Mesa Boogie W.A. Tale of Woe

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by blipndub, Jul 11, 2003.

  1. Caution: Long Vent Ahead
    Summary: Buy an Ampeg.

    I bought a Walkabout in March of this year from my local music shop, Music 6000 here in Oly. I was impressed with its tight, clear sound, volume, size and features such as the gain stage and DI output level control. I was also excited by buying a Mesa Boogie, a company that always had great products with a solid reputation for quality and craftsmanship.

    After three months of weekly rehearsal and occasional home recording (about 40 hours of playing time) the amp started to crackle after powering up. Occasionally it would drop out for a second but only in the first minute of play then it was fine. I attributed it to a warm up issue. Later I found that the speaker jacks in the back required a little jiggle in order to make the connection to the speaker cab. Eventually the amp cut out during play after having warmed up. Having read about bad jacks I took the amp to where I bought it hoping for a replacement. Since the amp had been sold 90 days prior they were reluctant to replace it , instead they told me they would look at it, fix the problem and if there were any more problems they would replace it. So they replaced the input jacks in the effects loops claiming that a failure here would break the circuit and explain the speaker outputs cutting out.

    I was really angry at this point, I felt the failure of the input jacks was an indicator of poor quality and I expected more from Mesa. I thought about writing a letter to the company you know, I work hard for my money, what would it cost to use higher quality jacks, etc..

    With the repaired unit I set up for rehearsal the following Wed. Here’s the chain of events:
    Plugged everything in, set up my compressor through the effects loop, ran chorus and tuner in through the front input (due to power supply issues)
    Turned it on, got tone for a second
    Volume dropped to nearly nothing and then just a low level super buzzy distorted tone
    The amp POPPED
    And then emitted a single unwavering tone and got stinky.

    I shut it all down and declared time of death.

    Fortunately the singer had his Ampeg SVT Pro III on hand for me to try out as he was getting ready to sell it and he wanted it tested. So I played through practice on the Ampeg and it sounded 100% better than the Mesa ever did with all the power and better control.

    The next day Music 6000 said they would replace the Walkabout or let me swap it out for anything in the store. I tried some SWRs and liked those but not as much as the Ampeg. Kudos to M6K for doing the right thing and devoting time to me to set things right. I decided to just get my money back and try something else.

    I went to Bass Northwest - told the guy I really liked the SVT III and a friend was selling his for $500. The sales guy proceeded to go on and on about the SVT III further convincing me that I should buy the used one. So then I went to Guitar Center by the Space Needle where they had all the SVTs in a rack with all the Ampeg speaker cabs A/B-ed around an isolated room. I checked all the SVTs and like the III the best even over the all tube 1000 watt SVT IV.

    The moral of the story is this:
    Buy an Ampeg.
  2. Deano Destructo

    Deano Destructo Stingray & Serek addict. Hasn't slept since 1979. Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2000
    Southwest Texas
    I'm sorry to hear that man. Especially being a Mesa fanatic myself. i have'nt been able to get into the Walkabout though. I'm more of a tube guy so I'll stick with my 400+ till the end. Though I agree with you. If I was to go solid state. I'd go with a SVT 3 or 4(most likely 3 since I hear some interesting things regarding the 4's dying for no reason) depending on how much power I needed. When I think Mesa bass I think 3 years ago and all tube.;)
  3. The SVT 3 actually has a four tube preamp and i think the SVT 4 has all tube poweramp.

    Mesa 400 shoulda...
  4. Deano Destructo

    Deano Destructo Stingray & Serek addict. Hasn't slept since 1979. Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2000
    Southwest Texas
    Yeah I was speaking of their MOSFET poweramp sections win I said "solid state":oops: . I think the SVT 4 is basically a 3 with ALOT more headroom. The SVT 2 has an all tube poweramp, me thinks:confused: ;)
    Yeah I'd say 9/10ths of the cats around here also play through the 400 or 400+ like I do as far as Mesa amps go. I love Mesa but I don't think their solid state stuff can compare to similiar priced manufaturers(i.e. GK, Ampeg, etc.)
  5. bassmonkeee


    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    I had the exact same problem with my Walkabout--the effects loop jack was shorting out the signal chain.

    I got it fixed, and it worked like a champ.

