After plugging in my Gibson SG and flipping on the Standby switch, I set the amp to Channel 1’s Clean voicing. This sound is based on the Lone Star and Mark V, which Mesa’s Doug West says are their most popular amp when it comes to clean tones. With the EQ settings and Presence at 12 o’clock, and the Gain at 10’clock, the amp produced a full-bodied, well-balanced clean signal—a perfect starting point for shaping your desired clean tone. Switching to the neck pickup added a gigantic bottom-end, owing a lot to Mesa’s cab design, which is well known for its extended low frequencies. Next, I turned down the Mid knob nearly all the way to dial in a shimmering yet thunderous clean tone, perfect for filling a mix with lush chordage. And unlike some of the past Dual Rectifiers, the clean sounds coming out of the new Dual were dead silent.
Switching the Recto’s first channel to the Pushed voicing produces a drastic difference in tone. This is less a clean tone than it is a mild overdrive. It has lots of punch that works very well for expressive, early rock ’n’ roll soloing. Using the new Multi-Watt feature to halve the power to 50 watts allows for easier compression of the Clean channel. One of my favorite configurations is Channel 1’s Clean voicing, slightly mid scooped and with a touch of gain. Operating at 50 watts, the tone is clear and expressive and yet the power tubes sculpt away transient dynamics—perfect for the studio. Switching the Clean channel’s Rectifier Selection into Tube Tracking further compresses the sound with a compression that is very clean. To my ears, the tube rectification sounds like a subtle compression setting from a studio compressor. If you need more headroom, then you’ll likely prefer the Diode rectification. The EQ parameters for every channel have a wealth of range but, in general, the amp is at its best when the EQ settings are between 10:30 and 2:30.
Channels 2 and 3
I’ve saved the best for last. The Dual Rectifier’s contribution to modern heavy rock and metal cannot be denied. And during the process of developing the new Recto, Boogie listened to what a lot of fans wanted from the dirty channels. That’s why they decided to make them identical. Schematically and parts-wise, they are exactly the same.
The lowest-gain voicing on both channels is Raw. It’s an excellent classic-rock sound, especially when I flipped on my SG’s bridge pickup. The gain voicing is mid focused and crunchy like a Marshall. Dialing up the Treble creates additional gain in this mode, and the Presence knob can be used to prevent the high frequencies from becoming too harsh. This same technique can be used throughout the amplifier to introduce a bit more gain.
There is a fluid tonal transition between the Raw voicing’s higher-gain settings and the Vintage voicing’s lower-gain settings. In Channel 2 with the voicing set to Vintage, I continued to take the Gain knob up to a very heavy rock sound around 1 o’clock. This voicing has loads of gain and nails the classic Rectifier orange-channel sound (not to be confused with Orange Amplification). Much as I did with the other channels and voicings, I preferred backing off the Mids, raising the Treble and Presence slightly, and keeping the Bass around noon. This produced a nice, full sound that retained plenty of picking power. I would venture to guess that most players will prefer the hard-rocking Vintage voicing. Mesa has obviously put a lot of focus on giving this voicing a good balance of hard-rock crunch and loads of gain.
My favorite voicing on the amp, though, is the Modern voicing on Channels 2 and 3. This is where metal heads will do most of their shredding. Switching from Vintage to Modern, there is a drastic increase in the amount of low end. There is also a boost in the high mids that gives this voicing an aggressive bite. In fact, the word “aggressive” really sums up this voicing, especially as you bring the Gain up. To my ears, the best balance between distortion and dynamics occurs (in Modern mode) with the Gain at 11 o’clock. At this lower gain setting, the new Recto reminded me of vintage amps with plenty of high end and tons of chugging power. With the Gain at 1 o’clock and the EQ slightly scooped, the Recto truly thundered
with authority. For these high-gain tones in Channels 2 and 3, I preferred using the full 100 watts of power, because the additional headroom kept the dynamics from being compressed too much.
The Final Mojo
Mesa/Boogie’s latest incarnation of the Dual Rectifier offers an incredibly broad range of tonal possibilities, thanks to its combination of new features—like Multi-Watt operation, an assignable series effects loop, and the new Lone Star/Mark V clean voicings in Channel 1—as well as the legacy voicings in Channels 2 and 3. It would be a vast understatement to say that the Dual Rectifier is a flexible amp. It is the standard of tonal flexibility by which its competitors are judged. Such versatility makes the amp a good practical buy for guitarists who prefer not to have one amp per musical style. Mesa has sharpened its competitive edge with the 2010 Dual Rectifier by including innovative, handy new features while doing justice to the legacy of supreme guitar tone.
you plan on being stranded on a desert island with one amp (and a guitar . . . and the island has electricity).
this is way too much power for you.