Mesa Buster vs. 400+

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Mad Subwoofer, Mar 30, 2002.

  1. Anyone tried a Buster and had any thoughts of how it compared to a 400+? I owned a 400+ for years and had to unload it due to it's amp I ever played through, definitely. I thought maybe a 200w Buster (head only) might be a decent compromise between my M-2000 and my old 400+? If it sounded good enough I could use it for bigger shows with an extra power amp or something? How would you compare the sound??
  2. LarryJ

    LarryJ banned

    Dec 12, 1999
    Encino, CA (LA)
    I am very happy , I mean very happy with my M-Pulse WalkAbout- so I'll get to your ?
    The 400+ is an icon, the contribution I an make is this-
    I thought that Buster was one hell of an awesome amp- still is, but Mesa quit making them, they didn't sell. I loved the 2x10 wedge combo, just loved it- In any configuration (1x15 or head alone)
    these 200W all-tube amps are great sounding-
    I would imagine the 400+ is designed for greater volumes & headroom, to drive bigger cabs, etc.
    The Buster is probably a downsize unit Mesa built to provide easy transport- IMO that wedge was the sheeeet w/ the built-in dolly, etc.
    If you can get 'em I do not believe you will be in any way disappointed between it and the 400+
    In fact, I am still considering buying a new Buster combo at a markdown (if some lucky sucker hasn't already done so) just 'cause....when they're gone they're gone-
    Funny- I'm a 90% jazz player- I think Mesa sounds phenomenal.
  3. Lovin Bass

    Lovin Bass

    Feb 8, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I had a Buster 1x15 combo. At the time, my needs were not too great for volume and cabs so I wanted a better combo amp than my BX-100 Crate. I bought one from Guitar Center for $799 markdown! After using it for a couple weeks, I took it back thinking it was "too" heavy (100+ lbs.) for a combo. MAN, I wish I didn't do that! I had no clue about how stupid that was to do. That amp was beautiful sounding! It had plenty of volume as well as that great tube tone. Mesa stopped making them cause they didn't sell and now a year later, I walk in the same GC and see it sitting there for $1200. I kick myself everytime!

    I would try to find the head version since the combo really isn't THAT "combo" portable. As for how it compares with the 400+, I have never played a 400+ but I love the tone of the Buster and it has plenty of volume! Go for it if you want it and don't need the power/weight of the 400+.
  4. Eric Cioe

    Eric Cioe Supporting Member

    Jun 4, 2001
    Holland, MI
    how much does the 400+ weigh? how about the buster?
  5. Hard to say because Boogie tube equip. weight is not a measurable constant. What weighs 60# at load-in defintely weighs more than twice that at's true ! I swear! I have a theory about the bass content through out an evening having somehing to do with increasing overall mass over the course of a night. Any Mesa Road Ready cab owner can testify to this.
  6. monkeyfinger

    monkeyfinger Moderator Staff Member

    Just bought a NEW!! Bass Buster 2x10 combo for... are you holding on... $499... from GC in Boston. One of the speakers needs a recone, but works ok for now. (Recone will cost me less than $50, but I might try to get Mesa to pay for it under warrantee.) Awesome, warm, fat combo. I don't think I could be happier!

    This is a great compliment to my main rig: Kern IP-777, Aguialr DB728, SWR Megaliath 8x10.

    Can you tell that I like tubes?
  7. LarryJ

    LarryJ banned

    Dec 12, 1999
    Encino, CA (LA)
    lo-z, you scored! That is outrageous!
    Even if not covered by warranty, you cannot find more accomodating service than from Mesa-
    they may be busy but they wilkl call you back with any help you need- They sent me parts at n/c,
    they obviously care about what they're doing.
    I'm especially happy that you scored considering you have been using low-end gear like that!

    The first time I saw & heard "Buster" I was blown away- All tubes- so fine & phat! I thought that wedge was the most intelligent idea I had seen-
    They may have been the 1st to incorporate the
    dolly as an integral part of the combo-Nice rotary
    controls, great EQ.....dayuuum!

    Mad Subwoofer-you're right on about how gear becomes heavier after the gig- Studies have shown
    that it has to do with ingesting various substances and/or beverages!:D
  8. I will admit that mesa rd.rdy. cabs do gain weight after a gig.being an owner of a 2x10 and a 2x15 I will back up sub woofer on's very strange....almost spooky!!
  9. After much research I am fairly sure it has more to do with the intensity of bass-specific material played through out the night. When I played Prog-jazz punk I had no problems with gear-mass. Now that I play heavy dub all night long my cabs and gear weigh a ton! Of course, the prog-jazz was about ten years ago....

