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Gear Impressions and Luthier Spotlight With Jake Wolf : Mesa Boogie Powerhouse 212

Review by Jake Wolf –

In addition to their M6 Carbine head, Mesa shipped me their powerhouse 212 cab to try out.  The first thing that struck me when I unearthed the 212 from its shipping carton was how incredibly durable and industrial it feels.  Its clearly feels rock solid, as does its partner, the M6 head.  The attached heavy duty casters feel more solid than the standard pop-in variety, and rhino covering feels like it could weather some serious abuse, not that any of us bassists ever abuse our equipment!!  The Powerhouse 212 weighs in at 77 pounds, hardly the lightest 212 on the market, but arguably the toughest.  I was unable to detect any miscellaneous rattles or mechanical noises coming from the box, overall it seemed well put together and issue free.  Included was the Mesa slip cover.  I thought it was a little flimsy, but effective at keeping it free of dust.  I couldn’t help but smile at the sight of that thin cover on top of the cab; it looked like silk pajamas on a Russian tank.

Overall, the fit and finish is excellent, and the 212 offers some very cool features that you aren’t likely to see on other companies offerings.  On the back panel you will find 2 speakon and 2 ¼” connectors and a beefy tweeter attenuator, no surprise there.  What is unusual is the three way adjustable crossover control.  By switching the crossover points between 3, 4, and 5k, you can choose between three distinctively different feels from the tweeter.  I like the flexibility it offers, and although its subtle at first, the more I played with it, the more I appreciated the ability to fine tune the sound for my personal taste.

On a blues gig, the M6 with the 212 had a very focused and powerful sound.  Most people will agree that 12’s for the most part tend to sound specifically like 12’s, offering an intrinsically mid-centric tone that is more boxy, darker, and heavier sounding.  I will say that with few exceptions that I know of, this is categorically true, and the mesa 212 illustrates this tone very well.  Truthfully, that boxier, mid focused sound is highly useful for providing cut and clarity on a sonically busy stage.  Where many of the high fidelity, ultra-wide and even sounding cabinets fall short, is their ability to deliver your tone through a smattering of cymbal crashes and fuzz laden guitars, not to mention what in my experience I have come to know as the bass players worst enemy: the dreaded left hand of a keyboardist.   The 212 had no problem punching right through the mix, its ample low end filling the stage with tight punchy low mids and focused low end.  On a slap tune, (yeah I know I said it was a blues band, but I just couldn’t resist) it was surprisingly pleasant for a 2×12, providing a solid rock type slap tone, ala Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  Overall, the cab was able to hang with most everything I threw at it.

Mesa’s 212 is a great compliment to their newest head, or any head for that matter.  Especially suited in my opinion for rock or blues, the 212 kicked out plenty of tone and volume.  Plus, it has the rugged durability that could easily inspire confidence for today’s busy and demanding touring bassists.

For more info, visit www.mesaboogie.com

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