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Mesa Guitar Amplifiers

Established in early 1969, Mesa Boogie makes a wide variety of amplifiers with a range of features. It manufactures acoustic, bass, and electric guitar amps. The original Mesa Boogie amp actually stemmed from a prank.

How did Mesa get its start?

Drummer and saxophonist Randall Smith also worked repairing amps in the late 1960s and early 70s. He worked on his own designs and had musician friends test them out.

He and friends decided to play a prank on Barry Melton of Country Joe and the Fish. Smith altered Melton's Fender Princeton 12-watt power amp by cutting the chassis, inserting "big transformers," rebuilding it using a 4-10 Tweed Bassman circuit, cutting out the speaker board, and installing a 12-inch JBL D-120 speaker.

Smith, working in the back of a music store to tweak Melton's amp, brought it out front to find a guitarist to test it. Carlos Santana volunteered and performed an impromptu guitar jam that drew a crowd that blocked up the sidewalk in front of the store. After his jam, he told Smith "That little thing really boogies!" Word of mouth produced 100 requests for the amp that started as a joke. Smith named it Mesa Boogie for Santana's comment after the test play.

What is the main benefit of the Boogie design?

The compact high gain Boogie allowed guitarists to hold notes indefinitely with sustain. Guitars are inherently quiet instruments. Amplification lets them be heard in live performance, but, until Smith's design, they could not completely match live performances to their recordings because audiences could not hear a sustained note. The jam bands of the 1970s have Smith to thank for enabling arenas to hear their guitar solos as they performed them on a studio recording.

Where are Mesa amps made?

Mesa Boogie handcrafts each amplifier in its shop in Petaluma, California. Its employees average 15 years' experience building amps and cabinets.

How large a variety of amps does Mesa make?

Mesa Boogie offers five amp series for electric guitars: the Rectifier, Triple Crown, Mark, Lone Star, and All-Tube Stereo Power Amps. For bass guitars, it offers three amp series: the Subway, Bass preamplifiers, and Prodigy and Strategy Tube Bass Amp. For acoustic guitars, it offers two amp series: Acoustic preamplifiers and Acoustic series.

What professional musicians choose Mesa amps?

Many professional musicians play using a Mesa amplifier. A few of them include Al DiMeola, Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters, Mick Jones of Big Audio Dynamite, Blake Shelton, Tim Reynolds of Dave Matthews Band, Bruce Springsteen, and Chris Stein of Blondie.