INTRODUCING THE NEW EXPRESS 5:50+™
All-Tube and Hand-Built in our only shop in Petaluma, CA, the Express Plus offers genre-defining sounds, near-limitless versatility and unbeatable value that others can only imitate. How do we do it? We’ve been doing this for 44 years with all the same people…it’s our Experience – and there are no shortcuts to that. The new Express Plus amplifiers feature four exciting new features that bring them even closer to the flagship status of our award-winning MARK FIVE.
★ = New or Improved Features
CUSTOM DESIGNED AND HANDCRAFTED IN PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA
- All Tube Amplifiers: 2x6L6 Power Tubes & 5x12AX7 Preamp Tubes
- Fixed Bias for consistent, maintenance free performance
- ★Patented Multi-Watt™, Channel Assignable Power Amp featuring Duo-Class™ technology providing three power and two operating class options that are channel assignable via independent Multi-Watt Power Switches:
- Choose from:
- 1 power tube operating in pure Class A Single-Ended, producing 5 Watts
- 2 tubes operating in pure Class A Push-Pull, producing 25 Watts
- 2 tubes operating in time-honored Class A/B power, producing 50 Watts
- ★2 Fully Independent Channels with 4 Style Modes: Ch 1: Clean or Crunch - Ch 2: Blues or Burn Modes
- Each Channel Features: Gain, Treble, Mid, Bass, Footswitchable Reverb, Master, Footswitchable or Assignable Preset Contour Control & Multi-Watt Power Switch
- ★Selectable 5-Band Graphic EQ or Preset “V-Curve” Contour Controls – Footswitchable or Channel Assignable
- All-Tube, Long Spring Reverb with Independent Channel Controls
- Fully Buffered FX Loop
- ★Footswitchable Solo Level Control (Patent 6,724,897) – Over all channels when activated
- External Switching Jacks for Channel 1/2, Reverb, EQ & Solo
- All Aluminum Chassis
- ★4 Button Footswitch (Channel1/2, Reverb, EQ & Solo)
- Slip Cover
Both Express Plus models use the same super versatile, tone-packed preamp featuring two fully independent Channels, each of which contain two style enhanced modes to choose from when creating your footswitching preferences. Channel 1 hosts the blooming low-gain sweetness of CLEAN or the snarling mid-gain percussiveness of CRUNCH and covers the rhythm territories. Channel 2 offers a different face to mid-gain with the howling honesty of BLUES or a high-gain adventure through the searing layers of molten harmonics in BURN. Together these two inspiring modes invite years of solo exploration.
These stylistically opposing modes in the two Channels enable your Express Plus to roam many different genres of music with complete legitimacy.
These stylistically opposing modes in the two Channels enable your Express Plus to roam many different genres of music with complete legitimacy. The R&B, Roots or Blues minded player would find themselves at home with Channel 1 set to CLEAN and Channel 2 set to BLUES, while the Rock, Metal or Punk influenced guitarist would likely prefer switching between CRUNCH and BURN. This ability to reconfigure the Channels and morph personalities creates a Jekyll/Hyde platform from where any classic or modern tone you are aiming at can be found in seconds. The ability to adapt is part of what defines a classic instrument.
Now the Express Plus features a dramatic enhancement in the EQ department with the inclusion of our time-honored 5 Band Graphic Equalizer! The sliders are added in addition to the original Channel Assignable PRESET contour controls and you can now choose whether you want to use the Sliders or the PRESET in each Channel with the EQ Assign mini toggle. The EQ, whether set to call up the Sliders or the PRESET controls, is also footswitchable as well and can be called up at any time via the Express Plus Footswitch.
Rich all-tube REVERB enhances the spatial quality of your Express Plus and each Channel provides an independent Reverb Mix control so you can get the perfect blend of this beautiful effect for each of your footswitchable sounds. The Reverb effect can be triggered on and off via the included Footswitch.
Outboard Processing is handled by the series EFFECTS LOOP, keeping patching to a minimum and protecting tonal integrity a priority. The Express Plus amplifiers are compatible with most good quality processors and using this feature for all of your rack-type effects will produce gratifying results.
Both Express Plus Models now offer Multi-Watt™ Channel Assignable Power Switching.
