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Decision time - Shuttle 6.0 or Mesa Walkabout

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by jaywa, Mar 12, 2009.

  1. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    I have had the opportunity at church over the past several weeks to "A/B" two heads: a GenzBenz Shuttle 6.0, and a Mesa Walkabout. I am considering a future amp purchase for myself and wanted perspectives from people who own (or have owned) either or both. I'm sure there are archived threads on this but I would like some current perspectives.

    Here is my take on each - using the same bass (Tobias 5-string) and cabinet (Hartke 4.5) for each so the head is the only variable:


    Pros - Awesome sound, great EQ, front control for DI level, rugged construction, made in U.S.

    Cons - Only 0half the watts of the Shuttle (for almost twice the price), bigger/heavier, feature-minimal (no mute switch or tuner jack, no pre-post control for DI)


    Pros - Size/weight, lots of watts, affordable, good features

    Cons - Doesn't seem to have much oomph for the wattage (the Mesa actually seems to move more air, at half the watts); also concerned about reliability/durability as my church only bought the 6.0 (new) a few weeks ago and already it's in the shop for repair

  2. I've owned the Walkabout, and have now spent quite a bit of time with the Shuttle. Both very nice, and I agree both put out about the same volume, even though the published spec's are quite different. Both are plenty loud for most situations if you have a relatively high SPL cab(s) and run at 4ohms.

    The main difference to me is the amount of tubiness. The Shuttle is more along the lines of the Eden and SWR hybrids.. more solid state than 'tubey' sounding... the tube adds some nice character and warmth, but the feel and tone is solid state all the way.

    The Walkabout seems to be designed to really channel an all tube head like the old Ampeg B15 type thing.. fat, clean, warm, tube tone with some 'give' in the feel of the amp as you turn it up. Increasing the gain control of the Mesa REALLY impacts the whole feel and tone of the amp, whereas the Shuttle remains much more even, more like a solid state pre with just a touch of tube warmth to my ear, and you never really get that feeling of a tube 'giving' a bit.

    I prefer the Shuttle myself, since I like it quick and clean. However, the Walkabout is about as close to the sound of an all tube amp you are going to get in a hybrid IMO and IME.

    I know there is an issue with the Walkabout DI (I think it is impacted by the master volume, since they wanted to get the full tube type tone through the DI with that 'simulstate' design). So, that's something to think about if you plan on using the DI a lot.

    Both are great in their own way, and IMO the decision for me would be based on how much of that tube feel and fat bloom I wanted.


    Edit: The Mesa Scout cabs designed to go with the Walkabout KILL the Genz Shuttle cabs in every way.. volume, tone, etc.
  3. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Thank you, that's exactly the kind of info I'm looking for.

    Follow-up question specifically on this point:

    I did notice the glaring lack of any "pre-post" option for the DI. Are you saying the Mesa DI is "post everything", including master volume? That's kind of odd if it's true... but may also be why they put the DI level knob on the front (to help you compensate on the fly)?
  4. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    The MESA DI issue swayed me to the Shuttle.
  5. I believe that's the case, due to them wanting to get the full tube tone through the DI (that simul-state thing is based on a second tube in the pre that is further 'back' in the signal chain).

    TBer Vic went into a lot of depth on figuring this out, so you might want to either do a search or PM him.

    I actually have used the DI and got raves from the sound people that I worked with, but I virtually never touch a knob on an amp once the gig starts, so I wasn't even aware of the master volume thing!

  6. dbassman59


    Dec 19, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
  7. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Wow...you might be able to pick two heads that sound more different from each other...but maybe not.

    GB: fast, clean..I didn't like the one I tried, even a little bit...but it was paired with a puny lil GB cab, and to get what I wanted out of it just wasn't gonna happen.

