Mesa Walkabout Scout 15" Combo - 1st Impressions (With Some Venture Comments)

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by FenderP, May 9, 2005.

  1. FenderP

    FenderP Supporting Member

    May 7, 2005
    I picked this up yesterday. A bit about what led up to the purchase:
    I am a die-hard old school Ampeg guy. I have a B-25B with matching 2x15, a 66/67 B-15N (my baby), as well as the reissue B-15R. Jazz is my first love, and my B-15N is it for that. 'Nuff said. UNfortunately, that amp literally smoked a few years back, and I had it repaired and now it's just a studio amp.

    I played a B-25B in high school in jazz band, and always loved it. I got the 2x15" I used in HS when they got rid of it. I found the exact matching head and had it cleaned up. Love that sound, hate to schlep that rig.

    Besides the jazz thing which I don't get to do very often these days, I am in a Rush tribute band and a covers band. The Rush band came first, and at first I was using the B-25B with a 1x15 (matching 16ohm of course), but it wasn't enough volume.

    I hate solid state, so I got the reissue B-15R, but it just doesn't have the b@11$ of the old Ampeg stuff. It didn't sit right in the overall mix - it was too clean for a tube amp IMHO It had none of the "grit" of the old stuff. It sounded perfect as a DI box though, and great with my MusicMan. It got used only on a couple of gigs and twice in the studio.

    So I went back to my B-25B, but then swapped in the matching 2x15. Night and day from the B-15R - I got "it". But every gig is a pain to do because it's so big and heavy to carry. But I get my sound, although I wish it had a bit more overall volume like a V-4B (which I once owned but got rid of about 10 years ago when I found my B-25B).

    Unfortunately, I need to think long term and about things like my back health, not to mention easier onstage and off, etc. I narrowed my thinking down to 3 setups:
    1. Get a V-4B and a 1x15"
    2. Get an Ampeg Portabass, the SVP-CL, and a 1x15"
    3. Get a combo like the WAlkabout with a 1x15"

    Of course, I wanted to hear what it is I was going to buy (unless I knew what it was, like the V-4B). No one around me - not even Guitar Center - stocks the Portabass series. Apparenly, it doesn't sell well. Cross that off.

    GC stocks the Mesa stuff, but the 1x15" is a special order. I did go in and play the 1x12" with one of their basses and it sounded pretty good, but I still wasn't sure.

    I loved the idea of the V-4B and a cab, but the weight is not something I was looking foward to. And how much Ampeg stuff can one person have? lol

    A dealer here in MA actually had the 1x15" version of the Walkabout Scout in stock, and I went down yesterday to play it. It has the low end which I feel I couldn't get out of the Ampeg (I think it has to do with overall wattage), but I was also able to so far seemingly get "my sound" out of a non-Ampeg tube amp. Now, some of it was my bass obviously, but it's the first non-Ampeg amp I've heard where I can almost get my B-15N sound out of that isn't a B-15N.

    For grins and yucks, I plugged into the 1x15" Venture combo, and to my ears, the Walkabout Scout sounded better. I had to work harder to get a good sound out of the Venture. The Venture is also MUCH heavier, but does come with casters, so it's a tradeoff. I'll take 40 less pounds, thank you very much. With the compressor on, I got a very good sound out of the Venture, but it had an overall different sound to me than the Walkabout Scout.

    Even the guy in the store said he heard the difference and the Walkabout was better - at least when it came to my bass.

    So I plunked down my money, and I have a new amp.

    Just as an FYI, I had a question and I called Mesa this AM. They called me back within an hour or two (I'm EST, they are PST, so there was a 3 hr. lag anyway). I am already impressed with their customer service. I was asking about the DI, as the manual mentioned a pre/post switch which doesn't exist. The manual is wrong. The Walkabout's DI outputs the full thing (tube, etc.). So it's post. You can mod it to do pre.

    I now need to find a new home for the B-15R since I don't need four tube amps!

    I'll post more thoughts once I actually use it in a band situation this weekend.
  2. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    Just want to plug into this thread so i can hear the live review after you gig with it. I was interested in one of them but I heard they don't pump out all that much volume and I didn't want to take the chance. I don't always believe what I hear though so that may very well be nonsense.
  3. FenderP

    FenderP Supporting Member

    May 7, 2005
    I'll let you know.

    Well, think of physics - my 2x15" is going to pump more air than a 1x15" even with the same amp head. If you have more watts pumping through that 1x15", it should be about equal assuming the speaker can handle it.

    The Scout seemed plenty loud in the store, and if I need more than 300W, I have an issue! The B-25B is only 50/60W. I don't see where this amp won't work for me unless I wind up not liking the sound.