Both Express Plus models, the bouncy 25 watt 5:25 with its 2xEL84 9-pin power tubes and the bolder 50 watt 5:50 running 2x6L6 octal-base pentodes, now feature our patented Multi-Watt™ Channel Assignable power switching. This valuable feature allows you to run the output tubes in your choice of three different wattage ratings per Channel – very cool right? But what’s amazing is this – each power mode has it’s own tone-spawning operating class and wiring configuration! Choose the full power mode of either amp (25W in 5:25 or 50W in 5:50) for Class AB running in a Push-Pull configuration for punch, authority and headroom. Or, kick down to 15 watts (25 watts on the 5:50) for Class A Pentode for a more silky, vintage voice with enhanced clip potential. And for the ultimate in low wattage power Express Plusion knock it down to the 5 watt mode… now you’re running one tube in Class A Triode wired in a Single-Ended configuration. Obviously we were thankful the patent office saw the possibilities and rewarded our efforts with a patent, but what excites us is the look on players faces when they hear and feel this power section magic for the first time. The Express Plus 5:25 also features our patented Dyna-Watt™ Power that creates a time-specific burst of headroom at the initial attack of the notes that far exceeds the rated power of the circuit and gives the 5:25 an incredible sound and feel all its own.
Now that you have an overall picture of the features in your new Express Plus, let’s move on to the specific modes, controls and features.
THE MODES (Back to Top)
This is the lowest gain of the four modes in your Express Plus and it is voiced to deliver beautiful sparkling and warm clean chording sounds. The CLEAN mode has the greatest dynamic range of all the modes as the signal here is not compressed with any additional gain as are sequentially, the other three. Because of this more traditional gain structure, many players that are looking for a vintage style response from the Express Plus should be at home here. At higher GAIN settings this mode delivers great old school lead sounds and if you are a player that is reliant on overdrive pedals for a certain sound (although we greatly encourage you to explore the other three modes – especially BLUES - for overdriven applications), CLEAN will likely be the best match for retaining more dynamic range.
The taper of the GAIN control is calibrated such that at the lower settings 9:30 - 11:00 the sound will be very bright and skinny, as you approach 12:00 – 2:00 warmth and richness appears and the signal stays clean. From the 2:30 – 4:30 range a soft fur will begin giving way to a vintage style break-up and finally at its maximum setting (5:30) the signal will be fairly pushed and overdriven. Keep in mind that these are approximate descriptions of the sound and that your own personal playing style, guitar, pickups and most of all touch, will determine how this mode reacts at specific settings.
CRUNCH (Back to Top)
This mode excels at higher gain rhythm sounds and though it is quite a bit gainier than the CLEAN mode, it’s voiced to retain as much dynamic range as possible. It cleans up nicely at the lower end of the GAIN control (9:00 – 12:00) and therefore can be used as an alternate type of clean sound, though it will always retain a bit more aggressive midrange and will not have as much top end sparkle as CLEAN.
Between 12:00 – 2:30 is where the classic rock rhythm sounds live, especially with humbucking pickups and mahogany guitars.
Between 12:00 – 2:30 is where the classic rock rhythm sounds live, especially with humbucking pickups and mahogany guitars. This is a sound that is overdriven, crisp and urgent, but not overly saturated. From 2:30 on up to the maximum GAIN setting (5:30), the sound becomes more saturated and begins to get a bit thicker and creamier. This region is great for solo sounds where more urgency is needed, as it has ample gain but is still tight tracking and responsive.
Be sure to experiment with the Graphic EQ (try the classic “V” setting) and The PRESET feature in the CRUNCH mode as some amazing sounds appear as a result of this combination. We tend to like the PRESET set at 12:00 with the GAIN at around 4:00 for a great rock rhythm sound. Again, these are approximate settings as everyone will have different styles, guitars, pickups and touch.
BLUES (Back to Top)
Channel 2 is aimed more at single note soloing, although both of the modes contained in this channel work well for rhythm playing as well if the GAIN controls are set in their lower regions. BLUES is the lower gain of the two modes in this Channel and owns the zone between the CLEAN and CRUNCH modes. It delivers a classic, old-school voice that can be set to achieve anything from a warmer clean sound, through a purring, soft-clip break-up on up to a mournful, howling lead sound.
