Our Story

Excellence; Living The Code

The story of MESA/Boogie® is an American story. It’s a musical story and a human-interest story, roots to world-renown. It’s based on simple, basic principles that never change or go out of style. It’s a story of doing the right thing, of not taking shortcuts and of never giving up until you achieve, in earnest, what you set out to do. It involves vision, passion, drive, honesty, wisdom, perseverance, trust and the ever-empirical approach of less talk and more action. Undersell and exceed expectations.

Randy, Doug and Dan
Randall, Doug and Dan deep in R&D. Many of our design team members have worked together for decades.

It’s a story of treating people with respect, even when it’s not profitable. It’s the story of one man’s vision inspiring two generations of contributors who have both followed and guided their mentor to a place that eclipsed where any could have taken it alone. It’s the tale of a small business owner that never sold out, despite many enticing offers, in favor of keeping it real and continuing to innovate. It’s the story of a worldwide family of fiercely proud devotees with unwavering loyalty.

The story of MESA/Boogie represents different things to different people; many sounds for many styles, many solutions for many needs, many roads to what we all seek… inspiration. Yet perhaps one phrase–one concept more than any other–best captures the essence of MESA/Boogie; The Relentless Pursuit Of Excellence.

About Us

As sunset fell on the ‘60s, the San Francisco music scene was literally exploding. Great musicians from all styles were mixing it up in this counter-culture epicenter where fans of all ages were ripe for the picking and young musical explorers were becoming pop icons overnight.

At the center of all this new music was electric guitar. As a vehicle for expression, no other instrument offered the versatility, sonic power, and of course sex appeal, of the electric guitar. And while it was recognized as both a rhythm and lead instrument, a twist of fate found drummer and saxophonist Randall Smith preoccupied with the solo potential of the Bay Area’s six-string darling.

While a musical revolution was raging across the Golden Gate, simultaneously in Marin’s Rock Star-studded hamlet of Mill Valley and redwood-thick haven of Lagunitas, 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.

Even as he was working for the Bay Area’s biggest stars doing amp repairs, behind the scenes Smith was developing a totally new “cascading” tube preamp circuit squeezed into in a compact high power combo amplifier that would change the way guitarists would sound–and play–forever more.

Randy & Carlos jammin' in the 70's
Randy & Carlos jammin' in the 70's

Often using his noteworthy clients as test pilots, one day he had a breakthrough while helping Country Joe & The Fish guitarist Barry Melton. 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 for long enough to gather a substantial crowd that afternoon in Mill Valley outside Prune Music’s front window where they met for the maiden voyage, Carlos stopped playing and proclaimed, “Man, this thing really Boogies”! It was a defining moment for the future of electric guitar sounds.

The 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 their newfound sustain. At the dawn of a new decade, another landmark feature in guitar amplification came out of the 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.

NOW...

Forty-five years and thousands of satisfied customers later, MESA/Boogie® Ltd. hand-builds the fifth generational offspring of that pivotal amplifier (and many more) 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.

vintage shot of early mesa boogie amps
Early Mark I Trio

Today, 30 miles from the mountain shack where those first “Snakeskin” Boogies were born, we still hold true to the simple but increasingly rare principles Randy used to catapult MESA/Boogie onto the world stage. Hand-building the very best instruments we can and treating each and every customer as we ourselves would wish to be treated has kept us there.

We are still privately owned–one of the last American music companies to be so–and have no profit-hungry investors cutting corners between you and your Tone. Every product we make is hand-built in our one and only shop in Petaluma, California and our artisans are tenured with an average of 15 years at their post, many for MUCH longer. We answer to no one except you and our own uncompromising ethical standards.

We are proud of our place in history as the original “Boutique” amplifier company, but recognize that we must still earn daily, our reputation as one of the most respected and prestigious brands in the musical instrument industry. So as you discover our historically important contributions to the art of amplifier design and journey through our vast product line, rest assured we continue to pioneer and improve–as we have from the start–the possibilities for your expression and our unparalleled Customer Service.

We‘d be honored to be your amplifier company and welcome you to the worldwide family of MESA players who have found inspiration and the confidence to reach new musical frontiers through our instruments. 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.

On behalf of the Entire MESA Staff, We Thank You For Your Interest. Welcome To The Original Home Of Tone!