New(-ish) Mesa Mark V

Endless Mike

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My wife bought a Mark V for me at an estate sale, of all things. It was to make up for an amp that was lost (Genz Benz Black Pearl 30 1x12) in a weird tale best not gone into. She said it was to make amends. Some amends! I've never been a Mesa fan, though. I liked the Lone Star and the Transatlantic was pretty good. I've owned an F-50 (I think that was it, but that sounds like a truck), a DC-10, a Mark IIc and a couple of others I can recall. Sold everyone of them. Just couldn't dial them in.

So the deal with this amp is it's almost brand new. I don't think the previous owner used it much, if at all. It still had a "Made in America" sticker on top of it when we brought it home. It's in *dead mint* condition. Not a single flaw, scratch, ding or anything. So I expect the speaker hasn't even been broken in. which leads me to a few questions -

It takes quite along time for a speaker to break in. I know that from experience. So I assume I'm not hearing this amp at its best yet. Is that correct?

What's the scoop on the Mesa Black Shadow speakers? Are they comparable to classic American speakers, such as are/were found in the black/silverface amps many of us love so well?

What about these tubes? I have read quite a bit about people playing around with what's in V1, as well as 12AT7s in V6 and also V4, saying it really takes a great amp and makes it better. Also, this one came with 6L6's. What might I expect if I try a pair of EL34, thanks to the bias switch on the back?

Anyone who has thoughts on their experience dialing this amp in, I'm all ears. I do like this amp, it sounds quite good. But I think I'm not adept at dialing in Boogie amps. Fender, or the Rivera amps I've used for years, no problem, I know those amps and can make them work for me. But I'm still very much in the process of learning how to make this bugger work its best. I have read the manual (seventy pages!) and continue to revisit it. But while the manual states that the gain and treble are the key to making these amps work, the manual never really states exactly what the gain does exactly, specifically or precisely. The description is very general, much more is said about what the treble control does, in terms of overall performance. Sure, the amp breaks up more as you crank the gain, but what else? How does it affect attack, compression and the other things the manual goes on about? Especially with regards to channel one (clean)

Anyway, it's a monster amp, and I'm keeping it. A gesture of love like that, you can't just shrug that off, but as well, it's a really cool amp, I can tell I just haven't figured out how to get the most out of it. So that's why I'm posting this, as well as just hearing from others about their experience with the Mark V.
 

Neptical

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Congrats! What a find at an estate sale.lol

I have no experience with the Mark V, but always wanted to check one out. I own two SimulClass Mark III heads that I run with an old metal grill 2x12 Boogie half back with EVs. It's a glorious sound! As per your experience as well, they are very fidgety at keeping them dialed in. I always wondered if the Mark V was the same way.

Anyways, enjoy your new beast!
 

Endless Mike

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Congrats! What a find at an estate sale.lol

I have no experience with the Mark V, but always wanted to check one out. I own two SimulClass Mark III heads that I run with an old metal grill 2x12 Boogie half back with EVs. It's a glorious sound! As per your experience as well, they are very fidgety at keeping them dialed in. I always wondered if the Mark V was the same way.

Anyways, enjoy your new beast!
Thanks! This one isn't as persnickety as previous Mesa amps I've owned. Or I've gotten better, but I think it's the former. Especially the clean channel. That one wasn't too hard, but I sense there's more lurking there that hasn't been revealed.

I wonder what the rationale is behind making such tweaky amps.
 

Lone_Poor_Boy

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Thanks! This one isn't as persnickety as previous Mesa amps I've owned. Or I've gotten better, but I think it's the former. Especially the clean channel. That one wasn't too hard, but I sense there's more lurking there that hasn't been revealed.

I wonder what the rationale is behind making such tweaky amps.

They give you a lot of options, and you pay for them, but you have to know what you want to hear in the end, and accept all channels will not play well together, with some of the more modern ones.

My 1992 Mark IV is the perfect Boogie to me. I never had issues tweaking it or dialing it in. I just knew the sound I wanted from my Strat, played a bit and had it. That Mark IV just works so well together across Channels 1, 2 and 3.

