Mesa Mark IV - What to pay and is it right for me?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by diegs, Jan 28, 2006.


  1. diegs

    diegs Member

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    Hey all,

    Right now I'm keen on getting a Mark IV. I played a gorgeous blonde one at GC briefly when I was shopping for my PRS last year. It sounded beautiful, and that was before I really even learned about tone. I just plugged it in, set the knobs to 12:00, and played. Amazing.

    I read the great thread on "favorite mesa amps" and I think there are a few good ones that will fit my needs, but the Mark IV just seems like the "ultimate." I know I need to go test it out, but I wanted to get some opinions first. Here is my consolidated list of needs:

    1. Would like to be able to play in my dorm room, but also need to be versatile enough to play impromptu gigs without micing. Am willing to get a air break if need be.
    2. Like a small sized combo. Weight is not such a big factor.
    3. I play jazz, classic rock, modern rock (i.e., Incubus), and blues.
    4. I like the three channels.
    5. I like to keep it simple in terms of number of gear items. In other words, I have one guitar, and I just want to plug it into one amp, I'm not about having tons of effects...

    Am I on the right track? How much does one go for used? I was also considering the DC-5, F-50, Rect-o-verb, and Tremoverb. I really gotta find a store that carries the full Mesa lineup. And who knows, maybe Mesas aren't even right for me...
     
  2. edwinhong

    edwinhong Member

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    I thing it better off getting amp with power control maybe line6 or vox etc... to be more flexable.
    mark4 is great amp but even you power down to 25w I don't about you play in your room & still get the good tone.
    I was like you looking for amp like that.
     
  3. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

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    <<And who knows, maybe Mesas aren't even right for me...>>

    This is a question you might want to solve before you spend big bucks for an amp. Mesas tend to have a very specific thing going on-warm clean tone with good sustain, slightly harsh crunch, modernish scooped mid tone leads. There are exceptions (like the Blue Angel) but that's the general tone. There're lots of people with really good ears here who like them, and others like me who don't (in spite of having owned 6 or 7 different ones over the years). The Mk IV has a couple of strikes against it: complexity, weight, and the fact that's it's very hard to dial in 3 good sounds with the same settings. It also likes to be quite loud before it sounds good-making life tough in the dorm room department (an airbrake helps but doesn't completely eliminate the fact that it's loud). I think your best bet is to borrow one or buy it with the right to return it, try before you commit long term!
     
  4. Troubleman

    Troubleman Silver Supporting Member

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    I have one sitting in its flight case at my mom's house, doubling as an end-table. It's been there for over a year. I can't lift the bloody thing. Do be aware - they weigh a metric ton. That said, they're decent at very low volume (probably mostly preamp tone) and at very high volume as well. It's that in-between/most-clubs-short-of-an-arena-stage volume that's the problem. Not bad mind you, just sort of indescript. If you use a pedal (Xotic BB come to mind; mine absolutely loves a Barber Burn Unit) in front of it, you can get over that obstacle. It has reverb, but it's not "deep" reverb - no Dick Dale/surf music dripping wet sounds, just decent reverb. I used to gig with the amp a great deal. Once set up properly (there are more controls on the back panel of a MkIV than on most amps entirely), it is possible to switch from channel to channel seamlessly. Once I had it tweaked for my old band's sounds, I varied the volume knob and nothing else (i also used a tc electronics sustain+ parametric eq pedal in the front end). It is definitely a swiss-army knife amp. You can get a decent tone for just about every situation if you have the right guitar. It's not Roland JC-120 clean, but it will do the Fender Twin Reverb clean pretty well. If you crank up the lead channel and use the onboard EQ, it'll do sick modern rock tones as well. One other caveot - you'll need the Theile-ported 1x12 EV ext cab if you're just using the 1x12 MkIV; the bottom end can get flubby. If you're thinking of the MkIV head, nevermind that comment.

    Hope that helps.

    Peace,

    jb
     
  5. GTRJoe

    GTRJoe Supporting Member

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    I'm a long time Mesa MK III user. I love 'em, but there are not for everyone. It is very important that you have access to the manual of a MK IV. The MK IV has a lot of options, without the manual you'll waste a lot of time trying to figure out what everything does. If the store doesn't have one download it off the Mesa site take it with you and give the amp a good work out.
    The DC 5 is also worth checking out. It's 2 channels and a lot simplier than the MK IV, but a very nice sounding amp. I particularly liked the DC 5 wide body combo. Either of these amps should work for you. It just depends on how simple or complex you want it keep things.
     
  6. Badger71

    Badger71 Member

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    15-80 watts, decent global volume, 3 master volumes, ability to swap out end power tubes for EL34s or 5881s, 6v6s as an option in all four slots, 5 band eq, and a ton of voicing options....good god man! I love mine....plays great loud and plays great soft....just write down your settings once you find them and you'll be ok.:AOK
     
  7. brianf

    brianf Member

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    I have three Mesa's. Roadking head, Mark IV Head and LSS 1 x 12.

    The Mark IV will do all you suggest. Contrary to what a previous poster said IMO it shines at low volumes as well. I've been on mine for about 3 hours today 2 hours cranked and then about an hour at low volume as my son was studing for exams.

    Go to Mesa's web site and print off the owners manual and learn the key features. Then the next time you go to test one you won't waste a ton of time figuring it out.

    The sample settings they show are also a great place to start.

    Don't get overwelmed by the front layout and all the knobs that pull out. They very quickly become second nature.

    brianf
     
  8. starvingartist

    starvingartist Supporting Member

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    Mark IV is one of the few tube amps that do sound pretty good at low volume.
     
  9. overture2005

    overture2005 Member

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    If I were you, I'd go for a DC.
    I own a mark4, but I'm not really into it now.
     