Because it derives its architecture more from a medium gain lead circuit, it will always be a little warmer and thicker than the CLEAN mode even at the lowest regions of the GAIN control. Therefore, if you wish to use BLUES as an alternate clean sound or, you prefer to use Channel 1 set to CRUNCH for an urgent lead sound and BLUES as your main clean, you will need to run the GAIN very low (9:30), the TREBLE higher (1:30 – 2:00) and the MID low ((8:00 – 9:30). Following this scheme will give you the closest approximation of the scoop and sparkle present in the CLEAN mode.
Also be sure to check out combining the BLUES mode with the
5 Watt Power setting to explore some really cool low-volume Blues magic.
When using the PRESET feature with the BLUES mode, you will likely find the best results in the lower range of the control (9:30 – 1:00). Above this region the mid-dip EQ curve of the PRESET can get a little too extreme for most players searching for bluesy solo sounds. However, this same curve can be a benefit to creating sweeter, more sparkling clean sounds as its mid-dip scoops some of the heavier mids that are needed for a fat single note sound, but can be a bit clunky for a great clean.
Also be sure to check out combining the BLUES mode with the 5 Watt Power setting to explore some really cool low-volume Blues magic. The single-ended wiring scheme utilized here produces a sweetness that enhances the BLUES mode perfectly… not to mention that your roommates will love you for it.
BURN (Back to Top)
This is the highest gain of all the modes in your Express Plus and it is BURN that characterizes Channel 2 as the Lead Channel. As mentioned in the Overview, this circuit has been evolving over the last 25 years and after you’ve dipped your guitar into this river of undulating harmonics, you’ll come away a new soloist…baptized by gain that’s inseparable from the notes. Tight and focused, searing yet vocal, BURN delivers the ultimate in Express Plusive high-gain.
Perhaps no other mode in your Express Plus showcases the power and sonic potential of the GRAPHIC EQ and the PRESET feature like BURN.
At the lower end (8:30 – 9:30) of the gain range you will find a small overlap with the top zone of the BLUES mode, although it’s a bit fatter in the low end and more saturated, it offers some cool Blues or Roots melody line possibilities. The similarities to BLUES end abruptly here and a wide region of amazing Rock sounds appear in the middle (9:45 – 2:00) range of the GAIN control. This is where you will likely find the most musical and versatile of your high-gain sounds… small adjustments here can make big changes in the attack and the body of the notes. From there on up (2:15 – 5:30) the smoldering intensity of this channel is unleashed to produce a sound that is pure molten MESA. Legato and fluid, yet with beam-like clarity and sustain, BURN is testimony that 42 years ago on a mountainside in Marin County … we invented high gain.
Perhaps no other mode in your Express Plus showcases the power and sonic potential of the GRAPHIC EQ and the PRESET feature like BURN. Here, the entire range of the PRESET control produces useful and in fact, phenomenal high gain sounds. The lower (8:30 – 11:00) range combined with lower GAIN settings works great for widening mid-gain single note solo sounds, while higher settings (11:30 – 5:30) combined with more GAIN unveil a wall of crushing aggression that can be similar to our own Dual Rectifier™ line. Once you’ve auditioned the curve of the PRESET control, you can engage the EQ SLIDERS and begin shaping your own custom curve. Be sure to explore this hellacious realm of sounds when you’re ready for some really big guitar sounds.
NOW LET'S MOVE TO THE INDIVIDUAL CONTROLS AND GO OVER HOW THEY INTERACT TO ACHIEVE THE SOUND YOU'RE LOOKING FOR:
(Use scroller bar beneath photo to view entire panel)
GAIN (Back to Top)
As with all tube amplifiers, especially those with higher GAIN circuits, the GAIN control is by far the most powerful control in the amplifier. It determines the overall GAIN amount you will be working with (how clean or saturated the signal is) in any given channel or mode by metering the signal in the beginning stages (first tubes) of the preamp. It is also a very important Tone control as well.
Generally speaking, lower the settings of the GAIN control (below 12:00 in all modes) produce sounds that are less saturated, cleaner, brighter and more dynamic. As the GAIN control is increased the sound begins to get thicker and warmer and the dynamic peaks get softened by natural, sweet tube compression as the signal moves toward saturation. This is pretty much an across the board (or Channels) response, as these global behavior traits remain constant regardless of the individual architecture of the modes themselves.
