Gear Spotlight
May 6, 2021

May 6th Gear Spotlight – Mesa/Boogie Amplifiers!

Two Meda Bookie Amplifiers

What are your thoughts on Mesa/Boogie Amps? They’re this week’s Gear Spotlight!

Also known as Mesa Engineering, they are an American company in Petaluma, California, that manufactures amplifiers for guitars and basses. It has been in operation since 1969. MESA was started by Randall Smith as a small repair shop which modified Fender Amplifiers, particularly the diminutive Fender Princeton. Smith’s modifications gave the small amps much more input gain, making them much louder as well as creating a high-gain, distorted guitar tone. Prominent early customers included Carlos Santana, and Ron Wood and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones. Exposure from these top players helped to establish Mesa/Boogie’s position on the market, and it is frequently referred to as the first manufacturer of boutique amplifiers.

Mesa/Boogie began with a practical joke: Randall Smith borrowed a Fender Princeton (a small 12-watt amplifier) from his friend, Barry Melton of Country Joe and the Fish, and hot-rodded it by replacing the amplifier section with that of a Fender Bassman and installing a 12-inch speaker instead of the original 10-inch. The resulting amplifier proved to be loud and successful, and Smith made more than 200 of these Princeton “Boogies”—a name allegedly provided by Carlos Santana, who is to have exclaimed “This thing boogies!”

Mesa’s flagship product was The Mark Series amplifier until the introduction of the Rectifier series, and the amplifiers are collectable. A few other notable users of Mesa/Boogie include Frank Zappa, Alex Lifeson, Mike Oldfield, Wes Borland, Metallica, Dave Grohl, Jerry Cantreel, David Gilmour, Kurt Cobain, and Lindsey Buckingham.

On January 6, 2021, it was announced that Gibson had acquired Mesa/Boogie. As a result of the acquisition, 75-year-old Smith joined Gibson as “Master Designer and Pioneer of Mesa/Boogie and beyond.”

Check below for a video demo on the Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier amplifier!

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