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Amp angst: Fender Blues Junior or Mesa 5:25 Express?


RudyH

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My search for a tube amp has come down to these two models. Can you give me any information on them from your own experiences, or from what you know? Thanks. The big quesion for me is whether it's worth the difference in price. I think the Mesa is a nicer amp, but it's much costlier.

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I really like my blues Jr., though I am not sure I would go with the stock version. I got the NOS version, which has a slightly warmer sound to it (because of the Jensen speaker upgrade). Even with the speaker upgrade, the sound from the amp is fairly crisp and bright. It also has a ton of headroom, which isn't great if you plan on playing some heavily overdriven stuff. There isn't a ton you can do with the amp, sound-wise. It has been described as a one-trick pony, and I would have to agree. It takes pedals really well, though.

 

I ended up upgrading the tubes to JJs, which also warmed the amp up a little.

 

Also, there are a handful of mods you can do the amp once the warranty runs out that will improve it.

 

I paid $495 for the NOS version. Got it from Woodwind & Brasswind. You will need to talk to a human, though. Their online price is much higher.

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I would take the recommendation of Felix The Cat in this Harmony-Central review and go with the Blues Jr eusa_angel.gif

 

Product: Fender Blues Junior

Price Paid: UNKNOWN

Submitted 09/19/2008 at 02:15pm by Felix the cat

 

Features : 10

Full suite of controls for editing, selecting warp drive factors, bending light and dark matter plus a pre-wired frontal lobotomy dial to remove one's own frontal lobes. Just plug it in and enjoy the inter dimensional aspects of this all tube design. Spark it up, Sparky!

 

Sound Quality : 10

I'm using this with a plastic guitar that I originally bought for my 3-year old daughter Jenny. Once I realized that Hasbro had actually crafted an instrument in the same league as the big guitar manufacturers, I was determined to find an amp worth of the Hasbro "Guitar Hero" model guitar.

Enter the Fender Blues Junior. For starters, the Hasbro's clear nylon strings vibrate and oscillate in perfect harmony with the BJr. So much so that I dialed my pals, Malmstein, Clapton, Satriani and Vai, and said. "Boys! You have GOT to check out this amp!" They had never heard of Fender, but they all had recently replaced all of their guitars with a single Hasbro Guitar Hero! Amazing tone! Ingwie had a pink one with my little pony prints on it. Clapton's had the blue top with the bubbles, as did Stevie Vai. Satch's was custom made for him-all chrome. Fantastic!

Back to the amp: I plugged in the Hasbro and sparked up the BJr. Upon hitting the first note of Flight of the Bumblebee (1/2048th notes) my front door crashed down and hundreds of the world's most beautiful supermodels streamed through the doorway screaming in one chorus: "I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU! I WANT TO HAVE YOUR BABIES!! MAKE LOVE TO ME NOW!!!" Wow, I was really surprised. That's how good this amp sounds.

 

 

 

Reliability : 10

Just to be sure, I had the US Army drive 100 Abrahms M2A Tanks over the amp. Then each tank took turns firing either HE or Sabot rounds at it from a distance of 1 nanometer. Not a scratch on the amp! Wow! This Fender company is good, very good! I never heard of them before but hey, they're rather obscure in the amp business, ya think? I would trust this amp even if the gig was underwater-in the Marianna trench. I will take it with me when I gig in other dimensions or different planets too.

 

Customer Support : 10

I called Joe Fender and he answered personally. That's good service. I told him that I needed to pay off the national debt so he sent me the cash. Look for the story on CNN: "Fender guitar amp owner pays off 53 trillion in US Treasury debt! Wall street reacts by sending the DOW to 100,000!" No really, this WILL happen. Joe Fender is the greatest.

 

Overall Rating : 10

As an intergalactic phase reversal device it is absolutely un-paralled. Right?

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Tone is subjective and only you can tell yourself which one you like best.

 

I have a Blues Junior and, after replacing the speaker with a nice Weber and swapping in different preamp tubes TWICE, I'm still not thrilled with it. It sounds alright but kind of brittle, even when keeping the treble control down really low. It's a good amp for the money, but not a great amp by any stretch.

 

If the Mesa is what you really want, then wait a while and save up some more money. As someone who has compromised and bought second best many times in the past only to end up going back later and end up buying what I actually wanted in the first place, I can safely tell you that you'll save money if you just get the one you like better the first time around.

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I have been in an amp quest for the 4 years I have been playing guitar. I currently have 3 amps and have sold one.

 

All and all I wish I had bought the Mesa 5:25 when it came out, by now I have spent the same amount of money that I would have if I bought the Mesa and I am still looking for tone.