Another simple guideline to follow that might make dialing for your sounds easier is this; as the GAIN goes up…the BASS should come down. Following this scheme will help you avoid flub and retain a tight, focused attack.
So for example, if you are in Channel 1 CRUNCH and you want to max the GAIN (5:30) for a rhythm sound, you would want to run the BASS control somewhere around 10:30 or below to keep the sound tracking tight. In the BLUES mode of Channel 2, things would be a bit more flexible. If you wanted to run the GAIN just high enough to have a nice fury break-up when you lean into it (1:00 – 2:00), you will be able to run the BASS a little higher (11:00 – 12:00) because there is less GAIN in the mode to begin with and also you are not using an extreme setting of the GAIN control.
NOTE: If you need very high GAIN settings to achieve the type of sound you are after, try looking to the Graphic EQ or the PRESET for any added low-end enhancement as this circuit comes later in the preamp and is less likely to bloat the sound. If the top-end enhancement in the PRESET mix is unwanted, reduce the TREBLE to compensate.
Just remember that as the internal gain structure of the Modes gets increased across the Channels, so does the need to carefully blend the GAIN and BASS, and in fact all the controls, to keep balance and cohesiveness in your Tone.
NOTE: Avoid extreme settings of both GAIN and TREBLE at the same time as the likelihood of annoying microphonic tube problems increases. If you need one set high to achieve the sound you are after, reduce the other to ensure uninterrupted performance.
TREBLE (Back to Top)
As in most tube guitar amplifiers, the TREBLE control (in both channels of your Express Plus) is the most powerful of the rotary controls and is next in line only to the GAIN control as a shaping tool. Because it is first in the signal path of the tone controls - and from here the Middle and Bass receive their signal - it is by far the dominant tone control. For this reason the setting of the TREBLE control is very important for equal representation of the three frequency regions to appear at their respective controls. Like most of the controls on your Express Plus, there is an optimum region of the TREBLE control in the middle regions where ample top end is mixed in and yet enough signal is still passed on to the MIDDLE and BASS controls.
As you might surmise, this is the sweet spot. There are definitely great sounds above and below this middle region (11:00 - 1:30), but the balance between the TREBLE control and the other two tone controls is compromised.
MID (Back to Top)
The MID control is responsible for the blend of midrange frequencies in the mix and though its effect is not as dramatic as that of the TREBLE control, it plays an integral part in achieving any sound in your Express Plus. It is capable of changing the feel dramatically as it blends in a group of frequencies that tend to soften or stiffen the way a sound feels to play.
Most players tend to lean in the direction of lower MID control settings (7:00 - 11:00) where a scoop in this region produces girth (by letting the Bass become a little more dominant) and a lack of punch lends a more compressed, even feel to the strings and therefore less apparent resistance to the pick. As the MID control is increased, (11:30 - 1:30) the sound is rounded-out and filled-in with a focused mid attack appearing rather quickly. As you would guess, the feel starts to change - becoming more resistant. Above this region the MID control could be used to compensate for either weaker pick-ups or for times when a specific deficiency is produced by either an extremely high setting of other tone controls, or a physical anomaly in the room. While these MID control settings (2:00 - 5:00) can introduce added gain and create enhanced focus, the trade-off will be a stiffer, more forward, less compressed feel.
BASS (Back to Top)
The BASS control in your new Express Plus works similarly in both channels in that it determines the amount of low frequencies present in a sound. However, the style of lows it mixes in changes from channel to channel. Like the MID control, it falls in line signal-wise after the TREBLE control and the same scheme applies. When the TREBLE control is set high, the effectiveness of the BASS and MID controls is reduced. If the TREBLE control is set low these two controls become dominant.
For the most balanced sound and a balance of power between the three rotary tone controls, try to use the TREBLE control in its middle ranges. This scenario produces nearly equal representation of all the frequencies on the tone controls and provides a great neutral starting point for further tweaking.
Note: The BASS control in both channels of your Express Plus is very powerful and though we have taken steps to ensure a balanced tone is easy to achieve, it is wise to blend with subtle nuance in mind. This is especially true in Channel 2 when using either the regular Channel 1 style gain circuitry cranked, or the DRIVE circuitry for higher gain lead sounds. A good rule to follow is this; as you increase the GAIN - reduce the BASS. Following this scheme will retain balance and keep the attack of the notes tight, dynamic and touch sensitive.