I think they've gone a little nuts with all the options though. I also have a Mark V; Mark Five: 25, and Recto-Verb 25. I find the different selectable amp types jump me around too much, where I can't find those 3, or even 2, perfect channels to work together.

None of them satisfy me like the Mark IV.
 

Tim S

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They give you a lot of options, and you pay for them, but you have to know what you want to hear in the end, and accept all channels will not play well together, with some of the more modern ones..
That may be true for many people, but not for me. I don’t approach my Mesa amps with a set sound in my head. Instead, I’ll play with the controls and see what the amp offers in return. “What can I do with this? Which guitar best pairs up with this sound?”

Some people like an amp with very few controls and learn to make the most of it. I think that’s the approach I use with my Mesas —except there are enough permutations to keep me exploring well into my retirement. :)

@Endless Mike , Congrats n the Mark V! It was a bucket list amp for me. Since mine in still in warranty, I’m not tube rolling since using non-Mesa tubes voids the warranty. The only tube change I do to my Mesas is change the first gain stage tube to a SPAX7 to drop the noise floor. If I can provide any advice it’s “Read the manual — twice” and besides the “hows” everyone looks for, check out the “whys” (which may involve some supplemental Internet searching)
 
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arlum

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Mesa's Black Shadow 12" models are actually Marshall Classic Lead 80's that have been modded to handle 10 more watts and add a slight increase in the bass frequencies. I consider Mark IIC+, Mark III "Blue stripe", and Mark V to be the finest amps Mesa Boogies ever made. I've owned their Mark III head, Mark V head, F-30 combo and F-100 head played through a 4 X 12" Marshall cab loaded with vintage 30's. My number one amp for many years was the Mark III "blue stripe", (with all available options), head into the same Marshall 4 X 12" already mentioned. I really loved the amp tones produced and the over all look / impression of the large box Mesa head sitting atop the Marshall 4 X 12" cab. Having a back line made up of both large labelled brand names was an image I liked being a part of. It was part of a signature "me" thing I had going. Kind of silly in retrospect but I loved it at the time.
 

Endless Mike

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They give you a lot of options, and you pay for them, but you have to know what you want to hear in the end, and accept all channels will not play well together, with some of the more modern ones.

My 1992 Mark IV is the perfect Boogie to me. I never had issues tweaking it or dialing it in. I just knew the sound I wanted from my Strat, played a bit and had it. That Mark IV just works so well together across Channels 1, 2 and 3.

I think they've gone a little nuts with all the options though. I also have a Mark V; Mark Five: 25, and Recto-Verb 25. I find the different selectable amp types jump me around too much, where I can't find those 3, or even 2, perfect channels to work together.

None of them satisfy me like the Mark IV.
Curious about your troubles with the channels being fully independent. I have a friend with a Mark IV and he complains of the channels having to share various features or controls. I have not run into that problem with my Mark V 90, except for the EQ section with the sliders. But that you can use the preset knobs independently for two channels, and the sliders for another resolves that issue for me. I use the sliders on channels one, to scoop the mids slightly akin to a Twins' EQ curve, and use the presets for channels two and three. So did you always have find you could dial these amps in perfectly for your taste from the very first Mesa you bought? I just assumed it was my lack of experience, and also patience to some extent.

I suppose I paid for the options. We gave the people at the estate sale 2000.00 for it, and received the big ol' honking foot controller and heavy duty amp cover with it. Someone swiped the eight pin din cable, so I'll have to spring for that (someone also stole the Carr amp that was there for sale as well). The price we paid is about in line with what I'm seeing them for used on Reverb.com. It seems like a deal to me because the amp is 100 percent clean, in terms of cosmetics, tube use, lack of any sort of damage. It is dead mint, and everything works as it should.

I know the sound I want, it's just a matter of finding it. I've always had these sounds in my head, even in my earliest days of playing. I'm getting closer. Spent some further time with it today, and I'm getting closer. The distorted sounds are easy, the clean sounds are trickier, but I'm beginning to zero in on it. I *do* think some of it is either the speaker isn't broken in yet, or I just don't care for Celestion voiced speakers, which I don't. I've used and tried numerous Celestion or Celestion voiced speakers over the last thirty-nine years of playing (it's been that long already!?). So, I'll have to research which speaker will be appropriate for this amp, most likely.

