layout, with the usual features that a Mesa amp owner is used to. It is easier to dial in than other Mesa models, such as the Rectifier or Mark IV. The few voicing switches per channel offer many tonal options, but different voicings on the same channel can not be used on the fly. This would be a nice feature since this amp offers MANY great tones amongst the different modes.
Being an EL-34 amplifier, and Mesa’s stab at the british tone, the amplifier produces more mids and less lows than your typical Mesa Boogie. The clean channel produces a great clean, especially for what is consider the ‘norm’ for EL-34 based amps. Fat clean allows a slightly rounder response, and crunch makes for an AMAZING blues sound. This mode is actually repeated on both channels, so players can run it at different gain levels since it responds so well. Channel 2 goes from a nice crunch all the way to a tight and saturated gain, perfect for quick rhythms or leads. Watch out for the treble though…especially when running vintage 30 speakers, the high end response can get very sharp and unpleasant. Simply, this amplifier plays much like a ‘marshall with a Mesa twist.’
The Stiletto Deuce II was built as a tonal compliment to the rectifier series, producing more high mids, a higher bass response, and overall tighter tracking. In a mix, these two amplifiers perfectly compliment each other, and I HIGHLY recommended it for two guitarists playing together in a band, or a stereo rig. For those suffering from the sluggish response of the Rectifier series, but wanting to stay with a similar gain structure, the Stiletto Deuce II is your amplifier.