In the solar system of amplifier badassery, the name Mesa/Boogie needs no introduction. From the mellifluous guitar sounds of Carlos Santana to the hard-charging intensity of Metallica, Mesa continues to leave its mark on the world, having achieved iconic status.
The company’s Badlander amplifiers, inspired by its famous Dual Rectifier, are known for their aggressive midrange, rich harmonics, and tight low-end. The latest addition is the Badlander 25 1×12. Designed to appeal to fans of British flavor and American-voiced gain, it’s small, produces a loud 25-watts, and uses a silicon-based rectifier. Best of all, it’s a straightforward combo appealing to rockers with visions of sonic domination.
Its two-channel layout includes Clean, Crunch, and Crush modes using toggle switches or a footswitch. Tone sculpting knobs include Master Volume, Presence, Bass, Midrange, Treble, and Gain. Five 12AX7s and two EL84 power tubes complement an effects loop and a toggle switch that alternates between Mesa’s Dyna-Watt 25-watt Class A/B Pentode for “Maximum power, punch, and clarity” and a 10-watt Class A/B Triode for what Mesa calls “A more liquid feel at lower volumes.” A CabClone IR interface allows recording with or without the cab, using any of eight rectifier closed-back and open-back cab IRs from the CabClone catalog. Other touches include an XLR output, cab selector for each channel, Level control, and outputs for USB and headphones. For creating physical sound live into a room, there’s a 12″ Celestion Creamback 65. The complete package weighs in at 40 pounds.
Using a Les Paul, Strat, and a tricked-out Tele, the Badlander 25 proved to be a rock-and-roll machine. While the timbral menu can go from a facsimile of chicken pickin’ country cleans to saturated head-butting metal, the sounds it makes in-between are the most useful for the genre-switching recording guitarist. The footswitch is super-effective, especially because each channel has EQ and Master Volume.
Gritty Rolling Stones rhythms morph into shred with scandalous sustain. Unfortunately, the Badlander 25 lacks reverb, but its handy effects loop accomodates. It’s a tiny, loud, power-switching behemoth stuffed with modern features and muscle. A demon of a practice amp, it’d also make an exciting addition for the small stage or recording guitarist.
This article originally appeared in VG’s April 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.