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Volume problems with my Mesa

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Ericman197, May 20, 2004.


  1. Ericman197

    Ericman197

    Feb 23, 2004
    Iowa
    Here's the scoop. I don't have a clue how it possibly happened, but my Mesa Strategy 400 arrived this morning... just over a day after I phoned in the order. After much difficulty I was able to get it into my 6 space rack... it's QUITE the heavy monster, but it's doable... it makes my QSC PLX 1202 seem like a sissy. The only problem is the volume... I expected it to be loud. On the contrary, it's... well, not. To be fair to the amp, I was running only one side of it for 200 watts; had I another cable I would've been able to run all 400 watts into my cab. However, it still wasn't that loud... there's no way it could compete with my QSC. What this would mean is that I need to drastically improve upon the efficiency of my cabs.

    Fortunately for me, that's not as difficult as it may seem. I'm using an Acme Low B-2 and an Avatar 2x12 which form a 4 ohm load. My proposition is to replace them with 2 Low Down Sound 4x8" cabs, each with a midrange driver and a coaxial tweeter, or something like that. However, do you guys think I will get the output I need? The QSC was still not loud enough for my purposes... it was ok at practices or shows, but only just barely. Will this plan get me anywhere near where I should be, or should I try ordering one 8x8" with a midrange and tweeter and then add another on top of it? I'm going for an old school tone... deep, rich and full. Thus far I've really yet to try out the Mesa with some good cabs, and I'm still using my PSA-1 preamp.

    Soundwise, my friend did notice that it responded in a nicer fashion and sounded noticably clearer and a bit deeper. Part of the problem is also the guy who had it before replaced 4 of the tubes with EL34s. Will this have any significant impact? Would it be worth switching those back to 6L6s? I'm going for all out depth. Also, my presence switches don't work... they're either permanently on or permanently off, I can't really tell. Doesn't bother me though, I don't really need any more presence...
     
  2. jobu3

    jobu3 Artist formerly known as Big Joe

    Feb 17, 2002
    Mountain Top, PA
    You are not going to be able to get all 400 watts into one cabinet. Get yourself another speaker cable pronto and hook up each cab to each side. I'm not going to comment on the tube replacement part other than you should definitely get it looked at by a competent and reliable repairman. Wait for Psycho Bass Guy to come by and do what he says. Particularly since the presence switches aren't working properly, you may want to think about sending the amp back... If you still have your heart set on it, take it in for some kind of service locally or even try sending it out to Mesa although I'm 99% sure whatever warranty it had is now null and void.

    As for the cabs, those LDS's sound very interesting. Regardless of brand, you are going to need one on each side to run the amp right. AFAIK, it will still be 200W a side if they are 8, 4, or 2 ohm loads. Start with 8 ohm/side and then move up as you need more volume.
     
  3. Ericman197

    Ericman197

    Feb 23, 2004
    Iowa
    Yeah, I plan to go the 8 ohms route. I've yet to try the other side of the amp though, but perhaps the presence is working on that side. I'll try to contact the original owner to see what he thinks about it. It doesn't sound bad, although I've yet to really test it out much. What I can tell you is that I was easilly able to distort the power tubes without being too loud, but that's probably because I'm only running at 200 watts into some inefficient cabs. Hopefully Psychobassguy can tell me what to do about the EL34s... I'm not dissatisfied with them, but a bit surprised... I would think there'd be 6L6s there... that might account for some loss of wattage. As for the tubes themselves, I don't know how to test them, but all of them were aglow. When I distorted them I saw some blue light in there, but I haven't really done much of that.
     
  4. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    I've got a Strat 400, and I've done direct A/B comparisons with a large QSC. The Strat blew away the QSC in tone and volume. It should be crazy loud, even on one side.

    If memory serves me correctly, an EL34 puts out less wattage than a 6L6. They are definitely brighter and edgier, which doesn't sound like what you are going for. Replace them with some 6L6s and that will help the tone be a bit more suitable for bass.

    If you aren't getting much volume, I'm not surprised that you can't hear any difference with the prescense switch. While it's not a drastic tonal change, it is noticeable.