    The Walkabout: phat tube tone. Can be clean with the input down and master up, or chock full of harmonic content thru tube overdrive running input high and master low. It's got big booty by nature, but the para eq can single that out too, and you still have the shelving bass to dial back in what you like.
    For electric; I tend to run the master as high as it'll go without any overdrive for great clean, chewy harmonic content. At this point you even get some of that natural tube compression thing on you biggest notes.
    For Double Bass, I do it backwards from that, and run input low and master high. Clean fat tone with that tubey under-pinning.

    You really gonna need to try them your self, side by side, with your choice of axe and cab; they're that different.
  8. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Thanks for the insights everyone, keep 'em coming.

    I'm leaning toward the Mesa at this point, but the cost difference is significant so I really want to make sure I'm doing the right thing. I suppose I could save a little buying used but I'm pretty leery of buying amps used (and I suspect Mesa products don't come on to the used market very often anyway).

    And just to clarify, I would be buying only the head (to run thru my early 90s Hartke 410 XL cab), so the combo/speaker considerations don't really apply in my case.
  9. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Walkabouts come up used pretty often here. You can search classfieds.

    The Mesa DI is "post everything," so changing input or master volume (or eq as well)does change DI output as well. This has never bothered me, personally, as I set my rig at the beginning and leave it alone.
  10. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    I have used the Walkabout 12 for several years and am admittedly very biased towards the Mesa. It's praises and realities have already been fairly covered.

    I did get a chance to gig-trial a GB 6.0 with the GB 12 cab (6.0-12T) .. so a reasonably good compare to the WA 12. My reaction to the GB was not good at all. Very clean, to the point of generic sterility to my ears .. despite the tube in the pre. I could not get much warmth out of this rig at all. I spoke with Ed C at Gelb in San Mateo, Ed's a well respected bass gear guy there, and we both agreed that the perceived volume of the 300w (4ohm) Walkabout exceeded the 600w GB.

    On the plus side of the GB, it was very light compared to the Walkabout (32 vs 51 lbs), and it did have nice features for the money (although with the 12" GB cab, the price really is in the same ballpark as the Mesa).

    Chef and I are in pretty close sync on tone expectations ... fat and tubey .. without distortion, vs KJungs quest for clean and snappy. Ultimately you need to pick the best match for your expectations and your gigs.

    good luck.
  11. MarcusPocus


    Aug 28, 2008
    Allen, Tx
    I can't comment on the GB, but The walkabout is a killer little amp. It sounds huge. It is so very versatile. It drives my 4x10 equally as well as the 12 cab as a combo. For recording I use the DI. The master volume and all of the EQ effects the output of the DI, which doesn't bother me too much. Live and recorded sound from the DI is very good though. You can find a happy medium of level between master volume, DI level, and board input.
  12. VroomVroom

    VroomVroom Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2007
    SF Bay Area, CA
    I've owned both, having had my Shuttle for three weeks now. I really prefer it - mostly for all the reasons Ken has mentioned. I did struggle with my Walkabout, depending on the room and cabinet I was using. That said, it's hard to make a wrong decision here - just a matter of choosing which sounds better to you. Good luck.
  13. At the moment I have the Shuttle 6.0 and the M-Pulse 360.
    IMO the comparisons/descriptions here are pretty spot on- nothing more to add to that.
    My preference is for the Mesa- both are great amps so it's really just a personal preference thing. BTW the extra features on the M-Pulse are all really worth it if you don't need the small form factor. I love the compressor and the DI has a level and pre/post
  14. uaudio


    Apr 11, 2008
    Assuming that you've played both amps, the choice is pretty clear: whichever one you like better. I've owned the Mesa and it was a great amp. I tried the Shuttle and didn't like it.
  15. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    For me there would be no choice, it's Walkabout all the way. But, I'm not much into any amp that's so precise and clean, and well,...sterile. Just not my bag, baby. Should be an easy choice, if you know which sound you prefer.
  16. +1 for the WalkAbout. Great amp!!!

    While it's no longer the "hot ticket" in small amps, it's plenty hard to beat the tone, flexibility, and muscle of this workhorse. IMHO some day these are going to be in huge demand.

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