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One more time on the Walkabout--need reassurance

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by emor, Aug 29, 2004.


  1. emor

    emor

    May 16, 2004
    kcmo
    O.K., here's the deal. Sorry about all the hand holding I'm needing on this decision, but I'm about to lay out a good chunk of change for what is essentially, a hobby at this point.
    (Over the last few years I have bought a shop full of woodworking tools and machines, and I always research thoroughly and buy the very best that I can afford; I'm trying to apply the same approach here).

    I'm on vacation from work this week and am planning on making a final decision about a new amp, and buying or at least ordering it this week.

    I've about decided on the Mesa Walkabout Scout combo (12"), with a 15" extension cabinet. I'll be looking to play with a blues/rock band (one or two guitars or maybe a keyboard player, and a drummer), in what I would assume will be a typical garage band type set up (P.A. for vocals only).

    I've got about 30 minutes total time on the Scout at two different stores and I think this is the way I want to go. I liked the sound and simplicity, and the weight thing really closes the deal for me!

    I have searched through all the Walkabout threads on TB and have come up with some follow up questions (some revisited from my previous post).

    *What is the input jack problem that I have read about? Is it a matter of simply cleaning the jacks with contact cleaner, or are the jacks themselves defective? Is this a problem that has been resolved on units currently being shipped?

    *Tube Changing--How often, on average, does one have to change the tubes? How do you know that it is time to do so? Is it recommended to change them all at the same time? What is the cost for this unit? Are the tubes (and fuses) made specifically by/for Mesa, or are they an "off the shelf" item. Should one have an extra set of tubes on hand?

    *4 or 8 ohms? This is the one that I'm really stuck on. I know that Humblerumble and others are running their units at 2 ohms without a problem (so far), but I called tech support at Mesa just to get the official word and they recommended buying the 8 ohm cabs if I planned on using the extension.
    If I went with the 8 ohm cabs, would the 300 watts (into the 2 cabs) be enough for the band situation I described above? I like the idea of having almost twice the power available, but I'm leary of going against the manufacturer's "official" recommendation.

    Thanks again,
    emor
     
  2. I don't think you can go wrong with the WalkAbout... I love mine and chose it over Eden, Hartke, Trace-Elliot and Ampeg. It simply fit my needs better than anything else.

    To answer your questions:

    1. There is no jack problem specific to the WalkAbout... Mesa uses high quality jacks and installs them properly with better than most solder joints. While some jacks have caused problems I would venture to say this is true of all amps.

    2. The tubes should last years, possibly the life of the amp. However, it is advisable to have a spare or two handy. It's also possible to change your tonal characteristics to customize your sound by swapping tubes. And no, the tubes delivered in your Mesa are nothing special. Other tubes will work... possibly better than the originals.

    3. Here I differ from you. While I love my WalkAbout, I wouldn't personally go for the Scout. Part of what makes the Walkabout so nice is the lightness and the ability to use other speaker enclosures. I'd buy the head separate from the speakers. That said, 4 ohms is the lowest "long-term" safe load. Yes, you can go to 2 ohms for the occasional gig, but I don't believe anyone a Mesa will be willing to advise you to put it under a permanent 2 ohm load.

    Whatever you decide, I'm sure you'll be happy. You can go cheaper but you can't really go better than the WalkAbout.
     
  3. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    Very early in production run, some units were shipped with what we discovered later to have a bad part in the input section of the amp. This was something that was tested at the factory, but for some reason they didn't act up until a few were already shipped. The problem was discovered, those parts in the amps were replaced, and the problem was solved. This was about a year or two ago, and we haven't had a problem since.

    The tube debate rages here on TB. I'm of the opinion that tubes should be replaced as needed or every few years or so, depending on performance. You can also change them based on tone, if you like. Preamp tubes run about $5-$10, and don't require any biasing, so you can change them out yourself with no worries. I *think* there's two of them in there, but there may be three (can't remember offhand. There's only 5 major tube factories in the entire world, so no, they are not built for us - but they are tested by us, which is as good as any amp or tube seller can claim. So yes, they are "off the shelf", but keep in mind they have been rigorously tested, and the amp was designed around these tubes. You can change them if you like depending on your tonal preference, but if you want stock performance you'll stick with the originals. It's always good to keep a few extras on hand in case some go bad on you.

