MESA/BOOGIE
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MESA/BOOGIE
Also Mesa Engineering. Amplifiers, speaker cabinets, and other electronic products currently produced in Petaluma, CA, since early 1969.
Mesa Boogie was started by Randall Smith in the early 1970s. Randall had a life-altering experience as a young boy. He was working on a Boy Scout project and for a merit badge he had to go to his scout leader with some wood carvings. The leader took him into this shop, an electronics lab, cut up his wood carvings in a band saw, and told him "this is what I think of your projects and you!" The leader explained to Smith that he wouldn't want that showing up one day when he was making decent stuff and would ask himself, embarrassingly, "I did that?" Randall took an instant liking to the electronics lab, and began learning from his odd friend. He also took a liking to cars (Mercedes in particular). He would repair cars for friends.
In 1966, the hippie movement came through San Francisco, and music was the thing. Smith got a drumset to get into the scene and joined a band. One day an amp blew in the band and shortage of funds made fixing it at a shop not feasible. So Randall took a look at it and ended up fixing it in fifteen minutes. The band instantly thought they should open up a shop and Prune Music was then set up in N. Berkeley, California. Randall fixed amps in the back of the store and a lot of great artists would come in including the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother, Quicksilver, and Santana. Randall also would modify amps for people, and as Smith states, "What started out as a joke became the foundation of the company." Barry Melton's roadies came in and wanted something to be done to make his Princeton amp "melt." Randall stripped the chassis, put a chassis from a 4-10 in. Fender Bassman, and carefully installed a 12 in. JBL D-120 speaker while at the same time the amp still looked stock. He got some regular customer to plug into it and was blown away by the new 60W Bassman/Princeton. Things really changed when Carlos Santana came in and played the concoction. Carlos is quoted as saying, "This little amp really boogies," which, ended up becoming the name of the company. It is estimated that 200 of these Princetons were converted before Fender stopped supplying Randall with transformers.
By 1970, Randall had left Prune Music, thinking that Prune would buy him out. He actually got zero money out of the deal and was out of a job, so he started fixing cars to get cash and would build amps at night. At this point he formed MESA Engineering as a company that suppliers would take seriously. He built amps for a while until Lee Michaels, an "equipment junkie," got his hands on these new Crown DC300 solid-state power amplifiers. Many companies had tried to make a preamp for this but they all had no tone. Randall was summoned where he worked his magic in the circuitry and came up with the winning combination. Randall had found something and thought it was for Carlos Santana himself. Carlos got an amp and people were coming after Randall wondering if the guy making amps in the shack was for real. The idea behind this amp was a cascading preamp, which is having the preamp stages lined up into each other that would produce enhanced distortion and gain.
The first amp Smith built from scratch was a snakeskin covered Boogie 130 Lead Head for English rocker Dave Mason of Winterland. Smith then began to develop a preamp design for Lee Michaels' new Crown DC 300 power amps. He ended up adding three variable gain controls at critical points within the circuit. Once Smith and Michaels tried the amp, they were blown away and Smith knew he was onto something. Smith, his wife, and a few friends began building the first Boogies by hand in his house during the early 1970s. These first amps were referred to as the Mark I but they didn't get labeled this until the second series (MKII) was released in the late 1970s. Smith estimates that 3,000 of these Mark I Boogies were built at his house.
In 1980, Smith moved to their current location in Petaluma, California. In 1980, they also introduced the Mark II-A, which was the first modern channel switching with separate rhythm and high-gain lead modes. Mesa and Smith continued to experiment and expand with the D-180 Rack-mount bass amp and the Mark II-B with an improved lead overdrive circuit and the first-ever effects loop in 1982. The revised Mark II-C+ was introduced in 1983 with the dual cascading lead stage. In circa 1985, the new Mark III Series was introduced with three independent channels. In 1986, they introduced the Quad and Studio preamps for rack systems that featured the first tuned recording outputs. In 1989, the Mark IV Series was introduced and became one of Mesa's most popular models until it was discontinued in 2008.

From Blue Book Publications:


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