NAD Mesa Boogie Mark IIB Combo

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Gridlock, Jan 25, 2015.

  1. Gridlock

    Gridlock Member

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    Picked this amp up last Thursday evening and I am guessing that this is a 1982 Mark IIB, it has two 6L6's and two EL34's for power tubes, is Simul-Class at 75 watts (Class A/B) and 15 watts (Class A), has a nice spring reverb, an EVM-12L speaker, blue tolex, and silver grill cloth, and plenty of tonal options which I am still learning.

    In my internet searches, I have not seen another Mark amp with this tolex/grill color combination which appears to be factory (a special order?).

    The amp appears to be all original and is in an 8.5 out of 10 condition. It appears to have been gigged. The amp is very quiet at idle, and I can get sustaining overdrive at lower volumes. The clean channel is nice, different from my Fender amps but still nice. The reverb works good, again different from my Fenders, not as deep and wet but still nice.

    I am still working to get that smooth overdriven sound (Santana like) out of this amp, especially at lower volumes. I am pretty sure this amp will get Santana like smooth overdrive at louder volumes but I have not yet had a chance to try the amp at volume.

    I am also thinking or ordering a full set of four Mesa branded 6L6's and replacing the two EL34's to help round and smooth out the overdrive. The Mesa Users Manual for this amp states that this is an option and I think that the quad o 6L6's will give me a more rounder-smoother overdrive tone.

    I still need to experiment with running at the two wattage's, different ohm's settings (allowable from the manual), and with different guitars. I wish there was more information on this amp on the web and from Mesa.

    Any tone setting suggestions to help me get smoother-sustaining overdriven tones at low to moderate volumes are welcome.

    FYI. With the EVM-12L speaker in the amp, this 1x12 amp weighs more than my 2x12 SF Fender Twin Reverb. The shipping paperwork stated 65 lbs. At least due to its smaller size it is less cumbersome to move as compared to my Twin Reverb.

    Thanks,
    Gridlock

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  2. ProfRhino

    ProfRhino Member

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    Congrats, fantastic amp !
    Even though it might look a bit counterintuitive, try the following for "bedroom Santana" :
    Class A, EL34s will sound great too !
    Dime the mids (!)
    Bass very low
    Treble around noon, maybe a bit higher
    no EQ needed
    due to the extreme boost function of the mid control you will get away with unexpectedly low gain settings
    still, the ultimate Santana smoothness will require the interaction of (very) loud speaker and strings, there is no substitute I'm afraid.
    enjoy your new toy,
    Rhino
     
  3. Heady Jam Fan

    Heady Jam Fan Member

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    Some of the issue will be volume. Its just going to sound fuller, more fluid and smoother at higher volumes. The EV is a great speaker for the amp; sometimes it sounds smooth, other times the unusually extended frequency range for necessity of guitar signal can cause issues. At the top-end, there is just a bit too much (for me), which can leave some extra fizz or sizzle. At the bottom end, your overlapping the bass player's frequency range a bit. I'm using a Steamboat Hemp 100 (with my Mark III), which compliments the amp extremely well - very similar to a Mesa C90, but the hemp is a bit smoother and it handles a bit more wattage.

    I converted my combo to a Head and Extension because of the weight. Greg from Coastline Amps made my head cabinet. I also have a makeshift one I'm not using (made from a Mark II combo cab).

    PS - as far as dirt pedals... I use Tubescreamers (with a Ross Comp) for a Jam Band sound. With my old Rat (with the treble dialed out on the filter knob, using my bridge pickup and the bass cranked up on the amp) I can nail Scofield. The lead channel itself will do Santana, but I expect at low volumes your using more overdrive, while he got his sustain more from just volume itself. Also, the room will play a big role in the sound your getting. I get the most consistency possible from venue to venue (when I gig or practice) by putting my amp/speaker on top of my Pedal Train Hard Case. It lifts the amp off the floor a bit so there are bright reflections or the low-end coupling with hardwood floors, it seems to absorbs a lot of vibrations, it lifts the amp just slightly higher - not so much that its too trebly like putting the amp on a chair or tilting it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2015
  4. jujube

    jujube Member

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    Best way is with pedals or attenuation with an Aracom or Fryette Powerstation. Hard to get a full bodied tone without putting the master at gig volume atleast.
     
  5. DRS

    DRS Member

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    I've often thought about one of these. The Mark IIBs come up here quite often for reasonable money. I've always been frightened off by the fact that they need to be loud to sound good.
     
  6. Gridlock

    Gridlock Member

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    Rhino, The wife just stepped out so the Les Paul and Mark are getting setup to test your settings. Thanks
     
  7. Gridlock

    Gridlock Member

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    Thanks guys. I appreciate our help.

    Any thoughts on running this amp at 4 ohms or swapping out the EL34's with 6L6's?
     
  8. ProfRhino

    ProfRhino Member

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    Personally I prefer the mix, but both variants sound great.
    Just experiment, use matched pairs, no need for biasing anyway.
    The amp will officially accept a 50% mismatch, in fact I have never seen a Mk Boogie break out in sweat over impedance, just make sure you always have some load attached.

    How did the soundcheck go ?
    Found a nice clip btw, using just that mid-heavy approach I described :
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xhQsK-e65s
    Works just fine with a Mk II ime.
    cheers,
    Rhino
     
  9. Fishyfishfish

    Fishyfishfish Member

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    I would try a stout set of 6l6, my III burns then up like crazy when I did a swap-never put a meter on but it only took about three minutes to vaporize them. My favorite starting settings are gain 7 treb 7 bass 0 mids 5 presence 3, lead 7 and volume to taste. A lot of people don't realize that even though they can sound great at lower volumes these things are designed to be opened up to a gig volume to sound optimal.
     
