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Mesa F50 Tube Upgrade

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  • #16
    Re: Mesa F50 Tube Upgrade

    Originally posted by Boogie Bill View Post
    If you use JJs all the way thru the preamp, the amp will probably sound too dark. I have a mix of EH and JJs in most of my amps, and I like the Groove Tubes 12AX7-M Mullard clone in V1, but those are discontinued.

    In my Mesa combos, I use either the Mesa 6L6, the GT6L6-GE, or the Winged C/SED. I really like the SED, I got mine from Be sure to tell them it's for a Mesa and they can set you up with the right range. In my experience, the JJ power tubes don't hold up well in these small, high-powered combos.

    Don't let anybody talk you into putting adjustable bias pots in your amp. Just buy your tubes from a reputable, knowledgeable tube dealer who can provide tubes with the right specs.

    Oh, and Mesa warranties their power tubes for six months, which is darn good. And they back them fully.

    Hi Bill,

    Thanks for your advice! What exactly do you mean by the amp sounding too dark with all JJ's in the preamp? Any examples of what this may sound like? I kind of want the high gain metal tone, so would a dark sound not be suited to this style of music?


    • #17
      Re: Mesa F50 Tube Upgrade

      It's a lot of bass and low mid with cut highs compared to most other pre amp tubes. JJ power tubes are nice though.


      • #18
        Re: Mesa F50 Tube Upgrade

        Originally posted by matrixman_397 View Post
        So did you notice much of a difference when you changed tubes, compared to the stock Mesa's? I like the tone the amp already has, but guess I'm looking to see if I can find something that is slightly better and has bit more clarity and punch....
        Yes, I did. However, as I mentioned, I also used lower gain tubes. Personally, I think every Mesa amp I've ever played could benefit by being taken down a notch or two in terms of gain, across the board. It makes them more dynamic and less "squishy" to my ears.
        Originally posted by LesStrat
        Yogi Berra was correct.
        Originally posted by JOLLY
        I do a few chord things, some crappy lead stuff, and then some rhythm stuff.


        • #19
          Re: Mesa F50 Tube Upgrade

          Originally posted by matrixman_397 View Post
          Will do for sure!

          Right now I've decided on purchasing a full set of high gain JJ's for both the preamp and power section. Will also buy 2 additional Tung Sol's for V1 and V2 and see how they compare to the JJ's and make adjustments accordingly. Guess its the only real way of deciding what sounds best to my ears! Will report back once I get them installed.
          I know it depends on the amp, but I really dislike JJs, even in bright amps. I just fail to get any kind of definition out of them. I am a big fan of the Tung-Sols, and I think well-selected Chinese tubes solidly beat out JJs at their own game. Specifically, I like the Ruby 12AX7AC5 HG+. The Mullard RI is another interesting tube that has a real strong midrange drive, but a little less detail in the highs than the Tung-Sol. But I've never owned a Mesa, for full disclosure.


          • #20
            Re: Mesa F50 Tube Upgrade

            Originally posted by ItsaBass View Post
            Yes, I did. However, as I mentioned, I also used lower gain tubes. Personally, I think every Mesa amp I've ever played could benefit by being taken down a notch or two in terms of gain, across the board. It makes them more dynamic and less "squishy" to my ears.
            There's some truth to that. I've also found that with my Triple Rec if I keep the gain pot at or below 3 o'clock on the distortion channels, the amp has much more clarity and definition.
            Wanted: 1982 Gibson Les Paul Standard, Serial Number 82232531.


            • #21
              Re: Mesa F50 Tube Upgrade

              I also tend to have my gain at no more then 3 o'clock. I find it gets too buzzy and loses definition as mentioned if set any higher!

              Should also mention one of the reasons I'm going for JJ's and Tung Sol's is they seem relatively well priced. Not looking to spend that much on this tube set at the moment!

              Going to purchase from Rototubes:-


              • #22
                Re: Mesa F50 Tube Upgrade

                Hi guys, thought I'd update you all and for anyone else in the future who needs help on upgrading tubes with a Mesa Boogie F50 amp.

                The combination that finally worked for me was JJ Power Tubes and pre amp tubes, I used a Tung Sol for V1 + V2 and a JJ's for V3 + V4. I found this setup gives me all of the tone, clarity and and punch I've been looking for. The Tung Sol's in V1 + V2 helped provide the clarity and sharpness of tone I was looking for, while the JJ's in V3 + V4 definitely add a bit of a growl to the tone.

                I tried many different combinations with the JJ and Tung Sol preamp tubes. All JJ tubes were way too dark as mentioned and it felt like someone putting a blanket over my amp, not enough highs or treble! I also tried all Tung Sol's, again I didn't like this, sounded way too flat, thin and not enough depth to the sound in my opinion. When I added the two JJ's in V3 + V4 that all changed, I found my tone!!

                This experience has taught me there's nothing like testing a few tubes out for yourself so you can really hear the difference, doing your research helps but nothing like hearing it with your own ears! Thanks to all the guys in this thread who helped share your opinions!


                • #23
                  Re: Mesa F50 Tube Upgrade

                  Worthy of resurrecting...

                  I'm unhappy with the current Mesa tubes.

                  My 1st year production custom F50 head and cab purchased 2nd hand in '09 came with STR430's and Russian 2, 12ax7's.
                  The seller neglected to pull the power tubes for shipping and one was broken all over the bottom of the box, but he was cool enough to pick me up a set of early STR440's which I had no issue with at the time.

                  I loved the amp from day one, but as I replaced the tubes in '13, I found that the SPAX7's sounded quite a bit different than the original tubes..

                  I was able to find a pair of STR430's NOS and along with the SPAAX7's sounded okay but a bit brighter than the last set.

                  This amp is a studio amp only so i replaced the tubes again in late '17 with a full set of Str440's and SPAX7's and the amp is just too gainy and what made this amp special to me is gone.

                  Mesa goes back and forth between tube companies like a young school girl with boys during the '80s.

                  I think the current Chinese tubes are more 3d and way more touch sensitive, but they are just uncontrollable gain wise in the contour position which is really all I use the amp for as my Marshalls and Super revrbs get the rest far better. the new tubes lack the musical qualities of the original spec tubes.

                  I get it... as a mfg. you always want the best, but why sell us tubes for old amps if they don't allow the amp to sound the same.

                  I recently purchased another F50, an '07 combo and a closet queen with FEW hours on the original tubes... The amp sounds exactly as my fist when I had initially purchased it.

                  I'm going back to Russian tubes , no matter the reliability... I change the NOS vintage glass in my 70's Marshalls once a year whether they need it or not... Modern tubes are cheap, I'm not running tubes that weren't part of the design of my amps character sounds.