REVERB (Back to Top)
Your new Express Plus amplifier is equipped with a rich, natural sounding all-tube Reverb circuit. The REVERB control enables you to dial-in just the right amount of Reverb to be mixed with the dry signal. It is normal for extreme settings of the REVERB control to slightly alter the character of the amplifier as the voicing of the Reverb circuit becomes more dominant in the mix.
NOTE: Avoid using high settings of the REVERB control when High Gain and Treble settings are in use. This reduces the likelihood of annoying microphonic problems occurring.
MASTER (Back to Top)
This control is the master feed from the end of the pre-amp to the driver stage and the Effects Loop. As you can see each Channel is fitted with its own MASTER control, enabling both channels relative volumes to be matched regardless of their extremely different sound styles and gain signatures. The MASTER control makes possible a wide range of sounds through its ability to use very low Gain sounds at high volumes and conversely, high Gain sounds at low volumes and everywhere between.
Again, we suggest using the MASTER control in its sensible ranges (9:00 - 2:00). Here, the channels will be easier to match with each other and the Effects Loop will see more reasonable signal levels.
NOTE: Because the MASTER control creates the send to the Effects Loop, extreme settings will cause a large signal to be sent to the Loop for that Channel. Not only may this cause possible overloading of the processors Input stage, but it will make balancing the two channel’s Effect Send level difficult.
CHANNEL SELECT (Back to Top)
This 3 position mini toggle allows manual selection the Channels when the Footswitch is not connected. When the switch is in the CH. 1 (switch up) position Channel 1 will be activated and the green LED will be illuminated. The center position labeled FTSW activates the footswitch. The lower position, CH. 2 (switch down) activates Channel 2 and the red LED will come on.
NOTE: When the Channel Select switch is in the FTSW (center) position and the Footswitch is not connected, the default setting is Channel 1 active.
NOTE: The indicator LED above the CHANNEL button on the Footswitch is a dual-color type that tracks the colors on the Front Panel Channel LED indicators. It will appear green in Channel 1 and change to red when Channel 2 is activated.
EQUALIZER SECTION (Back to Top)
This section of the Express Plus offers two additional ways to further shape your sound beyond what the standard array of rotary Tone Controls can do. The choices are either the classic Boogie 5 Band Graphic EQ or our PRESET Control - which uses the same EQ circuitry to create a dial-able EQ version on one control that is pre-shaped to the iconic mid-dipped “V” slider setting. These choices are channel specific so that you can use either SLIDERS or PRESET for each Channel. Once you’ve chosen which option you want to use for each Channel, they can be auto-engaged when the Channel is selected, brought in and out via the Footswitch or Bypassed altogether.
Here are the switches and Control and the function they perform to control the EQ section.
EQ CONTROL Toggle
These two stacked 3-position mini-toggles to the Left of the SLIDERS (one for each Channel) in the EQ Window selects if and how you wish to engage the EQ Section - ON, OFF or FTSW (footswitchable). Between the two mini-toggles in the centerline between the Channels, is an Orange LED that indicates when the EQ SLIDERS are engaged. When this light is illuminated, the EQ circuit is Active and you may use the SLIDERS to shape your sound (to use PRESET Control, select PRESET with the EQ Style switch to the Right of the SLIDERS).
The Middle position of each switch (O) Bypasses the EQ section altogether and both SLIDERS and PRESET will not have any effect on the signal.
The Upper position of each switch (EQ ON) engages the EQ section in that Channel. Whatever is selected on the EQ STYLE mini- toggle (to the right of the SLIDERS) will determine the type of interface that is active in that Channel… SLIDERS or PRESET.
The Lower position of each switch (FT SW) allows you to engage the EQ section from the Express Plus Footswitch. The EQ may not turn the EQ on or off if the EQ Control switch is set to either EQ ON or O (switch up or switch middle) as these positions override the Footswitch EQ button.
