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Mezzabarba 101 – Vintage Sound by Pierangelo Mezzabarba

Since its presentation at the M-Day, a new Mezzabarba’s firm valve head is starting to take its place in the Z series, which had already been filled with the Z18 and Z35.

Unfortunately, this new entrance was only showed at Music Wall in Pizzighettone and consecutively at Second Hand Guitar fair.

Even though there have been few chances to exhibit the new product, it has already gained a little bit of notoriety in this twisted and confusing panorama called musical fair.

Aesthetic features

The head valve displays a clean, elegant and sober design .There is not a single detail that displays a messy or unnecessarily aggressive shape.

It can be compared to a unique work of art, which is minimal and makes it recognizable by its tangent elements.

Its simplicity is what makes it beautiful and it is a great example of functional and modern design.

Technical features

Its design is linear, without frills or addition of modern options and it is built with high quality components. The preamp is formed by three 12AX7 valves and a phase splitter, while the ending part includes a matched quartet of EL34 tubes.

The internal structure is built with electric heaters (Allen Bradley) ,capacitors ( Philips ) named “Tropical Fish” and Mustard. All these components guarantee an excellent sound and durability of the product.

Furthermore, it is also worth mentioning the custom transformers made by Onori, which are the non-plus ultra for efficiency. Some people may have already tried them by using the Skill and Mzero amplifiers. However, in this particular case, they optimized the transformers to achieve a vintage oriented sound that is well displayed by its great equipment.


The valve head is not equipped of many controls, it shows only volume, equalization and a potentiometer of “Brilliance” which controls over mid-high frequency cuts as well as in Z18.But it could be better with the addition of another potentiometer and volume control to manage the gain of the valve head.

The backside of the product has a slave output, a potentiometer and other classical outputs that are very common in a valve head. Unfortunately, its send-return is not so efficient, but in this case is quite normal considering that it was built with classical settings. However, for those who love high quality tech, Mezzabarba’s firm offers the Mzero amplifiers, which can satisfy the needs required.


The high quality of the product can be understood just with the first arrangement. By attaching the valve head to the Fender Lonestar with a Reference cable and a speaker 4×12 made by Mezzabarba, it is possible to manage it through the guitar volume knob and obviously the guitarist’s hand. By doing so, a great clean sound and a lot of headroom are displayed.

The sound created is similar to the one made by Hiwatt dr103 built in 1974. However, although they may look similar, they are slightly different. As matter of fact, it can be said that the ability to reach higher acoustic levels and crunch is what makes the valve head a killing machine. It takes you back in the golden age of rock and roll, where musicians played straight high pitched sounds with no frills.

Its “state of art” is the overdrive. The precision of the latter makes it possible to hear every single instrument at the highest peaks, while the single coil does not create any kind of constrictions, but just clear sounds and with equalization different kind of sound bases can be displayed.

Firstly, the quality of the product was tested during the rehearsal in flat mode, which was played beautifully.

Another very important thing is that the valve head is very dynamic, which is very good for an amp, but to achieve great results, it should be used with confidence by knowing every setting of this device, otherwise it will look terrible on stage.

The addition of the new pentameter during the rehearsal allowed to understand much better the settings of this new product and what it has to offer:

  • Gain 1-3 – At this level, it is displayed a full clean sound. When it has reached the number three on the new potentiometer, the valve head is slightly at a saturation point where it gives a warm enveloping sound, but also a strong and bitter one when needed. As mentioned before, it shows also a very beautiful clean sound and full headroom that can be managed with a single touch.
  • Gain 4-6 – At this point, the rock and roll mode is on. The big and powerful crunch with its harmonies takes you back to the 70s and the dynamic response given by the final valves is the icing on the cake. There is no way to avoid it, this sound is pure rock and roll.
  • Gain 7-10 – This is the sound I love the most. I am still loving it and it will be so until my last breath. This is the sound made by the great music bands, such as Deep Purple, Iron Maiden and AC/DC. The overdrive is fantastic, full of harmonies and it can be felt the unstoppable power of the valves, which are a great asset for a guitarist.

101 Front


It costs 2300 euros , but, to be honest, it is worth every single cent. High quality products are expensive, but the price is not only related to the design of the product, but also to its capacity to achieve excellent acoustic levels.

Pierangelo’s sound made a statement on stages, in recording studios and in every person’s mind who has ever heard or tried the beautiful sound of these valve heads, which last for a long time.


To sum up, it cannot be put a price to a philosophy of life. From the moment the conception of the product was born to its realization, there has been no compromise and it shall never be even when it is about spending a lot of cash for this excellent device. Thus, its price is right.

The valve head can match any other foreign production. It is a fine product, which is realized in mass production and built with impeccable settings. Its costs are in line with other valve heads, such as Mesa Boogie, Marshall, Hiwatt custom shop, Carol Ann and Custom Audio Design.



  • Great dynamic.

  • Excellent sound.


  • Verify that there is an adequate space to obtain a great sound.

  • The lack of Send-Return may be a defect, but it helps with the purpose of its design.


Written By Antonio Cangiano

Translation (ITA-ENG) made by Alba Ciliberti -> For Contact

About Antonio Cangiano

Antonio Cangiano nasce nel 1991 e coltiva l'interessa per la musica e lo strumento in giovane età , comincia gli studi di chitarra subito dopo la maggiore età e coadiuva lo studio dello strumento a quello della costruzione del suono. Dopo aver militato in gruppi di musica rock , pop e per un periodo anche jazz , cosa che gli permette di avere un ventaglio culturale più ampio sia dal punto di vista dell' esecuzione che sulla cura del suono. Comincia nel 2014 l' attività di recensore con ItalianGuitarTube dove ancora oggi cura la rubrica dedicata al Made in italy , dove recensisce qualsiasi tipo di strumento costruito nell' italico stivale gli capiti a tiro , avviando collaborazioni con aziende sparse in tutta Italia.