    If you're hesitant to bring it down to two ohms, then by all means keep it at four. I personally have a 4 ohm combo that I will be getting another 12" cab for and dropping it to 2 ohms on occasion, which seems to be fine. I wouldn't recommend running it for 3 days straight at 2 ohms, but I don't think any of use will be doing that. The occasional 2 ohm load will be fine. To be fair, though, I have to ask: Do you really need the extra cab? These combos are crazy loud by themselves, and unless you are in a REALLY loud band, I don't think you'll need the extra cab. I can drown out a drummer with my little combo all by itself. Here's what I'd recommend if you're unsure: get the 4 ohm combo. Then, if you discover you still need more volume, but don't want to go to 2 ohms, buy the extension, and change out the speaker in the combo to an 8 ohm speaker. Keep in mind that if you are running the combo by itself at 8 ohms, you'll be getting about 150 watts out of it, which will still be loud, but it will start distorting at higher volumes.
     
  4. waxcomb

    waxcomb

    Jun 29, 2003
    Martinez, CA
    Last night, I did a gig with my Scout and it performed wonderfully. This is one loud amp! I'm in the same band set up that you described and and it is awesome. I don't play arenas, but for an outdoor party, with PA for vocals only, it works great.

    Start with the Scout. If you need more volume, get the extension. You may just find that it is loud enough by itself. Mine is.

    Mine was having an issue with some crackling noise, so I cleaned the jacks. I'll give it a good listen to today to see if it is still there. I feel confident that Mesa will fix any problem that I encounter and they are local so that makes it easy.

    This is a great amp and I have finally stopped looking because I have tone, volume, small size and light weight.
     
  5. emor

    emor

    May 16, 2004
    kcmo
    Well, that's an idea certainly worth considering!
    And saves me some money up front, to boot.

    In that case, I'd be interested in knowing if anyone has tried the 15" Scout combo.

    Benjamin, thanks again for your help. (I know I'm making you work for it... :) )
     
  6. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    I consider it fun, not work. I just happen to get paid for it. ;)
     
  7. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    I had one of these amps for a while.
    I ended up selling it, but it was a great amp!
    I have only one small complaint, the fan was noisy in the quiet settings I usually play in. It had a Db pitch, and I really noticed it. . .

    On the plus side:
    Great tube sound, very warm, easy to transport, loud, records well.

    LM
     
  8. JOME77

    JOME77

    Aug 18, 2002
    Georgia
    If you like the warm Mesa sound I'm sure that you'll love it. I had a M-Pulse 600 for about 7 months and had excellent service out of it. I would assume that the Walkabout would be similar in sound to the M-Pulse. No problems at all. I have heard several reports of problems with Walkabouts recently. Several on TB and one with a new unit purchased by the local Air Force reserve band. That can happen with any amp manufacturer but it could also be systemic. It sounds like Mesa stands behind their product so if you have a problem I'm sure that they would address it.
    Another option would be a Thunderfunk TBF-420. Warm phat sound without the vacuum tubes. 400 watts RMS @ 4 ohms in a 15 lb. package. IMO the TF has much better note defintion and is the best sounding live amp I've owned. Absolutely plug and play! :)
     
  9. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    "Us?" You must've gotten the job! I missed that thread. Congratulations, man!
     
  10. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    Yes I did. And thanks!
     
  11. waxcomb

    waxcomb

    Jun 29, 2003
    Martinez, CA
    Say Ben,

    I bought my Scout used. It sounds like Mesa will still take care of it, they stand behind their gear. I love standing in front of it. If the crackling noise doesn't stop, should I take it to Petaluma, or will I have to shell out big cash to get it straight?

