Mesa Boogie Mark I Reissue Quality

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Ardis, May 18, 2006.


  1. Ardis

    Ardis Member

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    Does anyone have experience with both the original Mark I and the Reissue? I understand that the Reissue isn't exactly like the originals in that it has some features (Tweed switch, Effects Loop) that the originals didn't have, but do you know if the build-, cabinet-, and component-quality is the same as the old Mark series amps?
     
  2. Stormin

    Stormin Supporting Member

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    I have a '95? reissue 1x12. I have gigged it twice a week, every week since about '96 or so. Two words - BRICK SHITHOUSE - you couldn't kill this amp if you tried. It's just been that solid and reliable - still running with the original tubes. If you dig what it does tonally, you can do no wrong.

    ...Stormin!
     
  3. Ardis

    Ardis Member

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    Cool. Just what I wanted to hear. Thanks for the input, Stormin.
     
  4. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    I'll second that. I've been using mine constantly in professional situations since '92 and it's never had any issues at all. I get it checked out and retubed about once every two years. I wish they made cars that lasted like this.
     
  5. myles111

    myles111 Member

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    You have to remember, the original Mesa amps (once they went into production) were circuit board amps as are the reissues. I find the amps to be very comperable to each other from each era. They tend to be very reliable and are generally quite overbiased, which means they run very cool and output tubes last for years.

    Keep an eye on the screws inside as in this small high powered combo things can get loose fast at higher levels. Unless they changed things, the output transformer is fastened with self tapping sheet metal screws without nuts so if you gig a lot, pull the chassis at least twice a year and retighten everything.
     
  6. HHB

    HHB Member

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    I have gigged a MKI reissue head for the last 6 years at least twice a week, I second the brick shithouse description, I picked up Mesa head #264 w/ EQ and verb ( it's gotta be 78 or earlier ) the build quality looks to be exact aside form the couple of new features they look and feel identical , the old one sounds a little greasier on the OD , true magic going on there but the EQ on the original makes it an unfair comparison, I love my reissue and would get another if something happened to it, I'm keeping the old one home so thats how nice the reissue is
     
  7. Ardis

    Ardis Member

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    This is all great info. Thanks, guys.
     
  8. Joe Boy

    Joe Boy Member

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    I've had a few Mesa's over the years...Blue Angle, Mark III, borrowed an Mark IV, but the Mark I that I now own is by far my favorite amp.

    Everything and then some. Stong little giant killer and road warrior. Fits in the back seat or hatchback, nice load out but a bit heavy. So I bought one of those fold flat dollies at Home Depot. I've had "zero problems" with mine as well and gig it every week solid for three years now, in the four years I've played mine.

    I needed an amp that had a blackface clean channel and the Boogie does it great. The casscading gain is awesome, and makes a very flexable lead channel. With the tweed switch and effects loop, tube switching capability from 6L6's to el34's. I feel that really is something extra under the hood for about a grand. The factory set up is just fine and I always use Mesa tubes.
    Plus the people at customer service are fabulous.

    Fits my needs tone wise. Rock, jazz, country, it's all in there.
    And of course the Carlos Latin Fusion Boogie lead sustain, or whatever ya want to call it.

    Carlton, Keith, Ford, and now me..

    Great solid tonefull classic. I can't say enough about this little monster.
    I love it!
     
  9. shakti

    shakti Member

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    As far as build quality, the reissues are great, nothing to fault there.

    Tonewise, though, I think they have a bit to go to catch up to the originals. I went through different speakers and NOS tubes with my RI before finally giving in and getting an original, which was obviously what I should havew done fro the start. Mind you, I was after Carlos Santana's tone circa '73-'74, but I find the original to be quite noticeably superior in tone. Muuch, much more clairty and liquid sustain. Actually a tiny bit brighter, which surprised me, but if you play it right, it doesn't matter. The RI has quite a bit more gain, and really sounds very congested by comparison. The original is much more touch-sensitive and responsive, has much better clean tone (I don't really think the reissue amp's clean sounds very blackface, but the original does), and a *vastly* superior reverb. The RI is, circuitwise, actually quite different.

    All in all, the RI is a really good amp, well built, but needs some work to reach its full potential. And even then, the original clearly beats it, IMHO. Just my advice if you're serious about the *original* MK I sound. But then again, this is based only on comparing *my* late-97 RI with *my* '76 original.
     
  10. shakti

    shakti Member

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    One more thing, the original has to be turned up *loud* to where it sounds as full as it should. That's where the real magic starts. The RI seems to have been tweaked for more of a high gain sound at lower levels, which I guess is where the congestion comes from.
     
