The FIRST Mesa ~ The Bass 450 by Randall Smith

by Boogie on September 5, 2013

in Mesa Boogie Bass Products, Mesa Boogie Custom Amplifier Design Options, Mesa Boogie Products, Photo Galleries

The FIRST Mesa ever built - The Bass 450

The FIRST Mesa ever built – The Bass 450

Ahh… the MESA 450, the first amp I made that wasn’t a rebuilt Fender.  And it was a Bass Amp, for a lovable thug from Oakland named Patrick “Buzz”  Burke, to whom I later gave my half interest in Prune Music.  I designed, silk-screened and etched the printed circuit board that runs the driver and power tubes.  The power supply and preamp sections are built on heavy acrylic boards using eyelets, sort of like the Fender ones, only these eyelets are on ridged material, unlike the “fish paper” of Fender construction.  The front panel is also an example of my early silk-screening:  pretty rudimentary — but getting the job done!

Inside that unique snake-skin cabinet, the circuit is a somewhat modified Dual Showman, using Fender transformers.  As Patrick said, “That amp played at least 5,000 gigs and performed flawlessly until it and the speaker cab were knocked over and his cocktail (a Rusty Nail) spilled inside.” The amp continued to play but started making some noises.  We “hosed it out” and it went back to work for another couple of decades!

It’s truly the first MESA, not a Boogie as that name was reserved for guitar amps– especially the compact high-power 1×12 combos.   And Patrick remains a truly Great Friend today, some 45 years later!  Thanks Buzzy!  Little did we know what you helped start!!

The Mesa Bass 450 in the classic "Snakeskin" Covering and White T-Moulding bumpers

The Mesa Bass 450 in the classic “Snakeskin” Covering and White T-Moulding bumpers

A peek inside the Mesa Bass 450

A peek inside the Mesa Bass 450

The FIRST Mesa ever built - The Bass 450
The FIRST Mesa ever built – The Bass 450

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt November 22, 2013 at 8:15 am

Nice story. And speaking of the Bass Prodigy, I picked up my Four:88 last night. Holy smokes. I wasn’t sure if it would be up there with my 400+ in regards to power, tone and such, but I gotta say: that TONE! I honestly think this amp made me a better player…. Most certainly worth every penny.
Also, great call with the lights; gonna be a sweet feature on stage for a non-rack amp.

I think the only thing that could make it better was if it were wrapped in snake skin…. Maybe I’ll have to customize that cover.

Congrats on a job well done.


Tom Bramhall October 15, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Well, as an owner of a 400 plus I have high expectations for the Prodigy and Strategy. I am inclined towards the Prodigy as ears hurt before the 400 plus gets into really sweet output stage grunge. I think it has enough power to get plenty loud for what I do. It’s weight will be welcome too.


Richard Glenn September 18, 2013 at 10:39 pm

I like your bass amps… I own several of them. I refer often to your website for info on new products. What gives with not listing your newest tube bass amps on the site??? I’m sure you are proud of them…Ahh come on, fess up… lets see ‘em !!!
R. Glenn


Boogie Boogie September 23, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Hi Richard –

Thanks for your inquiry, all the kind words, and thanks for your patience.

Here you go:

Finally, right? It just wasn’t ready to go until this weekend.

Look forward to your thoughts when you have a chance to take one for a test drive.




Jake Langston September 6, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Awesome! I had no idea the first amp was a bass amp. Who would have thought it? Great story!


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