EQ STYLE Toggle
These two stacked 2-position mini-toggles to the Right of the SLIDERS (one for each Channel) determine the style of interface you wish to utilize to control the EQ circuit. As mentioned earlier there are two ways to use the EQ circuit – the traditional Graphic EQ SLIDERS and the PRESET Rotary Control. Just between these switches (on the centerline between the Channels) is located a Red LED that indicates the PRESET circuit and Rotary Control are active. When this LED is illuminated, the PRESET control is engaged and the 5 SLIDERS have no effect on the signal.
The SLIDERS allow you to dial in specific curves on the “graph” to suit your individual needs for different instruments, playing styles and room variations.
The PRESET circuit does the work for you and puts the shaping power of the EQ under one simple rotary control that you can turn up and down quickly. The PRESET uses the same circuit as the SLIDERS and sets the “EQ Curve” internally to the classic “huge approved” mid-dipped “V” setting.
GRAPHIC SLIDERS (Back to Top)
These are the five fader style potentiometers for the Graphic EQ. They are centered on the five frequency points we’ve found most effective for shaping guitar sounds quickly and accurately. So that they are “less tweaky” and interact smoothly, they incorporate a fairly wide Q are each capable of 12db of cut or boost.
By far the most widely used is the 750Hz, which is used most often to cut midrange and create a scoop that make
the sound wider and more three-dimensional. Usually this mid cut is combined with a boosting of the 80 and 240 Hz as well as the 2200 and 6600 bands as well. This creates the classic “V” setting that so many Rock and Metal players rely upon for their huge crunch sound. While this is the most popular setting, there are many uses for the Graphic EQ from subtle enhancement to wild alteration of the signal and your own imagination is the only limit to the possibilities.
PRESET CONTROL (Back to Top)
The PRESET control takes the place of the 5 EQ Sliders as the interface to the EQ Circuit. As you increase the PRESET Control from 7:00 / Off (a flat setting equivalent to all 5 SLIDERS set on the Center Graph Line) through its range, the mids start to dip and both low and high end are slowly boosted - until at 5:30 (maxed out) - you have an extreme mid-dipped “V” setting. This dial-able enhancement allows for some subtle applications of the EQ circuit at the low end of the control that be superior to the SLIDERS for certain sounds because it acts as an EQ “mix” control at these lower settings.
For example, apply a slight bit of the PRESET to make chording sounds blossom in CLEAN - or turn it up just a bit more to add bounce and girth to rhythmic parts in the BLUES Mode. This PRESET EQ treatment works well for all the MODES, but showcases its true power most in the CRUNCH and BURN MODES - where this “V” curve produces some radical and now iconic Rock and Metal Crunch chording sounds. This sound has been a live power-tool as well as a much-recorded staple of Rock and Metal guitarists that have played our MARK Series models for decades. Now this dual-option EQ comes straight from our Flagship MARK FIVE to greatly enhance the flexibility of the Express Plus.
CHANNEL POWER SELECT: MULTI-WATT™ Channel Assignable Power (Back to Top)
As mentioned in the OVERVIEW, your Express Plus features our patented Multi-Watt™ Power, which allows you to switch between three power ranges that run in both different Classes of Operation and different Wiring Configurations. You will only find this powerful feature on MESA amplifiers and it allows you to tune the power section for volume, Tone and feel… optimizing its response for higher volume gig applications or lower volume recording and inspiring practice sessions
50 WATT (Back to Top)
This Full Power setting runs in Class A/B and is wired in a Push-Pull Configuration. This position (switch up) delivers the full rated power and would be the choice any time you need headroom for clean sounds or bold, tight authority for all the sounds while playing with other people. Class A/B, when combined with a pair of output tubes wired in a Push-Pull configuration, is the most efficient operating class and style of wiring and this scheme emphasizes upper mid punch, low-end clarity and upper harmonic cut.
25 WATT (Back to Top)
This position utilizes both power tubes running in Class A to create a lower wattage option that sweetens the top end and adds warmth while delivering a lower clip threshold. The pair of 6L6’s still runs in Class A, but here delivers the softer transition into clip and sweet upper harmonic detail and smoothness Class A circuits are famous for. Though technically a low power rating, the 25 WATT setting is still quite loud and therefore capable of some ample gig volumes, especially when you want some attitude in your “clean” sound and don’t need the highs or lows to be squeaky clean.