I'm curious about how you're running into a problem of the channels working together. That's not meant as a slight or put down, I just haven't experienced that. Yet. Hopefully it won't be an issue. Is it an issue of volume? I've read some people having that issue. At actual playing/stage volume I may run into an issue with channel one and two, as I'm using channel two as another clean voice.

Anyway, it's an extremely cool amp, and I'm gaining more and more understanding about how to make the Mark V work for me as I spend more time with it.
 

Endless Mike

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Mesa's Black Shadow 12" models are actually Marshall Classic Lead 80's that have been modded to handle 10 more watts and add a slight increase in the bass frequencies. I consider Mark IIC+, Mark III "Blue stripe", and Mark V to be the finest amps Mesa Boogies ever made. I've owned their Mark III head, Mark V head, F-30 combo and F-100 head played through a 4 X 12" Marshall cab loaded with vintage 30's. My number one amp for many years was the Mark III "blue stripe", (with all available options), head into the same Marshall 4 X 12" already mentioned. I really loved the amp tones produced and the over all look / impression of the large box Mesa head sitting atop the Marshall 4 X 12" cab. Having a back line made up of both large labelled brand names was an image I liked being a part of. It was part of a signature "me" thing I had going. Kind of silly in retrospect but I loved it at the time.
That's cool, it should be fun after all, right?

Thanks for that about the speakers. I just discovered that this morning after yet more research. My issue is, I've never cared for Celestion or Celestion voiced speakers. I've used or tried more than I can count, over thirty-nine years of playing. I've learned to deal with them, as in the case of my Duncan Convertible 100. Knowing what I know now though, I would have replaced that speaker and saved myself the fight and aggravation. Determining what speaker will work best for that amp is a whole other can of worms. I suppose it might be as easy as asking the people at Eminence for some input. They've always steered my right in the past.
 

Lone_Poor_Boy

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That may be true for many people, but not for me. I don’t approach my Mesa amps with a set sound in my head. Instead, I’ll play with the controls and see what the amp offers in return. “What can I do with this? Which guitar best pairs up with this sound?”

I get that but even if you don't have the 'sound' you want playing in your head, you know if you don't like an amps sounds, and therefore you did have something you were looking for. Sure, you can play with an amp and say 'this does this well' but is it going to be your main amp? Neil Young said every guitar has at least one song in them, but that doesn't mean they're going to sound good with much else.
 

Lone_Poor_Boy

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Curious about your troubles with the channels being fully independent. I have a friend with a Mark IV and he complains of the channels having to share various features or controls....

I'm curious about how you're running into a problem of the channels working together. That's not meant as a slight or put down, I just haven't experienced that. Yet. Hopefully it won't be an issue. Is it an issue of volume? I've read some people having that issue.

I don't want to confuse by stating things I 'feel' poorly, so I'll try and do a simple summary.

My Mark IV I got in 1992. This is my amp. This is my sound. I never had issues dialing it in because the three channels feel like different versions of themselves, just with more gain capacity when you go to 2 then 3. So for my needs, it gives me light gain clean, rougher gain clean and lead. I can't make it sound bad, to me. As far as the sharing features, eh that's a compromise and I never found it limiting. I normally use the EQ as a v-shaped boost.

Mark V and Five-25 - All great amps, but I've been spoiled by the Mark IV giving me everything I need. These others have given you flip switches for voicings from different models of amps, and that's where one flip switch setting for channel one might not play well with the flip switch setting you used on channel 2. They are sometimes just voiced too differently. That's not bad, it just means you have to play to find what works for you, if you are going to change channels during the same song. I would imagine if you are a big pedal person, which I am not, where you might pick one main sound from the amp then adapt with pedals, these certainly give you multiple amps in the room to experiment with.

These amps try to be multiple amps. The Mark IV is just that. The Mark IV.

MARK IV - No Toggles. Just 3 channels and a lot of EQ setting options, some shared

Mark 4 resized.jpg


MARK V - Three voicing toggels per channel, along with EQ and wattage toggles
Mark 5 toggles.jpg


MARK Five: 25 - Three voicing options per channel, along with EQ and wattage toggles
mark 5 25 face.jpg
 

Tim S

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MARK IV - No Toggles. Just 3 channels and a lot of EQ setting options, some shared
View attachment 997078
No toggles, but 6 pull-knob switches?? ;)

Thanks for your explanation for why the Mark IV is the amp for you. I never played a Mark IV, but I know some consider it superior to the V (there had to be some reason it was in production for 18 years).

