A mouse that Roars. You will not believe how loud this little guy will go. My larger setup,(Mesa F-100 head on a Marshall 4x12 vintage cab), can be a b---- to haul around. If I'm going to be playing in an enviroment that doesn't require a massive wall of sound I just grab the F-30 and go.
The amp sounds good stock. Right out of the box. If your like me and want it to be even better swap the tubes out,(both pre and post), for some Teslas. The preamp tubes seem to last forever so you'll only buy them once or verrry infrequently.
Model Year: 2003
Price: $849.00 (new)
Where Obtained: Guitar Center
This is a very compact, very loud for it's size and wattage amp. It has 2 channels but the gain channel offers two different voices of either vintage or modern,(somewhat scooped). All Tube, very basic layout with treble/mid/bass controls for each channel. Gain and Master volume for each. Reverb. Parallel effects loop, record out with speaker mute switch that keeps a load on the power section but silences the speaker.
Quite simply I love the sound of this amp. I play all styles of music. I will say upfront that I swapped out the Mesa tubes for Tesla 12AX7's and Tesla EL84's. This one mod took a well voiced amp and made it a wonderfully voiced amp. Other than the tube swap it's all stock. The clean channel can be very clean at high volume but I like it better with the Gain on the clean channel on around 6 where it gives me a great vintage rock breakup. This same setting with the mids racked up to around 8 is great for blues.
The gain channel was a little gritty and over the top for my own taste but swapping to the Tesla's took care of that issue. Now it's much smoother and I can dial in just the amount I want.
I play multiple guitars through this amp. Everything from fully hollow with humbuckers to Strats and Telecasters with single coils to Ibanez solid body Jems and RGs with high output humbuckers. While it sounds good with all of them it has it's best voice for blues and vintage rock on the clean channel with the single coils and with the humbuckers on the gain channel. The gain channel does have some backround noise but I put a Boss NS2 suppressor on the pedal board and that knocked it down nicely. I like to run a compressor/wah/TS9 tubescreamer combination into the clean channel or just the wah into the gain channel.
I also own this amps big brother,(F-100 head), and while on the outside they look almost the same the F-100 has 6L6s instead of EL84s so the F-30 is crisper with a more shimmery top end while the F-100 has a darker/smoother quality to it. I go back and forth on which one I like better. For blues the F-30 always wins hands down. All heart and soul. For high gain metal the F-100 wins. All Balls. Everything else falls in between.
This is the most basic layout you can get in a 2 channel tube amp. If you know how to set the pre/post gain/volume controls on a tube amp you got it made. Tube amps take a bit of trial and error adjustments when you first get them but with a little time and effort the sound quality is unreal.
I've thrown this little guy behind the drivers seat on the floor of my car,(yep.It fits.), more times than I can count. I've played in small bluesy enviroments and rocked against some heavy chording dudes and it's never failed on me yet. It's got the original celestion vintage 30 12" speaker in it and I added an extension Mesa/Boogie cab with a single 12"custom 90,(basically the same as a celestion lead 80), with a three quater back. I prefer the vintage 30 but the custom 90 cuts through the mix a little better so solos sound a bit more up front when I run them both together. I change the output tubes every six to 9 months and I get them hand selected to match the bias of the amplifier so I can just pop them in right from the box. I would note that the EL84 tube is one of the smallest and least expensive output tubes used in tube amps. The F-30 runs two of them so it costs me about $30 bucks when I replace them.
This is a poor man's Mesa.It does not have the features of their higher range amps but it has the same distinctive Mesa sound that many of us have fallen in love with.It's small with a really big sound.If you mike you can play any sized room but if you play with a group that cranks a lot of stage volume then you should go for something a larger.But for the money this amp is really hard to beat.
Model Year: 2002
Price: $799.00 (new)
Where Obtained: Guitars and More (Indainapolis)
Has 2&1/2 channels.Clean and distortion.The "1/2" channel is a factory preset eq that you can switch to.The preset is set to a "v" shaped eq on the distortion channel. This is a tube amp with a foot switch included.Has three tone knobs,a gain knob,a reverb knob,and master volume knob on each channel.This amp is plenty powerful for small rooms or the studio.Price does not include amp cover.
I've played a Strat and a Gretsch through this amp.I use no effects pedals.I play all styles of music and this amp can cover all the bases.The clean channel stays clean at louder volumes and the dirty is channel has real grit to it.My only complaint is that the clean channel has a slight hiss to it which makes it hard to work with in the studio for some applications.However the dirty channel is very quite.This is the 2nd best amp I've ever owned.The best was the Mesa Mark III amp I used to owned.
This is an easy amp to use keep.Keep in mind however that the F-30 does not have the extreme versatility that some of the other Mesa amps have. But that being said I've still been able to get a wide range of sounds that I've needed with relative ease.
Having owned this amp now for aprxm. a year and a half I have found that the 2 EL84 tubes have to be replaced about every 8 months in order to stay hot and keep up with the rigors of heavy use.So that is why I have give the durabilty of the amp an average rating.But the tubes are inexpensive and a small price to pay for the Mesa sound
I chose the F series amps because they produce top notch sound from a
SMALL package. This puppy is hardly bigger than my Fender Blues Jr (but almost twice as heavy)
The only way they could make this amp better would be have it carry itself around. If I lost this amp or it was stolen I'd replace it with an F-50(6L6's instead of EL84's). In fact I would have bought the F-50, but this price was too good to pass up. It was totally mint.
Where Obtained: Friend
Dual channel each consists of:
There's a front panel channel switch plus Power on/off and standby on/off switch
Back panel includes:
Effects loop in/out with wet/dry adjustment
Silent recording switch (speaker mute)
1 each 8 ohm and 2 each 4 ohm speaker output jacks
30 watt Class AB Mono output into 1 each 12 inch Celestion Speaker
I use a number of Fender Teles, Strats, and Gibson humbucker type equiped guitars. My musical genres are from country swing to blues and classic rock. It would also suit metal genres with the addition of a tube screamer. This is the best production combo amp I've played in my life. You can dial in tones ranging from lush Fender reverbs to Marshal brown tone all to way to progressive rock distortion.
This is a total tone machine.
This amp is the culmination of 30 years R&D at Mesa Engineering, and the effort shows. Mesa leads in amp development, other major amp companies follow.
Each channel has it's own complete set of controls so it is flexible to the extreme, yet intuitive to use. It can take a while to nail the exact tone you are looking for, but once there the sound is completely uncompromised. No engineering compromises here.
I've never had any trouble with my previous M/B amps Triple Recto). I expect the same bulletproof performance from this baby. It's literaly built like a tank.
I expect to retube it once a year, but it will get a lot of use (3-4 hours a day minimum).