If you’re looking for an amp that can cover a lot of sonic territory in addition to looking like the toughest kid on the playground, the Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier is sure to please.
Few amplifiers have defined modern rock as have the Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier series, introduced in 1989. While Mesa Boogie amplifiers had already earned a well-earned reputation for their wide array of clean, crunch, and lead tones, the Dual (and Triple) Rectifier series added a much needed boost (literally) to the already-established line. For ever 20 years, the Mesa Rectifier has helped define modern rock with its bone crunching low end and thick lead tones.
When you’ve created such a landmark guitar amplifier – no small feat for Randall Smith and the folks at Mesa Boogie – what can you do to improve a modern legend? Mesa decided to keep everything that helped make the Rectifier such a success and add such helpful features as a new third channel, multi-watt operation, new amp voicings, and programmable effects loop. Clearly, this is an amp that has been redesigned for the next 20 years. Let’s look at the details.
The 2010 Mesa Dual Rectifier is a three channel amplifier capable of either 50W or 100W power (selectable by switching) powered by 4 x 6L6, 5 x 12AX7, and 2 x 5U4 tubes. The amp can be powered by either 6L6 or EL34 power tubes and contains a fixed bias for maintenance free operation. The revised Dual Rectifier contains three independent channels.
Channel 1 operates under either Clean or Pushed Mode while Channels 2 and 3 both operate under Raw, Vintage High Gain, or Modern High Gain mode. Each channel has independent Gain, Treble, Mid, Bass, Presence, and Master controls. A master output level control is also available as is a footswitchable solo level control and selectable dual rectifier switch. You can choose between a Bold or Spongy “Variac” sound as well.
Finally, the Dual Rectifier contains an assignable parallel effects loop with Send and Mix Level controls, Slave Out with master level control, and switching jacks for the effects loop, solo, and channels (1 – 3). A 5-button footswitch is included as is a slipcover. Clearly, the folks at Mesa have tried to make this amp even more versatile and user friendly. I tested the Rectifier with a 2005 Gibson Les Paul Standard and 2009 Fender Deluxe HSS Stratocaster.
When you think of a Mesa Dual Rectifier, you’re likely to think of thick, chugging power chords and rumbling 7-string riffs. And with good reason, too. The Rectifier’s reputation for inflicting sonic mayhem is well-deserved. However, this ain’t your daddy’s rectifier! When you give channel 1 a listen, do so with an open mind and open ears. This channel is voiced on the Lone Star and Mesa/Boogie Mark V, so the clean sounds are meant to be inspiring, not an afterthought.
Without a doubt, this is the best clean sound I’ve ever heard from a Rectifier-series amplifier and one of the best clean sounds I’ve heard, period. The tone controls are very responsive, allowing for a wide variety of sounds. When you switch to the “Pushed” voicing, you get a bit more grunt and mild overdrive. It’s a solid classic rock kind of tone that cleans up well when you roll back your guitar’s volume knob. Changing the Rectifier setting can open up some nicely compressed tones. It’s also worth noting that the clean channel is wonderfully quiet, a welcome change from previous models. It sounded full and powerful with both humbuckers and single coils.
Of course, the Dual Rectifier has earned its reputation from its place as a modern hard rock powerhouse, and the current incarnation of the amp will do nothing but confirm this status. Versatility rules with channels 2 and 3, which are not only devoted to more distorted heavier sounds, but which are absolutely identical in every respect.
The gain channels have three settings, Raw, Vintage High Gain, and Modern High Gain. The Raw setting puts you immediately into vintage Marshall territory. Personally, this was my favorite channel, since I found that it reacted well with my wide array of distortion and overdrive pedals. The sound is crunchy, focused, and, well, raw. It’s not a high gain setting, nor is it intended to be; however, it’s a beautifuly distorted sound that cleans up well on your guitar and reacts great with pedals.
With the Vintage High Gain, you’re more into modified Marshall JCM800 type sounds. It has a ton of gain to spare and when pushed reminds me of the previous Rectifier model’s orange channel sound. From hard rock to classic metal, this setting offers plenty for player looking for high gain tones.
As you would expect, the Modern High Gain setting is pretty intense. With this voicing the low end tones increase substantialy, particularly with the Les Paul. The high midrange also gets a boost with this setting, so there’s a bit more “bite” to be had. Personally, I found the best sounds with the gain at around 12 o’clock. Anything higher and I think you run the risk of losing all the dynamics that come through in your playing, though fans of extreme gain won’t be dissatisfied.
What I didn’t expect when reviewing the new Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifiier is how versatile the amp really is. This is an amp that you could use not only for extreme hard rock or metal, but classic rock, blues, and even worship music. Heck, the clean channel is clean enough for jazz and country if needed. If you’re looking for an amp that can cover a lot of sonic territory in addition to looking like the toughest kid on the playground, the Mesa Dual Rectifier is sure to please.
Name of Gear: Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier
List Price: $1,899.99
Manufacturer Info: Mesa/Boogie Ltd.; mesaboogie.com
Pros: Extremely versatile; wide range of clean, crunch, and high gain sounds
Cons: None significant