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 aluminum chassis.
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.