This Power Mode is the choice when you’re looking for Blues or Roots sounds (in the CLEAN and BLUES Modes) - and have a front end GAIN setting that uses a bit of preamp drive – still basically clean and responsive to dynamic content – but right at the threshold of where it relies on power sensitivity for most the overdrive component. There is a whole range of applications for the transitional region this Power Mode features from purring Blues Solo sounds to Alternative furry chording or any time you need to be able to lean into it and ride the power clip.
Another application of this Power Mode is creating liquid smooth high gain solo sounds in BURN. The character here is creamy and compressed and the feel is more legato and forgiving. Be sure to try the CRUNCH Mode as well with the 25 Watt setting – as this combination creates some amazing medium to high gain sounds for layered chording and singing sustain for single notes.
Some players love the 25 WATT setting so much they use it all the time, citing the perfect balance of Tone, headroom and power Express Plusion (clip-ability). While we do agree with this view to some extent, and certainly the 25 WATT Power Mode does offer a beautiful balance of power attributes, it is but one of the faces of power contained in the Multi-Watt palette. We suggest exploring them all and applying each of these different and Express Plusive Power Modes according to its virtues.
5 WATT (Back to Top)
This position (switch down) reconfigures everything in your power section! The operating Class is switched to Class A, which is far less efficient - but produces smooth, rich, silky harmonics and warm low end. Many vintage amplifiers were built with this operating class. Now here is where we get tricky and is the basis of our patent. The wiring configuration is switched as well - from Push-Pull to Single-Ended. This configuration - the first way tubes were ever wired – is again far less efficient but puts emphasis on the even order harmonics. These are the second harmonic that lives one octave above the notes that are being played and they’re the most pleasing of all harmonics. They sound sweet and add a fullness to the sound like no other, almost like a super subtle octaver that is way back in the mix. Push-Pull circuits cancel out this second harmonic when the wave form is split in half and each half is amplified separately and the sweet second harmonic is replaced by the punchier odd-order third harmonic…thus the substantially louder impact of the Push-Pull configuration. Use the 5 WATT setting anytime you want the sweetest little amp response at home or in the studio. It produces gorgeous clean sounds at very low volumes and when pushed, clips in the coolest way…even beyond our favorite vintage classics.
The tone and versatility of this three mode power section leaves most other circuits with option envy. It’s truly like having three amps in one package. And when you start combining the power choices with the myriad of sounds in the two Channels, the possibilities for authentic and inspiring sounds are near limitless.
SOLO CONTROL (Back to Top)
The SOLO control is a footswitchable Master Volume that enables a boost in volume for the whole amp. Here you can to dial up a preset amount of boost and switch to it when it’s time to step out for solo passages or any time you want to showcase a part. Simply set your desired overall playing level with the Channel MASTER Controls, Select SOLO on the Express Plus Footswitch and set the desired increase in volume level with the SOLO control.
NOTE: The SOLO control may only be used to increase the volume beyond the level of that set by the Channel MASTER Controls. You cannot use the SOLO to switch to a level lower than that set by the Channel MASTER Control.
NOTE: Check the setting of the SOLO control before switching it in - as it may be set high and cause a shocking increase in volume.
STANDBY (Back to Top)
Perfect for set breaks...this toggle switch also serves an even more important purpose. In the STANDBY position (switch up), the tubes are at idle so that during power up they may warm up before being put to use.
Before the power is switched on, make sure the STANDBY switch is in the STANDBY position. Wait at least 30 seconds and then flip the STANDBY switch to its ON position. Following this simple warm up procedure helps in preventing tube problems and increase their toneful life substantially.
AC POWER (Back to Top)
This switch delivers the A.C. power to the Express Plus. Make sure the unit is properly grounded ( all three terminals of the A.C. power cord must be connected whenever possible and that the proper voltage is present. Follow the cold start procedure described in the ON/STANDBY section above when powering up your new Express Plus amplifier.
NOTE: Never alter the A.C. power cord in any way.
NOW LET'S SPIN THE EXPRESS PLUS AROUND AND COVER THE REAR PANEL FEATURES:(Use scroller bar beneath photo to view entire panel)
FUSE (Back to Top)
This is the main AC fuse that protects your amplifier from damage should a tube ever fail or you receive a surge from the AC wall socket. Always replace the fuse with the same type and rating to avoid damage to your amplifier. Failure to do so will likely cause damage and void your warranty. Both Express Plus models use a Slo-Blo type fuse.
