Since the rebirth of its predecessor, the Mesa Boogie Express, the Express Plus has acted as a diamond in the rough. I shouldn’t say it was love at first sight, given the front panel’s 15 knobs, 5-band EQ, and a host of intimidating switches, but nonetheless, I knew the Plus was an immense wiring improvement on the former clean channel and had a series effects loop which were my two greatest concerns.
Headroom was the name of the game as I was searching to find the right amp. The 5:50 Plus did more than just provide headroom, the clean voicing on channel one was glassy and pristine coupled by richness and depth. The Dyna-Watt patent opens up the clean’s potential by accessing 5,25, or 50 watt power. When the gain and master volume is cranked at 5w, a sparkly breakup occurs. Conversely, at 50w, breaking up is about as taboo as a long term relationship. The crunch voicing on channel one allows for great mid-gain edgy sounds comparable to a Wampler Triple-Wreck.
The blues voicing on channel two is a warmer version of clean voicing and has an increased amount of breakup at higher gain. The burn voicing can compete against any of the classic gain monsters on the Mesa line and beyond. This is especially true when cutting the mids on the 5-band EQ.
This amplifier had me at the clean channel. Everything else was just icing on the cake (and there’s a lot of icing). At 38lbs (5:25 at 27lbs), the 5:50 head is incredibly strong and durable. The all-tube spring reverb and equalization are individually programmed for each channel. The 5-band EQ can be modified and programmed through use of sliders or a preset rotary dial that provides a traditional Mesa V-shaped mid cut. It is important to note that the 5:50 model uses 6l6s while the 5:25 model uses EL84s for those with specific preferences. To top it all off, channel switching, EQ, reverb, and solo boost can be wired to a loop controller for enhanced programming during live sessions. In my opinion, the Express Plus was a worthwhile investment for how much it provides.
Exceptional tone for musicians on a budget
Outstanding versatility and features
Strong build and quality materials
Weight may be an issue. Try the 5:25
Looks will cost you. An upgrade in colored grills and tolex will boost the Benjamins.
Should You Buy One?
I believe this amp surpasses the expectations that many guitarist are seeking after and it’s a step down in cost from many of the popular boutiques on stages today. Go for it.
– By Gary Schmidt – Mesa Boogie Express 5:50 Plus Amp Review