    Where do you have the volume set on the Mesa? Where is the volume set on your preamp? It's possible that you just aren't giving the Boogie enough juice. Try fiddling with your volumes. If that doesn't work, try switching to the other side, to see if it's a local problem with your amp. If that doesn't work, I'd see about sending it back or taking it to a tech.
     
  5. Ericman197

    Ericman197

    Feb 23, 2004
    Iowa
    Well, I'm giving it quite a bit of power... I can hear it going into heavy distortion when I play loud enough. I'm not overly concerned about the volume though because my QSC PLX 1202 wasn't that loud either; I think the problem might just be the EL34s and the cabs I'm using. I'll try using both sides when I can get the cables. I thought I heard a difference with the presence, but it wasn't what I was expecting... if anything, it was very slight.
     
  6. Ericman197

    Ericman197

    Feb 23, 2004
    Iowa
    b b b bump

    PS: What 6L6 tubes would be recommended for this application? I might just go and replace all of them.
     
  7. Can't do that! While there ARE some stereo tube amps that are bridgeable to a mono output, the Strategy isn't one of them.

    If the PLX 1202 wasn't cutting it volume-wise, especially with an Acme, you're NOT going to be happy with the volume of the Strategy 400. Going to more efficient cabs will certainly help, how much so depends entirely on your playing style.

    Since the amp is basically a dual mono design, as long as the four EL34's are on ONE side of the amp, it's no big deal. If the idiot just stuck them in there in whatever holes he found and you're running a mixture of output tube types, it's no wonder you're not getting any volume. Get that amp to a tech NOW!! If the previous owner didn't take care enough to even substitute the right type of tubes, who knows what else could be wrong with it.

    Most presence switches are for global negative feedback, and they're not going to work if you're running the wrong output tubes. THis doesn't sound like a case of getting new tubes for a better sound. It sounds like a case getting a "fixer-upper."
     
  8. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    Actually, running EL-34s is ok in the Strat 400, in certain sockets. The back 4 can take either El-34s or 6L6s, so no harm done if they put either of them in there.

    I will disagree with PBG on the volume issue. My Strat 400 is LOUD. Crazy loud. I've run it against a QSC 1400, and it was far louder than it, and had a much more musical tone. True, it's not as hi-fi sounding, but in many cases that can be a good thing.

    It's also not going to hurt things if you only run one side of the amp, as long as you have the standby engaged on the side you aren't using at the time. Don't make a habit of running them like this, but for checking out purposes it should be fine.

    Perhaps the cabs you are using require more power than the Strat can give it. I've heard about guys running Bass 400+ with Bergantinos, and they can never get enough volume out of them. Then they plug it into a different cab, and it's plenty loud. Perhaps your cabs are somewhat power hungry. I'd try the amp out with some different cabs to truly see if there's something wrong.
     
  9. Ericman197

    Ericman197

    Feb 23, 2004
    Iowa
    The EL-34s were in the acceptable power sockets, however, I shall soon replace all of the tubes just in case... they're just your average off the shelf Mesa tubes anyway. I talked to Bob at Eurotubes and he suggested 8 JJ 6L6's, 4 JJ ECC83's and 4 JJ EL-34L's. Supposedly the EL-34L's will give me a tighter and deeper lowend with a lot more punch... might as well give them a try. As for the bridging, whooops... I meant into the cabs, not cab.

    My current plan is to have each side go into a 3x8", 1x5.25", 1xtweeter Low Down Sound cab... hopefully those would be ok. Any other recommendations for cabs? I'm looking for the old school warm round fat tubey etc. goodness. I can always throw in a crossover later on and run the other side into a 2x15" anyway, so I don't need an ultra deep cab... just something loud and able to handle an E. Have I overlooked anything? I considered the Bergantino NV cabs, but they're too big and expensive for me to run 2 of them.
     
  10. mgmadian

    mgmadian

    Feb 4, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Actually, that was a QSC PLX-2402 (which I've since sold), which puts out 425 Watts into an 8-ohm load (the Goliath I, in this case). And yup... I'll vouch that the Strategy 400 (even half of it, in this case) was louder than the QSC, and sounded more interesting & 'musical', IMO.
     
  11. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    Thank you, Greg. I knew I had some numbers mixed up there somewhere.