  10. :) I can't compare the Buster to the 400+ (never played the 400+), but I just purchased a Buster at closeout from my local GC for $550 - brand new in the box with full warranty. My GC had two left, now one, but I've seen them at other GC's in my area. Some others may have them too. About the only time you'll see a Mesa discounted is when they are discontinued.

    How does it sound? Exactly as you would expect it to sound - warm, powerful and defined with power to spare for it's rating. Compared with my Ampeg SVT III Pro, it is louder (200 tube watts vs. 450 SS watts), has an equally flexible EQ and similiar other features. SVT III is about 25 lbs, but increases to about 35 lbs when adding the rack, BBE and power conditioner. The Buster is about 30 to 35 lbs, per my "shoulder" scale.

    I bought this amp as a back up to my Ampeg, but I can see that it may work it's way into a starting role.

    Another bonus - the Buster uses 6L6 power tubes instead of 6550's, so it should be about 1/2 the price to retube, when it becomes necessary.

    Any Ampeg or Mesa fan that wants all tubes, adequate power for 90% of club gigs and that classic tone should check their local GC to see if they have any left.
  11. Big String

    Big String Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2000
    Northwest Indiana
    I'm 50 pushin' 51 and I just bought my second 400+ so I wouldn't have to move the original. Talk about lazy and exspensive. It's good to be middle aged and have a few extra bucks. I just keep recycling my gig money. Big Boys have Big Toys! Anyhoo, I love the sound of the 400's. I went to try a Walkabout, and just couldn't get that tube sound I like. I spent about two hours checking it out and left with the 400+. Peace, we could use some.
  12. The venerable 400+ is the finest amp I've ever heard...I am hoping the wee Buster can capture that sound in a more portable package. Huffing my ol' 400+ was like carrying a big TV set to each gig.
  13. I've had a Buster 115 combo for a little over a year. It's a bit heavy, but it sounds great. You're not going to get the sheer volume and headroom of the 400, but it should be enough for most club applications, especially with another 115 cabinet. If you get one, make sure you get rid of the crap chinese tubes and put some Svetlana's or Tesla's in there.

    The Buster head paired up with a couple of high efficiency 115 (or a 2x15) should be plenty loud.
  14. slacker


    Nov 27, 2001
    Portland Oregon
    I could never "get with" the Buster. I expected it to be a little Mesa 400+, but was disappointed. I found it to lack the harmonic richness of the 400 and 400+. It seemed very midrange focused. None of the glassy sheen. I might look eslwhere for a light tube amp. The lack of headroom was a big problem for me. And that was in the store! Keep in mind, I am a pretty big Mesa fan. I have owned a 400 (no plus), M-2000, various Mesa cabinets, and am in the process of buying a 400+.

    I was not able to get it to work well for me. I play fairly loudly, though. YMMV.

    Does anyone know what (if any) former Mesa bass amps contributed to the design of the Mesa Buster? Any relation to the D-180?
  15. THAT is the nugget of information i was looking for, thank you. I too have owned a few Mesa items including my old 400+ and my current M-2000. When my 6l6's were replaced with 6550's the sound was HUGE and _d e e p_ nice. I had hoped the Buster might get me back to that...the M-2000 sure doesn't.
  16. FWIW, getting rid of the stock tubes makes a world of difference.
  17. Big String

    Big String Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2000
    Northwest Indiana
    Hey fellow 400+ owners. Did you say you replaced the 6L6 power tubes with 6550? I can read but, I thought maybe I missed something. I got rid of the ST430 (silver)(don't know what ma they are) came stock in both my 400+s. I just got the second amp so I still have the stock tubes. My older amp has had the Svetlanas 6L6GC (matched 27ma) for a year and half and they sound GREAT! I'm going to order some new ones for my new Boogie and I'm interested in your opinion on the 6550, a little more detail. Thanks in advance anyone.

    What 12ax7 do you use? I have used the stock Mesa preamp tubes and they are fine. Had trouble with some Sovtek pre's I thinks LPS style. Kept blowing them instantly. Put the Mesa 12ax7 back in and no trouble at all. ???? Anyone ever try the Electro Harmonics 12AX7, I hear they sound good in the boogie.
  18. I played several gigs with my Buster 1 x 15 combo, I love it. I paid retail for mine I think it was $1200, and I would do it again tomorrow. I almost replaced it about 2 months back with some testosterone enhanced rig, y'know more wattage than I will ever use, but my band talked me into keeping Buster and I understand why. Pure tone, enough volume for almost any venue, and direct out through the back of the head makes even sound guys happy. BTW when I bought Buster it was because I wanted a 400+ but the salesman told me I didn't need it, he does sound in my area and is familiar with all the clubs, he said buster would be the bomb. He was right.
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