Mesa Boogie Mark V Combo
Mesa Boogie Mark V Combo

Mark V Combo, Tube Combo Guitar Amp from Mesa Boogie in the Mark V series.

King Loudness 08/10/2011

Mesa Boogie Mark V Combo : King Loudness's user review

« The Boogie Mark V = AWESOME »

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The Mesa Boogie Mark V was designed by Randall Smith and the team at Boogie to take many of the classic sounds of Mesa Boogie lore (Mark I, Mark IIC+, Mark IV) and mix them with some other great tones (Lone Star esque cleans, slightly broken up British voiced crunch tones and some searing modern high gain sounds too.) Top that off with a myriad of features to alter the sound such as wattage selection, variac power mode, switching between tube rectifiers and silicon diodes, reverb controls per channel... the list goes on and on. The full list from Mesa is as follows:

Simul-Class Power Amp (Patents 4,532,476 & 4,593,251) featuring Multi-Watt (Patent 7,602,927) and Duo-Class (Patent 7,173,488) technologies which provide three power and three operating class options that are channel assignable via 10/45/90 Watt Power Switches: Choose 2 power tubes operating in pure vintage Class A (single-ended), producing 10 Watts - 2 tubes running in time-honored Class A/B producing 45 Watts or 4 tubes running in Mesas legendary, patented Simul-Class Power that blends the best of Class A and Class A/B simultaneously to produce 90 Watts of pure tonal magic / 4x6L6 (or 4xEL-34), 7x12AX7, 1x5U4

Bias Select Switch (6L6/EL34)
Fixed Bias for Consistent, Maintenance Free Performance
Full Power/Variac Power Switch (Patent 5,091,700)
3 Fully Independent Channels with 9 Modes (Channel 1 = Clean, Fat or Tweed, Channel 2 = Edge, Crunch or Mark I, Channel 3 = Mark IIC+, Mark IV or Extreme)
Normal/Bold Switch on Channel 1, Normal/Thick Switch on Channel 2 (Mark I mode only), Normal/Bright Switch & Pentode/Triode Switch on Channel 3
Each Channel features: Independent Gain, Treble, Mid, Bass, Presence, Master, Footswitchable or Auto-Assignable Contour Depth Control, Footswitchable All-Tube, Long Spring Reverb Control, Rectifier Tracking (Auto-selects Tube for all 10 Watt Modes, Diode for all 90 Watt Modes, selectable Tube or Diode for 45 Watt Modes on Channels 1 and 2, Diode for 45 Watt Mode on Channel 3 - Patents 5,168,438 & 7,193,458)
5 Band Graphic EQ is Footswitchable, Channel Assignable and Selectable between 1 group of 5-Band Sliders or 3 channel specific, variable depth Contour Controls
Footswitchable, Channel Assignable or True Bypassable Fully Buffered FX Loop with Send Level Control (over all channels when activated)
Output Level Control (over all channels when activated)
Footswitchable Solo Level Control Patent 6,724,897 (over all channels when activated)
True Hard Bypass Switch removes FX Loops, Output Level & Solo Level Controls from signal path
Tuner Output w/Footswitchable Mute
Slave Out w/Level Control
Fan Cooled with On/Off Switch
External Switching Jacks for Channels 2, 3 (channel 1 is default), EQ & Solo
Aluminum Chassis New 4x4 - 8 Button Footswitch (Bottom Row: Channel 1, Channel 2, Channel 3, Solo Top Row: Reverb, FX Loop, EQ & Tuner Mute)

It's a very versatile amp that promises to deliver a lot in the tonal department while retaining the feel that a Mesa amp should. This amp features a combo chassis with a Mesa Boogie Black Shadow C90 90w speaker as stock. It's definitely a well voiced speaker that works excellently with all the different tones and flavours that this amp offers. In many cases I have actually preferred the tone of the combo to a head into 4x12 (which is extremely rare for me).


This amp, upon first inspection, looks to be almost impossible to dial in. There are three channels, each with a wattage selector (90w/45w/10w), a switch to turn the graphic EQ on or off (or assign it to be footswitchable), as well as a three way switch to select the channel mode (IE: Ch1 has Normal, Fat Clean, and Tweed modes). There is also one further switch on each channel to adjust something about the modes (IE: Ch1 has a "bold" switch).

Each channel has 6 controls, gain, volume, presence, bass, middle, treble. Unlike many previous Mesa Mark series amps, there is no pull knobs for the channel. There is also reverb on the back with a control for each channel. Lastly there is a 5 band graphic EQ built in to further sculpt your sound to bring it to levels of sonic satori.

It's very simple to dial it in once you know what you are doing. Channel 1 is your clean channel and works as such. It goes all the way from a crystal clear clean tone to a very gained out classic sound that is reminiscent of the old tweed Fender amps.

The second channel has a decidedly vintage rock flavour to it. It goes from classic edge-of-breakup type sounds (think an older NMV Marshall, but a bit more modern) to classic JMP/800 esque crunch tones to the smooth and dark tones of the Mesa Boogie Mark I. Beware, this mode is very dark in nature so it can be a bit of an annoyance dialing that mode in to work with the other channels at times.

The third channel goes from the classic L.A rock/metal tones of the Mesa Mark IIC+, to the smoother and more rounded sounding tones of the Mark IV to a searing modern tone that can only be classified as extreme.

If you combine all these core tones with the various features that Mesa offers on this amplifier to adjust the tones and feel of the amp, you have what is easily one of the most versatile and best sounding production amplifier on the planet right now.


I presently use this amplifier with a Gibson Les Paul Traditional Plus loaded with 57 Classic humbuckers. I can't really cover all of the tones that I get out of this amp, simply because there are so many. I can safely say that this amp would cover everything from jazz/blues to country to all levels of rock and metal tones.

My favourite tones out of this amp are the Fat Clean mode (with bold switch engaged), the Tweed Clean mode (with the gain turned up to really juice the preamp), the Crunch tone on Channel 2 with the gain turned up for a classic seventies/early eighties arena rock tone, the Mark I mode with the GEQ OFF for a darker, slightly chunker vintage rock tone, and the Mark IIC+ and Mark IV modes on Channel 3 for raunchy eighties rock and smooth lead tones respectively.

I generally like running the amp in variac power mode for a slightly spongier feel, similar to a pushed older Marshall but with tonnes of gain and the slightly bolder tone of 6L6 tubes. You can load the amp with EL34s though if you want to get one step closer to that British flavour.


All in all I feel this is probably one of Mesa's finest amps. It has a whole plethora of great tones for a while variety of musical styles, a seemingly endless parade of features to adjust the tones to your liking, and that classic Mesa Mark series feel and tone that I just enjoy so much (and keep coming back to). My first really good amplifier was a Mesa Boogie Mark III head, so I enjoy being able to relive some of the tones I got out of that.

For the $2,300 or so new price that these are new, they are a FANTASTIC bargain. Absolutely worth it. Some people complain about this amp not sounding exactly like the classics... but the way I see it, it's a great sounding amp on its own regardless of what amps it's supposed to sound like. All in all this is probably the best amp I've owned to date! I give this my rare 10/10 rating!