    Thanks,

    Brian
     
  12. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Well, there's no doubt in my mind that they got a loyal, fully competent employee.
     
  13. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    Bring it to us if you still are having some issues. I can't promise anything without seeing it, but we'll see what we can do.

    Well, at least loyal... ;)
    ;)
     
  14. Humblerumble

    Humblerumble

    Feb 22, 2004
    VA.
    EMor, I bought my 4ohm extension cab with the thought of only using it when I needed it and to be honest, I really haven't "Needed" it yet, though I have used it for several gigs. If I was going to run both combo and extension all the time I may have went with 8ohm, but I knew I would use the combo alone 75% of the time and I wanted 300 watts :)
     
  15. slombovia

    slombovia

    Jul 15, 2003
    Utah
    I am a determined follower of Jesus Christ and am a Mormon.
    I LOVE my Elrick thru WalkAbout to two Avatar 1x12s. But when I tried the Scout combo it sounded honky to me (bad for me).

    But it sounds like you like it so given the superb WalkAbout I still say go for it.

    Good luck.

    Tom H.
     
  16. emor

    emor

    May 16, 2004
    kcmo
    So, I went shopping today (credit card in hand).

    Two local stores carry Mesa amps.

    Store #1 had the 12" Scout and a 15" ext. cab.
    Since I had already spent some time with the 12", I played the Walkabout head through the 15", and I think I prefer it over the 12". I spent A LOT of time this time around experimenting with different EQ settings, using the recommended factory settings in the owner's manual as a starting point. (Fellow TBers are right--a little bit goes a long way). When I was told that it would be a 30 - 60 day wait on the 15" combo, I plugged back into the 12" cab just to be sure. The 15" is a little more boomy, but I think that could be adjusted somewhat with the EQ. It just seemed to handle E string "digging in" better. The salesman went ahead and ordered one to have in stock, even though I didn't commit. I can always go back and put a deposit down on it if I decide to go for it. Downside of store #1 is that they had the stereo going the whole time I was trying it out--pretty annoying :eyebrow: .

    Store #2 had the 12" combo only. Since I was already there, I continued my EQ experimentation. I was in a small room which probably didn't give a true representation of the sound, although I was much more aware of fan noise and hiss. They, too, said that it would be a 1 to 2 month wait to get in the 15" combo, and they'd have to have a 20% deposit before ordering, since in the words of the salesman, "It's not something we'd normally stock." I went back and continued the test drive, thinking that maybe the 12" would be O.K. (maybe I could run it through the P.A.). I also looked the unit over very carefully and noticed that the direct out did not have the pre/post switch illustrated in the owner's manual that I had downloaded from Mesa. By that time I think that the salesman could see me wiggling off the hook, and just kind of shrugged ("beats me"). I didn't check out the one at store #1 that carefully, so I don't know if it had the switch or not.

    I'm not on a tight schedule, here, but was kind of hoping to get this thing this week while I am on vacation, and have a decent amp before looking for a band to play with.

    Just a little frustrating...


    (edit: oh yeah, neither store had a separate Walkabout head for sale, so the option of using that with some other cabinet was subject to the same wait.)
     
  17. emor

    emor

    May 16, 2004
    kcmo
    (Sticking toe in water...)

    Anyone ever use a Walkabout through a Schroeder 1212??
    :bag:
     
  18. slombovia

    slombovia

    Jul 15, 2003
    Utah
    I am a determined follower of Jesus Christ and am a Mormon.
    My WalkAbout into two 4 ohm Avatar CB112 cabs has never had a problem and I have really cranked it.

    Tom H.
     
  19. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    I chatted some more with the guys at the factory today. The general consensus is that the Walkabout is fine at 2 ohms for short periods between 3-5 hours. The thermal protect circuit is fairly forgiving, so just watch it if you feel it's getting too hot. Otherwise, rock out!
     
  20. emor

    emor

    May 16, 2004
    kcmo
    Crap! And here I am with a seven hour gig on Saturday... :D