15 September 2014

Pedals: Mesa Boogie drive pedals


I've ended with the four pedals that Mesa Boogie is offering, without taking into account the EQ pedal and, drive pedals with EQ versions.

I've already said that I was highly surprised with the quality and tone of those pedals, while accidentally testing them in a shop.

Currently, those are my gain pedals, for every style and, I would like to share my impressions about each one.

Let's go...

Mesa Boogie Gain Pedals

Here you are an overall picture of my current pedalboard (could change tomorrow, you know!).
Just click on images for full size.

And, a detailed view of the four Mesa Boogie's.

I'm running this pedalboard plugged to a Fender Bassman LTD, because I prefer a great clean channel than a complex front-ended amp, with several channels.

As you can see, the entry point is the tuner, which is true bypass.
Second pedal is the Wampler Decibel+ buffer/booster and, it's there just because I've got a very fluctuant mains power and, I need that booster to correct the current intensity, depending on the day.
It never goes beyond 8:00 o'clock. The buffer helps me to drive the rest of pedals, because signal drops with a large pedalboard.

After the Decibel+, the Wah (maybe I should put the Decibel+ after it) and, following the wah, the compressor and the vibe. This is just what is before the four MB's.
After MB's, a Modulation pedal (mainly used for Chorus) and a Delay pedal.

Tone Burster

Probably the pedal you will never choose, since it seems to do nothing, right?.
Well, I see the Tone Burster as some kind of good Xotic EP Booster, with complete control over Treble and Bass frequencies.
When I tweak my pedalboard, I first directly plug the guitar to the amp, tweak the EQ and hear.
Then, I plug the guitar to the pedalboard, adjust output level with the Decibel+ (same as directly plugged) and then, I switch on the Tone Burst to help to get the same tone I had directly plugged.
Sometimes, it means to add or remove some highs or lows.

I set up the gain just to produce a nice beam of electrons, without affecting the tone.
But, you could use this pedal to really push your pre-amp, as any good clean overdrive could do.
It's up to you.
My take is just to use it to restore what it was lost or altered from the input of my guitar to the input of the gain pedals.

This pedal could bring you a good amount of gain and, even hot your pre-amp without issues.
But, since the rest of MB's are in the chain, I prefer discrete settings for it.

Grid Slammer

Well, this seems to be MB's own take of a Tube Screamer but, somewhat more open and detailed.
To get TS tones, you would need to roll off the Tone knob.
I am using it for Smoking cleans and also as a must-have pedal to drive the Flux Drive, which complements really nicely.
Together with the Flux Drive, it delivers great Marshalish tones, very old school tones for great classy Hard Rock stuff.
Alone, it gives you that presence and light break of the TS and, drives your pre-amp section as good.

This is probably the only pedal I could substitute with any other good light overdrive, like Wampler Euphoria, TS, David Allen Bazooka, Timmy, Jetter Jetdrive, etc.
When pushed hard and used together with the Flux Drive, the feedback in your amp is high.
I also find it as cutting the sustain, if the gain control isn't rolled in enough.

Flux Drive

It seems to be a Marshallish tone but, a tad dark and, mimes MB's Mark IV amps.
Alone, has its use and, I use it for certain driven sounds (as some dirty blues) but, I love it specially when is being pushed by the Grid Slammer (or any TS alike pedal).
A TS pedal before fills the slightly recessed mids of this pedal, helping it to better cut the mix.
Grid Slammer and Flux Drive together, at reasonable gain, instantaneously give you Deep Purple's sound, by example (among many other classic Hard Rock tones).
In any case, their active tones will allow you to better shape the frequential content of this pedal.
A very good classic gain pedal.

Throttle Box

Ha ha ha. Here is where MB's hi gain tones live.
The Mids Cut control allows you to shape the overall frequential content of this pedal and, it's naturally dark, dense and sustained.
I prefer it more open and then, the Mid's cut is barely totally rolled off and, the tone knob is around 2:00h, for a better cut.
It provides infinite sustain and all that wall of sound that you needed for liquid hi gain solos.
This pedal is made with two PCBs (I've never seen a more complexer gain pedal before!) so, you can imagine the amount of Electronics Engineering behing it.
Absolutely, a keeper. My hi gain tones are coming from this pedal.
If you overdo it, the sound can be too much compressed but, the good thing is that this pedal covers anything you need in hi gain drive. I prefer it to Weehbo Bastard, to Wampler Triple Wreck, to Bogners, etc.
I love it.

Final comments

Gain pedals are, probably, the most swapped pedals on a pedalboard and, I am not an exception.
I've went along with all the classic (TS, DS-1, SD-1, RAT, Distortion+) and most of boutique (Wampler, Xotic, Mad Professor, Fulltone, Bogner, Jetter, MI Audio, ...).
Nowadays, MB's are my preferred ones. Maybe, I like Jetter's for classier tones with kranked amps but, MB's allow me to get nice tones at lower levels.
If you are in the market for a good set of gain pedals, don't forget to try those in your store.

Maybe, I will have some time to demo this pedals, some day...
Rock in!.

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