The Rise of the Rectifier: The Mesa/Boogie Chronicles

It was the year 2000. Not only did the world not collapse due to a now fabled potential bank-coding fiasco dubbed Y2K, the new millennium witnessed a rising wave of high gain rock sounds across a diversity of genres. For all this variety, however, there was an unexpected core amp tone…

I vividly remember slipping in the front doors of a local guitar store in the early 2000s and waiting for the employees to busy themselves with customers in the sealed off safety zone of the acoustic guitar room. I felt like I was shoplifting. Really, all I wanted to do was try the Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier. So, I did the right thing. Grabbed a Les Paul from as high off the wall as I could, plugged in, and cranked it up. Apparently, those acoustic guitar chambers are built for humidity not sound-proofing. The sales guy peaked his head out the door, took one look at me, sensed I could barely afford the strings on the Gibson I wailed away on and said, “You’re gonna need to turn that down.” Totally worth it.

The sound I was after was one I’d grown to love as a kid who cut his teeth on grunge age rock and matured musically in the days of evolving metal, punk, and hard rock. Tool, Sound Garden, Foo Fighters, Blink 182, and many more acts of the era took to stage and studio backed by Boogies, and one model in particular. The Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier. The Rectifier offered up a blistering yet crisp gain structure entirely unlike anything in the traditional Fender, Marshall, or Vox typologies. Bold, brilliant, and with blended black and stainless steel visage, it stood in a class all its own.

While the Dual Rectifier became modern rock’s weapon of choice around the turn of the new millennium, its rise to fame started back with its launch in 1991. After nearly four decades in the amp game, Randall Smith, founder of Mesa, had already had some major success stories in his amplifier lineup.

Since his early mods to Fender Princeton Amps to give them more “boogie” (hence the name), Smith became known for engineering high-power amps. By the early-70s, Smith’s sought after mods catalyzed his own full business and a move to the San Francisco bay area, where his amp tweaks could meet the needs of a booming music scene that was anything but quiet and light on gain. With his reputation and demand on the rise, by 1972 Smith unveiled the Mesa/Boogie Mark I, a high-powered, cascading gain combo amp. The explosion of interest in short order resulted in a series of revisions: the Mark II-A (1980), Mark II-B (1982), Mark II-C+ (1983), and the infamous Mark IV (1989).

This brings us back to where our story began. Not only did 1991 mark a defining moment in the Mesa/Boogie sound, the launch of the Dual Rectifier also signaled Smith’s first major attempt at a head-plus-cabinet amp design. As it turns out, the recipe was spot on. The amp caught on and remains a staple for players in need of explosive, yet defined gain. With the continued success of designs like the Lone Star, Triple Crown, and Mark V, the Mesa/Boogie story continues.

Whether you’re rocking a wall of stacked Boogies today or boogying with a five-watt, enjoy your #RiffCitySunday.

2 thoughts on “The Rise of the Rectifier: The Mesa/Boogie Chronicles

  • February 25, 2018 at 8:39 am

    You should mention that Boogie stole their design from Soldano.

  • February 25, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    Been in love with Boogie’s since ’82, with my 1st amp, a Mark 2B 1×12 60 watt combo…..never looked back. Had the Mark 3 head and combo, still have and love my Nomad 45 1×12 combo and a wonderful Subway Rocket 20 watt 1×10 combo(my old back REALLY loves that baby!!)……great sounds….great amps!


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