    I honestly didn't expect much after listening to the 1x12" version in GC, but the 1x15" seems to be the way to go here. For the extra $100, you get a beefier sound.
  4. GRoberts

    GRoberts Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Tucson, AZ USA
    I picked up a Mesa Walkabout head recently and have been using it with either (2) Aguilar GS112's or (2) Bergantino HT/EX 112's. So I am using the full 300W. Gotta say I am VERY impressed with the tone and output from this amp. It kicks A**! I wish I could check out a Mesa Walkabout *Scout* combo since a combo rig would work well for a regular small club gig we play. But I have a handy wheeled platform for the mini-112 stacks and they sound GREAT with the Mesa Walkabout. They roll in fairly effortlessly. The addition of the second cabinet really adds a lot of punch!

    It has been said that the lows can be hard to tame on the Mesa Mpulse heads. I can see that, but haven't had much problem finding settings that work well. The nice thing is that the deep, phat, full lows really make an impact when you want and need the fullness. gary
  5. peterpalmieri

    peterpalmieri Supporting Member

    Apr 19, 2005
    Babylon, NY
    I've had great success with the Walkabout 1x12. I play a jazz bass and try to get that Jaco sound, kinda.

    This combo has gotten me through many gigs with plenty of head room. As for the DI I have done some recording and it worked well. When going into a board I usually set the output level to noon.

    The overall sound on stage is great, with the down firing passive radiator I have found that the sound is diminished when the amp is on thick carpeting. I have considered carrying a small piece of plywood to set under the amp just in case there is a big fuzzy rug to contend with, but have yet to test it out.

    Good luck and be sure to follow up with your results.

  6. FenderP

    FenderP Supporting Member

    May 7, 2005
    One thing I am going to do is pick up an amp stand this week to get it up off the carpet. This will also make it easier for our drummer to hear me, anyway. That should solve any carpet-type issues.

    I also ordered two matched NOS Sylvania tubes to see if it alters the tone in a good way. That's an easy mod. I can always switch back.
  7. peterpalmieri

    peterpalmieri Supporting Member

    Apr 19, 2005
    Babylon, NY
    You may want to try that stand out before buying it. I have found that the amp sounds very different when it's not in direct contact with the floor. Maybe it's just me but worth checking first. Be sure to let me know how those tubes sound.

  8. thejohnkim


    Sep 30, 2003
    FWIW i have a friend who went on a small scale tour cross-country last year with his bassist using a walkabout combo. they found that they much preferred the tighter sound they were getting from putting the combo up, off the ground on an amp stand or even a chair, than leaving it down on the floor, especially when it was carpeted.
  9. popinfresh


    Dec 23, 2004
    Melbourne, Aus
    Hmmm, interesting. I wish the Mesa gear was a little more affordable. I was thinking about a Walkabout Scout a little while ago but I really don't think it will have the volume I need and I don't think we can even get them over here in Aus :(

    Congrats with the new gear!
  10. tombowlus

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

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    I did a shootout a while back when I retubed my Walkabout head, and here is what I found:

    "Well, I finally had time over the weekend to run through my batch of preamp tubes in my Walkabout and decide which one worked best. The tubes at my disposal were as follows:

    Mullard 12AT7/CV4024
    JAN Phillips 12AX7
    JAN GE 5751
    Shuguang 12AX7C9
    Telefunken ECC83 (smooth plate)
    JJ ECC83S

    The original Mesa tubes said "Russian 2" on them, but I don't know who made them.

    Virtually all of the tubes mentioned above offered some kind of improvement over the stock tubes. However, most differences were very subtle.

    The Mullard was by far the warmest sounding, and had a good deal of low mids - too much for the already mid-heavy Walkabout. Still, if you are looking to add some meat, the Mullard would certainly do that.

    The JAN Phillips is a great all around tube. Very nicely balanced tonally, with good articulation.

    The JAN GE 5751 also had good tonal balance and was a pleasant sounding tube - not harsh at all. However, with the reduced gain, it didn't overdrive as well as the others, which is something I like to do with the Walkabout.

    The Shuguang was a bit of a surprise. Upon first firing it up, I thought that it might be the ticket. Very robust signal and tone, overdrives great. However, then I noticed that it was really bringing out the finger/string noise in a huge and somewhat obnoxious way. I don't know if this means that it was slightly microphonic, but it was not desirable. Too bad, because otherwise this tube has a lot of promise.

    The Telefunken was the most articulate tube of the bunch, with a bit more upper mids than most. Very clean sounding tube with the Gain down and the Master up, and probably sounded the best of the bunch when overdriven. Good balance, too.

    The JJ was very similar to the Tele. Not quite as articulate, but perhaps had sweeter high end. Overdrove quite well, though not as nice as the Tele.