    Unfortunately, the day after I got it back from being repaired, I plugged it into an outlet in a recently renovated studio that was miswired for 220V, instead of 110V.:meh:

    It blew up. :bawl:

    I bought an Ampeg Portabass while it's being repaired at Mesa. The electrician felt awful, and is covering all costs, so it's not too bad.

    I'll give the Mesa another shot when it returns because as reliable as the Ampeg has been, it just doesn't quite compare to the tone from the Mesa.

    Sorry to hear yours has died, too. I notice the new Walkabouts have Black print, as oppposed to the red print on the first run of amps. I wonder if that is all that has been changed...

    I'm going to inquire with the folks who are performing surgery (really, it blew up) to see if I can pick their brains a bit about the design of the amp. You can believe that I will mention to them both the faulty effects loop jacks, as well as the shoddy strap they send with the Mesa Walkabout gigbag--both Tom and my straps snapped while we were simply walking with the bag over our shoulders.....
  6. did it survive the snap/fall?
  7. Ian Hall

    Ian Hall

    May 31, 2002
    Just so you guys know, this issues with effects loop jacks is nothing new and is *not* specific to Mesa.

    I play on a m-pulse 360 and have never had that problem. I previously owned a Sansamp RBI, which is considered to be extremely well built by many bassists, and had the same exact problem. I also had the problem with a peavey I had when I was younger.

    This is a standard problem and any tech should be able to tell you that all you need to do to solve it is plug a cord in and out of the effects loop jacks a few times to remove the oxidation on the contacts which complete the loop when a cord is not present. This is the source of the static. There is nothing broken when you get static from the loop, just dirty contacts. Two oxidized pieces of metal touching each other do not make a good connection, hence causing crackly sounds.

    BTW, the reason that I no longer play Ampeg and have switched to Mesa is for reliability. I haven't personally had the best of luck with Ampeg. I'm very sorry if you got a dud because I can assure you that it is not typical from Mesa. The amp just frying is almost unheard of for a Mesa- my guitarist has an entire collection of Mesa products and not once have we ever seen so much as a blip of smoke out of any of them; same with everyone else I know using their products.

    Anyways, Ampegs(some) are definitely capable of getting great tone, so dial away. My friend was using a SVT-3 for quite some time and was very happy with it. Don't forget to hit the effects loop jacks with a cord every week or two, either.
  8. That sux that your Mesa died man..

    i've got a 400+, and it's been reliable, no problems at all.

    I prefer the All-Tube Crunch and Tone of the 400+ to Mesa's Solid equipment. Don't get me wrong, I don't think i'd pick up an Ampeg if i were to go SS, but still, i don't think i'd go Mesa Either.

    i'd look at a Pre/Power system if i were to go SS.

  9. bassmonkeee


    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    Well, I can tell you, in my case, that the effects loop was never used. Not even once. And, I'm not sure how much oxidation can build up on a brand new amp in less than six months.
    Jeff Bakos is one of the best tube amp repairmen in the Southeast. If he says the effects loop jacks were bad, they were bad.
  10. When I first got the Walkabout (with black print, I wondered about that) the tech told me "if it ever happens again (dropping out) run a patch between the return and send in the effects loop". I understand the concept, I also understand that the walkabout is not a top of the line item (maybe not even pro quality) but if Mesa is so concerned with quality and reputation why are they content to sit on a problem they know other companies have had with crappy jacks. It's a freakin jack! Get it right!

    I've had Peavey's, GK's, Hartkes and Fenders and I never had that problem. Why the whole thing died is a mystery I don't even want solved.

    I picked up the SVT tonight and it makes my jazz bass sound like it's supposed to - I instantly love it.

    Frankly, the EQ on the Mesa kind of overwhelmed me, I couldn't get a consistantly good tone over the course of the evening. I'm really happy to be rid of it despite the circumstances.

    I feel bad for the music store I bought it from, they are working hard to compete with Musicians Friend's prices and selection and just started carrying Mesa products, so the floor is packed with all these shiny new beautys. Ah well, great guitar amps no doubt.
  11. BTW i do have a gig bag for the Walkabout.

    Straps seem to be holding up fine!!

    Anyone want to buy it??

