Stage II updates include a tighter, stiffer sounding power supply that makes all modes punchier and more reactive, with less sag. Run wide open, this amp can clear your sinuses with one strum, and, with the Bold voicing selected, it delivers satisifying skull-popping mids. (Careful: The rig can be dialed in for subtle but sneaky highs that add up to ringing ears the next morning.) The more dramatic Stage II development, though, is the re-imagined Fluid Drive mode. Replacing the original, deeper, more “Recto” version, this incarnation is an entirely new circuit. Voiced with less low-end, nü-metal whumpf than its forbear, it nonetheless rages, and complements the other four modes perfectly.
Because these amps are each a two-channel, multi-mode celebration of the EL34 “brown sound” (particularly when you cut the transformer power by 20 volts by engaging the Variac-like “Spongy” setting), I couldn’t resist auditioning them on a couple of gigs with a Van Halen tribute band. At first, I chose the Ace, for no other reason than it roars loud enough for most clubs and pays visual homage to classic Plexi-era Marshalls. (Fact: The Ace is actually bigger and 5 lbs heavier than the doubly powerful Deuce.) But because the Deuce’s channels are switchable from 100 to 50 watts (by deactivating two of the four power tubes), I was tempted over to its camp by this Deuce/Ace switchability, and also by its modern chrome stylings, its faux-crocodile-embossed leather, and, of course, its power to decapitate any frontof- house engineer who doesn’t think the guitar should be the center of the mix. At my first gig with the amp, I thought I’d only use the Fluid Drive for extreme lead tones. But, yielding volcanic distortion that erupts with prismatic partials and vocal, midrange-fueled feedback, this highly expressive mode has become my regular muse.
Rude yet utterly refined, uniting timeless EL34 tones with high-tech utilities—all arranged with geomantic perfection on a classy chassis—the über-evolved Stiletto Stage II marks the perfect teaming of the California and British schools of amp design. Cheers to Randall Smith and the Mesa design team for never knowing when to leave well enough alone.
Welcome to Bass Player's July 2017 Links Page
Emerson, Lake & Palmer Release Classic Remastered Albums
Watch Mark Michell's Bass Playthrough of Tetrafusion's New Single "10,001" (VIDEO)
This Week in Free Stuff: Reverb, Delay & EQ Plug-ins
Korg Announces MicroKorg Limited Edition Platinum Model for 15th Anniversary
Moog Music Announces the Subsequent 37 CV at Moogfest 2017
The Keys to Snarky Puppy's Success
VINTAGE LESSON - Jimmy Bralower on Drum Machines
VIDEO - Matt Rollings Produces Blues Traveler
Steve Vai Talks Malibu Guitar Festival, His Favorite Concerts and More
Teye Guitars Unveils the Fox
Chris Cornell’s Death Being Investigated As a Suicide
L-Acoustics ARCS WiFo Finds Favor With DC/Baltimore-Area Churches
Sully Meets the Challenges for RHCP with Rat Sound and L-Acoustics
AES New York Convention Advance Registration Opens
Nita Strauss Shares Her Top Tip for Better Guitar Playing
The Top 10 Guitar Harmonies of All Time
Watch Eric Clapton Perform "Badge" and "Cocaine" at the Albert Hall
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