I'm not really sure how much this matters to anyone, but after a month of going through about 20 different 12ax7's and a few different types of 5U4's, I finally have my Shred custom sound Dual Rectifier.
Anyone who has a Mesa knows that the distortion is rather unique. Some absolutely love it, some can't stand it. It has a way of being saturated, and extremely loud.
In these times when music calls for distortion to be clean and tight, I still embrace the mud. As we are going through this era where guitar shredding is abundant and everywhere, I still continue to buck the system. I've been working on a way to sculpture the mud into a sound that suits my style.
To take the unique character away from a Mesa Dual Rectifier wouldn't be doing it justice as far as what it was created for. Would you really want to take Frankenstein and turn him into a refined marksman?? Well, I wouldn't. What is meant to brutally pound your face should just be given more steroids, to pound your face even harder.
The tubes I've chosen for my amplifier are for the legendary mud-slinging guitarists who believe in hitting you hard. From classic guitarists like Toni Iommi, to modern power-mudslinging-punchers like Munky, I've tailored my sound to hit you in the gut and make you wish you never stood 6-feet away from my amp. May God save your souls, I'm gonna hit you hard.
My Dual Rec. lineup:
Alright so.. Some may look at this and say, "so what, this isn't anything special".
Well.. It kind of is special.. After experimenting with a wide variety of tubes, you can learn a lot about how they react in every position. It's really not too different from my original design, but that's because I already kind of knew what I wanted out of my amp.
RCA and GE tubes are just freaking heavy. After my original design, I wanted something a little more clarified in V1, with the same punch as my RCA 12ax7a long-plate. 7025 tubes just give you that. They won't take away from the distortion what a 5751 or 12at7 will, but will articulate with just a slight amount of clarity, and still pump the gain through with a little less mud, but a fair amount to pound you with.
V2 and V3 are extremely hot and musical. Long-plate 12ax7a tubes have a lot of power, and hold nothing back. They're not focused on being low noise, that's what a 7025 is for. They just pound hard. That's their job.
V4.. I can't say enough about Mullard tubes. Of all of my tubes, this is the most refined. It's just freakin awesome. The clarity goes beyond everything else I came across, and could have easily been in V1. But in a Mesa Dual Rectifier, the effects loop is very moody. Mesa designed these amps to have the tone of the amp in the forefront of the loop. It usually causes problems for people who want to use modular effects in their loops. I personally don't. I use a reverb and eq through the loop, and I use the effects only when I switch to clean channel. A Mullard 12ax7a/7025a is the ultimate clean channel tube. I will always recommend a Mullard to anyone who wants the ultimate tube regarding clarity and warmth. They're just freakishly the best. The only reason it isn't in my V1 is because it's brighter than the RCA. I need the darkness for my distortion, and I set my Mesa to switch to the effects loop on the orange (clean) channel for the reverb. The Mullard is the ultimate sparkle for clean Channel.
V5, JW and I discussed in private about a 12BZ7. It's not recommended for a lot of amps. It draws twice the voltage of a 12ax7. It's also about a 1/2" taller. Although I loved the sound of it, and it is safe to use in the V5 position of a Mesa, I didn't see a reason to push my amp to that degree. It will make the preamp sound twice as big. After trying several tubes in this position, I did find a tube that gave me close to the same big feel that the 12BZ7 did, and oddly enough it was a modern production tube. The Sovtek LPS has made a liar out of me. It does have some big balls, and can serve a purpose as well as any NOS tube in the right situation. Sound-wise, it sounds very much like a 12BZ7 in this spot, and I don't have to risk pushing my amp to the degree that a 12bz7 will.
For the record, I also experimented with GE 5751's, Amperex , Sylvania, and Tesla's (nos, not modern JJ's) , and they just fell a little short for my taste. I've yet to try a Ratheon or Telefunken, they're just too expensive for me right now. Maybe next year.
As far as the 5U4's go... The SEDS are still the King!! They have a bold power that is equal to RCA any day. The only difference I found was in the construction of the tubes. Just look at a =C= NOS 5U4 and you'll see what I'm talking about.
So anyway.. There you go.. Take from it what you will. 7025 and longplate 12ax7's ended up being my favorites. Bold and clarified. This s**t will hurt you.