The Amplitube Mesa Boogie emulation is officially blessed by Mesa Boogie. It contains 5 models, the Mark III, Mark IV, Dual Rectifier, Triple Rectifer and TransAtlantic 30. For the sound samples I’ll be using a ’95 Fender Stratocaster with stock single coil pickups and a more recent Gibson SG with Burstbuckers.
First up is the Mark III. The hardware unit was released in 1984, and was the first tri-modal amp. The 3 channels are Rhythm, Crunch Rhythm and Lead, each with independent gain and master volume. The 5-band graphic EQ really shines in sculpting the sound.
The default mode is Rhythm 1. The volume pull-bright adds brightness to the clean tones of Rhythm 1 and 2. The pull-shift on the Treble boosts the midrange on the Lead channel. The pull-shift on the Bass should be out for single-coil pickups and in for humbuckers. The pull-deep on the master is to add fullness to single coil pickups.
To engage Rhythm 2, pull out the pull-rhy2, and to engage the Lead Channel, pull out pull-lead. Pull-bright will add brightness to the lead volume, ideal for playing at low volume. You can toggle the Graphic EQ on or off as well.
On the back, there is a presence knob to boost high frequencies as well as a reverb knob. The Simul-Class/Class-A toggle switches between a four power tube configuration for lots of headroom and a two tube Class A 15 Watt configuration for earlier breakup.
Released in 1990 as an update to the Mark III. The big difference between the Mark III and Mark IV is the layout. They both of 3 channels, but the Mark III could be a bit tedious with the layout. While there are some minor sonic differences, the layout is the major thing.
You select the Channel by selecting R1, R2 and LD, and each channel has it’s own volume and presence controls. R1 and R2 share Mid and Bass controls, but each have their own Treble, making it useful to fine tune different sounds when switching between the two.
On the back of the panel, like the Mark III, there is a Reverb knob and Simu-Class/Class A toggle. You can also switch between Pentode and Triode. Pentode has more punch and Triode allows breakup at a lower volume. There’s also a Harmonics/Mid Gain toggle which only affects the Lead channel. Harmonics yields a more evenly distributed hormonic spectrum ideal for loud hi gain leads, Mid Gain offers a nice boost at lower volumes.
Introduced in 1989, this hi-gain amp offers 3 channels with 8 modes and the ability to switch between tube and solid state rectifiers. Channel 1 is called the Green Channel, it offers Clean tones and “Pushed” for a bit more crunch.
The next two channels are the Orange and Red. Both have Raw, Vintage and Modern modes, each with more gain than the previous. The back has a bias toggle to switch between 6L6 and EL34 tubes. Additionally, the Rectifier can be toggled between tubes and diodes, which offers more punch and headroom. Power can toggle between Spongy and Bold. Bold offers more headroom and power.
The Triple is essentially the Dual but louder. More specifically, it has more headroom, so it’ll stay cleaner longer before breaking up. This is usually not a good thing unless you need to play really loudly… like live arena loud. If you want cleans and are not interested in saturation, then there are probably better options than this.
Since the Triple Rectifier is nearly identical to the Dual Rectifier, let’s take this moment to talk about the cabinets. The Amplitube Mesa Boogie offering allows you to play through a RectoSlant 4×12, a Rectifier 2×12 and a Mark IV 1×12 (in addition to their other included free offerings.)
In addition, you can move the mic around. You can center it to the cone or put it off axis and move it back from the cabinet. You can also use various condenser and dynamic mics.
You can select various speaker cones as well. This really offers tweak-ability. The combination of mic placement and speaker selection is really the secret sauce to give you that tone you hear on actual records.
Probably the hidden gem in Amplitube’s Mesa Boogie emulation is the TransAtlantic 30. This has some great tones. It is part “British” and part “American”. On Channel 1, Normal is “clean” and “TOP BST” is Top Boost, which are most likely Vox AC15 and AC30 emulations. The Cut/Master has a “Pull” that when clicked converts it from a mater volume to a high frequency cut. You can also select 15 W (2 tubes) and 30 W (4 tubes) for Class A Push-Pull circuitry and 40 W (4 Tube) Class A/B setup for more headroom before breakup.
Channel 2 has 3 options. The first is “Tweed” which is obviously a Fender tone. HI1 and HI2 are “British tones” (Marhsall) with more crunch and for hi-gain solos. The Gain/Boost knob has a Pull to boost the gain. Like Channel 1, there are 15W, 30W and 45W power options.
Amplitube Mesa Boogie Review – Final Thoughts
While we do wish they could have included the Mark I and the Mark IIc+ as they are both two of the most iconic Boogie amps, and it is curious that they picked the TA-30, but not something like the LoneStar, we can’t complain about the emulations. Does it sound like the real thing? What do you think? Can a $100 piece of software sound like 5 real amps that cost about $10,000? Does 1% of the price get it close enough? Yes!!! If you are looking to do the 80s metal Metallica thing, then you won’t be disappointed. If you are looking for clean tones, you won’t be disappointed. If you are looking for some classic rock tones and some crunch, you won’t be disappointed. And if you are looking for a killer lead tone, you will absolutely love this.
If you are interested in getting the Amplitube Mesa Boogie emulations, please use this link and Guitar Fiends will get a few bucks to keep the site running (thanks in advance.) Well that’s it for our Amplitube Mesa Boogie review, please check out our review of the ENGL E646 by Brainworx.