I was playing last week and something odd happened to my rig. I generally work through a Mesa Boogie Lone Star Special. This is a wonderful sounding amplifier with a lot of great features including one that I use a lot: solo mode. Solo mode is engaged through a two-button foot switch. One of the buttons triggers the first and second channels of the amp and the other button adds a boost to output of the currently selected channel. Very handy in live sound situations where you want the solo to cut through. I trust sound engineers but sometimes they do not always react in time for the start of a solo line.

Last week the solo mode would not engage. Of course I followed the usual routine: press button, no solo mode, press button, no solo mode, press button, no solo mode. I lost count of the number of times I repeatedly pressed the button. What could be wrong?

Troubleshooting on stage is not very productive so I waited until I got the amp home. I have found over the years that the best way to troubleshoot is to deal with the basics first. And so I focused on the foot switch and the cable that connects the footswitch to the amp. Fortunately, I began with the cable. A very basic Tip-Ring-Sleeve cable. The continuity meter showed green on Tip and Sleeve but no joy on Ring.

I removed the jacket to take a closer look and sure enough the contact to Ring had separated. Likely due to a cold solder. I stripped the wire and resoldered the contact.

Everything works. I can solo again.

4 replies
  1. Matthew
    Matthew says:

    Hi Richard,

    I’m curious as to why you chose the Mesa Boogie Lonestar. I’m looking to get a Tube amp in the near future (one that won’t break the bank). Are there pro’s and con’s to the LoneStar, say over a Fender Twin, Peavey Valveking etc?

    Are there any low (lower?) cost tubes amps you recommend?

  2. Richard Cleaver
    Richard Cleaver says:

    I own a fair number of tube amps, all combos, from Fender and Mesa Boogie. Models like the Super Champ, Deluxe Reverb, Hot Rod Deluxe and the Lone Star Special.

    To my ear the Lone Star Special has a wonderful tone and I get great response from the amp.

    What might work for me as a player in terms of tone and response may not work for you. There are lots of great choices in tube amps from Vox, Mesa Boogie, Fender, Koch. Check out the choices for yourself and see what works well for you. Most guitar shops will let you take an amp for a test drive.

    Good luck and have fun!

  3. Matthew
    Matthew says:

    Thanks Richard,

    Right now I have a Line 6 Spider III modeling amp. When I was getting started, I was drawn to the flexibility of the amp, and the ability to dial-in sounds without needing pedals etc. For the price it was a great deal.

    I’m now at the point, where i’m realizing the limitations of a solid state amp in terms of tone. I have a 2008 Fender American Standard HSS Strat, and a Godin LG with EMG 81/85 pickups. the Line 6 is great for the Godin, but I don’t think it’s doing my Strat justice.

    Oh ya… and I forgot: Convincing the wife I need *another* amp is the hardest part 🙂

  4. John S
    John S says:

    Mesa Boogie Amps are definitely a step up from the Spider. However the lonestar defnitely has a more bluesy feel to it, so I would definitely check out their entire line before making a decision. This of course depending on the style of music that you play.


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