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Mesa D-180

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by davelowell, Jun 2, 2003.

  1. davelowell


    Jan 18, 2001
    stl, mo
    would this amp be as loud as my gk 800 rb's 300 watt power section. i am very curious about this amp and might have a deal working.

    any and all info is appreciated.

    thanks, dave
  2. tripwamsley


    Jan 31, 2002
    Sulphur La,
    I had one in '94. It sounded great! I do regret selling it as well. I would say that if the tubes in the Mesa are done up properly that the units would be equal in volume. I have an 800rb and I think that the Mesa will have more tone as well. What I did at the time with mine was run the Mesa on one speaker and another amp on the other one. Solid-State on one side and tube girth and breakup on the other one. It was fun. But my rack at the time weighed in at around 125 pounds. I was only 145 pounds myself then. I'm plumping out these days.:D
  3. I had one and loved it. Have a Buster now, which is sort of an updated model, same 6 power tubes, however it's way longer than the D-180 rack package, which I don't like, and it has a few rotary knobs plus a graphic instead of all rotary knobs, which I also don't like. However like all Mesas it is one tough unit and it feeds my old school tastes very nicely.

    Now about the power puzzle, which has become a folklore item. What it is, with a tube amp, you can turn it up and up and up and of course like any amp it clips, but that's OK because it's a very compressed, very musical kind of distortion. So you can run the amp continuously right up to rated power and when you distort your ears like it. Now basses aren't like keyboards where you press a key and until you take your finger off it, you get the same volume. They have this absolutely huge transient spike when you attack the note that lets off super-fast, then you have the sustained note. So let's say you need 400 watts to play that transient. Well the Mesa will do that and in a very musical way. There is some wisdom that someone who knows about transformers and such will add to this thread (I hope). But anyway that's it in a nutshell.

    But if you have a solid state amp with typical ugly distortion, the last thing you want is for it to clip. So you have to have enough reserve power that when you really whomp the strings, it won't clip. This reserve power is called "headroom," as in, if you suddenly stand up, you don't whack your head. You are actually not using it most of the time. It's just a safety margin. You will find a paper on the JBL site that tells us it's better to overpower than underpower a speaker. That's because solid state amp clipping is tremendously destructive of drivers. And that's why you'll see guys all the time using a 1000+ watt solid state amp with an Acme Low B-2 rated at 350 watts continuous. They're only rarely using that extra power (or else they'll melt woofers).

    Of course, you can buy a solid-state power amp with some kind of limiting built in, in effect negating a good bit of your headroom requirements. I bought a Carvin DCM-1000 and I would imagine this feature might even mean I could get it to work something like a 2000 watt amp. OTOH, I don't think that would have such a great effect on the sound. Also, you might use limiting on the signal, but I'm not a compressor kind of player myself.

    Whatever kind of deal you're working, remember that tubes are electronic devices, not miracle workers, so keep in mind your speakers' efficiency and power requirements. Plus power tubes will cost you say $91 shipped and you'll need them every year and a half with new preamp tubes every three years. Search eBay for typical used prices on D-180 amps and also on your amp to get an idea if it's a good deal.
  4. davelowell


    Jan 18, 2001
    stl, mo
    great advice, thanks.

  5. Bridge Cables

    Bridge Cables Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2003
    Southern N C
    I'll give you what I got on mine. It's about twenty yrs old, one repair, just last year. sound faded in and out, clean pots and resolder a few points, that's it.

    I'll be the first to say I ain't got it on electronics like alot of the guys on the board here. I found that the tubes will last a long long time. I'll compare it to strings, after awhile strings loose some brightness, the 6L6's I use loose a little "sweetness", change to suit tone only, like strings.

    Manual says it's about 180-200w. I don't know, but it can be very loud.

    Per manual and guys at Mesa. I run the Master at 10, vol 2 at whatever volume I need, gets me a smooth, sweet tone. Need some crunch, take the master back to 9 1/2, 9 or 8, etc.

    Also, you can run into vol 1 which series into vol 2 then to the master which yields a different crunch.

    Found I could dial in my tone quick with this amp. I run it into a '83 Mesa RR 2-15 rated @ 4 ohms.

    Hope this helps,

  6. Bridge Cables

    Bridge Cables Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2003
    Southern N C
    As far as loud, played at the top of Saluda mountain here in NC and seemed to fill the area pretty well per the folks in the audience. I pushed the mids a tad to make sure I cut through the guitars, sounded great, had alot of fun!

    It definitely ain't no 1K amp, but it holds it's own for 180w or so, it's a keeper, like my old Acoustic 360 and that's only 200w.

    As an aside, the band is requested back on the 4th of July on Saluda to do it again, can ya say, going have a large time!