This is my amp. This is my sound. I never had issues dialing it in because the three channels feel like different versions of themselves, just with more gain capacity when you go to 2 then 3.
(With a few exceptions) That's generally Mesa's formula, right? -- successively "gainier" channels. The V is almost like a "tube-based modeler" that includes some of their greatest hits. That deviates from the other Mesa lines (and other Marks).
 

Endless Mike

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I don't want to confuse by stating things I 'feel' poorly, so I'll try and do a simple summary.

My Mark IV I got in 1992. This is my amp. This is my sound. I never had issues dialing it in because the three channels feel like different versions of themselves, just with more gain capacity when you go to 2 then 3. So for my needs, it gives me light gain clean, rougher gain clean and lead. I can't make it sound bad, to me. As far as the sharing features, eh that's a compromise and I never found it limiting. I normally use the EQ as a v-shaped boost.

Mark V and Five-25 - All great amps, but I've been spoiled by the Mark IV giving me everything I need. These others have given you flip switches for voicings from different models of amps, and that's where one flip switch setting for channel one might not play well with the flip switch setting you used on channel 2. They are sometimes just voiced too differently. That's not bad, it just means you have to play to find what works for you, if you are going to change channels during the same song. I would imagine if you are a big pedal person, which I am not, where you might pick one main sound from the amp then adapt with pedals, these certainly give you multiple amps in the room to experiment with.

These amps try to be multiple amps. The Mark IV is just that. The Mark IV.

MARK IV - No Toggles. Just 3 channels and a lot of EQ setting options, some shared
View attachment 997078

MARK V - Three voicing toggels per channel, along with EQ and wattage toggles
View attachment 997081

MARK Five: 25 - Three voicing options per channel, along with EQ and wattage toggles
View attachment 997080
As it stands now, the Mark V is officially bad @ss. I've had more time to spend with it, and I'm finally able to really dial things in. Whatever anyone wants to say about the Mark V being (or trying to be) multiple amps, the amp is killer. I've dialed in the clean sound, and it's freaking great. The third channel is so good it's stupid. I've actually entertained not using drive boxes (which I really love) and just using the amp. I doubt that will happen, as I can't imagine not using those flavors. But the point still stands, the Mark V is just amazing. The number of different sounds is just amazing.

There's so much the Mark V can do, but the manual doesn't cover it all. I had to do a lot of reading on the Boogie Board, and some other places. I also had to just fool around with the thing as well. If you're willing to sort of 'break the rules' there's even more to be found. I use channel two as a second clean sound, and it works. I expect if I told the people at Boogie this, they'd look at me like I had a horn growing out the front of my forehead. The manual mentions that the effects loop will alter the sound. True. But they fail to mention that that the master output plays a role in the tones that are produced. Same with switching in the five band EQ. Now that I'm getting the hang of it, there's no way I'd part with this amp. No doubt, there's a learning curve, but it is absolutely worth. I will still use my Riveras, as they are such cool amps, and have their own great sound, but the Mark V has made me a Boogie believer.
 

Lone_Poor_Boy

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As it stands now, the Mark V is officially bad @ss. I've had more time to spend with it, and I'm finally able to really dial things in. Whatever anyone wants to say about the Mark V being (or trying to be) multiple amps, the amp is killer. I've dialed in the clean sound, and it's freaking great. The third channel is so good it's stupid. I've actually entertained not using drive boxes (which I really love) and just using the amp. I doubt that will happen, as I can't imagine not using those flavors. But the point still stands, the Mark V is just amazing. The number of different sounds is just amazing.