    I'll miss the 13 pounds fer sher.
  12. Scott D

    Scott D

    Apr 21, 2003
    Minneapolis, MN
    Blip, BTW, the ampeg has 5 preamp tubes, 3 12AX7's and 2 12AU7's. i have one, it is by far the best amp i've ever heard. Get one everyone.
  13. Sam V

    Sam V Guest

    Aug 3, 2002
    Canada - Calgary AB
    I'm sorry to hear that as well. I've had a Mpulse 600 for the last 9 months and havn't gotten anything but rich tone. Lemons happen and I'm sorry it happened to you and even more sorry because that will no doubt depreciate your love for mesa.. but good luck with the Svt
  14. Ian Hall

    Ian Hall

    May 31, 2002
    bassmonkeee, the problem comes from the jacks not being used, not from overuse. The Sansamp RBI that I had that happen to I had for only a few months. It takes only minutes for the initial layer of oxide to form after it is taken from its chrome or nickel bath or whatever plating has been done. After that, it only starts to get thicker. Then the jacks are shipped over on boat from whatever foreign country they happen to be manufactured in for 1 cent, and have several months traveling on the boat before they get to be stuck on a shelf in some electronic component distribuition company's warehouse and corrode for several months longer before they are shipped to the manufacturer. They have plenty of time for oxide to form, and this is a major problem at the electronics manufacturing facility that I work at.

    The effects loop jacks have opposing contacts that touch each other when a plug isn't present to complete the empty effects loop while not being used. The less the loop is used, the more chance oxides will build up causing a bad connection. So yes, the jacks were bad, but I think he misdiagnosed the reason. I may be wrong, perhaps the jacks were bad causing a short, but the problem that I am specifiying is far more common than a mismanufactured or damaged jack.

    I might also add that many times the jacks are replaced as bad before contact cleaner is even used, such as a local "expert tube repair shop"(The Amp Shop, Sherman Oaks, CA) attempted to charge me for before I decided to call Tech 21, and I had a very long informative conversation with one of their technicians. After spraying in a bit of contact cleaner and running a plug in and out of each jack a few times my problem was gone. Until I talked to the guy I didn't even connect the problem to what had been happening to my old peavey.
  15. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Central Texas
    That's why I love DeoxIT - mandatory for us ham radio geeks:

    CAIG Labs DeoxIT

    I think it's still available at Radio Shack. It's more than contact cleaner - it prevents/slows reoxidation.
  16. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Central Texas
    PM incoming.
  17. TheInsider


    Oct 8, 2002
    Middle USA
    I worked in a music store that did amp repairs and 80% of the problems for newer amps was oxidation on the FX loop jacks. I would run a cord in and out a few times and fire it up for the people and they would be just amazed. I would tell them about the problem and that would get me a customer for life. Nemesis amps used to ship with plastic plugs on the FX jacks to keep dust and oxygen out. Its funny though, they didn't ship the Edens with those which were 2 X expensive. :)
  18. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    As bassmonkee said, I also have a Walkabout and the spring/clip on the end of my strap just plain fell apart while I was walking across the parking lot to my car after a rehersal. As far as I can tell, though, the unit was not damaged in any way. I have used it many times since, and all is good. I have not noticed the problem with the effects loop jacks, but I have noticed that sometimes I need to jiggle the speaker out jacks. I am considering having mine modded by Abel Audio in Columbus to add Speakons and a tuner out.

  19. You know, all that stuff about jacks is really interesting and i know that every single componant can't be checked for oxidation or whatever. But again, this is a common problem and a company with a reputation to protect and an increasingly competitive market needs to deal with this stuff. $800, $500, $300 is a lot to throw around on bass gear they need to make their stuff better if they want to catch those dollars.

    It's too easy to lose your competitive edge. Ok MB doesn't use good jacks, too bad, won't buy from them again. It's that simple.

    If Ampeg jacks fail I'll probably be mad but they don't ride this wave of "handmade in America" (as if that means anything quality-wise, phhft!).
  20. Ian Hall

    Ian Hall

    May 31, 2002
    Yup, like I said.

    blip, you totally missed the point I was trying to make.

    The quality of the jacks doesn't matter- only if they were plated in gold or platinum would they not oxidize. A jack will oxidize whether it costs 1 cent or 1 dollar, or whether it is made in the US or overseas. Quality doesn't really come in to the equation in this particular problem. Now having your amp go on the fritz, that is a different story. That goes in to the realm of quality control.

    Heavy Duty, we have a couple cases back in our warehouse. Nice stuff... I use it regularly.