Express Plus 5:50 = 3 AMP Slo Blo Fuse
FTSW (Footswitch) (Back to Top)
This 8 pin female DIN jack accepts the Express Plus Footswitch. It is NOT a standard 5-pin midi cable and if you lose your cable, it will be a special order for any music store and therefore more easily obtained through your local MESA dealer or through us directly. It is a standard 8 pin DIN cable and you might be able to find it through some electronics supply houses or computer parts retailers as well.
Make sure the cable is securely seated all the way into the jack when setting up you amplifier.
It’s always advisable to carry the Footswitch and cable in either the pouch provided - or in a separate gig bag rather than tossing them in the back of your combo cabinet. Loose articles floating around in the back of your amp can damage both tubes and speakers during transport. Don’t arrive at the gig with your amp damaged from the Footswitch or cable because you were in a hurry and didn’t pack it properly
EXTERNAL SWITCHING (Back to Top)
These four ¼ “ jacks trigger the CHANNELS, REVERB, EQ and SOLO features when you want to control your Express Plus with a master external switcher. In this way you can call up the sounds on your Express Plus remotely without connecting the Footswitch and have your effects and amp sounds respond to a single button (possibly midi) program change command.
Simply connect standard unshielded (speaker) ¼” phone cables to these four jacks and short the “tip” to “ground” to activate the features. This standard tip-to-ground “latching type” logic is supported on most all master switching devices so all you will have to do is program what jacks on your switcher will be grounded under which programs.
EFFECTS LOOP (Back to Top)
The Express Plus incorporates an internal EFFECTS LOOP to handle the interfacing of outboard processing. This circuit is a patch point between the preamp and the power section and it is wired in series with the dry (un-affected) signal. Since this loop is a series-type loop (as opposed to parallel - where the loop signal runs alongside the dry signal) it is important that you use good quality processors “in the middle” of your amp. While the loop is compatible with most processor Input/Output impedance demands, there can be a lot of room for sonic compromise in some of the less expensive units. Remember that every part in your signal path is a tone part. Therefore, it may not be a bad idea to bring your amp along when you go to audition processors and try them with your amp to see if they compromise your Tone when inserted into the loop.
SPEAKERS (Back to Top)
These jacks handle the output to speaker cabinets or the internal combo speaker in your Express Plus. There is one 8 Ohm and two 4 Ohm jacks here and between these outputs, most popular speaker combinations can be accommodated. You’ll find that different impedance loads change the way your amp sounds and feels - and though it is usually best to match the load you are using to the matching SPEAKER impedance output – you may find a certain mismatch combination to your liking. For example, some players like the tighter, bolder correct-match-response of an 8 Ohm speaker on the 8 Ohm SPEAKER output. Others may prefer the sweeter more scooped, elastic vibe of the 8 Ohm speaker on the 4 Ohm jack. Feel free to experiment as your Express Plus is capable of running with most any load and producing amazing sound. If you prefer the sound of an impedance mismatch, by all means go with the Tone.
NOTE: Using impedance mismatches in the low direction (i.e. at 4 Ohm load on the 8 Ohm output) will cause the power tubes to wear a bit faster.
Express Plus combos use one internal 8 Ohm speaker to produce an 8 Ohm load. If you wish to use an extension speaker cabinet (we make several extension cabinet options, see your nearest dealer) you will need to remove the combo’s speaker from the 8 Ohm SPEAKER output and connect it and the extension cabinet (also 8 Ohms) to the two 4 Ohm jacks for a correct impedance match.
Express Plus heads can be used with most any speaker enclosure. Most MESA cabinets 1x12, 2x12 and 4x12 are wired to 8 Ohms. If you intend to use a non-MESA cabinet (we’re sure you’ll find our cabinets superior both in sound and construction) that is wired to 16 Ohms, connect it to the 8 Ohm SPEAKER output.
Now that we’ve covered the features and operation of your Express Plus, it’s time to enjoy the best part…the sound and feel! We wish you many years of inspiration, fulfillment and musical satisfaction from your new Express Plus.