Mesa Boogie brings the iconic Rectifier into the 2020s with an EL34-inspired bang!
When you hear “Mesa/Boogie” chances are high that the word “Rectifier” also comes to mind. The Rectifier series of amps not only changed the game (yet again) in amplifiers, it broke all the rules. Mesa/Boogie is known for its high-quality designs and world-firsts. Whether it’s the world’s first channel-switching amp in the Mark II, or building unbreakable modded Fenders; Mesa quickly became a household name for both tone purists and hard-working musicians who needed gear that wouldn’t let them down on the road.
But what about the Rectifier series? This game-changer broke onto the scene in the early 90s and quickly became the gear that everyone was talking about due to its unbelievably new tones that ranged from crystal-clear clean to bone-crushingly heavy. This wasn’t your average Fender or Marshall amp that had been “hot-rodded”, no, the Rectifier was using an entirely new design to create whole new worlds of sounds that went on to lay the foundations for not only new tones in guitar playing, but new genres in the music world!
The Rectifier series of amps really began its tone takeover of the music world with the advent of records like Metallica’s “Black Album” - which influenced this family of amps to become part of the DNA of the biggest bands of the 90s and 00s: bands like Dream Theater, Linkin Park, 311, Creed, System of a Down, Incubus, Tool, Korn, Soundgarden, Foo Fighters, Blink 182, the list literally goes on and on... And to think, this amp that helped build the sound of world-famous bands and re-shaped the course of music, was built and designed by a man who is not even a guitar player. Pretty cool.
As times changed however, bands inevitably got heavier and tuned lower, and with the advent of genres like metalcore and post-hardcore, the amp tones that were needed required that the staple Rectifier amps get a bit of ‘help’ from overdrive pedals, different tubes, or other custom mods. Players were taking an already heavy amp and finding their own personal ways to take into even heavier landscapes.
Tubes can have a profound effect on the overall tone and feel of an amp, and thus, many players experimented with new tubes, transformers, and other components to give their Recto just a little bit more of that somethin’ somethin’. Taking the typical ‘6L6’ stock sound and swapping it out with EL34s would truly re-sculpt the overall tone profile of what one expected a Recto to sound like. Modern amps are even bias-switchable so that you could easily swap tubes without needing to take it into the shop. In fact, the very best Dual Rectifier I’ve heard throughout my travels, was indeed running EL34 tubes- a bit of a tone secret to ‘those that knew.’
Metalcore giants Killswitch Engage also found that adding a Maxon OD808 (or any other Green overdrive stompbox) to the front of a Rectifier with their “Salem Witch Trial” knob setting ("Drive" all the way off and the "Level" all the way up), would tighten up the heavy sound of the amp, giving it more pick attack, compression, and bite. This tone path was part of the signature recipe for dozens more bands like Of Mice & Men, Shadows Fall, All That Remains, Diecast, etc.
Want to learn how to do it? Check this out:
This rig setup, while epic, requires the addition of outboard gear however, and of course more money spent on pedalboards or racks, power supplies, cables, pedals, etc. And of course, one more wiring connection to go wrong at a live gig. What if you could get this overdrive-assisted heavy sound, or perhaps the more midrange-y bark of EL34 tubes, or a combination of both in one smaller package? Enter the Badlander.
Mesa/Boogie has truly brought their trusty Rectifier amp into the 2020s with a slew of new features, a smaller footprint, and of course, all of the obnoxious horsepower that Mesa is known for.
The ~$2k Badlander offers all the things you knew and loved about your favorite Recto head, but the knobs have been consolidated into 2 channels (with channel cloning). These channels offer 3 new modes: Clean, crunch, and CRUSH- which, you know, does what you think it does. The head offers extra value by carrying an onboard CabClone IR DI so that you can record or gig without a speaker cabinet! The new head also features Multi-Watt power scaling, so that you can use your new-found horsepower with better responsibility to avoid angering (or injuring) your neighbors. It’s available as 50- and 100-watt heads (even rackmount!) – as well as a 50W combo!
The built-in CabClone speaker simulator launches your tonal flexibility and ease of use into dimensions both wonderful and strange. Eight Mesa cabinets are included, and third-party impulse responses can be added via USB connection. Players can even assign a different IR to each channel, while an onboard reactive load allows for silent recording whenever the speaker is disconnected. So when you think about it, you’ll be getting a stage-ready, drummer-destroying tube head, along with a cab sim, a reactive load attenuator, and modeler; all in one smaller box!
The amp’s updated raunchy tone comes via 2 or 4x EL34 power tubes and 5x 12AX7 preamp tubes, and there’s also a Bias switch in case you want to go back to that 6L6 sound. More gain, more tonal variety, even more features for studio and live, and a smaller footprint and weight? Sounds too good to be true!
But don’t just take my word for it. Let your ears be the judge. Grab some good headphones or turn up some good speakers and check out metal master Ola Englund put the Badlander through its paces on a variety of heavy guitars & tunings.
Want to hear Ola A/B various tubes, as WELL as boost this already-boosted amp with a Maxon? Watch here: