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User Review

Mesa's best kept secret - Reviews Mesa Boogie Studio Preamp

On the surface this looks like a somewhat simple and dry preamp. 2 channels. Effects loop. Graphic eq. A few switches and such. Once you dig into the manual you realize the possibly versatility with this preamp. Yes, dialing this thing in is in reality the equivalent of driving a space ship, but this is Mesa and you shouldn't known that before you started.

UTILIZATION

Let's start with the clean channel. This is a bit less complicated than the lead. Basically it's a blackface circuit. It's best to treat it like that and take what you can get from it. Nice dark sparkly fender cleans are to be had here. Actually, besides maybe the Suhr 3 channel preamp, this is the best blackface cleans you will ever get from a preamp. That's really all there is to be said for the clean channel.
The lead side is another story. It's very versatile. If it weren't for the manual, many players would be lost. Using the graphic eq as well as the various switches you can go from a classic rick kind of crunch to a Mark II Kirk Hammett style high gain sound, to a more modern recto/mark IV petrucci thing.

SOUNDS

I use it with a Peavey 50/50 power amp into a VHT 4x12. This amp is an odd fit in a lot of bands. It's not quite modern metal but it's not quite 80's hair either. It fits in great with 90's alternative. It can easily do the metallica thing. I expect a lot of people who use these don't spend much time on the clean channel which is a shame for how good it is. It's a stretch to say, but you can use this in a lot of situations. I have a friend who used one in a post rock band for years. If you do dream theater it can get that tone easy. It's basically a Mark clone after all.

OVERALL OPINION

This preamp isn't for everyone. But it's a darn good preamp. If you like American sounds, this is the preamp to get I think. Unless you have some huge budget. It won't do marshall or vox. But it will do fender and mesa without a hitch. The value is massive. Both channels alone are worth the price. Try changing the tubes around. They really do matter a lot.