  10. LavaMan

    LavaMan Gold Supporting Member

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    I love my Mark IV and one will work for you! Yes, they do weigh a little more, but once you dial them in the way you like them they are absolutley outstanding. I have have played 100's of gigs with two different Mark IV's and they never let me down.
     
  11. LSchefman

    LSchefman Supporting Member

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    Mesa amps are sometimes underrated around here, but IMHO they are a bargain.

    Lots of wonderful records are cut with Mesas every day.

    I have owned a Tremoverb since 1992 or whenever they first came out, and it records well, sounds good, and my son gigs with it often with his emo-punk band and hasn't hurt it.

    Even though I'm a Two-Rock fan and player, I have a lot of respect for Mesa.
     
  12. GenoBluzGtr

    GenoBluzGtr Supporting Member

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    Here's my $0.02...

    I am a long time Fender guy. Blackface and Tweed. Love em all. I have been gigging for about a year with a MK IV combo. It does it all, pretty much. It's a great clean (doesn't quite match my Super Reverb, but close) and a wonderful Channel 2, which gives off everything from a "pushed" clean (ala SRV) to solid classic rock crunch. The "Lead" channel is darker and tighter and can really get into Santana and harder rock stuff.

    I believe that the Mark IV is likely one of the most flexible amps built today. You have 18 knobs on the front, 6 of them are push-pull with dual functions. There are two voicing modes for the lead channel, a master volume that doubles as a silencing switch for recording out. There is a powerful 5 band EQ that can be used with any or all channels or controlled by the footswitch.

    On the rear panel, there are mode switches that allow you to configure the amp in various ways. Pentode/Triode and Class A/Simul Class rockers can set up for 35 watt, 50 watt, 70 watt, or 85 watt operation. The power switch can be set to full or "tweed" power (lowers input voltage to 96 volts for a "saggier" feel and slightly reduced volume). A programmable FX loop that can be controlled from the footswitch or programmed to come on with any or all or any combination of your channels automatically.

    THere are jacks for hooking up the amp to a system via midi-controller. Reverb Control, FX Loop mix controls, Record Out Level, Slave Out Level (if you run an extension cab) and manual channel selector for use without the Footswitch.

    You can run 6L6s, EL34s, 5881s, or 6V6s. In SImul CLass all 4 operate, and in "Class A" only two (this is one way it changes the output wattage). I think if you run 6V6s, the wattages are actually about 25 and 50 watts (Triode and Pentode) since you MUST run in Simul Class with the 6V6s.

    The Footswitch controlls switching between the 3 channels, it has one button dedicated to "Lead Channel + EQ", a dedicated "EQ" button and an FX Loop button.

    The footswitch stores in the back of the amp so it never HAS to be disconnected (you can, but why?) and in such a way that it protects the power tubes in transit.

    It can get Tweed-ish and Blackface-ish cleans. IT can nail Marshall, Tweed Grind, and other higher gain stuff. It's presence and punch are legendary. The Widebody 1X12 I have sounds bigger than any 2X12 I have ever heard. It sounds good at low volumes. It sounds like HEAVEN at higher volumes. It works great with a Hotplate to get the best of both.

    It's built like a HumVee, and solid as a cinder block (and heavier). If you use Mesa power Tubes you NEVER have to BIAS it... EVER.

    Now... that said, I am back to using my Super Reverb lately, but still switch back and forth often. If not for the weight. I doubt I would ever use another amp. The weight is the one reason that I would likely sell it.

    Other negatives... no Reverb On/Off. Its always "on", but you can turn the control to Zero; Channel One and Two share the Bass and Mid EQ controls. This limits your options a little; The EQ can be programmed to come on automatically for Channel two or for all channels (not programmable for Ch 1 or 3, but you can use the "Lead+EQ" button to use it with Ch 3); and did I mention the weight?... It's about 70Lbs for my Wide Body Combo. 5 lbs heavier than my 4X12 Super Reverb. The Back Panel is stronger and thicker than the top of my Super Reverb Cab.

    Alot of pros use them (Ana Popovich, Walter Trout, those guys in Metallica, etc...) and most studios have one in the inventory because of the tonal flexibility. Most users find the heads more flexible. The MK IV is super responsive to different Speaker Cab Confiqs...this just multiplies the sonic flexibility.

    I believe they are going for around $1000 - $1500 used, depending on the year and condition. You can pick up a head for a little less, but not much.

    New they are running about $1900, and dealers are NOT ALLOWED to discount them one penny. They will lose their distributorship if they do. THe Boogie price list is gospel.
     
  13. diegs

    diegs Member

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    Wow, thanks for all the fantastic replies. Great advice and very helpful! I will definitely try to get some quality time on a Mark IV as soon as possible.
     
  14. brianf

    brianf Member

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    That is the official word. It's against the law too. I bought 3 new Mesa's in the last 12 months. On the higher priced stuff you can usually get 400.00 to 500.00 without much arm twisting at all. Specially if it is a shop where they know you.


    brianf
     
  15. templar

    templar Member

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    Buy used for the best price. I bought one when they first came out, and sold it later like an idiot. I'm on my second one now. Had it 5 yrs now. These things are built so well. Unless they are abused you won't have any major problems as long as you use a little common amp sense and take care of it. Keep good power tubes in it. I have an SLO-100 I like alot too, but it's a different animal. I'm always glad I have my MKIV. I can't see ever getting rid of it. I really like Mesa customer service. Sometimes they can be a little slow, but it's not a big company at all for all the stuff they make. Tien Lawrence is the man at Mesa.
     
  16. shinebox

    shinebox Member

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    I love mine (wide body combo) been gigging with it for years.Its a nice versatile good sounding amp that should cover most bar-band type of gigs with no problem.
     

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