Sunday, April 29, 2018

Review: Mesa Boogie Quad Preamp

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we are going to review a classic Mesa Boogie preamp (now discontinued but still quite easy to find in the used market), that has appeared on countless hard rock and heavy metal albums. from the late '80s Metallica to the early Dream Theater, Red hot Chili Peppers and so on: The Mesa Boogie Quad Preamp!

The Mesa Quad is an all tube preamp (it has 8 12AX7 Tubes) that is based on an expanded version of the Mesa Mark III circuitry, and it features two channels and six modes: Rhythm Channel 1, Lead
Channel 1, Rhythm Channel 2, Lead Channel 2, Eq1 on the active channel, Eq2 on the active channel.
Each channel has a separate graphic and parametric equalization that can be activated or deactivated with a switch, doubling the amounts of tones achievable, a boost function and a reverb.

Each channel has also a "bright switch" and a "deep switch, which emphasize respectively the high and the low end, adding more sparkle or more thump.
On the back, besides the classic inputs, outputs and effect loop we can find a MIDI switching out, quite rare for that time, and an equally rare recording output which simulates the sound of a Mesa 4x12 cabinet, to be used straight in the recording interface.

The sound is typical Mesa Boogie: cleans are very clean and dynamic, overdrive and crunches are dark and fat, with a lot of growl and low end, and actually the graphic equalizer is a unique feature that has been a Mesa prerogative for years, that adds a huge amount of flexibility in terms of the tone we can achieve: the classic early Metallica sound, called "V shaped" because it had the mids scooped, comes from this graphic equalizer, that was present in Mesa amps since the Mark II.

Today, looking at this preamp that was considered back then top-notch for any guitarist, we can't help but think that the world of tube guitar amplifiers hasn't evolved that much: it has expanded touching territories of solid state and digital that doesn't sound like crap (unlike the early models), but fundamentally what people looks for in their quest for the best tone it's the same: a well crafted tube preamp with a lot of flexibility and tone shaping functions, plus all the goodies that the guitarists of any moment in history needs.
This unit still today could be sold as a new product and be credible, plus it has a legacy of legendary albums in which it has been used that has very few equals, the only downside could be the weight, that is considerable, and a not total MIDI integration, but besides that it is still a killer preamp, which still represents one of the best gems Mesa Boogie has ever produced.

Thumbs up!


- two channels, six modes

- eight 12AX7 preamp tubes

- reverb

- both a parametric and a 5 band graphic equalization per channel

- bright and deep switches

- recording out

- based on the Mesa Boogie Mark III circuit

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  1. I am a Quad owner for years and now its finally going to be build into a small simple rig for the first time since I got it many years ago.

    Only few Quads have midi installed but the one difficult thing is to find the switch that can work with the 8 channel inputs and midi for effects.

    The Rockman midi octoplus does this brilliantly and I am getting one for my Quad.

    The only downside is to locate the strategy 400 or 295 poweramp and shipping them across countries. Not the cost but secure shipping.

    A Quad has a zillion wonderfull tones I need to find but I love it and that is why I have it.

  2. I have tried it with a Simul Class 2:90 and it really rocked! (but it was heavy as hell! :D)