Download Example 1
Clean Voicing, Neck pickup. Gain, Bass & Treble 12, Mid 10, Presence 1. Channel 1, 50 Watts.
Download Example 2
Vintage Voicing, Bridge pickup. Gain & Treble 12, Mid 10, Bass 1, Presence 2. Channel 2, 50 watts.
Download Example 3
(Right Channel) Modern Voicing, Bridge pickup. Gain, Presence, Bass & Treble 1, Mid 10. Channel 3, 100 watts.
(Left Channel) Vintage Voicing, Bridge pickup.
Gain, Bass & Treble 1, Presence 2. Channel 2, 50 watts.
Download Example 4
(Same as 3, with third guitar added dead center) Raw Voicing, Neck pickup. Gain 3, Bass & Treble 1, Presence 2, Mid 11. Channel 2, 50 watts.
All clips recorded with a Gibson SG, Shure SM57 close-mic'd off-axis into an Aardvark Q10 interface.
Mesa/Boogie founder and president Randall Smith has come a long way from the late 1960s, when he was repairing and modifying Fender amps and building a reputation in the San Francisco Bay area with locals like the Grateful Dead and Carlos Santana. In that same tradition of creating new amp designs to inspire top players, Smith and the Mesa team have been turning out innovative amps for the last 40 years. Their latest is the Multi-Watt Dual Rectifier.

Material Wealth
At first glance, the new Recto looks exactly like its predecessors. The chrome diamond-plate grille, textured black vinyl covering, leather corners, polished knobs, and standard Mesa/Boogie and Dual Rectifier logos complete the tough-guy industrial look. However, Mesa now offers grilles in black vinyl and black Jute (which is similar to grille cloth) as standard options, in addition to many custom colors and materials. Rectos are capable of nearly every musical style and, as such, players who use this amp for styles other than metal will appreciate the availability of a more classic appearance. The head is about as heavy as you might expect, and it’s rugged. The real monster, however, is the matching Rectifier 4x12 cabinet loaded with Celestion Vintage 30 speakers. At just over 100 pounds, your bandmates will be predictably absent when it’s time to move the cab.

This three-channel Recto comes with a logo-embroidered slip cover, a redesigned 6-button footswitch, and the associated footswitch DIN cable. After plugging the amp into the cab, I flipped on the power and began to scan the front control panel. From left to right, we have the Power and Standby switches, a red jewel light, and the Solo and Output knobs—which are only active when the FX Loop is engaged. The Solo knob adds boost for lead work, and it can be activated anytime via the Solo button on the footswitch. The Output knob controls the overall amp volume, and it is applied after you have balanced every channel’s Gain and Master volumes to your taste.

The rest of the front-panel controls are for the three channels. Left to right, there’s Channel 3, then 2, and finally 1, followed by the single Input jack. Two mini toggles are included for each channel. Each of the Recto’s three channels features switchable modes—Raw, Vintage, and Modern for Channel 2 and 3, Clean and Pushed for Channel 1. A three-position toggle on Channels 2 and 3 and a two-position toggle on Channel 1 facilitate this.

Each channel also features independent wattage controls, thus the second two-position mini toggle on each of the amp’s three channels. This innovative new Multi-Watt feature allows every channel to be independently set at 50 or 100 watts. With the amp at 50 watts, you can achieve power-tube clipping with the ease of a Single Rectifier. Six knobs for each channel—Presence, Master, Gain, Bass, Mid, and Treble—round out the front-panel controls.

Around back, from left to right, we start with a ¼" Slave Out jack and a Level knob, both of which capture the sound of the preamp and power amp without any sort of EQ-ing or mic-simulation circuitry. Next are five speaker outputs for cabs of varying impedance: one for 16, two for 8, and two for 4 ohms. The included manual provides guidance for possible hookup schemes. The next grouping of controls is for the FX Loop—which is now series as opposed to parallel, as it was on previous models. Two jacks (Send and Return), a Send Level knob, and a five-position rotary Assign control (for bypassing the loop or assigning it to any or all channels) allow seamless integration with outboard effects processors from the Recto’s footswitch. Here again, the manual provides detailed guidance.

After the FX Loop controls are the Footswitch Input and a rotary control that allows you to override the footswitch and select any of the amp’s three channels. Personally, I would prefer the ability to switch channels from the front of the amp. Next is an entirely new and long overdue feature, a Tuner Out. This output sends a clean, padded signal to an external tuner, even if you’re currently set to face melting distortion. The Tuner button on the footswitch mutes the amp but does not mute the Tuner Out, which enables silent tuning at the tap of your foot.

The next four 1/4" jacks are for external switching of Channel 2 and 3, Solo, and Loop. Chiefly used onstage, the feature is typically implemented via an external master switcher or when a band is playing along to a click track, allowing converted MIDI sequences to be used to switch amp settings for the guitarist automatically. The Bias Switch is next, and it allows the amp to accept either EL34 or 6L6 power tubes. The amp I tested was loaded with 6L6s.

Following the Bias Switch are three mini switches that encompass another new feature of the 2010 Recto—the ability to independently assign tube or diode rectification to each channel. The last control is a Main Power switch, which has Bold and Spongy settings. Spongy reduces internal voltages, which enables you to, among other things, achieve power-tube drive easier.

After spending some time with the controls, I have to give a tip of the hat to the person(s) at Mesa who wrote the owner’s manual. As referenced earlier, the manuals for Mesa’s gear are consistently well written, and this amp’s booklet is no exception. Within it you will find 40 pages of history and humor, with enough tips to quickly bring beginners up to speed and loads of details to keep seasoned players turning the pages. The manual also includes a speaker-impedance matching guide, a detailed article by Randall Smith on Mesa’s approach to bias adjustment, and an entertaining story about the inner workings of a tube, also written by Smith.