    By comparison, the stock Mesa tubes did not have as much articulation as any of the tubes above (though they were close to the Mullard in that regard), and the tone was not as coherent. They did overdrive quite nicely, though not as convincingly as the Tele or JJ. Granted, there wasn't a huge difference overall, but I would say that you can do better than the stock tubes, and it shouldn't cost you an arm and a leg.

    Ultimately, it came down the JAN Phillips, the Tele, and the JJ. These three were the most similar sounding of the bunch. I ended up choosing the Tele for its articulation and best overdrive tone. The JJ would probably be my second choice, although the JAN Phillips was very, very comparable.

    The Walkabout has a second tube which drives the MOSFETs, and after playing around a bit, I chose the JAN Phillips for that duty. It really is too bad that the Shuguang had that string noise thing going on, because it really kicked in the pre-MOSFET socket - most balls and gain of the bunch.

    There are a lot of good tubes that I didn't get a chance to try, but there you have the results of my own very unscientific preamp tube shootout.

    Hope this helps, Tom.

    I got my tubes from Doug's Tubes, and he was very helpful."
  11. FenderP

    FenderP Supporting Member

    May 7, 2005
    Guitar Center has an easy return policy, so I'm not worried if it doesn't work. I'll try it first without the stand.
  12. FenderP

    FenderP Supporting Member

    May 7, 2005
    That seems to be the consensus overall. I think it has to do with the passive radiator on the bottom, and carpet sucks the sound right in.
  13. FenderP

    FenderP Supporting Member

    May 7, 2005
    Thanks for your tube thoughts. I went with the Sylvania ones because it was one of the standard tubes Ampeg used in the 60s and 70s (along with GE AFAIK). I'm going for a specific sonic tweak.

    The tubes are not here yet so I can't try 'em :(
  14. FenderP

    FenderP Supporting Member

    May 7, 2005
    We didn't wind up having rehearsal this weekend, so I'll put the amp through its paces tonight. I got my Sylvania tubes so I may go up early and try 'em out ...
  15. Ben Clarke

    Ben Clarke Liquidating to fund a new business. Buy My Gear!

    Jan 6, 2005
    Western NY
    As far as I know, the B-15N (I've got one, too) and the B-25 are the same circuit, just different package. If you stick with the Walkabout, you may want to sell the B-25 if you were just going to use it occasionally or for recording only. carries an adaptor cable to plug the B-15N's XLR-4 into a regular 1/4" jack.
  16. FenderP

    FenderP Supporting Member

    May 7, 2005
    The Walkabout combo I think is using the 4ohm 15", not the 8. I can tell you that it pumps much more than the B-15R. I'll verify when I crack it open to change tubes.
  17. FenderP

    FenderP Supporting Member

    May 7, 2005
    My B-15N was modded when I bought it, so I don't need to worry about the XLR. I've owned it now for about 15 years.

    I'm keeping the B-25B; it is a different circuit largely due to the 7027s. The B-15S is the same as the B-25B essentially, but the B-15N is a different beast. I've owned the amps a looooooooooong time. The matching cab is literally the one I used in highschool. I still see myself using the Ampeg, just not schlepping it all the time.

    There is a subtle different sound in them as well - same essential Ampeg sound. Here are the differences if you care; the preamps are totally different between the B-25B/15S and B-15N:

    * 2x7027A (power), 1x12DW7 (preamp), 2x12AX7 (preamp), 1x5AR7 (rectifier)
    * Goes into a 16ohm speaker

    *2x12AX7 (preamp), 1x12DW7 (preamp), 1x12AU7, 2x7027 (power)
    * Goes into an 8ohm speaker

    * 2x6L6GC (power), 3x6SL7 (preamp), 1x5AR7 (rectifier)
    * Goes into an 8ohm speaker

    * 4x6L6
    * Need to check, but pretty sure it is 8ohm
    So you can see why they all have a bit different of a sound. The B-15R is not like the old Ampegs.
  18. Ben Clarke

    Ben Clarke Liquidating to fund a new business. Buy My Gear!

    Jan 6, 2005
    Western NY
    I do care, and thanks!

    Have you fooled around with the 6SL7 at all? I found some NOS RCA Mil-spec ruggedized versions with the red base (5692, I think) that really focused the sound. The internal structure helps to reduce vibrations. They were under $20 each, IIRC.

    I just thought of a couple other things to discuss with the B-15...
    Maybe another thread?

    Oh, and I'm sure you meant 5AR4.
  19. Please pardon the tangent, But I would love to hear such a great review/analysis of the SOnic Cord?flite sound combo. It purportedly is much louder than B-15 reissue.
  20. Ben Clarke

    Ben Clarke Liquidating to fund a new business. Buy My Gear!

    Jan 6, 2005
    Western NY
    Forget the review, I'd love to thear the actual amp! It seems to be born of a design philosophy that's rare as hens' teeth these days. A purist, high quality, complete package.

    Think it would sound good with a BDDI in front? ;)