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Mesa/Boogie Road King Advanced Amplifier Array

30th August 2006

The Road King is the first new amp I have owned in seventeen years, and also the first all-tube setup since my old 80s Marshalls. Having heard Mesa/Boogie amps many times live and on recordings, and having reviewed a couple of models for a music magazine, I knew they were good amps - that much was a no-brainer. Getting to know my own amp, however, has been an eye (and ear) opener, expanding on my positive first impressions and leaving me a firm believer that these amps go way beyond good. They are everything their manufacturer claims them to be, and as I explore the sounds of my new machine, I can see that this instrument will have as much of an influence on my playing and writing as the guitars I plug into it.

And the main reason for this is a simple one: Tone.

I have never really had that much of a problem Ďgetting a soundí out of my amp rigs, and had usually found a good clean sound, a good dirty sound, and gone with variations of those sounds for most things. I had found a way of getting acceptably Ďairyí warm tones out of my solid state preamp and valve power amp, and stayed away from tonal areas that the gear didnít cut too well. As I have begun to get to know the capabilities of the Road King I have thought about this, because one of the first realizations with this amp was that there are no tonal boundaries - itís all there! The warmth of the ampís cleaner sounds won me over right away, and it was with nostalgic pleasure that I enjoyed some of those soupy blues tones that - well, that you just donít get out of anything but a great valve amplifier. The high gain channels give me some of the best distortion sounds I have ever heard, with smoothness and sustain to burn while maintaining a tight attack. And the sounds donít stop there. The Road King goes from smooth jazz to screaming metal at the press of a footswitch, and with the impressive array of power and speaker options on the back panel will handle any size room or performance area.

This beautiful amp is well named (Iím not likely to ever need another touring amp), and I am looking forward to writing a full detailed report on its capabilities as well as getting some of my new sounds down on disc. Through my relationship with Mesa Engineering, I am thrilled to be embarking on a whole new journey of sounds, tones and music in such exalted company!

Graham Greene

 

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