There's so much the Mark V can do, but the manual doesn't cover it all. I had to do a lot of reading on the Boogie Board, and some other places. I also had to just fool around with the thing as well. If you're willing to sort of 'break the rules' there's even more to be found. I use channel two as a second clean sound, and it works. I expect if I told the people at Boogie this, they'd look at me like I had a horn growing out the front of my forehead. The manual mentions that the effects loop will alter the sound. True. But they fail to mention that that the master output plays a role in the tones that are produced. Same with switching in the five band EQ. Now that I'm getting the hang of it, there's no way I'd part with this amp. No doubt, there's a learning curve, but it is absolutely worth. I will still use my Riveras, as they are such cool amps, and have their own great sound, but the Mark V has made me a Boogie believer.
"Whatever anyone wants to say about the Mark V being (or trying to be) multiple amps, the amp is killer." - I don't think one has anything to do with the other.

"I've actually entertained not using drive boxes" - That's probably one thing My Mark IV has allowed me to all these years. Keep pedals to a minimum.

"I use channel two as a second clean sound, and it works. I expect if I told the people at Boogie this, they'd look at me like I had a horn growing out the front of my forehead." - I doubt that as many have done that for decades and they're pretty aware of all the options their amps can deliver.
 

Mowgli

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I’ve had my Mesa Boogie Mark III simulclass red stripe (many think it’s closest to Mk IIC+ of all other Mk III models, FWIW) since I bought it new back in the late ‘80.

Regarding speakers, it came with a stock EVM-12L. I thought it sounded great for decades… until I luckily purchased 2 Altec 417-8C speakers for a song. Once I replaced the Aluminum dust caps with velvet dust caps and loaded one in the Boogie cabinet I realized there was a better speaker for the Boogie, IMO. Carlos Santana got it right (he uses the 417-8H that sounds very similar by reports).

I’ve played the amp through a Celestion MC-90 “Black Shadow” and it wasn’t bad but not as appealing as either the EVM-12L or the Altec.

That’s my two cents.
 

Dismalhead

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I had a pair of Mesa Black Shadows in my old Marshall JCM900 combo and now I've got a 10" Black Shadow in my MB Subway Rocket (stock speaker). They're great speakers, kinda on the dark side, which I like. Clear, bassy, and deep; great speakers for playing metal. Friend used to say it sounded like I was playing really loud in a dark cave - it was a good thing.

Congrats on the Mark V. That's an awesome amp.
 

W.L.Weller

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I also had to just fool around with the thing as well. If you're willing to sort of 'break the rules' there's even more to be found.

You paid for all the knobs and switches, might as well use them! (Reading manuals and other people writing about how and why they work the way they do can certainly help. Like not flipping a "triode/pentode" switch or changing OT/speaker impedances while the amp is running. But the level/gain/EQ controls, it's open season!)

I'll never understand people who get an amp with more than 2 knobs, turn everything to the half-way setting, and then decide they hate it. If you're after "plug and play" there are probably more single-channel, <6 knob amps available now than at any earlier point in history. If you want options, a Boogie may be the simplest option to get a whole bunch at once.
 

Endless Mike

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You paid for all the knobs and switches, might as well use them! (Reading manuals and other people writing about how and why they work the way they do can certainly help. Like not flipping a "triode/pentode" switch or changing OT/speaker impedances while the amp is running. But the level/gain/EQ controls, it's open season!)

I'll never understand people who get an amp with more than 2 knobs, turn everything to the half-way setting, and then decide they hate it. If you're after "plug and play" there are probably more single-channel, <6 knob amps available now than at any earlier point in history. If you want options, a Boogie may be the simplest option to get a whole bunch at once.
The gift/thread that keeps on giving!

The Mark V has worked out beyond all expectation. It's an astonishing amp, and one of the best I've ever owned. It is capable of producing a breathtaking array of clean, overdriven and distorted sounds. It's made even better by replacing the MC90 Black Shadow with an Eminence Wheelhouse.

It took many hours of dialing and tweaking, as well reading/re-reading the manual, and reading many posts and threads on the Boogie board. It was worth every moment, and was very interesting research.

Does it say in the manual *not* to switch the triode/pentode while the amp is operational? I suppose I knew that from the years of owning my Seymour Duncan Convertible 100.
 

W.L.Weller

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If it doesn't, then I'll assume the Mesa engineers know better than me.

But switching high voltages under load is something I'd rather not do if I didn't have to. Especially now that great tubes aren't plentiful and cheap.
 




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