  11. Ayan

    Ayan Member

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    You're right, and the reason is simple: the original amp design is different. Subtle differences, but they go a long ways towards making the amp as you described. If you go to: http://www.schematicheaven.com/mesaboogie.htm you can find schematics of the original Mark I, as well as schematics of the Reissue (hand drawn by me, many years ago). Compare the two and you will see where the changes are. It would take little time to change a Reissue into something closer to the original.

    Cheers,

    Gil
     
  12. HHB

    HHB Member

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    I've heard this before and the OD is better on the original, I may be different as I use the amps clean into the second input and run pedals, I use them live like BF fenders
     
  13. Keld

    Keld Member

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    The reissues lack the pull boost that the originals had. This might not be a big issue for some people, but I loved that feature before I stupidly sold my old Mk1 in search of more channels.

    Sigh. Now, 7 or 8 years later I'm back to a single channel amp again.

    Also, mine had a stereo 1/4 female plug under the chassis that allowed you to control the boost and reverb with a footswitch, though of course that's a feature rather than a tonal issue.
     
  14. HHB

    HHB Member

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    my original head does not have a pull boost, it has a boost /normal switch
     
  15. AlexF

    AlexF Member

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    Mine was built super strong, it was super loud, it was also the worst sounding expensive amp I've ever owned. Hard and unforgiving.
    Al
     
  16. Bruce

    Bruce Member

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    I've used and gigged with Mesa Boogies for years and never had a problem with them. I even dropped my Mark IV (in a road case) off the back of the tailgate of my truck at a gig once due to way too many beers. I forgot about it and remembered the next night right before a gig. I turned the amp on and it worked flawlessly. Didn't even hurt the tubes. I currently own 2 Mark I reissues and have a Lonestar 4X10 on order. I've had many of the boutique amps and I still go back to Boogies. That being said, Boogies sound like Boogies. They don't sound like any other amp. They're not trying to clone some other make like many of the boutique builders are trying to do. Some people say they sound bad or harsh but the reality is that they don't know how to set them up. I use to have a Bruno Cowtipper 90W and I ran it through a 2-12 EV speaker cabinet. One day I tried running the output of my Mark I through the cabinet and with a little tweeking I couldn't even tell the difference, except for the reverb. Get a good reverb unit. Reverb is the only thing lacking on the Mark I. Boogie has never been know for having great reverb except for the Trem-O-Verb and now they finally have the best spring reverb I've heard in the new Lonestar.

    They have the funds to do tons of R & D, come out with new products, have great customer support and aren't going to go out of business. It takes about 4 to 8 weeks to order a Mark I unless you can find one used or in a store as they only make about 20 of them a year. If you love the sound (and I do) go for it, you can't go wrong.
     
  17. radcliff

    radcliff Member

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    I've got a reissue from the late 90s and it is built very tough
    I thought I'd never sell it but have found I need more sound dispersion and less midrange, and it is HEAVY
     
  18. Ardis

    Ardis Member

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    For those of use who can't read a schematic, can you say in word or two what these differences mean in terms of tone?

    Many thanks for your comments.
     
  19. Keld

    Keld Member

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    Oops, well mine had the pull boost on vol. 2 iirc, and a pull bright on the other volume.

    Good stuff, wish I still had it.
     
  20. Ayan

    Ayan Member

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    Boogie built more gain into the reissue, and that's where they went wrong IMHO. The changes are basically a higher signal level at the reverb mixer return stage, a horrible reverb on the reissue (can be fixed to work great on both channels, though), the FX loop on the reissue, and the ditching of the presence control. What the reissue has, which IS labeled presence, is actually a treble gate style tone control (which works like that of a guitar) located at the master volume. The original had a traditional presence control, which works removing the negative feedback loop of the power amp at higher frequencies.

    The added gain I'm referring to makes the reissue incable of getting a "pristine clean" sound on the clean channel, even if you set the volume 2 way low. Put that side by side with a Fender Twin and you will hear what I am trying to describe. The original, as already pointed out on this thread, had a very Blackface-like clean tone.

    Also, the added gain forced Boogie to make the reissue "darker" sounding. So it's very creamy all right, but it doesn't cut through like an original. Once again, small changes here and there can restore the chime in the top end without making the amp sound harsher.

    Quality-wise, I believe Mesa makes a decent product. For the price, a modified Mark I reissue is a very good amp. Older amps seemed to have beefier PCBs than new ones, but if one thinks about it, an original Mark I 100W cost almost the same new back in 1975 as a reissue costs 30 years later, so they probably have been forced to cut costs to make this happen.

    Cheers,

    Gil
     

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