Even in this golden age of amplifiers,
effects, and guitars, sometimes you
get the sense a piece of gear is destined to
become a classic. The Mesa/Boogie Dual
Rectifier, with its brilliant compact design
and wealth of delicious tones, might just be
one of them.
Boogies can divide players’ opinions. But
even if some aren’t fans, everybody remembers
the first time they heard the roar of
a cranked Rectifier. These amps produce
very distinctive tones that have been used
by countless bands and emulated by scores
of imitators. On the heels of the success
of their low-wattage TransAtlantic series,
the company has now released the Mini
Rectifier—a conveniently packaged 25-watt
rendition of the big, bad Rectifier head.
Despite its tiny size, the Mini demonstrates
why the Recto sound has endured through
waves of musical trends and fads.
The Itsy-Bitsy Rectifier
The California-built Mini Rectifier is
tiny—you might even say adorable looking.
It’s a dead ringer for its older Dual
and Triple Rectifier brothers, but at less
than half the width, depth, and length of
those mighty heads. Apart from the power
and standby switches, and the diamond
plate front panel, literally everything is
shrunken—right down to the size of the
knobs and the air vent on the top of the
Under the hood, the Mini is a true
Rectifier through and through. The preamp
circuit was lifted directly from the company’s
famed Dual Rectifier amplifier and
shares every detail of that particular preamp.
A total of five 12AX7 preamp tubes
populate the circuit, which in turn drive
a dual-EL84 Dyna-Watt power amp that’s
rated at a full 25 watts. It’s also a fixed-bias
design, which reduces maintenance worries.
Because the power amp utilizes Mesa’s
Dyna-Watt technology, the amp’s two channels
can be switched to either 10 or 25
watts independently, which is really handy
for studio use when you want to crank the
power section without overloading the mixer’s
preamp. If you’re used to using Mesa’s
Dual and Triple Rectifier amps, dialing in a
tone on either channel is extremely simple.
Each channel has a 3-band EQ (bass, midrange,
and treble) along with dedicated
presence, gain, and master volume controls.
Each channel also has two modes. On the
clean channel, you can select clean or pushed
(gain-boosted) modes. On the second channel,
Mesa included the vintage and modern
modes from the Rectifier’s red channel.
There’s no onboard reverb—just like the amp’s
bigger and beastlier brethren. But Mesa also
threw in a series effects loop located on the
back panel of the amp that can be used to
connect time-based effects or any other external
pedal or rackmount units. Both channels
can be selected via a switch on the front panel
or from a single-button footswitch that’s
included with the amp.
A pint-sized powerhouse such as this
wouldn’t be the same without a matching
set of cabinets. So Mesa designed closedback
1x12 cabs—both slant and straight—
that look like micro versions of their larger
Rectifier 4x12s. They’re dressed in the
company’s leather-like Black Taurus vinyl
covering and loaded with a single 60-watt
Celestion Vintage 30 speaker. A mini full
stack looks super cool—even intimidating—
in spite of its size.
Given that the Mini Rectifier generates
its tone from an actual full Rectifier series
preamp circuit, it’s little surprise that the
Mini Rectifier really nails the sound that
made its bigger brothers famous. But
what’s doubly cool about the amp—and
the key to its individuality—is the coupling
of the EL84 power section. This
gives the Mini a unique voice, while
allowing it to roar at less than the faceripping
volumes the Single, Dual, and
Triple Rectifiers are known for.
With a Les Paul Custom configured
with Tom Anderson humbuckers driving
the Boogie, channel 1 provided a
clear, hi-fi voice throughout the entire
frequency range. Because of the EL84s’
greasier tone tendencies, the top end was
rounder than the 2011 Dual Rectifier
Multi-Watt I was using for comparison.
And it’s great for slow blues rhythms
and softly picked arpeggios. The attack
is a little slower as well, which is fun to
play with at higher gain levels and in
Southern rock-oriented riffage. Standard
Rectifiers have a very focused and
hard-hitting presence in the lows and highs,
which is part of their trademark sound. The
Mini Rectifier, however, has a warmer, more
vintage-like vibe when you move the master
volume above 1 o’clock.
The 10 million dollar question is this:
Does channel 2 deliver the molten tone that
the bigger Rectifiers dish out? I’m happy to
report that yes, it most certainly does—with
surprising authority. All the harmonic richness
and raging overdrive of the Multi-Watt
Dual Rec’s red channel is there, though
there is a squishier, more giving feel in
the midrange. The low end has a massive
amount of spread through the amp’s overachieving
1x12 slant cabinet.
With the Les Paul, that meant setting
the channel’s bass control at around 11
o’clock to keep the lows tight enough for
thrashier riffing and percussive rhythm
work. Cranking the master volume made
the Mini sound meaner and more aggressive,
yet kept the tone firm without loss
of presence. The master volume also helps
provide a nice even-ordered harmonic grit
to the tone, which smooths the raging
preamp drive into a three-dimensional wall
of sound that moves an amazing amount of
air, given its size.
Mesa hit the bull’s-eye in their attempt to
capture the feel and tone of their flagship
amps in a low-watt, compact package. The
tiny, 12-pound head is dressed up in the
family garb in a way that gives it the aura
of a raging and dangerous little tone monster.
It wouldn’t be fair to view the Mini
Rectifier as just a shrunken iteration of the
bigger Rectifiers, though. The EL84 Dyna-
Watt power section sprinkles its own brand
of tonal spice on the classic tones associated
with its big brothers. That combination
makes the Mini Rectifier a very special little
amp—probably one of the coolest they’ve
made in the past decade. If you’re a lover
of Mesa’s liquid Rectifier overdrive and the
great clean tones in the company‘s Multi-
Watt series, but have never been interested
in the bludgeoning nature of the highwattage
versions, the Mini is a great option
for the studio and jam sessions.
you want classic Rectifier tone
at manageable volumes.
only more powerful Rectifiers can
dish out the volume you need.
$999 (head) $449 (slant or straight 1x12) - Mesa/Boogie