 

A difference to point out here is that the Mesa 5:25 was originally a 1X10, last year they upgraded the speaker to a 1X12, I mention this because this difference is usually not mentioned by sellers and to you it can make a big difference.

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Tone is subjective and only you can tell yourself which one you like best.

 

If the Mesa is what you really want' date=' then wait a while and save up some more money. As someone who has compromised and bought second best many times in the past only to end up going back later and end up buying what I actually wanted in the first place, I can safely tell you that you'll save money if you just get the one you like better the first time around.

[/quote']

 

There you go, Rich beat me to the punch.

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Bluemoon has some great points about the blues jr. I don't own one, but I've played them. I have not actually played this Mesa, but I'm familiar with mesa's concept of amp building.

 

However, these amps are two different beasts in their approach towards amp building and sounds. What you need to consider is the style of music you play. If you are a rocker who plays more than classic rock then you may want to get the mesa.

 

My 2 cents worth

 

And don't forget to post pics when you buy one.

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I am a huge fan of Mesa amps. I have owned a MkII (wish I still had it) and I now own a boogie blue angel. The amps are tone monsters, you can get any sound that you want to out of them. They are ULTRA reliable, built like tanks. I used to carry my MkII around in the trunk of my car from gig to gig and often I left it there for days between gigs. It never failed, I never had a problem with it.

 

As for the Express series, they are awesome amps, they are more expensive than the fender product, but they are vary flexible in their sounds/tones, they are USA made and the Mesa tech support is superb. I like the 5:25 with the 12" speaker and the EL84 tubes, but I prefer the 5:50 w/12" speaker and 6L6 tubes. There are a lot of folks out there that will tell you all kinds of crap about boogies being metal amps or other nonsense. The Express amps can do anything you want. The Express series has great cleans and beautiful reverb.

 

Even if you don't buy one, you should at least check them out. Check them out on youtube if you haven't already. Santana plays boogies!

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I own a blues jr. , and would second what's been said already. It's an ok $500 amp.

It meets my needs, but I wouldn't call it my dream amp or anything like that.

 

I think you're kinda comparing apples to oranges. I'm sure if you put the fender and mesa side by side, that mesa would blow the jr. away.

 

Good luck, either way.

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I have never played a mesa amp...but I can say that the Fender is a good basement amp for me. I would agree that it is by no means my dream amp. But it is a good starting point for tube amp and has a little more to offer than say the Valve Jr--in part because it has a 12" speaker rather than an 8. It also has more than just a volume knob. And the best part is that it loves pedals.

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I won't tell you which you should by either, but if you decide on the Blues Jr., then you have a few options. The Blues Jr. I think you speak of is the 15 watt with 12 in Fender special design 50w speaker, but there is also a Pro Jr. which is also 15w with 12AX7's in preamp & EL84's in power side. The Pro Jr. has a 10" Eminence 30w speaker which you may like better. They had one at my local music shop and it sounds damn good.

 

There is also the Red Texas Special Blues Jr. Limited Edition I have seen on ZZounds & AMS (15w with a 12" Fender Celestion Speaker). I haven't heard this speaker in the Blues Jr., but I'd like to.

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Fender has pretty much decided to build most of their gear in Mexico. Even the Eddie Van Halen Amp. Except for the Chinese bass stuff. Sheeze.........

 

Mesa amps.....

 

<

 

Are double tough American Made tone machines that will make you tens of thousands of dollars and actually (sometimes) be worth more than you paid for them.

 

Not that you would ever sell one................

 

Best of luck.

 

Murph.

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Fender has pretty much decided to build most of their gear in Mexico. Even the Eddie Van Halen Amp. Except for the Chinese bass stuff. Sheeze.........

 

Mesa amps.....

 

<

 

Are double tough American Made tone machines that will make you tens of thousands of dollars and actually (sometimes) be worth more than you paid for them.

 

Not that you would ever sell one................

 

Best of luck.

 

Murph.

 

Jeez Murph,

"tens of thousands of dollars". That sounds as good as the amps do.

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If the Mesa is what you really want' date=' then wait a while and save up some more money. As someone who has compromised and bought second best many times in the past only to end up going back later and end up buying what I actually wanted in the first place, I can safely tell you that you'll save money if you just get the one you like better the first time around.

[/quote']

 

 

+1 - compromise can be such an expensive lesson at times. I too have learned that lesson. I went through 3 ES335 type guitars until I finally just bought one. Those compromises when added up cost me about the same as the ES335 did. I should have just bought the real deal in the first place.

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