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User Review

A cool sleeper preamp from Mesa! - Reviews Mesa Boogie Studio Preamp

The Mesa Boogie Studio Preamp is based on the classic Mesa Boogie Mark IIC+ amplifier, but in the popular rackmountable form of the late 1980s. It's a tube preamp that takes up about two rack spaces and has 5 preamp tubes. It's got two channels, rhythm and lead, as well as the classic 5 band graphic EQ, onboard reverb, a high quality effects loop, recording outs and of course outputs to run to your power amplifier. When I owned it I paired it with the power amp that was included in the package... a late 1980s MosValve MV962 solid state power amp putting out 80 watts of power per side.

It's laid out very much like a classic Mesa Mark series amp and the controls react very much the same, so that's a great thing for people who have used Mesa amps before... they should be able to dial it in reasonably well if they have a good understanding of how Mesa's work.


Getting a good tone out of this rig was extremely simple for me, since I had previously owned a Mesa Mark III for over a year and was intimately familiar with how to dial in a Mesa Boogie Mark series amp to sound how I wished it to sound.

As stated above, there is two channels, rhythm and lead. It features a volume control that acts as a master gain between the two channels, a master volume control, treble, middle, bass and reverb controls. The lead channel has its own drive and volume controls, so it does act in a very similar way to the Mesa Mark III I owned previously, whereby there is a master volume (read: gain) control for the whole amp, as well as a master volume, but the lead channel also has its own drive and volume controls.

In addition, it has the standard 5 band graphic EQ and a switch to turn that on and off. There are also two switches on the bottom of the unit labelled lead fat and lead bright, and they act like the pull knobs on the older Mesa Mark series amps... they add gain and saturation, as well as some tightness.


I was using this rig with a myriad of Ibanez and Gibson guitars and was playing primarily eighties LA metal with a little bit of Petrucci esque prog thrown in on occasion. I would describe it as a fairly high gain unit for sure. The overall set of tones were very crystaline as well... very "hifi" and eighties sounding in nature.

Cleans had a very nice chime and jangle with both single coils and humbuckers. I didn't particularly find that it had much grit when you dug in a bit, so I found it to be a bit less versatile there. Overdriven tones had that classic searing Mesa sound. From classic LA metal tones to mid boosted, very smooth lead tones, I had no problem getting a good distortion sound out of the unit. Even using a solid state power amp and a cheap 4x12 cabinet, I was able to really enjoy the tones out of this preamp. It's a fairly flexible preamp in that you can go from very scooped mid tones to very boosted mid tones and it will sound excellent either way.


All in all I feel the Mesa Studio Preamp is a killer sounding, and fairly affordable way to get the Mesa Mark series tone. I sold it because I simply did not like hauling around a heavy and bulky rack case everywhere I went, so I opted to go back to a head and 2x12 rig. For the $300-$400 they seem to sell for used, they're a great deal, and paired with a nice tube power amp like a Mesa 2:90, I can imagine that they're even more stellar.

If I was to buy a rig like this again, I would opt for a Mesa Mark III or .50 Caliber head, simply because I don't like schlepping rack gear to and fro. However for a studio rig I would take this in a heartbeat... just so long as I didn't have to bundle it in a rack case to be moved around.