As sunset fell on the ‘60s, the San Francisco music scene was exploding. Great musicians from all styles were mixing it up in this counter-culture epicenter where young musical explorers were becoming pop icons overnight. While a musical revolution was raging across the Golden Gate, a young Randall Smith was doing some serious sonic pioneering. With a rich musical background and a love for tube-based electronics, Smith was working diligently toward a high gain revolution of his own in guitar amplifiers. He was developing a totally new “cascading” tube preamp circuit squeezed into a compact high-power combo amplifier that would change the way guitarists would sound forever more.
Often using noteworthy clients from his amp repair business as test pilots, one day Randall had a breakthrough. He quickly went home, perfected the idea, and called upon local hero Carlos Santana to plug in and give it a spin. After riding a wave of inspiration long enough to gather a substantial crowd outside Prune Music’s front window, Carlos stopped playing and proclaimed, “Man, this thing really Boogies”! It was a defining moment for the future of electric guitar sound and the birth of America’s first boutique amplifier company, MESA/Boogie®.
This game-changing little high gain Boogie® would go on to have a huge impact on the music of the ‘70s as guitarists finally had the ability to hold notes indefinitely with new found levels of sustain. At the dawn of a new decade, another landmark feature in guitar amplification came out of Randall’s Lagunitas shop with the introduction of the world’s first channel switching amplifier in 1980, the MARK II®.
Throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s a score of additional innovative and patented improvements saw MESA Engineering® emerge as the leader in tube amplifier technology. But none of these vital, now-commonplace improvements sparked the kind of attention MESA received in 1991, when high gain was re-defined once more with the birth of the Dual Rectifier® Solo Head, which commanded the Rock airwaves for the next 15 years. Decades and thousands of satisfied customers later, MESA/Boogie® Ltd. hand-builds the fifth-generation offspring and several variations of that pivotal amplifier now known around the globe as the MARK I Boogie®; the world’s first high gain, high power, compact 1x12 amplifier. That revolutionary little combo is the “missing link” in amp design... the pivotal nexus between Vintage and Modern guitar amplifiers. When it comes to amplified guitar, there’s really just two epochs… before Boogie, and after Boogie.
Today, 30 miles from the mountain shack where those first “Snakeskin” Boogies were born, we remain true to the principles Randall used to catapult MESA/Boogie onto the world stage. Every product is hand-built in Petaluma, California and our artisans are tenured with an average of 15 years at their post, many for MUCH longer. We’re proud of our place in history as the original “Boutique” amplifier company and our reputation as one of the most respected and prestigious brands in the industry. As you discover our contributions to the art of amplifier design and journey through our product line at mesaboogie.com, rest assured we have one goal and it’s deeply rewarding to us; to help you sound your very best and be a catalyst for you to achieve your musical dreams.
In 2019, celebrating our 50th anniversary, we return to our roots with a focus of capturing the magical elements of vintage tone and the tweed based circuitry that inspired Randall from the beginning. The result is the new California Tweed™ 6V6 4:40 amplifier. Focused on pure, vintage tweed tone, the speaker selection process for the new series was extremely challenging. After testing numerous brands searching for a speaker capable of delivering the magic we were after, we chose the all-new Jensen P12/100 BLACKBIRD Alnico. The resulting combination delivers a tonal character we feel is perfectly matched for the California Tweed…and that’s no small order. We’re proud to work with Jensen on the California Tweed project and we look forward to many more successful ventures with the team in the years ahead!