  10. jads57

    jads57 Supporting Member

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    I've owned a couple of these(100 watt versions) and they were slightly different from one another. One had no reverb and a Clean tone that was spectacular! The other had a better lead mid tone and not as great clean tone. The effects loop in these were upgraded as the years went on. The key to all Mesa Boogies but especially Mk series is to run the pre volume as high as possible and still get a clean tone you like. Also the treble and shift are really important in the overall tone shaping. Best of luck!
     
  11. amstrtatnut

    amstrtatnut Member

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    I was not aware they could run in el34s. I would contact mesa and ask. I thought it was a 6l6 amp. My mk2c was.
     
  12. Gridlock

    Gridlock Member

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    Rhino,

    The amp passed the test. I love it. I tried the amp with a Strat, a Tele, and a Les Paul. The amp sounded great with each. I also used a Wampler Black 65, a Catalinbread RAH, and a Hermida Zen Drive. All pedals sounded great. I was able to get good clean and overdriven tones at both low and higher volumes. I tried your low volume Santana settings and it worked well but I was not sure what push/pull knobs needed to be pulled using the lead channel.

    Thanks again.
     
  13. Gridlock

    Gridlock Member

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    From what I have read the EL34 (outside 2) and 6L6 (inner two) power tubes are the stock configuration with the Simul-Class option.
     
  14. Gridlock

    Gridlock Member

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    FYI, the amp was manufactured in April of 1982. I found markings on the underside of the chassis. Very cool the history of these hand made in the USA amps. I'll contact Mesa in a week or two to get more details on the amp.

    Thanks all. Great feed back on this forum.
    Thanks again.
    Grid
     
  15. ProfRhino

    ProfRhino Member

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    Great to hear that, though not too surprising. ;)
    Keep in mind that channel switching is not the biggest strength of the Mk II, but they really shine when set up for a single tone without compromise.
    The best cleans would be found with mostly opposite settings - almost no mids, bass around 9o'clock, so you get the picture.
    The most powerful switches are bright (for Fender style cleans etc) and treble shift (for a more compressed lead voice), but I would not use any in the example above, ymmv.
    Takes a while to "learn" these amps, they are a bit less than intuitive, but they sure can sound fantastic in the right hands.
    have fun,
    Rhino
     
  16. Gridlock

    Gridlock Member

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    Thanks Rhino. You have been a great help. I hope to get some more time next weekend to try and learn this amp. Really impressed so far and I can't say that about a few or my more recent amp purchases and returns.

    Thanks again.
     
  17. ProfRhino

    ProfRhino Member

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    You're welcome !
    In case of any further questions I'll be happy to offer an opinion, been around Mk Boogies ever since the '80s, still have and use the classic Studio/Quad/295 19" rig, which is like a "best of Mk 2&3", so very similar to your own amp.
    cheers,
    Rhino
     
  18. alberob

    alberob Member

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    Was the Simul-class done after the fact? I have a Mark IIB from 1980 and that was not an available option at the time.
     
  19. C-4

    C-4 Member

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    I had a MKII B loaded head in solid wood and a matching 1x12 Boogie cab with an EV-12L. That speaker was the benchmark back when the amp was new.

    I played Boogies for 18 years starting with a pair of MKII A's, loaded and got each new model up to and including the MK III A. The MK IIB was the best one imho.

    I ordered mine with 2 EL34's and 26L6's and kept it that way. After the MK IIIA, I found them just too difficult to get each channel set up the way I wanted without turning a dial on one channel and having it affect the other channel. The MK II C+ I had was the same way. The MK IIB was the easiest to set up and get great tone from.
     
  20. lutelover

    lutelover Member

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    Congratulations, Gridlock, on your new Boogie. I sincerely hope you are enjoying it. I had a couple of thoughts to add to the discussion that may be of assistance; at least they will affirm a couple things fellow Mesa owners above have mentioned. First, I owned a very early Mesa IIB, made right at the transition point between the IIAs and IIBs. Though other psychological factors (memory, the second great amp I owned, etc.) may be clouding my recollections, the IIB I owned was the best Mesa I owned of any Mesa amp I owned. Those included the Mesa III, Mesa IV, Triaxis, and, now, a IIC modded to a IIC+ by Mr. Bendenelli some years ago. That IIB had a big, bold clean sound -- just great -- and an overdrive that roared while keeping the core sound solid.

    As a couple folks have noted above, I found it impossible to dial in a good "clean channel" sound while having the right ingredients for the "overdrive channel." However, as someone noted above, if you wanted to dial in a single, great sound, the sky was the limit. (The other Mesas I owned did not have the bold sound the IIB had, with the possible exception of the Mark III; everything else was just "too soft.") That sound was fabulous.

    If you are feeling any dissatisfaction with the amp, I would suggest 1) purchasing a high quality attenuator, such as the Aracom. My experience was the same as the poster above who said that the Master Volume really needs to be at "big stage volumes" to raise the circuit to its full tonal potential. With my Aracom, the sustain, as well as the ability to dial in the (single) tone one dreams of, is optimal. Second, though I am not currently utilizing my IIC+ in my current gig, I would commend to you a very high quality parametric equalizer, such as the Empress ParaEQ -- a switchable unit with clean gain, too -- that will help you dial in the nuances you may be missing, even with the built-in Mesa EQ. Beyond that, remember that, when utilizing the Mesa in a studio situation, the capability of fine-tuning the tone of the amp is nearly limitless! So, don't sell the amp just because it might not offer you what you need in the studio! At that point, the ability to fine tune your tone, utilizing the Boogie, is vast, and most satisfying.

    Best,

    Doug
     

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