MESA have been hand building amps in the USA since the early 1970s. The company are famous for their thick tones, and also in more recent years their heavy-gain Rectifier series of heads. The company got into building guitar pedals again recently with a range of overdrives, EQs and distortions. Well, now they have announced a new line up of what you might call ‘utility’ pedals for gigging guitarists that require high quality buffers and signal management in live scenarios.
MESA/Boogie Stowaway Input Buffer
First up is their Stowaway Input Buffer which is designed to help with impedance issues. The pedal is Class A and uses RFI filtering to resolve any input issues from the mismatching of impedance.
Basically, if you have a load of pedals between you and your amp, then the Stowaway makes it feel as though your guitars is instead plugged directly into the front of your amp. Which is neat, as some pedals really do mess with your guitars signal before it hits that front input.
You should find your core tone intact and not lose any ‘feel’ or dynamics in your playing when using the Stowaway buffer. It’s the cheapest of all the new pedals and probably the most useful to the majority of players. If you use any pedals in your signal chain then you will probably suffer if you currently have no buffer in your setup.
You may not be aware of this, but honestly plug directly into your amp and listen to your guitar tone. Then go through all your pedals and do the same. It’ll be even worse if you use nothing but true bypass pedals or have any old vintage stuff in your rig.
The Stowaway is a handy little box for most of us guitarists that use effects pedals.
RRP GBP £90
MESA/Boogie High-Wire Dual Buffer & Line Driver
The High Wire builds upon the buffer idea of the Stowaway, but also adds in a +3dB comp switch which is their ‘Clearlink’ output line driver to boost your volume when using long cable runs, and has a send and return for your tuner. On top of that you get a Boost knob with up to +22dB of output boost for when you need a little more level.
RRP GBP £185
MESA/Boogie Clearlink (Send) Buffer / Balanced Line Driver
The Clearlink send buffer provides a balanced line driver with both ¼” jack and XLR, balanced and unbalanced outputs. Combined with their Clearlink Receive Buffer, this lets you use up to 330 feet of cable. Designed for use between your pedal board and your guitar amp, this pedal is more suited to use on large stages and probably not your average pub gig.
Clearlink Send also has the ability to pass on power to a Stowaway buffer to minimise on power supplies, which is quite handy and a useful inclusion for this unit, in my opinion.
RRP GBP £119
MESA/Boogie Clearlink (Receive) Converter / Iso Transformer
Using a Jenson Audio isolation transformer, the Clearlink Receive is designed to be used with the Clearlink Send. Again, the idea here is to improve handling of long cable runs.
The pedal incorporates XLR and ¼” jack inputs and outputs, with the ability to lift ground and deal with any phase issues. It should work well when any amp switching is involved or long cable runs over 20 feet are involved where no common ground can be shared.
RRP GBP £259
So do you need them?
I think personally the most useful of all of these will be the Stowaway input buffer and the price is actually pretty reasonable for a MESA product. I think companies like Radial think they already have this market pretty sewn up, so I look forward to hearing some reviews of these new MESA products over the nest few months to see if they offer anything better than the competition.
As of the rest of the range, if you are playing large venues then these could be just what you need. However for your average pub gig you don’t really need these. Unless, of course, they have a 300 foot stage down your local…
For more in-depth details and technical specifications go to the MESA/Boogie site.